The name Microsoft has long been synonymous with the PC market thanks to the Windows operating system, but it’s only been recent successes like the Xbox and the Surface line of convertibles that have caused the company to take hardware manufacture more seriously. Today, Microsoft announced its first traditional laptop.
Dubbed the Surface Book and pitched as ‘the fastest 13-inch laptop ever made,’ Microsoft’s first foray into laptops is a certifiably high-end system. From the 3,000 × 2,000 resolution of its 267 ppi PixelSense display, to its backlit keyboard, and five-point multi-touch trackpad, this is a luxury machine from top to bottom.
Under the hood, there’s a Skylake processor (base Core i5 dual-core, with i7 optional) and an Nvidia GeForce GPU with GDDR5 memory. We saw the benefits of that power during the demonstration, with League of Legends running flawlessly and video being edited with ease in Adobe Premiere. Customers will be able to fit their Surface Book with an SSD as large as 512GB, and opt for the cheaper option of Intel HD graphics rather than the GeForce GPU.
Though designed to look like a clamshell laptop, the Surface Book’s display can be detached and used as a tablet. It’s built for use on the go, with a weight of 1.7 pounds and a bag-friendly width of just 7.7 millimeters when the detachable keyboard is removed. Plus, twelve hours of battery life should ensure that you’re never caught short. Unlike the Surface Pro 4, the Surface Book includes the keyboard as a standard feature.
When your screen is detached, it’ll function just as any other Windows-based tablet would. However, you’ll need to reattach it to gain the full benefit of Nvidia’s hardware accelerated graphics, as the GPU is situated in the base of the unit.
It should be plain to see that Microsoft is taking a swipe at Apple’s flagship laptop with the device — even if it hadn’t been referred to as twice as the MacBook Pro during the reveal. Everything from the name to the form factor suggests that the Surface Book is gunning for Apple’s territory.
However, Microsoft’s effort isn’t just part of the Surface line for name recognition. This is a 2-in-1 hybrid, and that gives it a considerable advantage over the MacBook. Microsoft has been doing lots of work in this field with previous Surface releases and the many bits of tablet functionality present in Windows 10, so it’s sure to be at the core of the Surface Book.
Microsoft is also packing in its Surface Pen with all models of the Surface Book, further emphasizing that this device can be both a laptop or a tablet depending on the situation at hand. While Apple may have taken a stab at Microsoft with the iPad Pro, this is as strong a response as Microsoft could have hoped to assemble.
The key to this new device’s success, however, is whether or not consumers will see enough value in its hefty price tag. The Surface Book will retail for $1,499, with pre-orders starting tomorrow and shipping on October 27.