After the review of the Surface Pro 4, a Surface Book review seem more complex and time consuming task, because the tech giant claims its newest product the “ultimate laptop” that is designed to go head-to-head with Apple’s MacBook Pro and premium Windows laptops.
The entire Surface line has always been a compromised mixture of tablet and laptop. But the Surface Book is primarily a laptop. It could be also taken for a tablet thanks to a display that detaches into something like a digital clipboard.
Starting at $1,499, the Surface Book is clearly priced at the high-end of the laptop market, and the 1TB of storage model tops out at $3,199. That’s a lot of money to spend on a computer.
Looking at the Surface Book for the first time, it’s easy to compare it to the MacBook Pro. There’s a big trackpad, nice key spacing on the keyboard, and an overall sleek combination of black and silver. All of this resembles a MacBook Pro, but Microsoft isn’t exactly copying Apple here. Just as it did with the Surface Pro 3, Microsoft has picked magnesium for the materials on the Surface Book. It’s almost soft to touch, and it doesn’t feel as cold as the aluminum on a MacBook. Microsoft is going for premium product here, and it’s pretty clear it’s aiming for those tempted by Apple’s well-designed hardware.
The Surface Book requires two hands because it’s magnetically sealed together to ensure nothing moves around while you’re carrying it. That’s not because the tablet portion will ever fall off, but more to protect the hinge. Once open, the Surface Book’s 13.5-inch display is a little tall and unconventional at first glance. That’s because Microsoft has picked a 3:2 aspect ratio instead of the wide 16:9 or 16:10 ratios found on most laptops.
It may take some time to get used to it. Watching movies isn’t ideal on the Surface Book because you get letterboxing, but reading web pages is a joy because of all the additional vertical space. If you spend a lot of time reading on the web, you will feel very comfortable with this oddly shaped display. The color reproduction and the viewing angles is outstanding. Colors really pop, and blacks don’t wash out at all thanks to the 1700:1 contrast ratio. Windows 10 is designed with a dark theme, and it looks great on this beautiful display.
Microsoft has paid a lot of attention to the trackpad and keyboard on the Surface Book, which is exactly what you’d expect from a premium laptop. It’s a big glass surface that feels like a MacBook trackpad.