Microsoft Surface Book – A designer’s thoughts

Microsoft Surface Book – A designer’s thoughts

– Hi, I’m Charli, welcome
back to my channel. Today I’m gonna be doing
something very unlike me and talking about a Windows computer. This video is gonna be a designer’s review of the Microsoft Surface Book. I was given this computer to test out and create some tutorials for
the Adobe Students’ channel which you can watch, link
down below in the description. And I just want to tell
you about my experience using it and some of its
more unique features. Now I will preface this by
saying that I am a Mac user, I have been ever since
I started university and Macs were what they used there, so that’s just what I got used to and continued to buy. I did use a PC though however,
several years ago now, at my first ever proper design job, we used a desktop PC. But that was a while ago now, so it’s been really interesting to try out a more modern Windows computer and see what it has to offer, and what it doesn’t have to offer. Let’s get into the review, and first I want to talk about the design. So this is obviously much more advanced than the desktop PC I
used all those years ago. Essentially this is a
laptop with a touchscreen, but you can also remove the screen and use it as a tablet,
so that’s pretty cool. And it comes with this pen here as well, that you can use as a
stylus on the touchscreen. I think this is made of magnesium, but one thing I will say about it, is it’s not light. It’s probably one of the
thinnest Windows laptops I’ve ever seen. Like, probably one of
the nicest designed ones, but it’s still quite heavy when
comparing it to my Macbooks. I think the reason for this though is that it’s got two batteries, one in the base here and then
another in the screen part so that you can take the screen
off and use it as a tablet, but then also connect it if
you need more battery power. I’m not so sure about this
hinged design, to be honest. I think it’s a little bit
odd that when it’s closed, you can actually see through it and there’s a giant gap there. It’s not just the hinge as well, there are a few things with
the design of this laptop that are just ever so slightly off and I don’t know, make
the experience not as good as using a Mac for me. An example here is when you open it, see how it like picks up and moves back? Whereas with a Mac, the base
stays secure to the desk, or the table or whatever it is. Because of this hinge as well, the screen is like, quite floppy. And because it’s a
touchscreen, you do like, you’re meant to touch it, right? So I think it’s a bit odd
that it’s been designed to move quite so much. One thing though, that this computer has
over the new Macbook, is that it’s got an SD card
slot and two USB ports, as well as a lightning, thunderbolt port, or whatever that’s called. I think they call it that on a PC, but it’s that shape. Let’s actually turn it on, and talk about the
operating system for a bit. So one thing that I quite like about it is this hello feature. So see if I look at the laptop here, pretty bad ass. When you first set it up,
you teach it your face, and then you just have to
look at it and it opens up which I think is pretty cool. Anyway, this came running Windows 10, which I’d never used before. When it’s working, it seems fine. It’s just a case of getting
used to where things are, and how they’re different
than it would be on a Mac. However, I say when it works, because I’ve had a lot
of issues with this thing crashing on me, especially
when I was filming, which was very frustrating, filming those tutorials for Adobe and the computer would suddenly do its blue screen of death thing. It was also doing this weird thing once with the file explorer crashing, where every time I’d open it, it would just immediately close again, so I couldn’t get files off it, which was also very frustrating. Just lots of little things like that, it doesn’t seem as stable
as a Mac operating system. But using apps like the Adobe
Suite, it was really good because they work pretty
much exactly the same on a PC as they do on a Mac, except you just have to
remember to click control instead of command for the short keys. But my struggles with this, I don’t think were just
things being different to on a Mac. You know, that is something
I can get used to. But there was just a lot of cases where things weren’t as easy, like screen recording for example. I wanted to record my screen on a Mac, I just open up QuickTime, hit
new screen recording and go. On this computer, I had
to do a lot of research and try and find an
app to download for it, without downloading a virus, because there is a lot
of viruses for Windows. That was a bit of a
struggle, and it ended up wasting a lot of time because
there’s a lot of software out there and it’s hard
to know what’s good. There’s a lot of bad apps, I suppose. Basically, I don’t like when technology gets in the way of creating. And I feel like with this PC, I was having to work against
it to create my tutorials and get my designs done, rather than it working with
me and you know, being easy. Just to quickly touch on
using the hardware though, the keyboard is definitely
the nicest I’ve ever used on a PC laptop. It’s got nice flat keys. The trackpad though, I am not a fan of. I think again, this is probably
because I’m used to a Mac where you can click
anywhere on the trackpad and it will click the cursor, whereas on a PC, you’ve got
the right click to think about, so I very often found myself
accidentally right clicking something, when I meant to left click. The trackpad just isn’t
as nice and responsive as the one on my Mac is as well. And I found myself just
sticking to this left hand side of it, for drawing and clicking on, because if I draw a
shape and come over here, and then wanted to click down, obviously it’s gonna right click. So I found that kind of frustrating, I don’t think it’s a very good experience for designing on, with a Windows trackpad. Let’s talk about this pen though, because this is a feature
that I really like. And I’m gonna take this out
and put it in tablet mode. The pen and the touchscreen capabilities are definitely my favorite
part of this laptop. It’s so cool to be able
to draw on your computer in actual design software. I know that iPads and the Apple Pencil are really popular these days, but I do think it’s pretty
cool to be able to draw straight into Illustrator. Since I’ve mostly been using
this after doing the tutorials to draw in Illustrator, I guess I’ll talk a bit more about that. It’s nice to be able to draw as a vector, rather than in Procreate,
the app that most people tend to use for drawing on an iPad, you’re drawing raster graphics, so they’re based on
pixels rather than points, whereas here if I draw, I
can then scale this image up, scale it down, change
the color or whatever. I also really like this bit
on the top is an eraser, so you can just remove
parts of your shape too. I found it difficult to draw
a lot of details though, because if you get smaller
it’s harder to line up your start and end points of the pen. But still, it’s all round
been pretty good to use. I found myself wishing there was an app that just had really simple,
basic brushes or whatever with an infinite canvas that I
could draw my wire frames on. I found this Sketch Pad app, which comes as part of the
touch tools in the tablet mode. But it’s not ideal because
the canvas is only this big, you can’t pick things
up and move them around, and once you save it, that’s
it, it’s just a flat jpeg file, you can’t come in and edit
it again later or whatever. I did try it using it for a bit, because I find that I’m much
neater drawing digitally than I am with an actual pen. I think really for me the downfall of this from a designer’s perspective, aside from the fact that
the operating system is just not stable enough for me, is the lack of great apps. I feel like people are
more likely to create apps that are suitable and
really useful for creatives for the Mac because that’s what’s known as the thing that people most use, like Sketch for example,
is only available on a Mac. And that’s the software that
I use for all of my web design because it’s just absolutely ideal for it. I think more Windows compatible software aimed at creatives needs to be built before I could ever think
about switching to using this as a full time device. Now that it’s back in laptop mode, I’ll say I didn’t really find
myself using the touchscreen in laptop mode. It just felt a little bit strange. I don’t know, to be like,
poking at your screen. But again, maybe it’s just
’cause I’m not used to having it and I’m used to only
being able to click around on a laptop. That reminds me too, one
thing I really wanted to be able to do with this, is use the pen for video editing, because when I edit, I’m
constantly cutting files and deleting space. So I thought maybe the
pen could be really handy for clicking on the exact place, but it’s weird to use
the pen on your screen. You have to hold your
arm at a weird angle, and it’s just not comfortable. And when I used it in tablet mode, I discovered very quickly
that I cannot edit without the use of a keyboard,
I need all of my quick keys to edit quickly, so that was out of the
question, unfortunately, ’cause I was really looking
forward to using it for that. So all in all, as you can probably tell, I do not love this
computer for design work and will be sticking with Mac for now. Remember, this is just
one person’s opinion, and I happen to prefer a Mac. If you happen to prefer a
PC and you’re a designer, that’s fine too. Really, the tools you use don’t matter, as long as you get to the end results, and you have a process that works for you. So please, take all of
this with a grain of salt. I know throughout this video
I’ve been comparing it to Mac a lot and some of you
might not have liked that, but this computer is not cheap. Usually I find people go for PCs because you can get something that is much faster
performance or better specs or whatever for a cheaper
price than you could a Mac. But this guy is quite expensive. So they’re kind of in
the same price range, and that’s why I’ve been
comparing them so much, because I think really if
you’re considering getting this, you could also consider
getting a Mac as well. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed
hearing my perspective on this, and about my experience
with using a Windows laptop for design. It’s been interesting and
I’m glad that I tried it out. I do recommend if you’re
interested in this, you try it for yourself
because, like I said, some of the things that
annoyed me about it, and that I found were these little quirks, might not be the same for you, so you might really like it. Now that I have this though,
if there is any PC specific design software or tools or whatever that you want me to
try and do a review of, let me know down below in the comments, because I’m definitely keen to do that. Please give this video a
thumbs up if you enjoyed it, and make sure you hit
that subscribe button if you’re new to my channel because I make new videos
about design and technology every single Saturday
and then vlogs of my life here in London every Tuesday. So hopefully I will see
you for the next one. Thanks for watching, bye. (gentle funky music)


  1. Ah, Command VS Ctrl. At my school we use Adobe apps on iMacs and a lot of times when I get back home and want to edit on my PC I often find myself pressing the Windows key instead of Ctrl. Very frustrating.

  2. thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience! i always enjoying hearing your insight. i loved what you said: "i don't like when technology gets in the way of creating." i couldn't agree more, and that is why i too prefer working with apple devices.

  3. if you want to compare with mac book, you should compare with surface laptop…
    can you compare a bicycle with a motorbike?

  4. ugh, i hate it when mac users review windows stuff and act completely immature about everything. there's a learning curve to everything, fyi.

  5. Very very surprised you have BSOD of problems with your Surface. I've had a Surface Pro 3, and 4, never once have they BSOD me. I have had the occasional lock up, where I have had to turn off the computer by holding the power button, to get it going again. Most of the time that's happened, it's been down to an app hogging system resources. Some of your comments like the screen not being to be pushed back, without pulling the baseunit up is a fair comment (very fair). As for the gap, between the screen and the base, I don't know why people complain about it so much? The reason for the gap was to stop the greasy keyboard leaving, greasy fingerprints on the screen!

    I've been a Windows user since 3.1 and I can see improvements in each version. Windows (and Mac OS) have come a long way since the 90s. Unfortunately, Windows still gets this "bad" image 25 years later, of it being unreliable, flawed and buggy. As a result of XP's inherent security flaws, Microsoft has made significant improvements to Windows to secure it better. With this WannaCry ransomware, the company even issued a patch to Windows XP users, despite support ending from MS. Do Apple still make patches, or updates for Mac OSX.0 or .1, .2? The same era as XP. If they do, good for them.

  6. Yo Mac is god or something? This Surface Book is better than Mac. The title of the video should be Surface Book vs MacBook. Not review.

  7. The hinge makes it possible to use the SB as a 'drawing table'

  8. "because there are a lot of virus' for windows" – really? i would be careful, you bias is starting to show which makes it hard to take your review seriously.

  9. Hey u use this version is that right? "Intel Core i5-6300U 2.4 GHz, 8 GB RAM, 128 GB SSD, Integrated Intel 520 Graphics"
    Run Illustrator and Photoshop without problems?

  10. I mean, I don't know if people do know it or not, but I am gonna say it anyway, you actually can turn off the right click, by serach in cortana and go to touchpad and there you can turn off the right click. Hope it was helpful.

  11. There may have been a technical problem somewhere because this is the first review with a problem like that. To be honest surface products are actually awesome for creation. Microsoft has really done well but that is just my opinion.

  12. Yeah, I've always been a pc user but windows 10 has been a pain even though I am using, according to Microsoft "The Latest and the Greatest" version of windows. Macs are genuinely designed for creativity.

  13. Great review! Definitely was considering buying the version 2 one that is coming out in November I think. It seems that the first version has a bit of flaws. I will wait for when people make reviews on Surface book 2. I definitely have to agree with most of the things that were listed and I've been using windows for a while. There's definitely lots of ways to get malware on windows, but unsure on mac since I've never really used mac. Great to see thoughts about this product from a designer.

  14. I am a Designer and I switched all my studio to Windows a year ago and never looked back. Go Microsoft! Apple has stopped creating solutions for Designers long time ago, they just produce expensive products for a mass market of sheep. Microsoft and Adobe will lead the way in hardware and software, Apple can focus on their overpriced phones and smartwatches. The fad is over I'm afraid.

  15. Macs don't have a touch screen and lack any ports. Windows 10 boots faster than my iPhone by 3 times. This is a biased Mac review. I have no issues with using it and my MacBook air is a freaking mess of problems.

  16. The problem with the ignorant graphic designers is this example. Dont know how works, is more unestable OS X than Windows, works much better, and you are not paying for "looks more profesional". OS X is a closed system so you cannot do anything and the apps are very limited, in the other hand, Windows is an open system (no like Linux) and you can find everything!

  17. The good news is most of the issues you talked about are fixed and for a video recording software you could check out OBS Studio it is free and pretty great! And with viruses and avoiding them it is a skill or a feeling that you develop over time.

  18. For the screen recording, (granted you have the performance base with the nvidia chip) i would recommend shadow play. Its really built for games, but works flawlessly with desktop applications. You don't even need to launch the application like you have to launch quicktime on mac. Just press alt+f9 and it starts recording. If you dont have the performance base, i will agree that screen capture on windows is a real hastle

  19. Do you think you could run ArcGIS on a Microsoft Surface? Not the Surface Book Pro, just the Surface. I need to upgrade to a new computer but I need to use softwares like GIS next semester that are PC specific for the most part. Just wondering if it's worth it to switch back to PC (which I can't stand) or get a Mac and tough it out with the software for the time being

  20. Windows IS a stable platform! If your Windows is crashing on you, it's because you either have bad drivers, not updated Windows, your PC is infected, or you really messed with the OS and done stuff that you weren't supposed to do, like heavily modifying the registry keys, etc. Or maybe you're so unlucky that you've managed to get a crashy Windows version (those exist, yes). I usually download it fresh from the Microsoft website and reinstall it clean.

    In my opinion, Windows 10 is far superior to Mac OS and I haven't had a BSOD in more than a year, and that was also my fault. You just have to learn how to use it properly.

    PS: Take this from a Web Developer, who also uses Adobe CC from time to time.

  21. This is not really an overall review, is it? You are just saying your opinion comparing it to Apple products, which I do believe are good, but I think you could have been more focused on the way the device runs and if it does the job or not, whether you like Apple better or not…

  22. Nice review. Very informative. And don’t listen to all the haters. There were lots of reviewers experiencing crashes and blue screens on the surface book.

  23. This is very helpful, thank you. I'm a long time Windows user and due to my program dependency on Windows, I can't switch to MacOS. But the occasional time when I use my friend's Macbook, I agree that it's much more intuitive.

  24. I was a long time Windows user and years ago I had switched to Apple computers because they seemed to at the time focus on Creators, Artists and Musicians. over the last couple years I have found my self back on Windows because it is clear that Apple no longer cares about Creators,Artist or Musicians but only care about pushing out over priced computers and no longer creating devices and pushing boundaries… Even FCP is terrible. Apple stated in an interview they will no longer be developing FCP past FCPX other then minor updates here and there… it is obvious that Microsoft is the new Apple. I do agree with this girl on one aspect and that is the OS… i grew fond of Mac OS over Windows but then I did some thinking. I use the OS 1% of the time and 99% is spent in some sort of software which is identical to the software in Mac OS… so the OS is meaningless… that is if you know how to use it. my guess is she had issues because something was out of date and there are certain features that need to be set up properly on a Windows computer in order to get the same speedy workflow you get out of Apple computers… I have had 0 crashes or blue screens and found some capture software rather easily. and I don't buy products because it can or can't open 1 handed. as much as I loved Apple computers in my past from another persons point of view nothing that Apple has created even comes close to the Microsoft Surface Products… they are everything Apple should have built and wish they had built…

  25. What was so weird with opening a laptop I cannot lol. You GOT USED to Apple preferrably MAC. But if YOU GOT USED TO microsoft or other laptops aside MAC you’ll definitely have cons reviewing a Mac book. Oh well. It still works, and it’s good.

  26. Best screen recording software for windows is OBS, but fuck windows. It's free and easy to download and install from their website.

  27. Hmm.. on my machine I hit Alt+G then hit R for record. It's built in for recording games and the like, so I wonder why you had to get a third-party application.

  28. The amount of salty windows guys in the comments wow. I returned my Surface Pro last year, buggiest piece of junk ever. I will never buy a Surface product again.

  29. Mac Mac Mac… Come on… You are not talking from the designer's point of view, you are talking from the Mac user's point of view, which is totally ok but naming your video "a designer's thoughts" is misleading. I am an architect, I came here expecting to see a professional with a similar background (a designer) talking about the functional aspect and what I heard is a biased negative critique that comes from a person that has minor to no windows experience and has not even tried to test on the device some decent design software…

  30. You called this a review but it seems more like you were just finding the faults in the laptop. Its a great laptop and its not a mac, its made to function differently. I will say this video is just your own thought on the laptop and not really a review plus you keep comparing it to your MAC. You could as well name the video Surface book vs MAC comparison.

  31. Hi.. I'm India.. present staying in UK.. I'm student interior designer.. After 2months going to b job.. Little bit confused.. I want to buy new laptops before knowing which is best laptops interior design for Autocad 3d max rendering revit photoshop etc.. Used space ungrated.. Please reply Tu:)

  32. You should re-title this. This is a Surface VS Macbook video or a Windows VS Mac video. Not a lot here for designers.

  33. This review sounds very biased. Windows 10 does include an a screen recorder with the pre installed Xbox app. You can't say that the computer is worse when you don't know how to use it. Obviously there will be a learning curve switching from an operating system to another and you should empathize the fact that you are not aware of how to use the computer.

    If the tables were turned and you would have used Windows all your life, you would probably say the same things about a Mac. Just because you are having difficulty with getting used to a new environment doesn't mean that the features aren't there.

    There's a lot of good comments here and I hope you can use the feedback to improve your future review videos based on the feedback left here.

  34. Ok i thouhg this thing looked underpowered at the start but last weekend at a hackathon the designer student on my team used a surface tablet (not surface book) and GOD DAMN that thing hauled ass! it had tons of stuff open. multiple google chrome windows, photoshop tabs, and illistrator tabs all open with multiple layers going in each program. that little thing hauled ass I was impressed. I had no idea that little thing had that much power!

  35. Was a mac user from OS 8.6-10.12. Last year I left the Apple ecosystem and coming from a Mac I have to say I've really been impressed with Windows 10. I notice Windows users don't like it but for me it's the only Windows OS that made it easy for me to transition. The last few versions of OS X on the Mac became bloated with features I didn't want or need as a designer. Even Sierra felt unfinished. I love that Windows 10 has been designed as a touch based OS that works the same between a tablet and Surface pro, and even was developed for mobile through their Windows Phone (now defunct). Apple and Google still use separate OS for each device.

  36. it looks well built I dont know if it would last is the thing its more expensive than mac but ive invested so much money in pc time and time again laptops and desktops and i finally got a macbook pro i couldnt be more happy only thing is this has more memory and its touch screen idk which to choose now

  37. What are you talking about there are over 40 or 50 times more design apps for windows than there is on Mac . Krita,gimp, opencanvas, sketchbook, Corel paint, Photoshop, rebelle, MediBang, fire alpaca, clip paint studio, manga studio, mischief infinite canvas, mypaint. leonardo, painttool sai, photopea,artrage,artweaver, verve painter, paintstorm, drawpile, live rush, juguipaint, sketchport, speedypainter, Photosketcher, mangalabo, inkscape, illustrator, gravit designer, chibi paint, flame painter,sketchable, graphiter, Corel paint it touch, Zen brush, wizard brush artipic photoeditor, and the list goes on and on.

  38. So nice Adobe Typekit is a thing. Now Microsoft’s offering is a viable option. I wish the Surface Pen was a little better. Also Microsoft’s market place has minimal options and poor curation. Adobe should better optimize their software for Windows too.

  39. Guys read the description before you comment something stupid.
    1. This is not a review channel
    2. It says designer "thoughts" this is her perspective and opinions not specifications why this hardware trumps the other.. its just her view jeez, you all are close minded

  40. Did anyone else think she said she's a meth user at the start? It took me a minute to realise she was saying Mac user

  41. Hi, please, can you test drawing app "Leonardo" and "Mischief" with Microsoft Surface Book?
    Thank you in advance.

  42. Sorry to say this but your review is very biased towards Mac.
    ACTUALLY you said MAC more than you said surface book. It felt like you were reviewing a MAC actually.

  43. Ive noticed over time that mac users get easily irritated when things aren't blatantly obvious and handed to them. Mac's are for simple minds, streamlined for super easy use. PC's have a steeper learning curve but in the end are way more versatile

  44. mac vs surfacebook
    its like cat person vs dog person
    When you couldnt replace OS Eco system
    i understand becuz mac os is nice and good
    but sometimes mac is kinda limited but when u use it it kinda nah i can get things done on mac in good mood way
    just mac has its own charm
    also ft surface book but in more advance way #amazing

  45. Even my 6 years old computer never had the blue screen wtf Microsoft. Maybe it's because it is their first 2 in 1 product🤗🤗

  46. Apple is a brand "scared" of inovations nowadays. Thats why their non touch, non detachable/convertible laptops dont break as mutch. Microsoft and other brands are constantly creating unseen new products. While apple makes thinner pcs.

    I loved apple few years ago as mutch as I hate it now. (And I really loved it) And that hinge cant be more stiff. Its holding tablet.

  47. Just my two cents on it: I've been using windows all my life. Whenever I have to use a computer with Mac OS on it, I get lost. Terribly lost.
    Same thing happened with Linux/Ubuntu.
    But for me, when I boot up my windows, I feel almost comfortable? Like I know everything will be there. Also, for me, Mac OS feels almost limiting– Windows may be more prone to viruses, but it gives me more sense of liberty.
    Thank you for your review though 💙

  48. Thanks I found this really helpful. I'm a graphic designer and I was thinking of switching to windows for the first time ever because I'm just not a fan of the new Macs, lack of innovation, unjustified high price etc… My biggest concern was the stability of windows 10 and with all the crashing you've experienced in a short amount of time I'm staying well away. Also I don't know if I could deal without being able to screenshot a selection of the screen or quickly preview files with the space bar, I do these like things 20x a day.

  49. How does the gap effect usage? Can you elaborate? You wouldn't be drawing on it in laptop position so that floppiness wouldn't be an issue? When your applications crash did you find a definitive reason? Its not informative to just tell us some application crashed. You don't seem to be well informed on specs and you spend most of the time comparing the laptop to Macs. This is unclear and not informative.

  50. I use both mac and windows and I'm telling you the Macs are not what they used to be. The hardware is purposely crippled and behind the times with no touchscreens and that stupid touch bar. Not even going to get into the keyboard. I find certain software applications like pro tools for instance crash all the time on my new iMac whereas that never happened at all on my 2009 Mac Pro. Those old Mac Pro desktops were amazing and easy to add harddrives etc… With the iMac you have to use external drives and you have to run all cables up on to the desk to plug into the back of the iMac. So you have USB hubs and external drives all over the place… Apple has seriously lost their way and left professionals behind.

  51. You can get good design software on the Surface book or pro version. Sketch looks cool but there are alternatives like Lunacy. great video tho.

  52. I thought about changing to PC from Mac because of money factors. Is there a way to remap Control Key to Command Key? Command S, Command H, Command V all those commands and much more is how I design really fast and get projects done. The thought of using Control Key is really annoying. It just doesn't feel right.

  53. Sketch is not the only option. Adobe XD is as good! You are in your comfort zone, thats it. I have the SB and I love it! everything about it!

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