This is Microsoft Surface Book – Hands-on

Chris Burns - Oct 6, 2015, 11:16 am CDT
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This is Microsoft Surface Book – Hands-on

The Microsoft Surface Book at first appears to be a very thin, stylish notebook with Windows 10 Pro inside. This notebook is by all means one of the most powerful notebooks of this size in the history of the notebook. The hinge is interesting, uncoiling like a snake to bring the display upward and back to allow you to type and move about the screen with a standard touchpad Microsoft suggests was optimized for Windows 10 use. Unlike a traditional notebook, this device’s display detaches and can be flipped around backwards or used completely independent of its base.

The detachability of the Microsoft Surface Book’s display – tablet, if you will – is not unique to this device. There are quite a few transforming PCs out in the wild today – in fact Microsoft encouraged this sort of behavior when the released Windows 8. The difference here is the elegance with which the tablet detaches and re-attaches – and the power inside the device.

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What you might find odd about this particular piece of equipment at first is the face that it does not close entirely flat. If you’ll watch the presentation video below, you’ll see that it sits up a bit near its hinge. Traditional laptop sensibilities will require some getting used to this bit.

It’s also not completely intuitive to remove. While traditional detachable-screen notebooks usually require you to just yank the top section out, perhaps sliding a mechanical latch at the same time, the Surface Book has a dedicated keyboard button which you have to press for a moment until you get an on-screen message that it’s safe to remove.

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Even then, it required a little effort to tug the two parts asunder, not as easy as you might think when you’re leaning over and trying to pull the not-inconsiderably-sized display section upwards and off its guide bars. The reverse is a little easier, with magnets pulling the screen back into place.

You’ll find grilles around the edges of the tablet, as well – much like Microsoft’s full Surface family.

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Backlit keys and spacing that improves upon the keyboards delivered with previous Surface tablets make for a slightly more friendly keying experience. This is the sort of laptop we imagine will be more lap-friendly than the Surface tablet lineup.

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Above you’ll see the Surface Pen attached to the side of the Surface Book. Much like the Surface Pro 4, this pen is attached magnetically to the unit. We’ll see soon enough if the displays and touchability – and pen-versatility – are equatable on both devices.

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The key feel is good, and there’s plenty of travel, while the trackpad is large and smooth. As a laptop, though, it’s not especially lightweight: all that metal and glass add up to something that feels fairly hefty on your lap. Think along the lines of the MacBook Pro rather than the Air.

This device will be available for pre-order starting on the 7th of October – that’s tomorrow. Have a peek at our first Surface Book details article for the rest of the innards and our new Microsoft Surface Book tag portal for details through the future.

Chris Davies contributed to this report


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