Microsoft surprised the world with its Surface Book hinge design, but it’s not the only company capable of creating a unique Windows-powered 2-in-1 laptop. Porsche Design unveiled its Book One at Mobile World Congress this week, and it took me by surprise. At first glimpse it looks very similar to Microsoft’s Surface Book, and side-by-side there are obvious similarities, but I got a chance to spend some more time with the Book One and discover exactly how it blows past Microsoft’s own design.
Porsche Design has teamed up with Quanta, Intel, and even Microsoft to produce the Book One. It’s an ambitious effort to move from phones and headphones straight into computers, and it’s going to be the first of many computing devices with the German sports cars’ famous brand name. Inside the Book One is a 13.3-inch QHD display, with Intel’s latest 7th generation Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. Porsche Design is only producing one model with top specs, and it’s planning to make it available in April priced at $2,495. That’s a lot of money for even a premium Windows laptop, but you’re really paying the cash for the design and the hinge.
Porsche Design's laptop hinge is really impressive
Unlike Microsoft’s Surface Book, Porsche Design has gone one step further to create the ultimate laptop hinge. Visually it looks just like a gear box, and it pairs beautifully well with the brushed aluminum style of the entire laptop. The hinge works much like Lenovo’s Yoga range, allowing you to push the display 360 degrees and use it in a tablet mode. However, just like the Surface Book, you can also detach the display by holding down a button on the side of the device to transform it into a true tablet.
This hinge means the display closes onto the keyboard without any gap. Porsche Design has even added small rubber stoppers to the hinge so that you won’t scratch the laptop in the various modes it flips into. I tested the hinge out and it works really well, even for a pre-production device. It feels sturdy when the tablet is locked into place, and flipping it around has just the right amount of friction. It feels like this hinge is the type of approach Microsoft will take with the Surface Book 2 to remove the gap and make things even more flexible. Porsche Design has definitely beaten Microsoft to this design, and it doesn’t feel compromised or poorly engineered at all.
On the base of the Book One there is a USB-C port, two USB ports, and a microSD slot. It’s unfortunate it’s not a full SD card slot, but the addition of a USB-C port slightly makes up for that. Porsche Design has also placed a Thunderbolt-capable USB-C port on the tablet portion itself, alongside a headphone jack on the opposite side. Both are at the bottom of the sides of the display, which means you won’t have headphone or accessory cables dangling over the display like you do on a Surface Book. There’s also a precision trackpad and a Windows Hello camera so you can log into Windows 10 with just your face.
The weight of the Book One felt almost identical to the Surface Book, even just holding the tablet portion felt the same. Porsche Design’s stylus uses Wacom technology and even snaps magnetically onto the side of the Book One. I only spent an hour with the Book One, but overall I’m impressed with the design, and how Porsche Design has managed to improved upon the Surface Book hinge design. Porsche Design is promising around 14 hours of battery life overall, with just 3 hours if you’re using only the tablet portion, but we’ll have to review the Book One to find out how those numbers hold up. Porsche Design’s Book One will be available in stores in late April, priced at $2,495.