Microsoft Surface Laptop review – WE THOUGHT the day would never come, a traditional Microsoft laptop!
We use the word ‘traditional’ loosely, the new Microsoft Surface Laptop is still unique. Open it up to reveal an Alcantara fabric-covered keyboard portion. The screen is also a stunning quality 3:2 aspect ratio PixelSense touch display, while the laptop’s shape is an angular wedge, reminding us a little of the Nokia X7. It also comes with Intel’s latest chipset and a weird version of Windows, Windows 10 S, which is basically the successor to Windows RT. Oh, and this thing costs a lot of money.
After just over two weeks with Microsoft’s debut laptop, would we recommend one?
The Surface Laptop looks excellent. Closed, it has a seriously clean aesthetic, living up to the Surface name. Real attention to detail has been paid to the ports, hinge and exposed elements, ensuring everything is flush and seamless, with Microsoft even paying attention to the internal colouring of the ports.
It’s also thin, with heavy bevels adding a huge amount of personality to the laptop’s undercarriage. Packing a sizeable grey trackpad loaded up with reassuring click feedback, paired with a grey set of plastic keys and grey Alcantara, the keyboard portion looks both peculiar and cohesive all at the same time.
Side-on, it’s a stacked cross-section – a layer of Alcantara fabric on the top, a metal keyboard base below. When closed, it’s the Alcantara fabric that comes into contact with the screen. This means there are no protective rubber nubbins to stop it coming into contact with the keyboard, adding to the overriding clean aesthetic.
The fabric is stain resistant and in just over two weeks, it managed to steer clear of grubbying up too much despite being introduced to a couple of drops of coffee and our sweaty palms on the hottest day of the year. That said, we can’t attest to its resistance to life’s hiccups after months or years.
You won’t see a screw in sight here, just clean surfaces and a grille on the back portion where you’ll find the fan. In a turn up for the books, there’s no speaker grille per se, rather a sound emitting keyboard. Yep, random, but a smart use of space.
Above the screen sits the front camera, and to the right of the keyboard portion a proprietary Surface charging port while USB- A and display port connections are on the left.
Being metal, it goes without saying that this thing will dent if you’re overly aggressive with it, though it didn’t seem any more prone to wear and tear than a MacBook, for example.
Overall, the Surface Laptop looks good. For those longing for a stark, almost clinical, Windows-powered MacBook Air alternative, this could well be it. It looks better than the Dell XPSes and HP Spectres out there and has a warmer feel than the Huawei MateBook X thanks to the keyboard’s fabric finish.
The 13.5in, 3:2 aspect ratio Pixel Sense display, coated with a shiny sheet of Gorilla Glass 3, is another high-point of the Surface Laptop.
The aspect ratio will give you borders up top and below when watching films and it’s pretty reflective, but those are the only two negatives here.
Clarity is on-point, with a resolution of 2256×1504. This results in a pixel density of over 200 pixels per inch (ppi) – more than most laptops. Pair that with IPS display tech, support for 100 per cent of the SRGB colour space and snappy touch interaction, and the Surface Laptop screen doesn’t just look on-point, it feels on-point too.
From a purely ergonomic point of view, while it does support last year’s Surface Pen and it technically offers over 100 levels of pressure sensitivity, doodling on a laptop that doesn’t fold down flat feels silly, and the Surface Laptop is no exception.
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