The Surface line up from Microsoft has been impressive. They have become the poster kid for the hybrid 2 in 1 laptops or the Ultrabook category. The Surface Laptop, however, is not a hybrid nor an ultrabook. It should be on your shortlist for consideration if you are scouring around for a simple straight up traditional laptop.
The good people in Microsoft sent me a unit for me to review. And after more than 14 days of usage, this is what I have found out -
THINGS TO NOTE
* My review unit cost SGD 3000 * It is a high-end model.
The specs include -
- MICROSOFT WINDOWS 10S
- Alcantara Fabric Keyboard deck
- Intel Core I7 Processor Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-7660U CPU @ 2.50GHz, 2496 Mhz, 2 Core(s), 4 Logical Processor(s)
- 16 GB Ram
- 13.5 Inch Screen with Windows Pen enabled
- 10 point multitouch screen
- Pixelsense Display with 2256 x 1504 Screen Resolution (201 PPI)
- Intel® Iris™ Plus Graphics 640 (i7)
- 512 GB Storage
- Ports :
1 x USB 3.0
1 x Mini Display
1 x 3.5mm audio port
1 x Surface port (propietary charging port)
- 14 hrs battery life
WHAT DID I LIKE?
1) Build Quality
Part of the high cost is due to the premium build quality of the surface laptop. Similarly to Apple's MacBook lineup, Microsoft engineered the chassis with real intent and real class. At only 1.8 kg, it is a laptop which was designed to be ultraportable. I have been carrying it around in my backpack when I commute to work, and it was miles away from being cumbersome.
2) Battery life
While stated as being able to power up for 14 hrs, I managed to get beyond the 12-hour mark in my usage. It was mainly due to just making simple productivity applications such as spreadsheets and word. I even watched an entire 50 minute Netflix episode during my lunchtime. 12 hours is considerably long for an I7 processor at 16GB ram. Being an ultraportable laptop, having an extended lasting battery is critically important.
3) Great keyboard
I did a lot of typing in my 17 days of usage on the Surface Laptop, mainly because it was such a delight to type on the keyboard. There was this nice tactile feel on the keys that makes me want to type more. The Alcantara fabric on the keyboard deck, which I think is mainly gimmicky, actually contributed to the overall typing experience. Although it is not a cushion, resting my palms on it kind of makes typing a bit more relaxing. It beats the feeling of resting my palms on solid, smooth metal such as the MacBook which could be slippery and has sharp edges. In a way, it gave me a little traction while typing.
4) The screen is compatible with Microsoft Pens
Both of the Microsoft Pens from the Surface work seamlessly with the Surface laptop. This is awesome especially if you have the one from the Surface Pro 3, and you don't have to buy a whole new set to use with the laptop.
WHAT DIDN'T I LIKE?
1) The Windows 10s
While Microsoft developed Windows 10s to go head to head with Google's Chrome OS, it doesn't do justice for the price point as well as user experience for consumers. In short, Windows 10s should not exist. You are restricted to using only apps from Microsoft Store. This means you cannot install Kodi, no gaming on steam, no Google Chrome browser, no Tidal, no Twitch app, no GOG, etc. Gaming, productivity, music, browser are only usable as long as they can be found in the Microsoft Store app. I could probably do without the 3rd party applications, but I can't when I cannot even install audio drivers such as Fiio on Win 10s. You can imagine how bumped I was.
* There is a respite, however, because you can switch Windows 10s to a Full Windows 10. What I dislike is that the feature is so well hidden that is it as if Microsoft did not want you to switch from S to non-S.
2) The screen that does not swivel to 180 Degrees
This is one of the biggest bummer. Period. As a touchscreen that supports Microsoft Pen writing, it would be a logical assumption that the screen can be pushed all the way flat, yes? The answer is a straight no. At a maximum tilt angle of about 135 degrees, writing is an awkward feat. What irks me most, even if you are ok annotating at 135 degrees angle, is that the screen kind of flexes back and forth when you apply a bit more pressure to your writing. Point to note for this laptop; it is not something for you to doodle on.
Apart from the two issues that I raised, I think it is a wonderful laptop overall. With a keyboard structure that gives a lot of joy typing, good looking sharp screen and battery life that last longer than Season 1 of Luke Cage, I recommend this device as your daily driving laptop. If you are considering to buy, don't get the base model. Instead, go for the entry level which cost $1788 (I5, 8 GB Ram & 256 GB storage). These days, you can never go wrong with Microsoft, let alone the Surface line devices.