Microsoft Surface Book
A fantastic convertible with an innovative design, but it’s starting to look dated – wait for the Surface Book 2
SCORE ✪✪✪✪✪ PRICE £1,999 (£2,399 inc VAT) from microsoft.com/en-gb/store
Arguably the most innovative laptop design since the original Surface, Microsoft’s Surface Book takes the 2-in-1 concept from the opposite direction; not so much a tablet that converts into a laptop as a laptop that deconstructs. The clever magnetic locking hinge that holds the screen and keyboard modules together is a brilliant piece of engineering, while you have to love details such as the way the keyboard curves away towards the sides.
Disconnect the screen module and use it as a tablet and it’s a delight to use, helped by the 3,000 x 2,000 pixel resolution, the incredible 462cd/m² maximum brightness level and superb colour accuracy, with an average Delta E of just 1.01 and 96% sRGB coverage. In addition, the audio benefits from a surprisingly rich tone and wide, spacey soundstage, and you’ll struggle to find a better device for watching video. The new Surface Pro makes more sense if you want to use a stylus frequently, but the Surface Book gives you a larger and very sensitive drawing area for illustrations, diagrams and notes.
Plug the module back in, and you still get a great mobile computer. The full-sized keyboard has a fantastic typing action and a layout that feels right under the fingers, and with two USB 3 ports, a mini-DisplayPort and an SD card reader, it’s easier to forgive the omission of USB-C.
Models run the gamut from a Skylake Core i5 with 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD to a Skylake Core-i7 6600U with 16GB, a 1TB SSD and a Performance Base with additional battery and a discrete Nvidia GPU. Our Core i7/16GB test version managed a credible benchmark score of 47 and had enough power to run Forza Motorsport 6: Apex with the detail levels dropped down to medium. Battery life is also top drawer, with around nine-and-a-half hours of video playback.
This is a seriously tempting premium laptop, particularly with a recent price drop, but it’s still expensive and arguably caught between two stools. In many respects,the Surface Pro makes more sense as a practical, ultra-mobile hybrid, while the Surface Laptop beats the Surface Book on convenience and bang for buck. We eagerly await a new iteration, but the current model has been overtaken.
ABOVE The Surface Book is a delight to use as a tablet and laptop
BELOW The hinge is a very impressive piece of engineering