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Microsoft Surface Book vs. Apple MacBook Air and iPad Pro

Today Microsoft MSFT shocked the tech community with the announcement of its first ever laptop, the Surface Book. Microsoft's line of Surface devices have always been billed as the tablet to replace your laptop, but now it looks like the Redmond, Washington-based software giant wants to replace your laptop with its own.

Well, maybe it's not that simple. While the Surface Book was pitched as a laptop, it also functions as a tablet. With a full touchscreen, detachable keyboard, and a unique "Fulcrum" hinge, Microsoft has created a sleek laptop-tablet hybrid (Also read: Microsoft Unveils First Laptop ).

Microsoft has clearly positioned itself to do battle with Apple AAPL , but now it can compete with two different Apple devices. It's really not clear; is the Surface Book a MacBook competitor or an iPad Pro competitor?

The MacBook has been a prominent figure in the personal computer world for many years, and its current line of MacBook Air devices are some of the lightest and most powerful laptops on the market. Apple's iPads have also been a major player in the tablet market for a while, but its recently unveiled iPad Pro stands to be one of the strongest of its kind (Also read: Apple Event: New iPad Pro ).

With that said, the Surface Pro compares to both the MacBook Air and the iPad Pro. Here are some quick figures for all three devices:

Surface Book MacBook Air iPad Pro
Display Size 13.5 inches 13.3 inches 12.9 inches
Weight 3.5 lbs (1.6 w/o keyboard) 2.96 lbs 1.57 lbs
Pixels Per Inch (PPI) 267 128 264
Max Battery Life 12 Hours 12 Hours 10 Hours
Thickness 7.7 mm (with keyboard detached) 17 mm 6.9 mm
Operating System Windows 10 OS X El Capitan iOS 9
Starting Price $1,499 $999 $799

In a head-to-head competition, it's difficult to call a winner here. If anything, the Surface Book seems like an interesting combination of both of Apple's devices.

The Surface Book does stick out with its display. At 267 PPI, it will feature one of the clearest pictures of any laptop on the market. The MacBook certainly can't keep up, and it also edges out the iPad Pro. However, both Apple devices edge out the Surface Book in weight. When functioning just as a tablet, the Surface Book is heavier than its iPad counterpart, and the full laptop version is a bit heavier than the MacBook as well.

Microsoft's choice to go with the uncommon 13.5 screen is interesting. With a 3:2 aspect ratio, it's just a bit taller than the laptops in that size range, and this size serves a purpose. When in tablet mode, the Surface Book will retain the same "paper pad" shape as the Surface Pro 3 and Surface Pro 4.

Bottom Line

Microsoft has certainly given the tech community something to think about today. Whether intentional or not, it will now step in the ring with two of Apple's top devices. Each has its positives and negatives, but it certainly looks like the Surface Book will be a force to be reckoned with.

At the end of the day, the Surface Book is more powerful and does more than both the MacBook Air and the iPad Pro. But that doesn't necessarily make it a winner. At a slightly higher price level than both of its competitors, the Surface Book will need to excel in order to attract consumers who may not need all of its features.

After all, die-hard Apple users may already own both an iPad and a MacBook; will the Surface Book win them over? Even loyal Microsoft users may just opt for the cheaper, yet still impressive, Surface tablets. Regardless, both companies sit at a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), and investors should be looking for moves that shake things up. Those investing in Microsoft will certainly hope that today's move does just that.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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