Surface Bookby Microsoft

  • Surface Book
  • Surface Book
  • Surface Book
  • Surface Book
TECHWALLA
VERDICT
A solid product. Despite some flaws, it's still a good value.
80%
TECHWALLA SCORE
based on the following sites

PROS

  • Microsoft has executed a superb convertible laptop that's comfortable to use, looks attractive, and performs great.
  • Excellent battery life when you use both the screen and keyboard components together (separately, the screen offers much lower battery life).
  • Excellent, nearly 4K-resolution display configured in a great size and aspect ratio.

CONS

  • This is a pricey laptop; it starts at $1500 and some configurations run more than $3000.
  • At almost 3.5 pounds, it's a little heavy.
  • You might not like the gap caused by the "fulcrum" hinge.
The Surface Book is notable if for no other reason than it's Microsoft's very first laptop. Designed as a premium convertible device, it has an elegant finish, speedy components (even an optional dedicated gaming-quality graphics chipset), and works in three different modes. You can use it as a laptop, flip the screen around and use it as a convertible tablet, or remove the display entirely so it's a tablet at half the weight. You can draw directly on the screen with an included stylus, which attaches to the side of the laptop magnetically.
NameSurface BookSpectre x360Chromebook C100 Flip (2015)Transformer Book Flip TP300LA (13-inch)Inspiron 11 3000 2-in-1 (2014)
ManufacturerMicrosoftHPAsusAsusDell
Techwalla Score
80%
80%
76%
76%
71%
List Price$1499$900$250$800$400
90%

The included Surface Pen attaches to the side of the screen magnetically, which is much more convenient than the fabric loop on the Microsof…

The included Surface Pen attaches to the side of the screen magnetically, which is much more convenient than the fabric loop on the Microsoft Surface Pro 3. As on the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, the eraser-like button on the top of the Pen automatically brings up OneNote on the Surface Book with a single click, and opens the Cortana voice assistant if you hold the eraser for a second or two.

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90%

Couldn’t Microsoft have just used a conventional latch? Probably, but like the joke from Office Space goes, “People want atmosphere and atti…

Couldn’t Microsoft have just used a conventional latch? Probably, but like the joke from Office Space goes, “People want atmosphere and attitude, that’s what the pieces of flair are about.” And the Muscle Wire Lock is definitely a piece of flair.

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87%

What's nice about the Surface Book's screen-detaching mechanism is that it uses software-based controls to make sure you remove the display …

What's nice about the Surface Book's screen-detaching mechanism is that it uses software-based controls to make sure you remove the display safely. So, if you're running a program using the GPU in the keyboard dock, the Surface Book will prompt you to close out of the app; otherwise you won't be able to remove the screen.

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83%

Typing on the Surface Book is a weird experience at first. There’s not very much key travel, so the keyboard feels a little hard. It took a …

Typing on the Surface Book is a weird experience at first. There’s not very much key travel, so the keyboard feels a little hard. It took a few hours of typing to get used to it, and now when I switch back to other laptops their keyboards feel mushy in comparison.

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80%

It's intended to be a three-quarter-time laptop and one-quarter-time tablet, as intuited by the fact that 75 percent of its battery capacity…

It's intended to be a three-quarter-time laptop and one-quarter-time tablet, as intuited by the fact that 75 percent of its battery capacity is housed in the keyboard base, with the remaining 25 percent packed behind the display, along with the CPU, memory and most (but not all) of the other components.

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70%

I don’t think Microsoft cares about things like tablet-only battery life, though. These modes are for showing someone a PowerPoint, or occas…

I don’t think Microsoft cares about things like tablet-only battery life, though. These modes are for showing someone a PowerPoint, or occasionally watching a movie in your hotel room. Microsoft doesn’t even call it “tablet mode,” it calls it “Clipboard mode.” If you want a tablet to use all day, every day, Microsoft has one of those. Buy a Surface Pro 4, they’ll tell you. That’s a tablet. This is a laptop.

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70%

The glass touchpad was a mixed bag. Navigating the desktop felt silky smooth as I moved the cursor, but scrolling on websites stuttered slig…

The glass touchpad was a mixed bag. Navigating the desktop felt silky smooth as I moved the cursor, but scrolling on websites stuttered slightly (more so in Chrome than Edge). I also needed to turn off right clicking so as to avoid accidental right clicks; I resorted to two-finger clicks instead.

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70%

The power plug has a few nice features, in that it’s both reversible and magnetic. However, plugging it in can be a bit awkward when the Boo…

The power plug has a few nice features, in that it’s both reversible and magnetic. However, plugging it in can be a bit awkward when the Book is lying flat on a desk. The fact that it’s on the keyboard dock is also a bit awkward, because it means there’s no way to charge the tablet half alone.

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There are some issues here, including the acceptance around the hinge and the lowered performance (and battery life) in tablet mode, but the…

There are some issues here, including the acceptance around the hinge and the lowered performance (and battery life) in tablet mode, but there is a lot to like in this new frontier. It offers a different approach to the regular laptop while offering a solid tablet, it offers high specifications in an attractive and unique design, and it has managed to get a lot of people very excited.

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Most obviously, it’s a lot sharper. The 3000 x 2000 pixels display is a little under 4K, and comes in at 267 ppi (vs 227 on the MBP). Apple …

Most obviously, it’s a lot sharper. The 3000 x 2000 pixels display is a little under 4K, and comes in at 267 ppi (vs 227 on the MBP). Apple may dubiously claim that your eyes can’t resolve that many pixels at a typical viewing distance, but if you ever lean in to your screen to inspect images up close, the difference is readily apparent.

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Here’s the craziest thing about the Book’s screen: It holds all the brains of the high-powered laptop. My $1,500 entry-level model had an In…

Here’s the craziest thing about the Book’s screen: It holds all the brains of the high-powered laptop. My $1,500 entry-level model had an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of solid state drive storage. (For another $400, you get more powerful graphics.)

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I hit some kind of bug or glitch with the system. The Surface Book believed that the screen was detached when it wasn't. The keyboard button…

I hit some kind of bug or glitch with the system. The Surface Book believed that the screen was detached when it wasn't. The keyboard button did nothing at all (because the keyboard wasn't being recognized), and the taskbar button to unlatch the screen didn't offer to unlatch, because in its opinion it was already detached from the base, and there's no reason to unlatch the base if it's not attached.

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If I have to buy a hybrid, I'd like to see the best of the Surface Book and Surface Pro worlds combined. If I don't, I'd rather see Microsof…

If I have to buy a hybrid, I'd like to see the best of the Surface Book and Surface Pro worlds combined. If I don't, I'd rather see Microsoft make a laptop that's just an excellent laptop.

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Similarly, the Surface Book’s large, glass-covered touchpad is among the best I've ever used on a PC, rivaling those found on Apple MacBook …

Similarly, the Surface Book’s large, glass-covered touchpad is among the best I've ever used on a PC, rivaling those found on Apple MacBook Pros and Airs. It feels great and offered just the right level of response. I especially enjoyed using gestures, like the three-finger swipe up to access the desktop and all open apps.

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It's certainly wonderful to use, without a blip or lag. The Surface Book just flies, featuring the latest generation Intel processors and up…

It's certainly wonderful to use, without a blip or lag. The Surface Book just flies, featuring the latest generation Intel processors and up to an enormous 1 terabyte (1,000 GB) of storage.

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For one, the 3:2 aspect ratio really affords you a lot more viewing space than what you get from the 16 x 10 display of a MacBook Pro. Also,…

For one, the 3:2 aspect ratio really affords you a lot more viewing space than what you get from the 16 x 10 display of a MacBook Pro. Also, the i5 configuration performs swimmingly for your basic internet browsing, Netflix watching, light photoshopping-type behavior. Battery life is fantastic—I regularly got through 6-7 hours of work without charging.

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Microsoft told us everything we thought we needed to know about the Surface Book as a laptop, and then turned that on its head with its deta…

Microsoft told us everything we thought we needed to know about the Surface Book as a laptop, and then turned that on its head with its detachable tablet. It was showmanship worthy of an Apple event...

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If you didn't know any better, you wouldn't even know the keyboard and gorgeous 13.5-inch touch screen can be detached from one another, whi…

If you didn't know any better, you wouldn't even know the keyboard and gorgeous 13.5-inch touch screen can be detached from one another, which transforms Surface Book into a large display clipboard or slate that I suspect will invite comparisons with Apple's yet to be released iPad Pro.

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The other benefit of having the strange hinge which does not close completely is that the keys never touch the display. Most notebooks have …

The other benefit of having the strange hinge which does not close completely is that the keys never touch the display. Most notebooks have the keyboard sunken in the deck, which reduces the maximum key travel. The extra room provided by the hinge lets Microsoft offer a 1.6 mm key travel on a very thin base.

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Finally, the Surface Book delivers on the original promise of Windows 8 -- a dual operating system that works on both mobile and desktop dev…

Finally, the Surface Book delivers on the original promise of Windows 8 -- a dual operating system that works on both mobile and desktop devices. You can switch seamlessly between desktop and mobile modes with the Surface Book in a way that you simply can't with Apple devices. The MacBook Pro and iPad Pro, for example, run on two completely different operating systems.

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I don’t have too many beefs with the Surface Book, but I did find its touchpad to be its weakest element. It has, in its current firmware it…

I don’t have too many beefs with the Surface Book, but I did find its touchpad to be its weakest element. It has, in its current firmware iteration, a tough time accepting input if your fingers are both too dry, or too wet. Moist, even. I am a fat bastard, so I sweat. This became something of an issue.

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