Microsoft calls its Surface Book the ‘ultimate laptop’. It’s a heady claim, but on paper the specifications are certainly impressive, and the fully detachable screen is an eye-catching feature. We’ve looked at every inch of the Microsoft Surface Book laptop to see whether it’s a true competitor to the Apple MacBook…and our verdict…simply put, it beats apple hands down.

Last year, when Microsoft introduced its first-ever laptop, the Surface Book, the company proclaimed that this was the “ultimate laptop.” And it was, mostly. This two-in-one notebook offered long battery life, with a distinctive, well-constructed case, a comfortable keyboard, fast performance and a detachable display that worked well as a standalone pen tablet. Since it’s release Microsoft have refreshed this laptop, and it’s mostly more of the same. The biggest changes are under the hood, with Microsoft claiming twice the graphics performance, a second fan and a larger battery, rated for either 12 or 16 hours, depending on the configuration.

Pros

. Distinctive, well-constructed design

. Impressively light as a tablet

. Gorgeous screen

. Pen input works well

. Comfortable keyboard

. Fast performance

. Best-in-class battery life in laptop mode

Cons

. Expensive

. Even heavier than last year’s model

. “Fulcrum” hinge makes the laptop appear fatter when shut

. Screen wobbles a bit in laptop mode

. Slightly top heavy when you use it in your lap

The Competition

Obviously, the Surface Book is competing with the MacBook Pro. And that’s not just because I keep saying so in this review — Microsoft has a “Compare to Mac” page on its online store, and Apple went out of its way to unveil its new MacBook Pros the day after the Surface Book launch, which I don’t think was a coincidence.

The Surface Book is considerably heavier but offers a much longer battery life and a wider array of ports (including full-size ones) and is available with discrete graphics, which the 13-inch MacBook Pro is not. The MacBook Pro is thinner and lighter, has better audio and has a lower starting price of £1,299 with key specs similar to what you’d get on the entry-level £1,499 Surface Book.

Conclusion

The Surface Book hold its rank as one of the best laptops available. Yes, there are some purpose-built notebooks that are still better at certain things: gaming PCs that are better at gaming, and ultraportables that are better at … being portable.

But taken as a whole, the Surface Book continues to offer a remarkable all-around experience, ticking off not all, but most, boxes for many shoppers. That includes fast performance, premium design, long battery life, a great screen, a comfortable keyboard, a relatively decent selection of ports and even a smooth trackpad. Yes, you will pay for the privilege of using it, but there also isn’t anything else quite like it.

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