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Microsoft hopes to wow with Surface Book and Surface Pro 4

Sarah K. White | Oct. 9, 2015
Every vendor likes to claim it’s ‘reinventing’ technology, but with the Surface Book, in particular, Microsoft may really change the way you view notebooks.

The real news: The Surface Book

The real show stopper at Microsoft's Windows 10 Device announcement was the Surface Book, which is the company's first legitimate attempt at a proprietary Microsoft notebook. Microsoft scores in the looks department, and although it strongly resembles a Macbook Pro or the Macbook Air, you'd be hard pressed to find an aesthetics-focused PC that doesn't these days. But, unlike the Macbook Pro or Macbook Air, the Surface Book also has a touch-screen display, a docking keyboard and a 360-degree rotating hinge.

If the Surface Pro 4 is too much of a tablet to replace your notebook, the Surface Book is all notebook. It docks into the keyboard, but it has a hinge mechanism that lets it act more like a laptop. So no more sliding around on your lap in awkward positions, which was a major gripe with the less-than-stable kick stand option on the Surface lineup. The screen also rotates back 360 degrees, or you can choose to completely detach the keyboard from the device so you can use it like a tablet - or a "portable clipboard," as Microsoft has branded the device.

In addition to setting its sights on business users and consumers who want both a powerful and stylish device, Microsoft might be trying to edge in on Apple's hold in the creative world. Apple products are well-known as the standard for designers, artists, animators, illustrators and other creative professionals, but the Surface Book leans heavily on its capability to be a "creative workhorse," as Microsoft describes.

Between the optional discrete graphics chip - which lives in the keyboard so it will work only while docked - and the updated Surface Pen, Microsoft wants this notebook-tablet-clipboard hybrid to serve the needs of creative pros. Microsoft is pushing the fact that you can use the pen to edit images in Adobe Photoshop or create drawings Adobe Illustrator directly on the screen. And its mobility allows you to have a video editing studio you can take with you on location. On the surface, Microsoft appears to now offer a few more choices over Apple as you'd probably need to have both a Macbook Pro and an iPad Pro to achieve what you can get with Surface Book. But, of course, testing and benchmarks will tell the final story.

The Surface Book weighs 3.48 pounds and configuration options start with a Core Intel i5, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, while the top configuration includes a Core Intel i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. It's a high-powered device that gives the impression it will take you from home to the office and on the road, without skipping a beat. The Surface Book, at its lowest configuration, will run you $1,499, while the highest configuration retails at $2,699.


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