Surface Book

It’s almost time for me to get a new laptop. I’ve had a Toshiba for about a year, but it’s not held up well. The screen has gotten loose, the trackpad and clickers are not consistenly responsive, the pointer device sometimes drifts on its own, and I have had a couple memory related crashes. All in all, despite a similar travel schedule to what I’ve had the last couple years, this laptop is showing its age quicker than others. These are flaky issues, not easily reproducible, and something that the warranty doesn’t seem to cover.

As I look to future travel and talks, I realize that I need to find something that might be more reliable. That’s always tricky as it seems people have a variety of different experiences with the same model machine. This last year has made me hesitant to think about chancing a new, or unpopular brand, something I did last year in trying to find a small, lightweight machine that can handle 16GB of RAM.

I read a review of the Surface Book after two months, which is one I’d like to consider. I’ve been impressed with the Surface Pros, but prevented from using them as I need 16GB on the machine. The Surface 4, on which the Surface Book is based, has that capacity, so I am intrigued. I worried about the new hardware, but it seems that the Surface 4s have been fairly solid. A couple of firmware glitches relating to sleep mode, but I’m hoping those get ironed out in the next couple months. At least I hope they do because I really like the idea of a Surface machine.

I do suspect that like the reviewer, I’d mainly use the machine as a laptop. That’s what I need, and I’m not a big consumer of media. However the option to use the machine as a tablet is interesting. I had the chance to use Rob Sewell‘s Surface 3 as a notebook with a stylus during a presentation at SQL Relay and enjoyed the experience. There are some nice OneNote integrations, though I’m not sure how often I’d want to take notes on a computer rather than paper.

However the main contender for me is probably a MacBook Pro. I loved the MacBook Air I had, and was disappointed to move away from it. I also want to do some iOS and cross platform development, which a MacBook would allow. The hardware is solid and proven, and it’s a similar cost to the Surface. I have a few months to decide. If I go MacBook, I’ll wait for the March (rumored) refresh. If I’m unsure that that time, I’ll probably think about the Surface as a backup. Either way, I’ll be in hardware search mode across the next few months, with fingers crossed that my current machine survives.

Steve Jones

The Voice of the DBA Podcast

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About way0utwest

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5 Responses to Surface Book

  1. rsterbal says:

    Does Redgate pay for it, do you get a stipend or does the money for it come out of your pocket? Would that matter to you?


    • way0utwest says:

      This will likely be a Redgate purchase as I primarily use this for work and travel. I have a nice desktop I bought and built myself, which may get upgraded this year. Trying to decide that now, and I’ll pay for that.

      The purchaser matters a touch for me. Certainly I try to treat Redgate’s money like my own and be responsible with my choices, but this doesn’t impact my personal budget, so it is slightly different.

      If I purchased this myself, I need to weight ROI and reliability, durability, etc. I think I’d learn MBP, since this gives me strong hardware that lasts long. My 2011 Air is still my daughter’s primary machine, even though she has a Surface RT. I’d be using it still, perhaps, if I hadn’t outgrown the hardware. I think both the MBP and Surface have similar specs and can last quite some time in terms of the horsepower, but I worry a bit about the Surface reliability across years. While people seem to have had good luck with their Surface 3s, it’s still just a few years. I know plenty of people still working in tech with 4-5 year old MBPs that have lasted.


    • way0utwest says:

      Thanks. Knew Tim got one, but was wondering how it worked. I still think MBP is a better choice than the Yoga. My last Lenovo started to randomly cut off and not reboot.


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