Monday, April 12, 2021

First Look ! Surface Book 3: More power, No Thunderbolt 3

Microsoft on Wednesday launched several new devices under its Surface brand of PCs and consumer tech. Headlining the announcements are the Surface Book 3, the company’s latest high-performance two-in-one laptop with a detachable display, and the Surface Go 2, a lower-cost two-in-one tablet that’s designed like a smaller Surface Pro. Hands-on with Microsoft’s barrage of new Surface devices.

Go Surface 3

Beyond that, Microsoft is branching out with its lineup of audio accessories. The company unveiled the Surface Headphones 2, an updated pair of wireless noise-canceling headphones, and confirmed a price and release date for the Surface Earbuds, the set of AirPods-Esque true wireless earbuds it first unveiled in October.

Highlights:

  • The third version of Surface Book looks and feels the same as the model it replaces.
  • Modern chips and a bigger supply of memory have boosted performance.
  • This is Microsoft’s third version of its most powerful laptop.

All the new Surface gadgets are now available to pre-order and will start shipping to customers later this month. Most of the new devices aren’t radical departures from past Surface hardware, but we’ll dig a bit deeper into the new machines below.

The big changes Microsoft delivered in the Surface Book 3 are all inside. Microsoft is offering as much as 32GB of memory for the first time, longer battery life than in any prior Surface, and the fastest solid-state storage drive it has ever stuck in a computer. Microsoft added powerful Intel Core chips inside, along with graphics cards using Nvidia’s beefed-up technology.

Microsoft

Surface Book 2 was already fast when I tested it in 2017. This time around, Microsoft sent me a 15-inch model of the Surface Book 3 featuring 32GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, and a Core i7-1065G7 chip. A model with these specs would cost about $2,800, and it’s clearly faster for tasks such as browsing the web, working on spreadsheets, playing games, and watching videos.

Overall, though, I can’t help but think that Microsoft has taken this form factor as far as it can go. It’s still much thicker than other laptops, the hinge still has that big gap on the inside when closed, and it still feels just a little unbalanced on my lap. I am happy that there’s a USB-C port, SD card slot, and that Microsoft is packing chargers that are powerful enough to keep the things charged under extremely heavy loads (an issue with the last generation).

As with Apple and its new Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro, my first impression is that Microsoft has done an excellent job executing on the idea of the Surface Book 3 — but I don’t think it’s the right idea for me. Whether it could be for you is a question for the review, and both Monica Chin and Tom Warren will have one for you in the near future.

 

 

 

 

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