The Surface Book is an important hybrid laptop model for Microsoft, which is trying to combine a lot of power and a lot of graphics into this computer, whether or not you are using it as a tablet. Does this approach work for people? Let’s see what they have to say.
The 13.5-inch ultra HD touchscreen (comes with Surface Pen) is a notable feature for this laptop, and the lightweight 3.48 pounds is pretty great, but you should also know that you can push specs to the max with this model, getting 16GB of RAM, a TB of storage, the latest Intel chips, NVIDA GPU, and so on. It’s very much a high-end ultrabook.
- Detachable hybrid design for tablet use
- Responsible ultra HD touchscreen
- Comfortable keyboard
- Hinge is a little awkward on 1st gen
- Conflicting battery life reports
- Some features, like face recognition, not always reliable
For the Surface Book, Techradar noted that the design appeared to be top-notch and that the display was particularly good for such a compact laptop. They also really enjoyed the tablet separation feature and how you could use the screen as an outsized tablet at all. However, they did not care for the battery life at all, which they reported fell well below reported specs.
“With the Surface Book, you can accomplish that and so much more than you would with a notebook that flips inside out or a tablet alone. Likewise, you can do so no differently than you would using a Surface Book 2 at that. And, if you thought you would be netting a more attractive design as a result of purchasing Microsoft’s new laptop, you would be dead wrong. The Surface Book we’re reviewing here boasts a classic design that Microsoft will iterate on for years to come.”
Consumer Reports noted the opposite of Techradar, that the Surface Book had a long battery life. This happens quite a bit with compact laptop models, probably because battery life depends so much on settings and what you’re actually doing on the laptop. Otherwise, CR liked the SSD, lightweight nature, and touchscreen of the Surface, but noted that it does not come with an optical drive to read disks…and may encounter some of those infamous Windows bugs.
“Microsoft’s first laptop uses a unique electro-mechanical hinge to lock and unlock the display from the base to turn it into a tablet. It’s a powerful computer with long battery life and excellent performance, but it’s also expensive. The screen moves when you tap on it. There’s a rear-facing 8MP camera on the tablet and a forward-facing 5MP camera near the top of the screen, as well as stereo microphones at the top rear edge of the display. While this product scored well in lab testing, Consumer Reports cannot give it a “recommended” designation in this category because of its brand’s comparatively high problem rate, as determined by a reliability analysis based on a survey of Consumer Reports subscribers.”
Amazon users appreciated the design and hybrid nature of the laptop, especially from a professional perspective, as the lightweight nature and power of the model allowed it to easily be used in a busy work environment.
“To give an example, I have been working on a design competition over the past week. With the rate of production we needed to meet the deadline, printing everything out for review would have been a pain and a little difficult to deal with. By putting the laptop into what I’ll call “heavy tablet mode” (detach the monitor, flip it around, re-attach, then fold flat), I could use the laptop like instant paper: rotate my 3d model into the view we want to sketch on, then activate screen-sketch mode, which takes a screenshot and displays it immediately in a simple sketching environment.”
If you like the idea of a hybrid and don’t mind Windows 10, this could be an excellent option…but make sure you compare early and new models for price and model specs before you buy. You can compare top models and get the best reviews from Gadget Review here.