Read next: The Surface Book review.
Microsoft pretty thoroughly wowed us this morning with its introduction of the Surface Book, a new laptop that can transform into a typical Surface tablet. There's a lot to be impressed with on the new device, but perhaps the most interesting hardware feature — both visually and functionally — is the Surface Book's hinge. It looks weird. And it also looks kind of awesome.
Microsoft is referring to this as a "dynamic fulcrum hinge," which is probably the coolest of all branded hinge names. In practice, it just means that the Surface Book's hinge seems to flex as it opens and closes the display.
The hinge has to be able to support the display and internals of the Surface Book. Part of doing that, it seems, is extending the hinge. As it opens up, the hinge sort of rolls outward, pushing the display slightly farther back from the keyboard dock. The flipside of this is that, when fully closed, the hinge wraps itself tighter, so there's less of a gap.
The display and tablet portion of the Surface Book locks into the dock through a series of clips on its base. Pressing a button on the dock will release it from what Microsoft calls "muscle wire locks." It's a neat mechanism: rather than pulling down a lever that unlocks the display, the keyboard sends a signal to start the unlocking process. The Surface Book uses a GPU built into the keyboard when it's docked, so the tablet won't become detachable until Windows finishes up whatever it's working on and switches over to the tablet's dedicated GPU.
Those locks need to be seriously strong so that the Surface Book doesn't fall apart when it's being used as a laptop, and Microsoft says the machine will hold together. During its presentation, Surface VP Panos Panay briefly dangled the Surface Book by both its dock and display. Then he just pulled the display off.
It's hard to say if this hinge is really better than any other convertible laptop's hinge — those, after all, perform the same functions without placing a gap between the keyboard and display. But something about it still seems really impressive. It's unlike any other laptop hinge, and it's part of what makes the Surface Book really look like a new kind of laptop. That's reason enough to like it.
Plus, there are a lot of interesting tidbits that I'm sure we'll discover once we have more time with the device:
For more on the Surface Book, be sure to check out our hands on impressions and photos.
Correction: The Surface Book's hinge doesn't flip all the way around; rather, the display can be placed on backward and then closed again for a similar effect. The tablet is also detached through a button on the dock, not the display; more details have been added about this process.
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