Pros and cons: Our verdict on the new Surface Book

Long battery life and a healthy port selection help justify the heavy design.

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    The 2016 Surface Book is a lot like last year's Surface Book, which we already really liked. So we recommend this one too, though the few flaws we noted last time remain as well. As ever, it's a well-built piece of kit, with a bright detachable screen whose 3:2 aspect ratio makes it comfortable to hold in tablet mode. The keyboard and trackpad are both still comfortable to use, and more than ever (ahem, Apple), we appreciate the port selection, which includes some full-sized USB ports and an SD card reader.

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    Key

    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

    Summary

    The refreshed Surface Book has very few flaws, with a well-crafted chassis, comfortable keyboard, vibrant screen, fast performance and even longer battery life than on last year's model. As ever, you'll pay dearly for the privilege of owning it, and the relatively heavy weight and imbalanced weight distribution make it less portable than lighter systems. What you accept in heft, though, you'll make up for in both battery life and port selection.

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    Unfortunately, this year's configurations are even heavier, at 3.68 pounds, but the extra heft at least comes with longer battery life: 16 hours of video playback in laptop mode, and around four hours in tablet mode. (That last figure still ain't great, but it is nonetheless an improvement.) The screen also still wobbles in its hinge when you tap the touchscreen, and the whole thing is a little top heavy when you rest it in your lap.

    Oh, and it's expensive: The newest models start at $2,399. For that money, you'll get great performance and mostly good ergonomics -- in other words, one of the best laptops on the market. Still, those insistent on a thinner, lighter design should either look elsewhere, or hold out till next year and see if Microsoft delivers something more portable.

    All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
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