Microsoft is changing up the Surface line today with the introduction of a Surface laptop called the Surface Book. It’s the first laptop ever built by Microsoft. But it’s a lot more than a laptop. The screen is actually fully removable so that it can be used as a tablet.
Like the Surface Pro 3 before it, Microsoft is using magnesium on the Surface Book. Like most laptops, it has a hinge. Microsoft’s hinge is insane. It’s like a snake and it folds into place to let you adjust the display viewing angle. The trick of the Surface Book is that everything, apart from the Nvidia GeForce GPU with GDDR5 memory, is contained within the screen. That means you can hit a button and it magically detaches from the display. The dock also includes two USB 3.0 ports and an SD card slot.
Naturally, the Surface Book will work with Microsoft’s Surface Pen stylus as well. As for why you’d want to use this device as a tablet, Microsoft is talking about it as a “digital clipboard.” That’s not the most compelling phrase, but it’s really everything that the Surface line has always been: a very powerful tablet that runs desktop Windows. This one just happens to do a much better job of transforming into the laptop that it really wants to be.
Microsoft has added a little prompt that is displayed within Windows to let you know when it’s safe to lift off the display. Once you click the display back into the base unit, it latches into place firmly and it just feels like a normal laptop. It’s actually pretty weighty with the base attached, but the tablet part is incredibly lightweight. That’s surprising given that it’s a 13.5-inch display, but Microsoft has managed to make it thin and lightweight.
Windows laptops have always had awful trackpads, but Microsoft is breaking free from the pack. There’s a glass trackpad, and it feels as good as a MacBook one, which should mean the Surface Book might finally have a killer trackpad. Microsoft has also added in special edge palm rejection, so it’s not going to activate when you’re using the keyboard. Speaking of the keyboard, Microsoft is using similar keyboard hardware that’s found in the new 12-inch MacBook. When you press down it feels more rigid and firm, so it might take some getting used to.
All together, the machine is supposed to keep running for 12 hours on a single charge. “Ounce-for-ounce, pound-for-pound,” Microsoft claims, “this is the fastest 13-inch laptop ever made anywhere on any planet.” Microsoft says it’ll actually be twice as fast as the MacBook Pro. While it’s lightweight as a tablet, it feels like a monster laptop with the base unit. This is really Microsoft’s idea of the ultimate laptop and a 2-in-1 PC. Microsoft wants its Surface Book to be a MacBook Pro killer, and while it’s too early to say whether it is, it’s off to a great start.
The Surface Book is available for pre-order today starting at $1,499, with a sixth-gen Intel Core i5 processor, a 128GB solid-state drive and 8GB of RAM. The highest-end configuration — one with a Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, 512GB of storage and discrete graphics — rings in at $2,699.It will ship starting on October 26th.