back to article Surface Book: Microsoft to turn unsuccessful tab into unsuccessful laptop

As expected, Microsoft has updated its Surface Pro fondleslab with a new model powered by Intel's latest silicon. But unexpectedly, it has also produced a laptop version of the platform that is going to make Apple sick. The Surface family had a rocky start, some might even say unsuccessful, with small marketshare gains – but …

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1TB storage?

How much for the 1TB storage option?

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Re: 1TB storage?

Make sure you are sitting down when you read this.

The 1 TB variant is: $2699.00

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Re: 1TB storage?

£1700 but that includes the GPU and 16GB ram options too?

If so then that's not a bad price... People pay that for a MacBook with lower spec.

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Re: 1TB storage?

If that had an LTE slot, it'd work out about £600 less than the equivalent Thinkpad X1 Carbon (and that has no GPU).

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RAH!

Can I afford it - no.

But lovely to see something novvel and good out there.

More importantly that announcement came with the sound of a gauntlet slamming onto the floor.

If you prefer the Apple ecosystem that's fine, this isn't for you. If you've bleated that you went with Apple as you didn't mind paying a bit more for a premium product (and my employer seems to have a few higher-management-tools who are running corporate Windows 7 on spendy Apple kit) - think again.

Original surface impressed me, but deep down I knew a keyboard cover would never work however lovely it was. The rest of the surface - well maybe I could finally see hitting your fingers on a screen wasn't entirely pointless. This - I could actually do my job with.

Sure I'm in a minority here, actually having liked Windows since it came into existence. Maybe coloured by my parallel game playing throughout - but let me have my moment of oft-denied-fanboy-pride.

My greatest satisfaction is this coming so closely after the iPad Pro...

Please let MS capture the aspirational-wanker crown, before Apple even has a chance to sniff it.

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Re: RAH!

Great rant!

The Mrs is bugging me for a new device. She's a surface fan so I was thinking of seeing how the new Surface compared to the old, and perhaps grab a 3 before they sold out in the stores if the next model wasn't much improvement.

Now wondering if I should hang fire to see what she thinks of the surfacebook.

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Re: RAH!

Original surface impressed me, but deep down I knew a keyboard cover would never work however lovely it was.

I've got an SP3, but opted to go with a detached Bluetooth micro keyboard and Arc Touch mouse. Can't stand touch pads (except for page scrolling - they're quite good for that).

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If it can run Linux, then Android is more than likely doable. Who'd that please more, the Big M or the Big G?

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Other than for curiosity, why*?!

Decent android tabs are a fraction of the price, and Linux gives you more functionality than running droid.

*serious question.

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If it is as quick as suggested then it should be doable with anything that will run in a VM.

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The equivalent to a decend (brand named) Android tab is a Surface/3. Even that has quite a bit more computational power than a high end ARM unit while achieving similar endurance. Same for the high(er) end BayTrail units from Lenovo (TPT10) if you prefer Wacom over NTrig. With the stylus the whole set of MS Applications is useable within the limits of memory and the CPU.

If you are living in an "MS centric" world with AD based networks and Exchange/Outlook/Sharepoint or Office set - the 10'' Windows unit with inductive stylus is a better choice than any 10 or 12'' ARM unit due to ease of integration (It's "just another Win/x86 PC after all)

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But why do I have to choose?

Nice that they finally introduced an option for a more laptop type keyboard. However I don't think they've quite got things perfect.

What I'd actually like to see (from Microsoft or anyone else) is not a purchase-time choice between a laptop-style keyboard and a built-into-tablet-cover style. It'd be better if the same tablet could use either keyboard. Then it could be a decision made when leaving the house: do you expect to do a lot of typing today? If so take the laptop style. Expect to be doing less typing? Take the lighter cover.

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Re: But why do I have to choose?

Good plan. And it would also help sales, surely, as people with the cheaper keyboard opted to upgrade it.

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Re: But why do I have to choose?

Lenovo Helix-B basically is what you are thinking off. Has a light "keyboard only" cover and a heavier "with battery" keyboard unit that is similar to the Surface/Book in design (well, other way round).

TPT/10 with dock can do the same, has a "classical cover" and IIRC a "folding stand" as an alternate.

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Enough of this trivia...

Is no one going to comment on Microsoft using AC/DC as the music for a product launch? ! ? !

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Coat

Re: Enough of this trivia...

AC to power the charger, which converts it to DC to charge and power the tablet itself.

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Re: Enough of this trivia...

You already did Sir.

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Re: Enough of this trivia...

Thunderstruck has been used in various places recently, a movie trailer ISTR.

Made watching the video and drooling over the kit even better.

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Re: Enough of this trivia...

Haven't seen the launch, but you can't beat Thunderstruck. Great tune.

The local Aussie Rules football team play Thunderstruck when they walk on the pitch (they are called NT Thunder).

However, for extra epic points when using the tune it needs to be this this version?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uT3SBzmDxGk

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Surely that fingerprint sensor is in the wrong place?

Personally I'd be much more keen on a fingerprint as an option when the keyboard is disconnected and password entry isn't so easy (yes I know about the 'picture password option). If the sensor is on the keyboard and not the tablet it loses that benefit.

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$1500

When I saw the previous Surface models, I immediately said "me-wanty!" Then I saw the price tag. Immediately I said "no way". For $1500, I would want a laptop with a 500 GB 10 year warranty SSD, Blu-Ray burner, 16GB of memory, AMD Carrizo core CPU (for gaming and full H.265 decoding; my Intel desktop will handle all the video encoding), 1920x1080 IPS display with 99% sRGB but absolutely positively no touchscreen, Windows 7, backlit keyboard, 802.11ac and Bluetooth support, 4 USB 3.0 ports, DisplayPort 1.2 and VGA outputs, and docking station support.

It doesn't matter how good the product is, if it is too expensive nobody will buy it. $400 Android tablets work quite well for what people need and want. Do you really think they will pay almost 4 times as much just because it has the Microsoft name on it? If only Microsoft would stop trying to make the desktop/laptop OS the same as the tablet OS. Then they could have reasonably priced tablets that people would buy. One ring to rule them all doesn't work in computing.

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Pint

Re: $1500

"It doesn't matter how good the product is, if it is too expensive nobody will buy it."

History conclusively proves that you're wrong.

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Re: $1500

So you won't buy it, people who earn more than you will.

Incidentally those people who can buy it do not really need BluRay players or gaming GPU, so there must be some correlation between desires and abilities to fulfill them.

p.s. if you can put in on tax as work laptop price is essentially halved, don't see any issues to buy this beauty for $750.

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Headmaster

@Wade Burchette Re:"if it is too expensive nobody will buy it."

The Surface Book is not remotely aimed at the general retail market - this is very high end premium kit (and at that price point it frakking well should be!). In my opinion it is aimed at, amongst others, the following:

1. CAD professionals

2. Top flight graphic artists (who might otherwise buy Wacom kit, for example)

Just two examples, there are several others that come to mind. Also let us not forget its importance to Redmond as a willy-waver for senior members of the "managerati" who want to have kit that gives them bragging rights amongst their peer group whilst getting Win 10 into as many boardrooms and senior managerial offices as possible.

In my personal opinion it is a very fine piece of kit, enterprise kit.

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Re: $1500

Lenovo Helix-A and Helix-B - basically the same approach and price tag. The A sold so well that Lenovo did a complete overhaul (Broadwell CPU IIRC). And some of their Yogas while classic "convertibles" play in the same field/use case (Notebook that can be a tablet pc)

Fujitsu Q70x and T70x/T90x series. The Q is close to the book, the Ts are classic convertibles now in the 4th generation.

HP just (re)entered the segment with a range of units in their business line (not commonly seen in the greater retail shops) in that price range.

==================

If one wants a "resonable" priced Win/x86 tablet pc that can run rings around iThingys and Fandroids the Atom-Based units will provide that below 1000€. Again from quite a few companies (Surface/3, ThinkpadTablet, Q5xxx, Dell Venue, HP has some) with capabilities that ultimately even a Note-Series Andy or an iThingy Pro can not match since they lack the support software and "no cloud / company operated cloud" option (OneNote Application, Sharepoint Server etc)

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Unhappy

This looks fantastic...

...but such a shame it ships with Windows.

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for those of you who don't do imperial units

3.48lb = 376mJub

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Facepalm

I'm confused.

Apparently, the Surface is the tablet that can replace your laptop and now they bring out a laptop?

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I'd consider a Surface Book if...

...it ran OSX.

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Re: I'd consider a Surface Book if...

"I'd consider a Surface Book if...

...it ran OSX."

So would I - the hardware is awesome enough even if you had extra the hassle of formatting and installing Windows...

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No 16:9!!

I'm genuinely interested in this. Mostly for the chance to FINALLY get a PC-based laptop that doesn't have a pathetic 16:9 display. The 3:2 screen in this one looks very nice and far less cramped. Tack on a bit of proper graphics grunt as well, plus the ability to use the top half as a tablet if necessary, and I'll have to keep a close eye on this.

Lenovo, Dell, HP That's: Apple, Microsoft and Google all now making laptops without nasty 16:9 panels. Your move!

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Re: No 16:9!!

Another thing Dell, Lenovo, HP, Acer and others will hopefully learn from Microsoft : a laptop without parasitewareTM !

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I'm surprised that Apple haven't done this with the Macbook/Macbook Air yet - a machine that can switch between OS X and iOS modes with the ability to remove the screen for an iPad Pro experience. If the detached screen could also be switched into OS X when not joined, or perhaps paired with a BT keyboard then that would be nice too. (E.g. grab screen to take to work for some iOS fun/videos on the train. At work, realise you need to carry on some serious work so get the BT keyboard you keep at work, connect, switch to OS X, work on document in iCloud).

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Anonymous Coward

just wait 3 years, then another 5 for os to reach win 95 level as it ascends from its current amigaOS look n feel.

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@terra

its current amigaOS look n feel

Take that back! AmigaOS never looked or felt that bad!

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KRG

Just like the Acer Iconia then...

...but three years later.

I bought one of these for the lady of my life back in 2013:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Acer-10-1-inch-Keyboard-Silver-Integrated-Graphics/dp/B009T69O44

..and not looked back.

It's a Laptop, a real Computer when connected to a big screen and also a tablet when you need one, excellent battery life, etc., etc. The only thing I would criticise from her (Non-professional user) perspective is that the HDMI port should have been in the base, thereby enabling a simple 'undocking' to use as a tablet.

Still available I see, although much cheaper now :( Maybe I'll buy another for my retirement!

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Re: Just like the Acer Iconia then...

I have one of those still hanging around. Mostly because I don't feel like foisting it on anyone else now the keyboard has become so temperamental as to not work an annoying percentage of the time - and most of the battery is in the keyboard, so I can't really leave it behind...

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Re: Just like the Acer Iconia then...

Recently bought myself one of the last batch of Lenovo Helix-A systems for 500€ (gen 3 i5/4GB/128GBSSD) as a replacement for my privat tablet pc. Similar design and for my usage pattern more than good enough. Basically a "digital notepad" with Journal or OneNote. Won out over a Surface/Pro 3 due to price and LACK of a retina display(1) and over the Surface/3 due to bigger screen and WACOM.

In my usage pattern the CPU generally runs at 800MHz and the two batteries easily get me 9h of usage. Good enough for a workday without charger. Works nicely under Win8.1 and MiraCast is VERY useful. OTOH if I NEED power - the old beast even runs Lightroom 5 (Pictures on an external USB-3 SSD) resonably fast for "on site/in holliday" work

(1) Font scaling outside MS Software is still a "hit and miss" and without the pixels are to fine. 1920x1080 OTOH on 11.6'' are "just fine".

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$1500 probably means £1500

We'll wait on Dell or Lenovo to make one with 80% of the functionality and speed for 50% of the price.

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Re: $1500 probably means £1500

Lenovo makes one at the same price range, the Helix-B.

Dell could make one, their Venues are basically very fine systems by now and they have done tablet pc before (and well). What they currently lack is a good pen. Going back to WACOM like they did in the generation prior to the Venues would nicely solve that.

Samsung has the knowledge (They did a number of Win7 and Win8 tablet PC) and their prices (and sadly their build) are cheaper. Still, the final batches of the Ativ 500 series where sturdy and well behaved. An aquantance of mine still uses one without problems.

Asus could do it but strangely they never followed up their quite successful EP121 with a similar unit. Even their R7-572 "mobile grafik tablet" is no longer on the market. Nice and sturdy if huge and heavy unit loved by some painters/artists

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WTF?

Weights and measures

The weight is in lbs and I don't understand ellbees but the dimensions are in mm, which is fine except for the screen which is in inches and I kind of do understand those.

What's its weight in units that people outside of Liberia and Myanmar can understand?

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Anonymous Coward

Looky Here

for more pics, the badly designed wedge, the awful tablet connection mechanism.

http://www.techradar.com/news/mobile-computing/surface-book-versus-macbook-pro-1306186

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Re: Looky Here

"the Surface Book looks more modern with its sharp edges, and dramatic wedge design, compared to the softer curves on Apple's notebook." and "The Surface Book also has a more pronounced hinge design, which Microsoft is dubbing the Dynamic Fulcrum Hinge. While the hinge adds to the tech-inspired design of the Surface Book, it's not an entirely new design"

Sounds like they like it to me....

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Re: Looky Here

oh stop it, she's clearly desperate to find something wrong with it so indulge her.

It's not as if it matters.

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Slx
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I quite honestly don't think Apple's likely to be that worried. They operate off on their own OS X planet anyway and are driving Mac sales largely through introducing the brand to people through iOS devices. Quite a lot of people I know (who aren't long-term Mac users) picked up an MacBook or MacBook Pro after having had a good experience with iPhone or iPad.

This is much, much more of a threat to the Microsoft OEMs, in the same way as the Google Nexus phones are a threat to Android manufacturers.

I would be surprised if they have a major impact on Apple, as I don't really think MS is in the same league in terms of brand perception. Like them or loath them, the fruity one is an iconic consumer brand and Microsoft's brands, other than maybe Xbox, aren't and never have been in that space really.

What Apple has done is turned a rather utilitarian geeky device - the laptop, into a highly sought after, good looking consumer product.

Competition's good for the rest of us though, so, bring it on!

The major thing that will make or break this is Windows 10 though. Windows 8 was really jarring to consumers and I think it did frighten a lot of people into either not upgrading or in some cases moving over to the fruity side.

I think the biggest threat to Apple is their own arrogance. They have treated a lot of pro Mac users very badly over the years and I think that's where you could see the polish starting to wear off. Apple's connection to creative media professionals is very much part of what drives their brand kudos as it's those people who are trend setters.

Killing apps like Aperture and dumbing down FinalCut as well as abandoning people with lack of servers and all sorts of things is really what will do the Mac platform damage long term. Even if they're not super profitable, I think they need to see them as part of their marketing budget.

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Anonymous Coward

As an exceptionally proud owner of a surface 3 pro this is really great to hear. how many suppliers and customers have marvelled at my sleek device as i whip up visual studio, connect 2 monitors, and write and debug code in their office. i must have sold a 50 or more on this alone. imagine building the next generation media server anywhere and everywhere on any network and not even notice the immense compute power slung into a couple pounds in your bag. put it in tablet mode and you might as well be carrying a piece of technical paper around with you, again a sight to behold and marvel at. an amazing device, i shall not hesitate (when win 10 is actually ready) to take the next upgrade.

p.s yes i did upgrade it to win 10 and in the same day downgraded. but there is no faulting the hardware they made (save a few hiccups which hopefully they ironed out in surface 4 - i believe they have since most of mine disappeared in the last firmware update) and the stuff that ms makes which does work for sure packs every dollar spent into my own super amplified productivity.

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" terra

I think that bit of kit you're so proud of has an obscure fault. The only upper case letter that works seems to be the "A".

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"an Alienware-grade gaming machine"

So overpriced and nowhere near as good as fans would like everyone to believe? I can certainly see why you suggest Apple would be worried by this, MS are apparently copying their business model.

On a more serious note, it looks pretty good. The main concern I have is the hinge, since I have yet to see one that wasn't unbelievably shit. Asus have generally been the best for that, but even their Transformers just didn't have a reliable or robust locking mechanism and hinge. And while that's a bit of an annoyance when it's just a keyboard and battery, what's going to happen when your GPU keeps getting dropping out due to an unreliable connection?

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The screen/tablet alone weighs 1.6lb, while the whole unit is a very portable 3.34lb, or 3.48lb with the extra GPU option.

Then the comparisons with a MacBook Air are way off the mark: people don't buy them because they're fast – though they're usually fast enough – but because they're extremely light and can last a working day without a charge. Storage is more of an issue which is why Apple knows to charge a premium for it.

This machine may be powerful but it's also heavy and you're paying a lot for a tablet part you might not use so much. Colour me sceptical but I don't see the demand for these devices coming close to that for Apple's fare.

Be interesting to see how good the sales for Apple's even lighter (and more crippled) MacBook have been.

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I can see a Macbook in my future

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