In October 2015, the Surface Book premiered as a hybrid device, one Microsoft called the “ultimate laptop.” Shipping with a detachable screen, stylus support and a dual-core Intel Skylake processor of your choosing, we had a hunch the company was right.
Surface Book 2 Release Date, News And Rumors
Despite an appetizing list of hardware specs, the 2-in-1 arrived with a few hiccups. There were some complaints surrounding the “Dynamic Fulcrum Hinge,” including a gap that’s formed when the laptop is closed.
The “Clipboard” tablet portion of the device has a low battery life, though that’s been largely mitigated with the introduction of the Performance Base-enhanced i7 variant; but, on the high end, the pricing is rather steep, too.
So, you can tell that we’re not the only ones clamoring for improvements to an already promising formula. Enter the highly anticipated Surface Book 2, a would-be hybrid notebook that’s presumably due for arrival later this year.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The sequel to Microsoft’s first laptop
- When is it out? Spring 2017 at the earliest
- What will it cost? Reportedly starts at $1,000 (£1,299, AU$1,899)
Surface Book 2 release date:
Although the original launched well over a year ago, there’s been no official confirmation of a Surface Book 2. Instead, the Surface Book i7 debuted back in October, complete with a graphics-enhancing Performance Base and a handful of subtle design changes.
With reports last year that this new Windows software would overlap with Microsoft’s introduction of new hardware, we originally surmised that the Surface Book 2 would touch down alongside the Windows 10 Creators Update, which commenced rollout on April 11.
We could get more specifics on May 2, when Microsoft holds its #MicrosoftEDU event in New York City. Even if we do, however, that event is expected to be centered around Windows 10 Cloud, a lightweight spiritual successor to Windows RT designed to compete with the Chromebooks.
Surface Book 2 price:
Reports from DigiTimes lead us to believe that Microsoft may be revealing a more traditional clamshell laptop at its spring showing, resulting in a drastic reduction in price.
While the entry-level Surface Book of today would set users back a cool $1,299 (£1,449, AU$2,299), this type of device would reportedly come in at a more modest $1,000 (about £810, AU$1,300).
What we want to see:
For as much as we’ve been smitten by the Surface Book, firmware issues aside, there will always be room for improvement. (That would be the case even if it had earned top marks from us.)
From the screen size and resolution to the hardware inside, we have a few ideas for how Microsoft could craft an even better Windows 10 tablet.
An even better screen:
Display-wise, the current model sports a 13.5-inch panel with a 3,000 x 2,000 (267 ppi) resolution that’s backed by an integrated Intel HD Graphics 520 GPU. The new model may utilize the same size screen but offer a more conventional 4K resolution: 3,840 x 2,160.
This rumor is aligned with public information we’ve seen about Intel’s Kaby Lake architecture, which will supposedly include a better graphics chip that improves playback of 4K video and 3D graphics.
That scheme not only required power to function, but users must press and hold down a key until the hinge lets go of the tablet. It’s software-based, too, meaning the process could be hampered by an unforeseen glitch in the system.
We need more power:
Of course, with an increased screen resolution comes the need for more power. It would make sense, given the conjectured release frame, to refresh the Surface Book with Intel’s newest Kaby Lake processors.
The Kaby Lake architecture supports up to quad-core processors as the default configuration with a thermal envelope of up to 95 Watts (W), meaning it shouldn’t be a battery hog even with increased performance. What’s more, Kaby Lake offers native support of the faster USB 3.1 Type-C and Thunderbolt 3 specifications in addition to CPU/GPU performance enhancements.
An improved battery would also be needed to support a built-in recharge dock for the Surface Pen. If a patent filing from October is to be believed, Microsoft may have an improved Surface Pen loop in the works that would not only holster the Surface Pen itself, but simultaneously charge it via the USB port on supported Surface devices.
More power might also be needed for an updated, discrete GPU option, too. As previously stated, the current model has an option for a Nvidia GeForce graphics chip based on the Maxwell architecture, which has a thermal envelope of up to 75W.
What would make the Surface Book 2 really shine is if it were to be VR-ready. It’s not too far-fetched, either, considering Microsoft has partnered with companies like Acer to produce budget-friendly, Windows 10-specific head-mounted displays that aim to work flawlessly on low- to mid-range hardware.
A race to beat its new rivals?
Despite a good deal of talk about when the Surface Book 2 will be released and what it will contain, there were a handful of reports (albeit with dodgy reliability) speculating that the sequel to Microsoft’s first notebook was supposed to come out last summer alongside the Anniversary Update.
Of course, that never happened and a Surface Book 2 didn’t arrive in time to beat Apple’s late 2016 MacBook Pro to market. Especially considering the increasingly disparate market share growth between Macs and PCs, Microsoft’s next goal should be to get the Surface Book 2 out before this year’s round of MacBooks.
While we may still see a spring release for Surface Book 2, all bets are off on that being remotely certain. Instead, we would be more keen to bank on a late 2017 launch to correlate with whatever Redstone 3 turns out to be.