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Review of Microsoft Surface Laptop 

Laptops

The Good The Surface Laptop has a slim, contemporary design and offers a variety of cool colors. Battery life is good and the keyboard and touchpad are great.

The Bad The included Windows 10 S operating system can install pre-approved programs by default (but it can be updated). The long life of the fabric coating remains an issue. Colder colors are only available in more expensive configurations, and port selection is limited, completely missing the USB-C.

The Bottom Line Although it doesn’t necessarily stand out in a crowded field, the surface laptop has a great design and is a durable, easy-to-travel PC-player.

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8.3 Overall

  • Design
    9
  • Features
    8
  • Performance
    7
  • Battery
    8

Genuine Microsoft Surface products – 1st generation Surface Pro and Surface RT – did everyone at the time ask, “Why is Microsoft making a tablet?” In the latest Surface everyone asks a different question: “Why is Microsoft making a laptop?”

The rationale behind the original Surface tablets was that no one made cool touch screen devices for Windows 8, a contradictory Microsoft tablet first / touch first. But the Surface line has shown it this way: In a few generations – and a much better version of Windows – it has become the best in two-in-one, a position it might retain today, even with the barely-fledged 2017 version Surface Pro .

Sarah Tew

But, it turns out, not everyone is ready to give up the classic clamshell for a lifetime of clip-on keyboards. Laptops remain popular: from Apple’s MacBook Pro to Dell’s XPS 13 to the iconic ThinkPad Lenovo (though several of these brands now offer 360-degree hybrid versions some of their systems). This appeal to friends may be the reason that Microsoft’s newest addition to the Surface family has turned out to be such a traditional laptop.

Cut from different fabric

It may be traditional, but it’s also a very nice looking laptop – slimmer in size and lighter than the 13-inch MacBook Pro (but heavier than the 12-inch MacBook ). The components inside are what you would expect from a premium laptop in this price range: Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of hard drive in the original configuration (£ 999, £ 979 or $ 1,499) . Our updated review unit expands to 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD (£ 1,299, £ 1,249, or $ 1,999).

Microsoft Surface Laptop

Price as reviewed $1,299, £1,249 or AU$1,999
Display size/resolution 13-inch, 2,256×1,504-pixel touch display
CPU 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7200U
Memory 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz
Graphics 128MB Dedicated Intel HD Graphics 620
Storage 256GB SSD
Networking 802.11ac Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.0 LE
Operating system Windows 10 S, upgradable to Windows 10 Pro

The 2,256×1,504 display is a touch screen and has the same 3: 2 aspect ratio as the Surface Pro. This means it is a little closer to square than most other laptops with a 16: 9 aspect ratio. The former is best for reading long text documents and organizing office files, the latter for movies and TV shows.

Sarah Tew

Microsoft’s surface handle is supported (as in Surface Dial , but not just as a desktop accessory, it won’t work directly on the screen). The screen here doesn’t rotate 360 ​​degrees and doesn’t break away from the keyboard like many PCs with pen support, including Surface Book and Surface Pro, do it. This is a question worth noting again, as the name of the Surface brand was still synonymous with the idea of ​​a slate tablet screen.

Using a new, $ 99 surface-sold pen alone is a pretty worthwhile experience – Microsoft says the delay on the Surface laptop screen is lower than that of the old Surface Pro devices – but the clutter of the clamshell pattern is inherent, especially when the lid does not collapse on 180 degrees. I found myself holding the screen with one hand and using the pen with the other. While the new pen is more expensive, older models still work, and can be got for about $ 60, £ 60 or $ 95 AU. The new stylus adds 4 096 pressure sensitivity levels (up to 1024) and a tilt function that changes the virtual ink flow in some applications when drawing from different angles.

As with other surface systems, it also has the same proprietary long slim power connection, which, thankfully, is still safely ejected if you are traveling over it. Since Apple has refused to connect the MagSafe power supply to USB-C, it is now one of the only laptops available for surge.

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But the biggest thing that strikes anyone who sees a surface laptop is that its interior surfaces (not intended for pun intended) are covered with an artificial fabric called Alcantara. It is a complex material made of polyester and polyurethane, which dates back to the 1970s and was used in cars and boats.

Sarah Tew

By default, the color is called platinum, which is mostly silver-gray. It’s also the only color that is now available for a thousand dollars. To get graphite gold, burgundy or cobalt blue, you’ll need to upgrade to a more expensive 8GB / 256GB configuration. This test system is an on-board model, and it probably looks the best of the bunch. The fabric cover, which runs through the wrist rest and between the keyboard keys, has a sophisticated marble look, while the complimentary burgundy covers the actual keys, the lid and even the bottom panel.

The fabric material looks upscale and not very fuzzy. It should be cleaned relatively easily, especially since it is essentially the same material used on cloth-covered dashboards, but I would not spill a glass of wine on it. Microsoft says you can just use a damp cloth to clean it.

Sarah Tew

Keep in mind that the surface laptop has been stubbornly smashed as students would buy for freshman orientation and hold on to graduation . I don’t know about you, but it’s hard enough for me to keep a clean laptop as a responsible adult – I’m not sure how the fabric of a computer is handled in the world of dormitories and dining rooms. Just keep in mind that you can’t reconfigure your laptop.

Windows 10 S dilemma

In fact, the practical use of the Surface Laptop feels like a well-made super-premium laptop, with a balanced aluminum body that doesn’t flip over when you tap the screen. It’s definitely much more “comfortable” than the Surface Pro, which was a common complaint with this product line. The island-style keyboard will be familiar to anyone who is used to MacBooks or premium Windows from Dell, HP, and others, and the wide touchpad responds well to many finger gestures.

Sarah Tew

The seventh-generation Intel Core i5 processor is more than powerful for any college or professional on this side of heavy video editing, though gaming also takes a back seat as only the main integrated Intel graphics are included. But if you want to get serious about editing photos and videos or install a lot of popular software programs, there is a brick wall that you will come across S. This is one of the first products to launch Microsoft’s new Windows 10 S, the “garden wall,” a version of Windows that promises a safer and safer experience, only allowing you to install the software found in the official Windows App Store. .

Try downloading and installing something like Google Chrome or the Steam video game platform and you will get polite but firm message I’m telling you, it just won’t happen. However, click on the warning and instructions for installing unsupported programs are provided by changing the OS from Windows 10 S to the full version of Windows 10.

The upgrade screen for going from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro.

Screenshot by Joe Kaminski

Especially at its premium price, the Surface Laptop is more attractive with the full version of Windows 10. Fortunately, the upgrade to Windows 10 Pro is free until the end of 2017, but will cost $ 49 later. you have almost the same experience, except when you can download and install any software from the Internet, and not be limited to applications in the official Windows Store format. For most people, updating the OS is usually not the main thing.

After we made the Windows 10 Pro switch and applied our standard PC benchmarks, the system basically performed as expected for the premium Core i5 laptop (though one multi-tasking test gave us anomalous results, and we work with Microsoft, to find out why). In heavy daily use, he felt speed and responsiveness. We didn’t encounter either slowdown or stuttering – not what you’d expect for $ 1299. Windows Hello’s built-in camera above the display is also sensitive, and entered face recognition faster than other Hello-compatible systems I’ve tried . (Microsoft says it’s because the camera turns on the moment it detects that the lid is opening.)

Sarah Tew

Microsoft promises 14 hours of mixed-use battery life, allowing it to be placed in the upper echelons of today’s generation of laptops. Our tougher test for online video casting is estimated at 10 hours and 21 minutes, which is still impressive.

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Less surface, more laptop

Despite its cool design and unique materials, the surface notebook also leaves us scratching our heads. There is no shortage of sophisticated slim laptops for students and professionals hovering around $ 999- $ 1,299 (incl. Apple’s new inexpensive 13-inch MacBook Pro ), and the surface laptop is really no different, except for the color of the fabric and Windows 10 S. Even it looks like it’s taking a step back one way – holding a single USB 3.0 port (and a mini DisplayPort) rather than jumping on the trendy USB-C strips, as did Apple, HP, Asus and others.

Sarah Tew

The Surface Pro remains the perfect mediator between the laptop and the iPad, and its magnetic keyboard cover and built-in rack remain the best of the breed. Massive surface studio ($ 4000 on Amazon) similarly eliminates the gap between a comprehensive desktop and a flat Cintiq drawing surface; and even the amazing surface of the book ($ 789 at Walmart) is at least unique, combining a powerful Surface tablet with a sturdy dock keyboard filled with a video card and an optional battery.

But when it comes to Surface Laptops, this is a very nice-looking, well-equipped product that stands alongside the best performers in its category but doesn’t necessarily outperform them. Personally, I was very pleased to use it, but like many mid-size, mid-2017 laptops, this is a remix of familiar components at the usual price, which means that you should be free to choose a lot depending on your appearance and feel that you most like it.

Geekbench 3 (multi-core)

Dell XPS 13 (2016) 7878 HP Specter x360 (13-inch) 7726 The surface of the Microsoft book 7377 Microsoft Surface Laptop 7193 Apple MacBook Pro (13 inches, 2016) 7178 Microsoft Surface Pro 4 6775 LG Gram 13 6647

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Battery drain test for video streaming

The surface of the Microsoft book 709 Apple MacBook Pro (13 inches, 2016) 696 LG Gram 13 690 Microsoft Surface Laptop 621 HP Specter x360 (13-inch) 482 Dell XPS 13 (2016) 475 Microsoft Surface Pro 4 298

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (in minutes)

System configurations

Microsoft Surface Laptop Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit) 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7200U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 620; 256GB SSD
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit) 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-6300U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 520; 256GB SSD
Microsoft Surface Book Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6600U; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz, 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 965 / 128MB Intel HD Graphics 520; 1TB SSD
LG Gram 13 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7200U; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 128MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 620; 256GB SSD
HP Spectre x360 (13-inch, 2017) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-7500U; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 128MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 620; 512GB SSD
Dell XPS 13 (2016) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-7500U; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 128MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 620; 512GB SSD
Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2016) Apple macOS Sierra 10.12.1; 2GHz Intel Core i5-6360U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 1,536MB Intel Iris Graphics 540; 256GB SSD

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