Microsoft Surface Book review

An amazing laptop that does even more as a tablet

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Now, the question is: has Microsoft made the ultimate laptop? And the answer is not quite – not quite yet, anyway. The Surface Book still has some growing pains to get through, and its substantial size may not jive with everyone. However, this is a great first crack, and it's made the concept of 2-in-1 laptop look and sound more believable than anyone else has.

The majority of hybrid laptops to this point have followed the back-flipping model established by Lenovo's Yoga series. This is largely because models with detaching screens were clunky and chunky, but Microsoft has turned the perfected the concept by splitting the laptop in half.

All the essentials for a Windows 10 tablet are packed into the Clipboard, which can be used as Surface tablet unto it's own. But then the slate marries perfectly with its other half that contains extra batteries and a dedicated GPU.

We liked

The Surface Book's design isn't for everyone, but I simply fell in love with its futuristic look. Whether it looks odd or just ahead of the curve will depend on your perspective, but you can't deny Microsoft has made a daring move with its dynamic fulcrum hinge. 2-in-1 laptops – and especially those of the detachable variety – have had their ugly duck moments. This is no such moment for Redmond.

Beyond looks, every design element of this laptop is full of purpose, from the rolling hinge to how quickly you can detach the Clipboard. The Surface Pen and the display work together beautifully for creating art that I will never understand beyond jotting down my notes in chicken scratch. And then there's the Surface Book's undying performance that just won't let up whether you're working on spreadsheets, editing photos or even enjoying some light gaming.

We disliked

While I praise this hybrid for its incredible performance, there are heavy limits on just how many games it will play with only one gigabyte of video memory. The early bugs are also something I can't ignore, but they're to be expected from the first run of the first laptop ever created by Microsoft.

Though some small parts of the Surface Book experience are borked as of this writing, you can bet Microsoft won't be resting on its laurels. Updates will continue to come out quickly one after the other and just in the time of one week, I've already received two software patches that have fixed a few of my early problems with the device.

Final verdict

If you were to strip away the Clipboard's ability to detach, the Surface Pen, the neatness factor of the dynamic fulcrum hinge and just about everything that makes the Surface Book unique, you would be still left with terrific laptop. That's what I love the most about this device. Underneath all the extra stuff, the Surface Book is a solid laptop in terms of ergonomics, performance and, yes, even battery life despite the promises.

Incorporating all the extras – from the ability to run off with the clipboard, the incredible accuracy of the Surface Pen and the engineering feats of the hinge – they all serve to enhance the experience, rather than detract. In time, Microsoft will smooth out all the rough edges of its first go. Both the Dell XPS 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro are well worth purchasing in their own right. But if you want an excellent laptop that does just a bit more, then the Surface Book is your ticket.