Surface Book: Microsoft is gunning for the Apple MacBook Pro, in no uncertain terms.
Microsoft had a field day on Tuesday, presenting its brand new offerings. During the keynote, the tech giant showcased Continuum, with two new high-end Lumia phones, demonstrating how the two capable handsets can connect to external displays, and deliver a desktop-like experience. With the developer kit for Microsoft HoloLens now officially slated for the first quarter of 2016, the augmented reality headset had plenty of stage presence as well.
The true star of the show, however, wasn’t the Surface Pro 4, although it’s definitely impressive compared to its predecessor. In what we could only describe as a “One more thing...” moment, Microsoft introduced the Surface Book: the company’s first actual high-end laptop.
Where words didn’t give it away, the visual references to the MacBook Pro weren’t subtle. The Surface Book is in no small terms, designed to take on the MacBook Pro, with specs and looks to match.
Starting from the price point, the Surface Book is only slightly more expensive than the MacBook Pro, on both low and high end configurations. The higher price tag is most likely due to the technology necessary to develop the detachable screen, which, we are sure, was no small feat.
What is Microsoft Surface Book bringing to the table.
Speaking of the detachable display, one of the Surface Book’s nicest features is the way the main nVidia GeForce GPU resides in the base, under the keyboard, with the main battery. When the display is disconnected and enters in “draw mode”, the screen can be used as a separate tablet, with lower battery consumption, and CPU-driven graphics.
By pitching an nVidia GeForce for its high-end model, against the MacBook Pro’s Intel Iris Graphics 6100, Microsoft is making a statement that caters to as wide range of users as possible, from home users, to gamers, to business customers, with high-end graphic performance, that play right into Windows 10’s court, especially when it comes to boosting the popularity of Xbox Live.
This is especially important, as Apple has made it clear that when it comes to gaming, the spotlight is on the new Apple TV, and the App Store, at least for now.
The Surface Book’s display, at 13.5 inches, is visibly bigger than the MacBook, and, while it doesn’t have the MacBook Pro’s Retina display, its resolution has been pushed to 3000 x 2000 pixels, while the MacBook’s display features a 2560 x 1600 pixels resolution.
Intel’s 6th generation Skylake CPU has officially made its debut with Microsoft’s Surface Book, in its i5 and i7 iteration, for the low end and high end models respectively. It's worth pointing out that future MacBooks will likely run on Intel Skylake as well.
At 3.34lb, the low-end Surface Book is also lighter than the entry-level MacBook Pro, which weighs 3.48lb in both its low end and high end iterations. However, both high-end versions of the Surface Book and the MacBook Pro are identical in weight.
The MacBook Pro’s stronger points
When it comes to storage options, the MacBook Pro still offers more, with 1TB SSD, compared to the Surface Book’s 512GB SSD. Also, the Surface Book’s video output offers a mini DisplayPort only, while the MacBook Pro features HDMI and Thunderbolt.
When it comes to choosing either the Surface Book or the MacBook Pro, even specs are hard to weigh. On one hand, allegiance to Windows 10 versus Mac OS X is one point that most users will feel very strongly about, especially with two laptops whose specs come so close to each other.
The Surface Book also comes with a stylus, and this could be the tipping point for some consumers looking for a device with the characteristics of the Surface Pro, but with the specs of the MacBook Pro.