This morning the press embargo on Microsoft's most interesting new product - The Surface Book - lifted, and many different publications have since published their reviews.
I've glanced over some and read a few others, and the device seems to be mostly a success for Microsoft. Joanna Stern wrote a pretty good review for the Wall Street Journal, and I'm personally glad to see something good and interesting come out of the PC space. That market has seemed stale and behind for years now, even with all the convertible and tablet gimmick-ry that Windows 8 brought with it. The Surface Book looks good, looks well-made, and seems to work well as a computer. I'm still not sure exactly how I feel about that interesting/funky hinge, but at least it's something to differentiate it from the all-encompassing MacBook-style design.
I do take issue with one bit of Joanna's review. She writes:
"No, it probably won’t ever be the best tablet, but if you ask me, “tablets” will soon just be the top halves of those things called...laptops."
I sat and thought about this line for a good bit of time. I've been happily using my iPad Air 2 as my only computer for about a year now, and my initial reaction to Joanna's statement was that I wouldn't want it to be the top half of a laptop-style device.
I love how thin and light the iPad's mobile nature allows it to be, I love it's mobile OS and the very active developer community around it today, and I love that I can add a stand and a bluetooth keyboard if need be - but the rest of the time it's just one simple device without any hinges or kickstands to add complexity or design clutter.
But then I thought about it for a bit more.
If Apple had the technology to make a tablet just as good as my current iPad Air 2 in every way and yet still have it attach to a laptop-base would I want it? My gut says no, but my logical brain says yes.
I'm not sure if that hypothetical device would win out for me in the real world, but it does pose an interesting question for both the iPad and all tablets going forward: Will we want all our devices to come together into one as the technology progresses? Or will ever-improving specialized devices make it so that everyone can find a really great device to suit their individual needs?
It's an intriguing question, and I think either answer has its own benefits. I like my iPad-only setup and its simplicity for now, but maybe in the future it won't look so different from the Surface Book of today. We'll see.