Device Night Philadelphia: Impressions from retail pros' hands-on time with the Surface Book

If one had to pick a single device that received the most excitement from both fans and retail professionals at the Device Night in Philadelphia, it would be the Surface Book hands down. The Surface Book is Microsoft’s first laptop – a statement that can generate curiosity by itself. The laptop features a 13.5 inch screen that, upon pushing a button, detaches from the keyboard base portion of the computer which also contains a discrete Nvidia GPU. The guests had fun drawing on the devices and seemed equally impressed by the drawing on both the Surface Pro 4 and the Book.

While some guests thought the device itself was a tad heavy for a 13.5 inch notebook, they were impressed by the weight of the stand alone tablet. This is due in part to the division of batteries between the base of the device and the tablet portion. Representatives addressed several of the concerns that guests had. A reoccurring one I heard was regarding the strength and durability of the new fulcrum hinge as well as the gap the hinge causes. Representatives pressed on the hinge with the device closed on a table and then offered the guests a chance to try and budge it, which none were able to do. While they didn’t make a skateboard out of the device, they didn’t didn’t shy away from any questions regarding build quality, also encouraging retail professionals and fans to hold the device in the air by the screen.

Guests were also impressed by the keyboard and the glass trackpad, commenting that the trackpad “felt nicer than his MacBook Airs”. While some felt that the keys were perhaps too resistive to movement, there were also others that felt the keyboard felt sturdy and "felt well designed”. Everybody at the event was impressed with the Surface Book's screen, though there were concerns regarding battery life. While Microsoft reps reiterated the 12 hour battery life spec, they also encouraged the guests to read reviews of the device, which have shown the battery life estimates to be more or less accurate. When asked about limited 4 hours of battery life in the clipboard function, Microsoft staff mentioned that the port on the bottom of the device will also allow you to charge the clipboard when it is detached from the base.

There were lots of questions, but understandably so as this is Microsoft’s first venture into the premium laptop market. While some had there doubts, almost all walked away with a feature that they liked. The Surface Book starts at $1,499.00 and will begin shipping October 26th.

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