Note: You all know I am all about the experiential aspect of technology. That means this review of the Surface Book 3 is going to be about its feel and the experience of using it including a little background on the line of Surface Book devices and their specs.
Just recently, Microsoft’s Panos Panay shared a tweet celebrating the five-year anniversary of the launch event for the first-generation Surface Book.
I was in New York City for this event and was covering the live stream from a hotel room near JFK while my colleague Rod Trent was at the event in person. There was a very significant moment after the initial unveiling, an extended video in fact, which caught everyone’s attention that day no matter where they were watching.
I deemed this the Superman Reveal the moment I saw it because it reminded me of the scene in Man of Steel where Superman is trying out his new abilities and strengths. In this sequence he kneels down to the ice, places his fist on it and causes the ground to vibrate – not unlike that moment in the GIF above just before the Clipboard separates from the base of the OG Surface Book.
It seriously gave me goosebumps and I am not sure any Surface reveal since has ever topped this huge surprise during an announcement. No one had any idea it was coming.
Now, here we are five years later working with the third generation of this device line – Surface Book 3.
I have had the privilege and opportunity to work with all three generations of Surface Book. Right now, my wife uses Surface Book OG as her laptop, Surface Book 2 is on my test bench handling builds from the #WindowsInsider Release Preview Channel, and Surface Book 3 is my main device away from a desktop.
There is no doubt as you look at these devices that they come from a common heritage and style. They all have that familiar magnesium material on the outside, a large trackpad, and ample keyboard. Personally, the trackpad and keyboard are some of the best I have ever used on a Surface device.
The detachable screen, aka the Clipboard as it was originally called, is still there giving you the ability to use it in full tablet mode once detached or to reverse the screen on the base and have a workstation for drawing (Studio Mode) or increase the angle for viewing a video or movie comfortably (View Mode).
Each generation of Surface Book have improved on the device’s internals and screen sizes and this third-generation device provides a few different options.
Here is a full graphical chart with the specs and options for both the 13.5″ and 15″ Surface Book 3’s.
Click on the image to view it full size.
Pricing for the Surface Book 3 13.5″ device begins at $1,599.99 and ranges up to $2,699.99. The 15″ version of Surface Book 3 starts at $2,299.99 and tops out at $3,399.99.
The review device I have been working on from Microsoft has the following specs:
- 13.5″ Pixelsense Display (3000 x 2000 Pixels at 267 PPI)
- Quad-core 10th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU at 1.30GHz with eight Logical Processors)
- 32GB of RAM
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 with 4GB of RAM
- 512GB Solid-state drive
This model retails for $2,499.99 in this configuration.
Unfortunately, since this device was released in May of this year, travel has been non-existent due to COVID-19. However, with that said, this device would be my travelling hardware at any time just like the last two generations have been.
I know Surface Book weigh more than other choices for travelling, but this device and its predecessors are workhorses which deliver a solid platform for any type of work that might be encountered on the road. In additi0n, once the day is over Tablet and View mode are great ways to consume content while sitting in a hotel room chair, bed, or to watch a movie to relax.
Since I have not travelled since receiving this device, it is hard to estimate battery life on a typical on-site event compared to me using this away from my main desktop or as a second screen while working or on the couch. It certainly seems to last quite a while in between charges but that is how it feels versus a scientific measurement. It certainly doesn’t drain down to nothing in just one sitting. Microsoft indicates that Surface Book 3 13.5″ gets up to 15.5 hours of typical usage on battery and the 15″ model gets two more hours on top of that thanks to its larger battery capacity.
Of course, just like its predecessors Surface Book 3 comes with integrated support for Windows Hello secure facial recognition log-in, fully supports the Surface Pen for on-screen drawing and annotations, has plenty of ports including USB-C that even supports charging the device, and still has that full size SD card reader. Windows Hello recognition is extremely fast when you open the device.
The built-in TPM 2.0 chip allows enterprise grade security and encryption of the SSD to protect your data from potential thieves who get their hands on your physical device. Dual far-field studio microphones pickup extremely clear audio whether recording a video with the front-facing 5.0MP or rear-facing 8.0MP cameras or participating in a video call with friends or colleagues.
Surface Book 3 continues in its lineage tradition of being a great device for all levels of work you might need to get accomplished no matter where you’re working from.
I am really looking forward to taking this device on the road to an industry event or conference – it deserves that opportunity to flex its muscles! Whenever that happens, expect an update but until then this will continue to be my go-to device when I am away from my desktop. It gets the job done, keeps me connected, and enables me to do anything I can do on my main desktop.
Surface Book 3 Product Gallery