A hands on review of the Microsoft Surface Book
High in Milbank Tower above the bright lights of London, Microsoft threw their launch party for the long anticipated Surface Book.
The venue was complete with 5 interactive stations for the audience to touch, explore and really get to grips with the Surface Book. With stations to create a beat, become a superstar, animate, and try out gaming, it was immediately obvious that this launch was all about experience, creativity, and getting the maximum enjoyment out of the technology.
What does the Surface Book look like?
Weighing in at a feather-light 3.34 pounds, the Surface Book is extremely sleek and minimal in design. The weight is incredibly deceiving given the versatility and power of the laptop.
Microsoft has also made an innovative tweak to the design. Instead of the traditional fold between the screen and the keyboard, the hinge is curved – it looks much like the interlocking pieces found on a wristwatch. With the laptop open, the hinge looks like an attractive modification, but closed, we can see how the design has its drawbacks.
There is a visible gap between the screen and keyboard, meaning unwanted debris and lint can collect in the gap. Aside from this, the design is simple but stylish, including a backlit keyboard and 13.5” PixelSense Display with 6 million pixels 267 DPI.
A tablet and laptop all in one
Although 2 in 1 laptops are becoming more common, the Surface Book seems to have really set the bar for functionality. The tablet - or ‘clipboard’ as Microsoft call it - can be charged completely separately from the device.
A safety button on the keyboard controls the clever mechanism that allows you to detach the clipboard. The reason for this is to ensure that you cannot accidentally detach the tablet and lose all of your hard work when running a graphics program. The device will alert you before you manually detach.
Another really nice personalised touch to the Surface Book is that you can get Surface pens with interchangeable nibs. So, whether you prefer to scribble down notes with ballpoint or HB - Microsoft have got you covered.
The Surface book works fluidly with your TV just from a simple HDMI connection. Playing popular games like Minecraft is made easy by using Xbox controllers linked by USB to the device (this works wirelessly, too).
To demonstrate the gaming prowess of the Surface Book, Microsoft kitted out the launch with a huge TV screen and arcade-style racing car. Using the 6th Gen Intel® Core™ i5 processor model, the gaming team were able to run the TV, racecar simulator, and the game all from the Surface book through a wireless USB – if that’s the i5 – imagine what the i7 could do.
Professional music studio
The Surface Book launch was complete with a live DJ set – played solely through the laptop itself. Over at the ‘create a beat’ station, we were given a chance to explore the mixing and recording capabilities that Surface book has when paired with Bitwig studio software.
Thanks to the multi-touch display, you are able to control various faders and knobs simultaneously, unlocking infinite creative possibilities. The versatile layout allows you to work in both grid and linear views of the track for maximum control and precision during mixing.
This creative suite is focused on creating more productive, intuitive, professional workflow, with the ability to bend pitch, control different instrumental keys simultaneously, and even create different sounds through applying varied pressure to the screen – we found this was especially effective on percussion sounds.
Demonstrated with a Green Screen, Microsoft showed us just how efficient the Surface Book made video editing.
One of the most impressive points of the Surface Book was that the shutter speed, zoom and white balance could all be controlled through just the laptop.
The Surface Book also eliminated the hassle of fiddling with memory cards when transferring videos from the camera – all of the footage was fluidly sent straight to the laptop with no need to take out the card.
Over at the animation station, the audience were given first had experience using Adobe Fuse to create their own avatars. The process was much like building Lego men – except a much cooler, techy version.
The Surface Book gives a full 360-degree view of the avatar, with interchangeable clothing and customising options. Even down to the smallest details such as realistic muddy shoes and eyebrow expression, we were given full creative license over our characters.
Using Adobe Fuse, it’s easy to see why avid gamers would love the capabilities that Surface Book can support.
A Microsoft expert told us – “This is all about enjoying being creative with the Surface Book. Its all about personalisation and having fun.”
Using Photoshop and Illustrator, we were shown how to map facial expressions, eye movement and lip sync in real time with a custom built puppet. This software was developed with creators of the show “South Park” to make animation drastically more efficient and fluid.
Surface Book has really hit the nail on the head when it comes to creativity. Yes the design is sleek and attractive – but it’s the versatility, creative ability and intuitive functionality that really set the Surface book apart.
Ready to unleash your creativity? Get the Microsoft Surface Book