NEW YORK -- Microsoft took one of its boldest steps to expand its Surface product line with the introduction of a 13.5-inch two-in-one laptop, the Surface Book.
Microsoft's Panos Panay, corporate vice president of Surface Computing, took the stage during a press event today in New York City to unveil the new Windows 10-powered device. "This is the ultimate laptop," he said. "It's the first laptop ever built by laptop."
At first blush, the system seems to borrow from Apple's silver-and-black aesthetic – not to mention its "bookish" branding. There are similarities to the MacBook Pro, including a glass touchpad and backlit keys, but Microsoft is clearly aiming to outmatch its rival in the performance arena.
"We wanted to bring you that ultimate performance," said Panay. "It's for that coder using the latest Visual Studio where they can compile using the GPU and CPU at the same time and not lose a minute."
Surface Book features 6th Generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processors and up to 16 GB of RAM. Storage options include 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB or 1 TB of PCIe-based solid state drive (SSD) capacity that is two times faster than conventional SATA SSDs, said Panay. An optional, discrete NVIDIA GeForce GPU (graphical processing unit) housed in the base lends the device extra pixel-pushing power for demanding 3D, video and imaging editing.
"Pound for pound, this is the fastest 13-inch laptop ever made, anywhere on any planet," Panay said. Battery life stretches to 12 hours, he added before comparing the Surface Book's performance to that of the Apple's high-end notebook.
"By adding the discrete GPU -- two extra processors -- it fundamentally makes Surface Book two times faster than the MacBook Pro," Panay said.
The Surface Book's detachable screen docks with the keyboard using a "muscle wire" connectors that release with a touch of a button but are strong enough to keep things together when lifted from the display portion. The device's spine-like "dynamic fulcrum hinge" adapts to a variety of angles.
Surface Book's 13.5-inch display supports touch and pen input, and features a resolution of 3,000 pixels by 2,000 pixels packed into a 3:2 aspect ratio. Memory options include 8 GB or 16 GB RAM of RAM.
Prices start at $1,499. The Surface Book arrives on store shelves on Oct. 26, but interested buyers can preorder one on Oct. 7.
The Surface Book
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.