Microsoft just unveiled its first-ever laptop, the Surface Book. It’s essentially a new member of the Surface family that’s geared more toward those who prefer a full-time laptop rather than a tablet.
I only had a few minutes to test the Surface Book, but during my limited time it seemed like an excellent device that’s equipped to compete with any high-end laptop.
It has the same premium metal design Microsoft has given its Surface Pro tablets, but it’s better at performing like a laptop when you need it.
The device itself is sleek and light. You can disconnect the screen if you want to use it solely as a tablet, but even when it’s connected to the keyboard it felt lightweight.
The screen connects to the keyboard via five magnets, and you need to press an eject button on the keyboard to tell the device that you’d like to disconnect. This worked well in practice — each time I disconnected the tablet, it ejected seamlessly.
The connection is extremely secure, too. A Microsoft employee held the laptop by its screen while it was attached to the keyboard, and it didn’t show any sign of weakness.
You can also attach the tablet to the keyboard backwards so that you can fold the tablet over the keyboard. Even in this state, which Microsoft calls drawing mode, the Book felt pretty light. I held the device in one arm while I sketched on it, and it didn’t feel burdensome.
The Surface Book addresses the primary reason I never opted for Surface Pro in the past — its keyboard. Although Microsoft’s new keyboard case for its Surface Pro tablets is sturdier and improved, the Surface Book’s keyboard is on a whole different level. The metal keyboard deck is just as sturdy and robust as the one you’d find on a MacBook Pro. The keys feel deep and comfortable to type on as well.
The screen seemed sharp and colourful, but it was difficult to really get a feel for it during the short demo.
Microsoft says the Surface Book should last for about 12 hours on a single charge while both parts are connected. There’s a smaller battery in the screen that gives the tablet three hours of battery life while it’s disconnected. The device’s processor is also located in the tablet portion, which is what enables it to function as a computer when it’s detached from its base. The graphics processing unit is located in the base, however, so if you’re using the device for something graphics intensive you’ll want to keep the two connected.
Overall, the Surface Book seems like it could be a worthwhile option for those looking for a powerful new Windows laptop that don’t mind splurging. The Surface Book will cost $US1,500. While you can buy other excellent Windows laptops for that price (such as the $US800 Dell XPS 13), the Surface Book lands in the same price range as Apple’s new MacBook ($US1,200). For $US300 more, you get a machine that’s more powerful, comes with a touchscreen, and supports pen input.
After our first demo, the Surface Book seems like an excellent device, although it likely won’t be for everyone since it’s really aimed at the high end market. It’s also tough to say exactly how it performs until we have more time with it to put it through the paces.