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All about Microsoft's Surface Book

Posted by Andrea Baker on

Since Microsoft announced in 2012 it was releasing its own line of PCs this big name software player has been notching up some serious hardware runs on the board. Now after the success of Surface tablet range, Microsoft has again upped its game in the form of its newest hybrid - the Surface Book.

In this latest dalliance to create a computer that does it all, Microsoft has stretched its wings beyond tablets, instead targeting the laptop market. This is their take on "the ultimate laptop for working professionals" and what it offers to users.

A laptop


The foremost feature of the Surface Book is that instead of a being a tablet that can operate with a keyboard, this is primarily a laptop "with tablet capabilities".

Its design includes a keyboard that connects in continuous style to a 13.5-inch slate which can be easily detached. This is via a “dynamic fulcrum hinge” that has some users raving and others questioning its design. When closed, clamshell style, there is a slight gap in the hinge area between the keyboard and screen.

A Surface Pen that connects magnetically to the side of the screen comes included. The keyboard is backlit and includes touchpad.

Inside the device are two sets of batteries; 75 per cent of battery power is housed in the keyboard and an additional 25 per cent in the tablet, which also hosts the CPU.

It features either an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor along with up to 16GB memory and the innovative addition of an optional NVIDIA GeForce Graphics Processing Unit under the keyboard for those who want a little gaming or creative power with their workplace computer. 

Microsoft Surface Book

Tablet

Courtesy of its "dynamic fulcrum hinge" it only takes a moment to turn the Surface Book into a fully functioning tablet. The tablet is unlocked by pressing either the eject button on the keyboard or the virtual button on the task bar. The screen blinks off for a second before notifying users it's safe to detach the slate with a quick tug.

Users then have access to a 13.5-inch tablet with 5MP front-facing camera, 8MP rear-facing camera and a whole lot of pixels. The tablet boasts over 6 million pixels, or 267ppi, in Microsoft's popular 3:2 aspect ratio which matches the dimensions of an A4 sheet of paper.

The tablet can be used with the Surface Pen or via the multi-touch PixelSense screen. 

Creative canvas


Not content with functioning in two configurations, the Surface Book can be used in three. Detach the screen, turn it around, reconnect it and the package becomes a "creative canvas'" that looks much like a book folded back on itself. This puts the device in "pen first" mode, unlocking its "full creative power" for sketching, web markups and illustration. 

Surface Book Laptop

The finer details

Software-wise the Surface Book has access to the full Windows suite courtesy of pre-installed Windows 10 Pro operating system, but also supports light desktop gaming, and advanced photo processing and video editing software. Limitless apps can also be installed.

Microsoft notes this equals a laptop where you can CAD or code "without limitations", catering to professional grade software so you can work anywhere you go.

And, according to TechRadar: "While the Surface Book brings many technological innovations to the laptop space, it's greatest strength is that it's just an all-round terrific device".

But with this comprehensive package comes a little extra weight. The Surface Book weighs in at 1.52kg without the optional GPU, which adds an extra 700 grams. The taller screen (or wider tablet) also makes this a slightly unconventional size.

When it comes to ports, the Surface Book has a host of them, including two USB3 ports, a MiniDisplay port, SDCard reader and mini headphone/mic jack.

Running in laptop mode Microsoft promises up to 12 hours battery life, (TechRadar experienced more like 7.5 hours) while the tablet runs for four when disconnected from the keyboard. 

In Australia, the Galaxy Tab Pro S will set you back $1499 and can be found at most major retailers like JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, Joyce Mayne and a host of online retailers including Samsung itself.

This price sees it a little more expensive than its competitors the MS Surface Pro 4, which retails at $1349, and the iPad Pro, which also comes in at $1349 for the similar-sized 12.9 inch version with 128GB. However neither of these models include a keyboard in the purchase price, and genuine keyboards will set you back around $250.  

Price

With a starting price of AUD$2299 this is not a purchase for the faint hearted. This price tag includes 128GB storage, 8GB RAM and the Intel Core i5 processor.

Start adding upgrades and it will set you back a whole lot more, with the top of the range model that includes 1TB storage, 16GB Ram, the i7 processor and the optional GPU, costing AUD $4949. 

Conclusion

Microsoft has covered some major ground when it comes to innovation in the hybrid market over the past four years. Its Surface range has proved extremely popular with each generation improving upon the predecessor.

The Surface Book continues the trend of treating customers to high-end products with optimum functionality. But as their first draft of a laptop, there will be improvements yet to come.

In the words of CNET: "While it's not nearly as refined as the new fourth-gen Surface Pro, Microsoft's Surface Book is a powerful, feature-filled premium hybrid that doesn't forget it's a laptop first".