Read next: The Surface Book review.
When I reviewed Microsoft's Surface 3 tablet earlier this year I simply concluded that Microsoft should make a laptop. I can't believe I'm typing this, but the Surface Book laptop now exists. I got a chance to take a closer look at the Surface Laptop during Microsoft's Windows 10 devices event in New York City this morning. It's gorgeous.
Microsoft wants its Surface Book to be a MacBook Pro killer, and while it's too early to say whether it is, it's off to a great start. Like the Surface Pro 3 before it, Microsoft is using magnesium on the Surface Book. It's a laptop, but also a tablet. Like most laptops, it has a hinge. Microsoft's hinge is insane. It's like a snake and it folds into place to let you adjust the display viewing angle. The trick of the Surface Book is that everything, apart from the Nvidia graphics chip, is contained within the screen. That means you can hit a button and it magically detaches from the display.
Microsoft has added a little prompt that is displayed within Windows to let you know when it's safe to lift off the display. It seems to work well, too. Once you click the display back into the base unit, it latches into place firmly and it just feels like a normal laptop. I lifted it up and it feels pretty weighty with the base attached, but the tablet part is incredibly lightweight. I literally held it with one hand for a few minutes and didn't strain my wrist at all. That's surprising given that it's a 13.5-inch display, but Microsoft has managed to make it thin and lightweight.
Windows laptops have always had awful trackpads, but Microsoft is breaking free from the pack. There's a glass trackpad, and it feels as good as a MacBook one. We'll have to test it fully, but there's signs that the Surface Book might finally have a killer trackpad. Microsoft has also added in special edge palm rejection, so it's not going to activate when you're using the keyboard. Speaking of the keyboard, it feels...strange. I typed for a few minutes and the keys aren't what I'm used to. This is because Microsoft is using similar keyboard hardware that's found in the new 12-inch MacBook. When you press down it feels more rigid and firm, so it might take some getting used to.
While it's lightweight as a tablet, it feels like a monster laptop with the base unit. The new hinge leaves a visible gap down the entire Surface Book when it's closed, and the Surface Pen attaches with a magnet at the side. You can even reverse the display, if you want, to make it more like a Lenovo Yoga laptop where the keyboard sits beneath the display. I have a feeling most people will just pull the tablet part off, rather than reposition it like this.
This is really Microsoft's idea of the ultimate laptop and a 2-in-1 PC. It's packed with performance thanks to Intel Core i processors, and Microsoft is going head-to-head with the MacBook Pro. We'll be reviewing the Surface Book in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for our full impressions.