Microsoft Surface Book 2 review – laptop meets tablet in a sexy, bold package

Beautifully designed, Microsoft’s second try at a tablet/laptop conversion is a success, ticking nearly all the boxes for either iteration. The only downsides are its average camera and high price

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 December, 2017, 6:34pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 December, 2017, 7:06pm

The Microsoft Surface Book 2 is a laptop-tablet convertible that’s as sexy as any computer I’ve ever used.

Out of the box, it’s a Windows 10 laptop with a full-size keyboard and touch pad, but with the press of one button on the keyboard, the Surface Book 2’s screen detaches to give you a beautiful 13.5-inch touch screen Windows 10 tablet.

That is the sexy part – Microsoft put a battery and the computer’s guts behind the screen, while the keyboard has the ports, touch pad and a second battery.

Of course, the entire package hinges on its hinge.

You can pop off the screen to use it as a tablet, or you can flip it around and dock it back on the keyboard and use it as a touch screen easel, which I really liked. I sit in a chair with a wide and flat arm that’s perfect for using the Surface Book 2 in easel mode.

The hinge is rock solid, and if you didn’t know how the release mechanism worked, you’d never know the screen was detachable.

The Surface Book 2 – Microsoft’s second-generation stab at a convertible – comes in two screen sizes, 13.5 inches and 15 inches, though only the former is officially available in Hong Kong retail stores. The design is the same for each, with only slight differences in the hardware choices.

The 13.5-inch Surface Book 2 starts at US$1,499 and has an Intel i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB solid-state hard drive. Available upgrades include an i7 CPU, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 graphics processor, more RAM and larger SSD.

It has a resolution of 3,000 x 2,000 pixels, each PixelSense Display has a contrast ratio of 1,600:1, and the screen has 10-point multitouch. The model also has 802.11ac Wi-fi, Bluetooth 4.1, two USB 3.0 Type A ports, one USB-C port, an SD card reader and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Because it’s a tablet, there are front and rear cameras. Neither camera will win any awards, but the front-facing camera does have Windows Hello face authentication, which worked well. Just open the laptop, and when the front-facing camera recognises you, the screen unlocks.

The 13.5-inch model measures 12.3in x 9.14in x 0.59in-0.90in and the thickness range is due to the hinge.

Tech review: Microsoft Surface Laptop – great design, good price and a pleasure to use

Microsoft says battery life is up to 17 hours. I can vouch that the battery lasts all day.

The beauty of the Surface Book 2 is in the design. The entire package is striking. I’ve loved Apple’s laptop designs for years, but I wish Apple had the courage to release hardware as bold as the Surface Book 2.

The “tablet half” is every bit as good as any iPad I’ve owned. The “keyboard half” is very well built, and I found typing quite comfortable.

The Surface Book 2 is the best-designed Windows laptop I’ve tried. It has a solid hinge and great battery life. The only downside is the price.