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Why Microsoft's Surface Book deserves a second look

John Brandon | Feb. 24, 2016
First it turned heads. Then the glitches started. Still, in the long run, it may prove to be a smart business tool.

"For organizations that want the flexibility of a two-in-one with high-end performance and good-quality graphics for a portion of their employees, the Surface Book is a good fit," says Bob O'Donnell, an analyst at Technalysis Research.

O'Donnell says the Surface Book might be particularly appealing to business workers who are used to an Apple MacBook or similar light notebook, mostly due to the Surface Book's sturdy metal keyboard. The main benefit, he says, is that it works as a legitimate laptop (not just a tablet with a keyboard) and detaches to become a full-featured tablet.

"It's truly a laptop when attached to the base. But the top (tablet) portion is only 1.6 pounds, so it's also an exceptionally lightweight tablet for its size when removed from the base," chimes in J. P. Gownder, a Forrester analyst.

Hardware perks for productivity

The Surface Book is packed with features you might not expect. One is that there are two graphics chips, one for the base and one for the tablet, so even when employees go mobile with the tablet, they can still expect good performance for presentations.

Another plus for corporate employees: The Surface Pro has 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity when using the stylus, so if you take notes in a meeting, even subtle gestures and light markings will work (something that isn't always true on the iPad, I've found).

For reliable sound when videoconferencing, the Surface Book has two microphones, one for the front camera and one for the back. Other perks include a 12-hour battery life, options for 1TB of SSD storage and plenty of travel accessories including a case and extra replacement stylus tips.

Windows 10 security

Finally, because the Surface Book is built to run Windows 10, it offers some key security features that are baked into the new OS. Microsoft Passport and Windows Hello provide a way to authenticate the device using a smartphone or biometrics -- without requiring employees to use passwords, which are notoriously insecure. And Device Guard, available with Windows 10 Enterprise, is a set of features intended to block hackers, preventing programs from running if they have not been approved by the OS.

In short, the Surface Book offers style and flexibility for enterprise users, while remaining IT friendly. While its high price tag might mean it's not suited for mass deployment, it's worth considering -- eventually -- for on-the-go execs.


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