At the point of my reviewing the Microsoft Surface Laptop, the device has been out and in the market for a good year or so. But with the new, cutesy Surface Go on its way, Microsoft is on your mind more than it’s ever been. If the frill-free Surface Laptop is a purchase you’d consider making, then here’s what I can tell you; from my ‘handsy’ experience, and from how the laptop seems to be performing for users after a full year.
The Surface Laptop offers improved hardware, sturdiness and usability fit for its price range.
Look and Feel
I’ve been an almost exclusive Mac user for at least the last 5 years. My occasional forays of Windows usage in this period were only out of absolute necessity (read: games) and often left me in frustration over the overall experience. One of life’s simplest pleasures does, after all, lie in the smooth glide of a Macbook Pro’s trackpad.
Ergo, a laptop with keys that your fingers can glide and tap over, and a surface that’s not cold to touch. The Surface Laptop is very ideal if for all uses related to heavy typing. Keys are remnant of the Lenovo Thinkpad’s, with minimal bounce-back and a very smooth touch.
This does, however, mean that activities like gaming will leave you with a less than satisfactory experience. You’re not going to want to slam on these keys, and even if you tried, they’d give you minimal satisfaction. Gaming also doesn’t feel as natural when rapid key-switching still physically feels like you’ve not PRESSED your fingers on anything.
What truly makes the sleek feel, however, is the Alcantara fabric that covers the interior surface and keyboard of the Surface Laptop. Much like suede, the fabric is very comfortable to rest your hands on, though sometimes generating spurts of static discharge after periods in air-conditioned areas.
Another downside is that resting your hands on a fabric means it’s going to see you through ages of hand oil, sweat, and grime. Unlike a plastic/metal surface that you can just clean, the fabric accumulates and absorbs oils, meaning your use is definitely going to show. Liquids and other substances also stain the cloth if not wiped off in a short duration.
The laptop has a 13.5 inch display, with a resolution of 2,256 x 1,504 pixels. Images are very crisp and sharp. You can touch the screen to use it, apart from your notably seamless trackpad. The 3:2 screen is made of Corning Gorilla Glass to protect against chipped nails and your cat.
To add to aesthetics, the laptop is very thin and has a simple, shiny Windows logo on the back. Carrying it feels almost like carrying a precious, book. The laptop weighs 1.25kg and 1.4 centimeters thick…yep, possibly less wide than your finger.
Soft and Hardware
The Surface Laptop runs on Windows 10 S, not the Windows 10. The Windows 10 is a forced, miniaturised version of the Windows 10. You lose the ability to download anything not in the Windows Store for a slightly faster OS, and a smoother start up. More importantly, this means having to use Edge instead of other applications Google Chrome. Thankfully, you can switch to the Windows 10 if you want to. Microsoft has also made ‘S’ a mode that can be turned off an on whenever you desire.
You can choose between an i5 or an i7 Core, with a base frequency of 2.5GHz. You can also pick from three (128GB, 256GB, 512GB) SDD sizes, though not all combinations are allowed. On the Core i5, the Surface Pro boasts a standout battery life of about 15 hours with video playback. Ultimately, you can fulfill day-to-day functions and have your mid-end gaming requirements met. Seeing you through Mac’s increasing costs but their OS’s decreasing adept cohesiveness, Microsoft may have just offered a viable reason to make the switch from Apple. The general consensus seems to be that the Surface Laptop stays at 12 hours of use and optimal performance after a year’s use.
A noticeably lacking feature of the Surface Laptop is its ports. The laptop has only two ports: one is a full-sized USB port, a mini-DisplayPort and a Surface Connect port. The laptop only has a microSD card reader, which, at its base, makes the device somewhat inconvenient if you’re in the visual industry. You’ll need a Surface Dock to access proper potential. Either way, the Surface Connect port won’t go to waste because it serves as a charging point for the laptop.
More remarkably, the laptop has dual microphones and Omnisonic stereo speakers with Dolby Audio Premium that give for pretty crisp, splendid sound.
At a price point of $1,488 SGD, the Surface Laptop is good consideration for its hardy build combined with a polished user experience and flourishing battery life. If you’re a writer or a student, this should grant you everything you need at an optimum. Free from the bulk of the detachable SurfaceBook, this is probably the best of a ‘normal’ laptop that you’re going to get from Microsoft, and it sure is worth the purchase– if that stained Alcantara isn’t going to get to you.