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  • Reviews of the Surface Pro 6 and the Surface Laptop 2

    Posted on October 16th, 2018 at 09:43 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    The embargo must’ve been lifted overnight. You can see reviews all over the web.

    Bottom line:

    Surface Pro 6 is a little faster that the “Surface Pro (2017)” but not that much. i5, 8GB RAM, 256 GB and a keyboard for about $ 1,350.

    Surface Laptop 2 is a little faster than the Surface Laptop (1) but not that much. i5, 8GB RAM, 256 GB storage for $1,300.

    No USB-C.

    Compare with any Chromebook for a small fraction of the price. The ultimate Chromebook, the Google Pixelbook with i5, 8GB RAM, 128 GB storage runs half the price. Admittedly the Pixelbook lacks some key Surface features: Bluescreens, bugs, malware, slow reboots.

    Disclaimer: Unless it isn’t patently obvious, no, I’ve never held either a Surface Pro 6 or Laptop 2 in my hands. This isn’t a review. I wasn’t under embargo. Microsoft didn’t give me a test machine.

    But I have held a Pixelbook. In fact, my son still uses my original Pixelbook almost every day. Built like a brick spithouse.

    If that helped, take a second to support AskWoody on Patreon

    Home Forums Reviews of the Surface Pro 6 and the Surface Laptop 2

    This topic contains 27 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  anonymous 1 month ago.

    • Author
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    • #225045 Reply

      woody
      Da Boss

      The embargo must’ve been lifted overnight. You can see reviews all over the web. Bottom line: Surface Pro 6 is a little faster that the “Surface Pro (
      [See the full post at: Reviews of the Surface Pro 6 and the Surface Laptop 2]

      4 users thanked author for this post.
    • #225069 Reply

      anonymous

      There are rumors that Surface has no life and production will be shut down soon.

      • #225076 Reply

        woody
        Da Boss

        Not a chance. Surface machines are selling in the multi-billion-dollar range. They just took 5th place in the best-selling PC lists. Consumer Reports just reinstated its “Recommended” rating on everything except the (truly embarrassing) Surface Go.

        Nope, Surface is an enormous success.

        I have no idea why.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #225159 Reply

          anonymous

          But that doesn’t mean Microsoft is making a buck out of it.

    • #225072 Reply

      Ascaris
      AskWoody MVP

      I will have to go check it out.  Not that I plan to get one, but I’m curious to see if the Surface Laptop 2  is as sealed and repair-proof as the first Surface laptop.  That to me was the most remarkable thing about it– the first device in iFixIt history to score a zero on the repairability index.  I don’t mind premium hardware being sold at premium prices, but to me, a case that is spot welded together so that it is literally impossible to open the thing without destroying it does not qualify as premium, regardless of what the stats may otherwise suggest.

      I know we’re told that the things have to be glued together (or worse) in order to achieve the desired thin profile, but I don’t buy it.  The Acer Swift laptop I am using now to write this (for which I paid $250 on closeout; its speedier, larger-screened [in the same case as before], bigger-batteried replacement goes for $360) is 0.6 inches thick at the thickest part with the lid closed, and it’s held together with nine screws.  Remove those and the motherboard, battery, SSD (if equipped), wifi card, etc., are right there, easily serviced, with no glue in sight.  The screen/lid may be another story, but I haven’t had a reason to open that part.

      Can a laptop be made even thinner than this?  Certainly.  Is the thin-ness worth it if it means having to have a glued-together or even a spot-welded case that impedes or totally prevents upgrades or repair?  Are the design compromises like the Mac “butterfly” keyboards that have such reduced key travel that a simple crumb can ruin the keyboard worth it?

      I would have to say no.  This laptop is already so thin that I think any further reduction in thickness would be more for gee-whiz factor than practicality.  The base is already so slim that full-size USB ports use up most of the vertical space on the side of the unit, and making it much thinner than it is now (it could probably go another millimeter) would require skipping the full-size ports in favor of USB C ports, which would necessitate dongles to use standard USB A devices that most of us use.  I’d rather have the full-size ports and not have to go looking for a dongle when I want to plug something in.

      FWIW, the Swift does also have a USB type C port, but I don’t as yet have anything to plug into it.  The three type A ports, though, get used extensively, often all at the same time, and it’s nice to not need to find (or buy) three dongles just to get basic USB functionality.

      The point is this:   The easily serviced Swift isn’t as thin as possible, but it’s as thin as it needs to be, IMO.  Going thinner while sacrificing repairability would be a step in the wrong direction.  Thin-ness is great, but it’s not the only thing that matters.

      Group L (Linux): KDE Neon User Edition 5.14.3 (based on Ubuntu 18.04) + Windows 7 in Virtualbox VM

      6 users thanked author for this post.
      • #225265 Reply

        MrJimPhelps
        AskWoody MVP

        If Microsoft would cut the price on the Surface down to what a similarly-equipped tablet should cost (between $300 and $500), it would be a great buy. But there is no way I could buy or recommend any Surface at the price they currently charge.

        Group "L" (Linux Mint)
        with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
        • #225267 Reply

          anonymous

          I seek understanding, what properties about the Surface line is desirable to you?

          • #225302 Reply

            MrJimPhelps
            AskWoody MVP

            They have a pretty good amount of memory, and a decent size SSD. Apparently they perform well, because lots of people are buying them.

            Group "L" (Linux Mint)
            with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
            • #225336 Reply

              anonymous

              Okay nice specifications for this Surface model, this one might be interesting if some of it’s parts were in a different no-nonsense serviceable container from another OEM with a better attitude towards customer service and no Microsoft operating system.

    • #225073 Reply

      Cybertooth
      AskWoody Lounger

      $1300 for a machine with these specs??? Whoa!!

      And, if they’re anything like previous versions of the Surface, they are difficult to get into for in-home repairs or upgrades. Every single PC I have ever owned has received some kind of hardware upgrade. This design limitation alone rules out Surface in my book.

       

      5 users thanked author for this post.
      • #225077 Reply

        Microfix
        AskWoody MVP

        We’ll stick with our older gear (Haswell, Ivy Bridge, Sandy Bridge and C2Duo) until their parts are irreplaceable.
        I can’t wait for the iFixIt tear-down..

        | W8.1 Pro x64 | Linux x64 Hybrids | W7 Pro x64 O/L | XP Pro O/L
          No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created IT - AE
        4 users thanked author for this post.
    • #225075 Reply

      anonymous

      Admittedly the Pixelbook lacks some key Surface features: Bluescreens, bugs, malware, slow reboots.

      LOL….Gotta love it 🙂

      4 users thanked author for this post.
    • #225106 Reply

      anonymous

      My recommendation is that you keep all your money and just install Linux on your existing computer.

      2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #225241 Reply

        ComTruise
        AskWoody Lounger

        great idea for personal devices – sadly not so much in the enterprise client side world

        • #225412 Reply

          MrJimPhelps
          AskWoody MVP

          Huge companies each have an IT staff. They could deploy Linux to their users – many of their IT staff probably already have a basic competency in Linux. In other words, they have the resources to create a workable, fully-tested setup. And they would probably save a lot of money by doing so, because they won’t have to pay any licensing fees for the OS.

          For those who need Windows for some must-have software, they could use Citrix or a similar product to provide a remote Windows session which the user could log into from their Linux computer.

          This isn’t workable for most small companies, but the large companies have the IT staff and the expertise to pull it off.

          Group "L" (Linux Mint)
          with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
          1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #225119 Reply

      anonymous

      Fondleslabs as The Reg calls them. The Surface 2 comes in pink, referred to as ‘blush’, but only in China. I would not buy a Surface even if it came in purple with green spots and orange stripes. The very low RAS score that the Surface has earned over the years is what turns me off. The other is Microsoft’s hardware warranty and return policy on these units – insufferable by any reasonable measure. And I prefer real laptops to fondleslabs.

      • #225240 Reply

        ComTruise
        AskWoody Lounger

        (most) my users hate 2-1 devices, even if they initially request one they always go back to a real notebook… a great (sturdy, no flex) keyboard out weighs the advantages of a 2-1 for most.

    • #225191 Reply

      GoneToPlaid
      AskWoody Lounger

      When buying laptops and notebooks for my organization, I deliberately look for models which are robust and easy to disassemble, and which do not have an “idiot proof” and mostly locked down BIOS. These features are more of a priority for me, versus performance and size. Here are my reasons why…

      1. I want it to be quite simple to swap the original hard drive with either a much larger capacity hard drive or a SSD drive, if needed.

      2. I want it to be quite simple to install more RAM — including replacing laptop model’s default RAM stick which occasionally is not readily accessible on some laptop and notebook models without performing a partial disassembly.

      3. I want it to be easy for me fully disassemble it in order to repair it.

      The upshot is that my primary goal is that the laptops and notebooks which we use must be reliable — both in the office and on the road and even if they get banged around a bit when not powered on.

      3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #225239 Reply

        ComTruise
        AskWoody Lounger

        I don’t think you are the target market bud… probably more enterprise level with same or next day replacement warranties and 3-year life cycles for devices…

    • #225171 Reply

      anonymous

      For that money I buy a MacBook. It’ll run macOS, Linux and – if you long back to the good old blue screens – Windows. All on one machine, rather practical. And with a base OS that has a track record of being stable.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #225237 Reply

        ComTruise
        AskWoody Lounger

        not a MS fan by any means but its been years since i have seen a blue screen on any desktop/notebook… outside of when i first setup SCCM and messed up an “image” but that was my fault.

        literally built between 15,000-25,000 machines and not a single BSOD since Windows XP.  Of course I skipped Vista, 8 and 8.1… also didn’t jump on Win10 until 2 years after release but that is common sense.

        Maybe I am just lucky. 😐

        • #225417 Reply

          Ascaris
          AskWoody MVP

          So you built an average of about 23 machines a week for every week of 17 continuous years (XP released in 2001, now 2018)?  That’s quite remarkable.

          Even with such astronomical numbers, though, the lack of bluescreens in your experience doesn’t mean bluescreens aren’t quite common in the Windows using community. The experience you would have had during all that time would not be representative of what people who use Windows on a single machine day in and day out experience.

          Building a PC isn’t when it bluescreens… it doesn’t even have an OS on it yet.  It’s only when it runs Windows that it is possible for it to bluescreen, of course.  After it’s built and you install Windows, if the drivers are solid and hardware is in good shape (as it should be if it is new, though there is always a defect rate), the odds of it bluescreening in the first few minutes of life are minimal.  If you’re doing high volume building, you’re likely working with the same components over and over… ones that you already know work well when everything is new.  Once you find a combination of parts that just works, you stick with it.  Why reinvent the wheel for each build?

          If you were going to build such mass quantities of machines, the most sensible way to get them set up with Windows would be to use a prebuilt image like the OEMs do rather than using the Windows installer.  That’s certainly how I would do it if I had to build even a fraction of that number of PCs.  If that’s what you did, you’re really not getting a lot of hours running Windows at all.  You don’t even need to start Windows in order to install it in that fashion.

          Beyond that, it’s not the freshly installed Windows that tends to bluescreen (unless there are hardware or driver issues).  It’s Windows that’s been used for a while, on hardware that has been used (and maybe abused) a while, that can get touchy.  If you had two people who had a thousand hours each using Windows in a given number of months or years, one who had used a different brand new PC for 15 minutes 4000 times, and one who had used a single PC for all 1000 hours, I’d put my money on the single PC in terms of guessing which one had more bluescreens.  The brand new machines haven’t had the chance to be exposed to people walking across carpeted floors and zapping them with static charges, spilled drinks and power surges, or dust bunnies in the cooling fans.

          Brand new PCs also haven’t yet had the opportunity for as many bad driver installations (possibly from Microsoft, as we’ve seen), installations and uninstallations of all kinds of software that may have left various components still registered and active even after the program is gone, or exposure to malware attacks.  They also haven’t had the chance to have two in-place upgrades to poorly tested versions of Windows every year (most people who know Windows prefer clean installations of new versions of Windows, but twice a year is asking way too much).

          On top of that, bluescreens are not the only form of Windows disaster.  All the machines that deleted a user’s data during an unwanted, forced upgrade or that wasted hours in update-revert-update cycles or that simply would not boot after an upgrade can be said to be bluescreen-free too, but that doesn’t mean everything is fine.

           

          Group L (Linux): KDE Neon User Edition 5.14.3 (based on Ubuntu 18.04) + Windows 7 in Virtualbox VM

    • #225172 Reply

      anonymous

      The notebook that my mom has been using is even better than the Surface or the Pixel-not only it does not suffer from blue screen, infected by virus, slowed down by malware, limited battery runtime, fast network access in order to work, etc., etc., it only costs 60 cents.

    • #225416 Reply

      MrJimPhelps
      AskWoody MVP

      From the iFixit teardown:

      It's impressive to see Microsoft continue to bump up processing power without much additional heat management. It will be interesting to see how well this new setup handles the heat under load.

      This could explain the hardware issues that the Surface seems to be afflicted with.

      There are several negative points listed; but I will just mention the battery, because the battery is something that the user will need to replace at some point, so it should be easy to do that.

      The battery is firmly glued in place, with its connector pinned under the motherboard—requiring near-total disassembly for service.

      Other than mice and keyboards, Microsoft doesn’t belong in the hardware business; they simply don’t know what they are doing.

      Group "L" (Linux Mint)
      with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #225448 Reply

        anonymous

        Yes we will read about it if the battery becomes affected by heat issues, people will use these computers daily.

        1 user thanked author for this post.

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