The best Microsoft Surface Book alternatives
The Microsoft Surface Book is unquestionably one of the best convertible laptop/tablets available now. But if you shy away from its high price or another one of its distinguishing features, here are some promising potentials.
Lenovo Yoga 910
The Lenovo Yoga 910 starts at US$1,200 – a bit less than the price points for the Surface Book, which start at $1,499 for the entry-level model or $2,399 for the Performance Base edition.
Apart from price, the Yoga has a few advantages over the Surface. It's lighter and comes standard with the Intel Core i7 processor. It also has a full 360-degree hinge and both new USB-C (x 2) and legacy USB 3.0 (x 1) ports. The Surface Book starts off with the Intel Core i5 chip and has only two USB 3.0 ports.
Yoga's biggest disadvantages? It has shorter battery life (though you can use it as a tablet for longer), no SD card slot and Windows 10 Home instead of Pro. It also doesn't support stylus input like the Surface Book does.
Buy the Lenovo Yoga 910 on Amazon
Microsoft Surface Pro 4
In some ways, the Surface Pro 4 is like the Surface Book's less mighty sibling, but that comes along with benefits of its own.
The most apparent difference is the form factor. The Surface Book is a laptop that can be used for a short while in "clipboard" i.e. tablet mode, with the keyboard fully detached. On the other hand, Surface Pro 4 is a Windows 10-running tablet with a keyboard accessory sold separately. Combined, the Surface Pro 4 and the Type Cover accessory have a starting price of about $930.
The Surface Pro 4 setup is smaller, lighter and more versatile, and a better choice if you use tablet mode often. However, you have to jump up a pricing tier or two to get processing power that's comparable to the Surface Book. Otherwise, they share the same software, stylus, detachability and facial recognition login capabilities, so the two are worthy of a close comparison.
An important heads up: We expect that Microsoft will release updated versions of the Surface series in the early part of 2017. If you're considering this option and can't wait for the update, make sure to shop around for a discount.
Buy the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 on Amazon
Dell XPS 13 2-in-1
Dell's new convertible version of its well-regarded XPS series laptop starts at $999. For now, it's the most compact 2-in-1 that manages to pack in a 13-inch display. It boasts ultra-thin bezels and an attractive fanless build. For an additional $49, you can cop a compatible Dell Active Pen, for a stylus experience similar to the Surface Book's included Surface Pen.
Also of interest from Dell: the Latitude 7285 2-in-1, a more analogous Surface Book rival expected for a May release.
Buy the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 on Dell.com
HP Spectre x360
This convertible was first introduced in 2015, but updated versions with seventh-generation Intel processors were released last year. (When shopping for one, pay attention to those specs. Otherwise, the differences between the two are rather ambiguous.) All in all, the HP Spectre x360 has a reputation for providing a solid user experience with highly configurable options.
The latest version is available directly from HP starting at $920. The entry level version has a 13.3-inch touchscreen display, USB-C x 2, USB 3.1 x 1, Windows 10 Home, 8 GB of RAM and an Intel Core i5 processor. You can also upgrade to a 15.6-inch size, Windows 10 Pro, 16 GB of RAM, or an Intel Core i7 chip. Like the Dell option above, you can add on an optional active stylus for about $50.
The MacBook Pro is the closest Apple offering to the Microsoft Surface in terms of utility. If you want to eke out some touch-sensitive features, you could consider the pricy 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. The highest-end Apple laptop (starting at $1,800) is powerful with characteristic Mac style, but it's a debatable value.
If a plain old laptop without any convertible features will serve you, consider the 2016 MacBook Pro without Touch Bar or even a 2015 MacBook Pro. These are more favorably priced, but comparably equipped, and the 2015 version has more expansion options.
If you were comparing based on form factor alone, you might think the 12.9-inch iPad Pro with a keyboard accessory is a closer Surface Book clone. However, the iPad runs mobile software. Without a desktop operating system or cursor input, we feel it really can't rival the laptop-first experience of a Surface Book.
Buy the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar on Amazon
If you need a refresher on the Microsoft Surface Book, check out New Atlas' review.