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REVIEWS

Apple iPhone X

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Miele Blizzard CX1 Hardfloor PowerLine

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

Sonos One Smart Speaker

Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

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27-inch Apple iMac with Retina 5K Display

Anki Cozmo programmable robot

Microsoft Surface Laptop

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Google Home

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Apple iPad Pro 10.5-inch

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insta360 nano 360 camera for iPhone

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UAG Rugged Case for Surface Book

Motorola Moto G5

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

2017 Chrysler Pacifica

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2017 Jaguar F-Pace

Linksys VELOP Whole Home Mesh Network

Fitbit Alta HR

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Timex IQ+ Move fitness tracking watch

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2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 4MATIC Sedan

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Friday
Jul142017

Review: Microsoft Surface Laptop

By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

After years of Surface and Surface Pro tablets refining the 2-in-1 segment and advancing Windows 10’s touch-first interface, introducing the powerful Surface Book, Microsoft has released an all-new premium notebook with its very own version of Windows 10 called Windows 10 S. 

At first glance, the Surface Laptop seems to be everything that anyone clamouring for a Microsoft made, non-detachable all-day laptop, has wished for.

 Wish Fulfillment


Superbly designed, with premium materials and exacting fit and finish. Surface Laptop brings some familiar elements from previous creations (Alcantara leather keyboard, stunning touch display, sleek and angular design) into a series of traditional laptops that are lightweight, last all day and can serve a wide range of users from students to corporate users. 

Coming from a Surface Book, then a smaller 2016 MacBook, I see the Surface Laptop as fitting in right in between those two paradigms. It is a bona-fide notebook with a 13.5-inch PixelSense display, but it also comes with touch capability and the ability to take input from a Surface Pen.

Passion for innovation

 

Microsoft has shown passion for design and a tremendous spirit of innovation in its Surface division. You feel it when Panos Panay unveils a new product, and you feel it each time you touch and interact with their devices. Simply put, Surface devices are some of the very best of what is available to PC users in terms of aesthetics and also thoughtful functionality. 

I’ve also found Microsoft’s customer service and support for devices to be beyond reproach, I’ve gotten my Surface Book replaced twice under warranty without any hassle for various hardware or software issues. It pays to have actual Microsoft Stores with specialists that can quickly see to customer needs.

While I loved my Surface Book, I rarely used it for drawing and felt that the Surface Pen was not very essential to my computing style (it was super handy for quickly signing documents and NDA’s, however). Moving to a MacBook felt more natural for me since It is a traditional notebook, albeit an underpowered one for some of my needs.

A true clamshell notebook for the rest of us 

The Surface Laptop thinner and lighter than a Surface Book, yet gives me all the computing power I need (plus the flexibility of using touch and even drawing with a Surface Pen should the need ever arise). The Surface Laptop also serves my entertainment needs. It has a great display for watching video, a cleverly hidden speaker under the fabric keyboard (precisely using that material as a baffle for better sound) and it fits into the Surface ecosystem of chargers and docks.

The only downside for me, which might also deter some potential users is the lack of ports. There’s a Surface power slot, a full USB 3.0 port and a Mini DisplayPort slot for external monitors. Unlike the Surface Pro and Surface Book, there’s no microSD card slot for additional expansion and, sadly, no USB Type-C functionality.

This notebook is seamless, has no visible screws and looks and feels phenomenal. Performance is also very good, Windows 10 S seems to be a more tightly integrated and less vulnerable version of the OS. For users who aren’t tied down by legacy apps or need very specific software not available through the Windows Store, then Windows 10 S should suffice.

Travelling companion

 

As someone who travels often, the Surface Laptop is an ideal companion. Long battery life, (easily 10-hours of mixed use) allowed me to work on various stories on Word, spreadsheets on Excel and also watching various videos and TV shows made it possible to keep sane during an intercontinental flight complete with delays, changeovers and general lack of power outlets to plug into.

This was the case during an Air Transat flight from Barcelona to Toronto (by way of Montreal). This is an 8 hour flight and I was quite dismayed to realize the Air Transat planes only had screens on business class. There was the option of using a smartphone or a tablet to access shows and flight information, but with no place to plug these devices, that didn’t seem reasonable.

With the Surface Laptop, I was able to at least spend a few hours accessing the plane’s entertainment hub as well as watching videos I had downloaded from Netflix or Amazon Prime video. The Surface Laptop had more than enough juice for some quick emails and for me to download and edit various vacation photos. 

In a way, I’m thankful it took Microsoft this long to create a true Surface laptop. The company’s experience with Surface tablets and the Surface Book helped refine the essential features that truly shine in the more affordable, and general-purpose notebook form factor.

In terms of hardware, the Surface Laptop can handily compete against the best that HP, Lenovo and Toshiba have to offer even though it is clear this early on that they’re really out to compete for Apple’s notebook market. The addition of multitouch support and Surface Pen compatibility (as well as the Surface Dial, which I have yet to review), adds an interesting garnish to what could be more than a niche product line for Microsoft.

Microsoft still has to appease OEMs, that’s why we’re likely seeing limited ports, no convertible or 360’ display capability, which is fine as it helps keep the pricing down.

Windows 10 S needs to prove itself 

Windows 10 S, well the verdict is still out on this locked down yet more efficient version of the OS. Personally, I would take advantage of the Windows 10 upgrade, just because I already have various paid software and services I rely on. Students and more casual users might be just fine with Windows 10 S. Let’s revisit in six months or a year to see how much sense it makes then.

Hits:

 

  • Beautiful and functional Surface design in Laptop form
  • Long battery life and great display
  • Retains multi-touch and Surface Pen functionality
  • Outstanding Microsoft Store Support

 

 

Misses:

 

  • Lack of USB Type-C connector
  • Very limited amount of ports
  • No microSD expansion

 

 

Conclusion:

 

While aimed for students and the educational market, the Microsoft Surface Laptop is a solid, elegant and capable general purpose notebook PC that closely competes with Apple’s MacBook Air segment. Microsoft has added some flair, fashion and style with colourful touches and a unique leather-topped keyboard.

Running Windows 10 S gives users a more locked down version of Windows that’s curated entirely by Microsoft, forget installing Chrome and other go-to apps on this device unless you decide to cash-in on the free Windows 10 upgrade.

 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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