Home Reviews Laptops Microsoft Surface Book Review: The perfect rival to Apple’s MacBook

Microsoft Surface Book Review: The perfect rival to Apple’s MacBook

Microsoft Surface Book

Lo and behold! Microsoft has finally come up with its very own laptop or its brainchild per se. Amongst the Dells and the Apples and the Lenovos of this world, we’ve secretly always wanted Microsoft to build its own laptop.

Being one of the foremost tech juggernauts of the 21st century, some would say that it was about time.

Gone are the days when you would need to worry about a short battery life while writing your favourite poetry on the porch of the house, or the times when your laptop will shut down at will when your video chatting with your favourite sister overseas, or the times when your device lacks that portability edge which inhibits your travelling self. Microsoft is proudly claiming that it has now come up with an answer to all these problems and more.

 

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The Christening

Microsoft has christened it by the name of ‘Surface Book’ and it definitely packs a punch thanks to a myriad of features and enticing specifications. Apart from including the latest cutting edge Intel processors and the effervescent Nividia graphics, the laptop comes in a sleek, smart and slim body which makes it aesthetically pleasing as well. What more could you want?

Judging by the fact that almost the entire battery and some components have been beautifully and efficiently hidden inside the laptop base, the device is overall lightweight which comes as a boon to all regular users out there. The screen has given ‘high resolution’ a whole new dimension and the presence of a high tech stylus pen makes it all the more enticing.

 

Microsoft Vs Apple

If Microsoft is claiming that they’ve designed this particular laptop to go hammer and tongs with the universally recognized and loved Macbook Pro (Apple’s very own brainchild and bestseller), then that automatically gives this device bundles of credibility. Did we mention that the Microsoft Surface Book is not only a laptop, but a tablet as well?

Well, this is just one of the many traits which sets it apart from all other similar devices in the market as of today. Thanks to a sleek display which is easily detachable forming a digital clip-board, it only takes mere seconds for this high end laptop to be transformed into an equally powerful tablet.

Starting at a not so shy number of $1,499, this Microsoft Surface Book is definitely at the high end of the financial spectrum, given that the model which brings in 1 TB tops out at a mammoth $3,199.

Even though the numbers might appear a tad higher at the beginning, but its regular usage will make it all worth it. At the end of the day, you’d get a device which is laden with a wide array of features, has a smart look, a great and smooth trackpad-keyboard combo whilst lasting you an entire working day. Hard to imagine, isn’t it?

Here’s our comprehensive analysis of the device:

 

An Impressive Job On The Trackpad And The Keyboard

Microsoft Surface Book brings forth a big and smooth trackpad, optimum spacing between the keys, and a classic amalgamation of silver and black. No wonder it is being racked up against MacBook Pro in the tech versus segment.

That being said, Microsoft isn’t indulging in brand plagiarism aka it is not copying Apple exactly.

The device in totality is extremely soft to touch (Magnesium is the material used here) and won’t feel as cold or harsh as aluminium used with a MacBook.

 

You’d Definitely Like What You See

While using the Surface Book, I noticed that opening it requires 2 hands. This is because the flaps are magnetically sealed which makes sure that nothing moves when you’re carrying it. Once you open it, you’re gifting yourself a crystal clear 13.5 inch display which has been recognized to give ‘HD’ a different meaning. What sets it apart? MS has chosen an aspect ratio of 3:2 going against the conventional norms of 16:10 or the 16:9 which laptops generally use. The colours come up pure and bold with the help of a 1700:1 contrast ration.

 

Experience The Web In All Its Glory

You might not be insanely happy while watching movies, but you’ll definitely become a huge fan of scrolling through the Internet whilst using the Surface Book.Reading web pages acts like a treat for sore eyes because of the additional vertical space.

Moreover, the different viewing angles and the colour reproduction act as the icing on the cherry.

 

Distinct Models But Equally Savvy

After all the testing that I’ve done at my end, it appears that all models including the base one works at a fast speed. If you’re in for some regular web browsing, periodical usage of multiple apps and even some Photoshop here and there, you’re golden.

The base model comes equipped with an 8 GB RAM and the Intel’s latest i5 Processor whereas the latter models come equipped with double the RAM and the Core i7 Processor.

Of course, if you’re a gaming aficionado, go with the latter hands down thanks to the Nvidia GPU pre-installed in the laptop base.

The Fulcrum Hinge Paradox

If you’re a techie like me, you’d know that almost all Windows laptops come with a hinge problem. Although, Microsoft hasn’t fully resolved these issues but it has arguably made the greatest inroads yet.

Traditionally, laptops carry majority of their weight in the base and not so much in the display. This is where the Surface Book has won its plaudits as it provides an innate balance thanks to the fulcrum hinge. The fact that this is also a tablet is what acts as a tiny chink in its armour.

You might find that the hinge isn’t too resistive like regular laptops provide.

Ergo, it might wobble just a tad if you’re briskly typing in your lap or regularly making use of the touch display whilst using it as a laptop.

 

The Secret Keyboard Button

Who doesn’t love to be a little mysterious? Well, MS has especially designed or rather provided some sort of a secret keyboard button which lets you unlock the screen display right from the base.

Ever imagined a secret little button which opens up a passage to your fantasy world?

Well, you’re in luck if you have! The button also allows you to pull off the display so that you can make use of it as a tablet.

 

The Tablet Side

If you’ve failed to notice, let me reiterate that the MS Surface Book isn’t just a laptop. Hence, it is only fair if we judge it on the lines of a tablet as well.

What MS has done so well is that it has managed to engineer the fruits of an entire bigshot PC into the sleek display of a tablet. It supports an efficient stylus and can be doubled up as a touch screen as well.

Moreover, it weighs a mere 1.6 pounds which makes it feel lighter than air, metaphorically of course.

 

The Majestic Surface Pen

Apart from the tiny little lag which will mostly affect artist who want to work on professional lines, this new surface pen has been vastly improved from its earlier versions all thanks to the highly resistive tip.

It is ideal for note taking and you also have an eraser on the top. It will also magnetically snap to the side.

Furthermore, you can activate Cortana directly by holding the pen button down. Convenient, isn’t it?

 

The Much Lauded Laptop-Tablet Transition

Like I said that the tablet becomes a hardcore PC when detached; the base is not just about the trackpad and the keyboard. Apart from a mini Display port, a complete SD card reader, 2 USB ports, there’s also an Nvidia GPU for some versions.

The base acts as an effective battery dock for the tablet. If your tablet usage is done, thanks to the muscle wire and magnets, the Surface Book stays efficiently and securely coupled together. It is no denying that it is a smart piece of engineering; however it needs battery power to get activated.

As we all know, Windows 10 has pulled off an impressive job when it comes to switching between a traditional mouse and keyboard and the new age touch friendly mode. You can also enable the device to perform this automatically.

The transition is as smooth as a red velvet cake as the applications also retort to their original positions when you shift to the laptop mode.

 

A Good Battery That Lasts For Good

Here we’ve arrived at the point that you’ve all been waiting for. Yes! The batter life is a class apart by all means. Companies and brands usually tend to lie about stuff like this claiming they’ve got x number of hours after a full charge.

From many years of experience, I’ve come to realize that all these are false claims. But when MS came out and proudly claimed a battery life of over 12 hours upon regular usage as a laptop and about 4 hours as a tablet, it was telling the whole truth. During my very own personal testing, the laptop battery lasted no less than 13 hours.

Can you imagine that? These are never-before-seen numbers, something you would not expect from a Windows laptop.This reason is enough for all potential buyers to take the MS Surface Book plunge.

Moreover, you can charge both the laptop and the tablet portions using a single cable.

 

The Surface Book Gap Is Uncalled For

The hinge reappears! The issue with the hinge is the Achilles heel of the Microsoft Surface Book. Upon closing it down, the display doesn’t flatten out with the keyboard base completely inducing an unnecessary gap. This acts as an open invitation for dust, hair and what not!

That being said, this compromise is what has led this laptop to be transformed into a tablet. Not a heavy price to pay, is it?

 

Few Creeping Issues

Whilst my time with the Surface Book, I’ve experienced the following set of issues:

  • Multiple software issues – Here and there, the software do lets you down, but not permanently is what is worth noticing.
  • Blue Screens – As much as I hate to admit it, I experienced the much dreaded blue screens on almost a daily basis. MS are claiming that this is just an initial bug and will be resolved sometime soon. A win-win situation for users it is then!
  • Trackpad – The trackpad isn’t as seamless as it was appearing to be. Using the device in the tablet mode brings forth some issues with trackpad scrolling and gesturing as well.
  • The MS Docking App – The App which directly controls the detaching features of the tablet is prone to crashing every now and then.
  • Absence Of Windows Hello – Windows Hello is a feature which predominantly allows you to log in to your favourite devices with simply your face. Since the drivers aren’t quite ready yet, this prospect is absent with the Surface Book.
  • Lack of Windows 10 applications for the tablet – This one’s a no brainer really! The reach which you get on the Apple Store can’t be matched by any other label.
  • The Stylus – Even though there have been astronomical improvements, the stylus still doesn’t feel as natural as it should.

 

 Conclusion

After all that has been said and done, let us entertain the elephant in the room. Is the Microsoft Surface Book the ultimate laptop as MS claims it to be? Its nearly there! And you wouldn’t bet against MS pulling it off as these bugs are of a temporary nature and can be fixed whenever those Microsoft miracle workers get down to do the dirty work.

Related: The Absolutely-Must Have Laptop Accessories to buy in 2016

In a nutshell, MS has created almost the perfect recipe to beat or rather match MacBook Pro’s purple patch. And I am claiming ‘almost’ because there’s still a little room to attain perfection.

However, when you put hybrids (Laptop + Tablet) under the microscope, this Microsoft Surface Book is the best you will ever have. Are you ready to take the plunge?

 

 

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