Announced at Mobile World Congress in February 2017, Porsche Design came storming out of left field with its Book One. And it's far from just another expensive laptop. The Book One is the world's only fully convertible and detachable 2-in-1 notebook.
The fact that this can be achieved, and to such a high standard, is a testament to what Porsche Design does best: designing.
Porsche Design isn't new to tech
The Book One is the latest in a long line of Porsche Design products, and it isn't the first tech product the company put its name on, either. It has had partnerships in smartphones with BlackBerry and more recently, Huawei, and now with a dedicated computing division.
Microsoft and Intel both had a hand in bringing the Book One to life.
The project was two years in the making and was a result of a collaboration with three other companies: Intel, Microsoft and Quanta, the manufacturing partner putting each Book One together.
From the outset, the desire was to create a product to meet the needs of Porsche Design's traditional customers, or in other words, business folks. The brand has always commanded premium prices for premium products. And those products are unmistakable, just like the Book One.
The key to the convertible aspect is the clever hinge. True to the Porsche heritage, the hinge on the Book One was designed with similar principles to a gearbox. It looks like two cogs turning together, and while it's beautiful to look at, the function is what's most important.
It allows the display on the Book One to fold completely around and sit perfectly flat against the keyboard base. Each portion is perfectly uniform at 7.9 mm thick, and using it like a 13.3-inch tablet is comfortable. The weight isn't excessive and considering the anodized aluminum construction, that's a pleasant surprise.
Like the Microsoft Surface Book, the display portion of the Book One lifts completely away so you get a 13.3-inch tablet. Naturally, that means all the internal hardware is in the top portion of the device, with the keyboard housing nothing but keys, a battery and some ports. The two batteries on the Book One combine for 70 Wh, or up to 14 hours in real world terms.
Book One is high-end inside and out
Inside the top portion, you have first the 13.3-inch QHD+ 3200 x 1800 resolution display. Beneath that lies 16GB of RAM, an Intel Core i7 "Kaby Lake" processor and a 512GB PCIe solid state drive (SSD). Besides a headphone jack, the solitary connector on this part of the Book One is a USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port.
This isn't for the mass market, but that's no reason for it not to exist.
The keyboard base also has a USB-C connection, but it's not Thunderbolt 3, so if you're hooking up to external displays and docking stations, you'll need to use the port at the side of the display. The keys feel a little like the Surface Book's buttons and are every bit as high quality feeling as every other aspect of this laptop.
Speaking of external displays, Porsche Design includes a USB C-to-HDMI adapter in the box with every Book One. There will also be an optional docking station, which is essentially a similar piece of equipment to the latest Surface Docking Station.
This laptop isn't for everyone, and it will never have mass market appeal. But that's not a reason for it not to exist. Devices like this are a showcase of what you can only achieve in a laptop thanks to Windows 10. A MacBook is expensive, but you can't draw on the screen with the (included) Wacom pen, or fold the display around, or pull it away altogether.
The target Book One buyer is going to be the same sort of person who spent a ton on a Porsche Design BlackBerry. That's professionals, fans of the brand, or folks who invest in the premium end of the market. Not everyone wants or can afford a Razer Blade Pro, either.
Every detail has been thought out with perfection in mind.
The Porsche Design Book One is expected to be released soon and will be available in 17 countries — mostly in Europe, but also the U.S. and Canada — for €2,795 (roughly U.S.$3,030). It will be available from Porsche Design directly as well as via select retail partners. In the U.S., for example, you'll be able to get one at Newegg and the Microsoft Store.
The Book One leaves a strong first impression. On the outside, it's exquisitely designed and constructed, while inside it's everything you'd expect from a 2017 high-end Ultrabook. Every detail has been carefully thought out and executed with perfection in mind.
And I (really) want one.
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