Why I didn’t contribute to Surface Growth in 2020


I am a big Microsoft customer and have 2 Surface devices (Go and Laptop 3). During the pandemic my wife has been working from home and using her old mac laptop, which broke and now we share my SL3 in addition to my PC desktop. I use the Go at work because my work laptop is big and not pen enabled. I am an engineer so sketching and using full Excel while walking around the lab is very convenient.

From my standpoint the Surface product line up does not offer any substantial improvements to what I am currently using. If the Go 2 had instant on and great battery life maybe I’d upgrade, but the Pro X is too big and expensive. I’m not interested in a Pro 7 because I know the “couch typing” experience is not good. I would pay to put 10X on my Go, but it doesn’t look like that is going to happen any time soon.

With how intense the chipset competition is I am hoping there will be new devices in the next 18 months with significantly improved mobility (maybe Alder Lake), or an acceptably performant ARM chip.

Did anyone else look at buying a new Surface device in 2020? What did you decide?

Comments (11)

11 responses to “Why I didn’t contribute to Surface Growth in 2020”

  1. fpalmieri

    I had posted earlier about best Surface for note taking with a pen / OneNote for my daughters (college and recent graduate) and advice on which Surface to buy - their existing Windows (HP Envy touchscreen) laptops are hooked up to a big monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc. for video meetings, etc. so not easy to take notes with - both wanted to stick with Windows. Overwhelming advice was to buy an iPad - which we ended up doing (basic iPad and iPad Air with respective Pencil's). Short answer is they are working well for both and they are happy with purchase. I'm not happy from a "I really wanted a Surface to work" but it was the correct choice. This is a use case that the Surface should be the Windows alternative and it should be a slam dunk what to choose.

  2. anoldamigauser

    If I were to get a Surface device, and I did look, it would be the i5/8GB/128GB version on sale. At that point, the modest price difference from the Go 2 is worth paying for the increased performance and acceptable increase in size. The real issue, though, is that Windows is not a great tablet OS, which makes the iPad a better choice for those needing a tablet, and the 2 in 1 form factor, like the Yoga and HP x360 models, a better choice for those needing a laptop.

    Perhaps Windows 10X will offer a better tablet experience, but it will not offer full Office applications. I am sure they will offer 10X on the Surface Go line when it is released, but they are not interested in letting users "upgrade" existing hardware.

  3. earlster

    I have an SP4, and generally loved it, but it was getting a bit long in the tooth, and I've been thinking about replacing it with something more up to date but also keeping it around as a secondary device.

    Now, the battery in the SP4 started to expand, bulging the screen and making it a safety hazard. The fact that the battery is not replaceable in a reasonable way, and my experiences with MS consumer product support, both from this issue, as well as others in the past, is making me look at other vendors like HP, Dell, or Lenovo.

    I also think that some of the modern flip devices, like x360, or Yoga make more sense as a hybrid device. MS set the tone with Surface Pro, and Surface Book, but they need some new ideas and new differentiators, as well as better support and design improvements on the existing products.

  4. shark47

    I bought a Surface Pro 7 and an M1 Air at the same time. I ended up keeping the Air and returning the Surface. I really like the Mac, but it is also limiting for me in some ways and the only PC I have right now is a Surface Pro 5, so I might end up buying a new one this year. That said, I almost certainly won't buy a Surface. The hardware is cool and all that, but it's too underpowered to be useful. (I might consider the Pro X if the performance improves.)

  5. bwherman

    I tried twice to contribute to Surface success this year but both ended up being abject failures. First I purchased the SB3 13" w/ NVIDIA card. Didn't enjoy the fact that there has been no redesign, and oddly the hinge was a little loose, so it got returned. Decided "why don't I try something completely different" and like an idiot purchased the Surface Pro X with SQ2. Beautiful hardware. Beautiful. However, the performance is absolutely abysmal with what I think most would consider an extremely light workload (multiple Edge tabs running, email, Spotify). Returned. I didn't want to because the device "felt" so good, but returned. I ended up with the new Tiger Lake XPS 2-in-1. Bought the pen so that I could use the functionality as I needed it and frankly I've never been so happy to be on a gimmick-free laptop experience. The bezels are almost non-existent, the processor is plenty fast, and I can pop in the odd gaming session. Also, maligned though it may be, I really enjoy typing on the mag-lev keyboard on this thing, but to each their own!

    • thejoefin

      In reply to bwherman:

      I too have been looking at the XPS 2-in-1 it looks like an amazing device.

      I wonder what the return rate of Surface devices is. Since they try to push the boundaries of traditional PCs do many people try, then return them because the all in one tablet PC just doesn't deliver a good enough experience?

      • bwherman

        In reply to TheJoeFin:

        In retrospect, I probably should have opted for the FHD instead of the UHD display, because it sucks battery, but overall this has been a stellar buy. Also, in hindsight I feel like I should have gotten the Arctic White but the black carbon still feels great.

        I have had about a dozen Surface devices over the years, starting from the Surface RT, and I don't even want to talk about how many times I gave Windows Phones a real shot. I will say that after removing myself from that ecosystem of products, my favorite time with any of them was the Surface Pro, but since they have inexplicably refused to update the design in about the last 4 iterations, it is just starting to feel stodgy, which is the last thing this product line ever aspired to be.

  6. jchampeau

    My experience and use cases are similar to yours. I owned a Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 back a long time ago when they used Y-series processors and I loved it. Then I got a Surface Pro 5, then a Surface Laptop 3, and now I'm going back to a new 16:10 XPS 13 2-in-1. The "couch typing" issue is an issue for me too which rules that line out, the inability to flip the keyboard around and sketch leaves the Surface Laptop 3 out (that's why I sold it), and same with the Surface Book because I have no interest in stopping what I'm doing to awkwardly "flip" it manually. It seems the only form factor Microsoft doesn't make is the one that works best for me.

    I've always had an iPad since 2012, and that fills a role none of the above devices do--reading via Kindle app, quick note entry into OneNote, watching movies and TV shows on a plane, etc.

  7. illuminated

    Surface Pro is fantastic travel computer. I still have my 3 or 4 year old one and see no reason to upgrade. One surprising reason is quality of the device. I am not too careful but my surface still looks and runs great.

    Having said that I 'd love to have a thinner and lighter surface with GPS and Android compatibility.

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