Microsoft Surface Laptop: Hands-On Review – Forbes

Surface Laptop.

Credit: Brooke Crothers

Surface Laptop.

I spent some hands-on time with the Surface Laptop. How good is it? Read on.

The Surface Laptop with Windows 10 S won’t be available until June 15 but it has already arrived at the Microsoft Store. I spent some time with Microsoft’s new “low-cost” Surface device at a Microsoft Store in Los Angeles.

Keyboard: Excellent. The Surface Laptop keyboard is not anything like Apple’s Butterfly keyboard, used on the 12-inch MacBook and late 2016 MacBook Pros. I use both MacBooks so it’s a pretty stark contrast for me. The Surface Laptop keyboard has oodles of travel (relatively) and bounce — which the Butterfly keyboard doesn’t.  In short, for such a thin/light design (0.57-inches thick), it’s remarkable. I’ve always liked Apple’s Butterfly keyboard but the Surface Laptop keyboard seems better.

Keyboard palmrest material: is carpeting necessary? The material surrounding the (excellent) keyboard is called Alcantara. For the uninitiated, Alcantara is a soft, suede-like material typically found on high-end luxury cars. It shows up on steering wheels and door panels, among other things. It’s basically a synthetic microfiber fabric. To me, the Surface Laptop looks like a keyboard with carpeting. And I can imagine it getting soiled with stains and body oils over time. (Should I hire a carpet cleaner?) More so than all-metal laptops (like the Surface Book). Microsoft claims it is “created to easily wipe clean.” Time will tell.

Build/design: Excellent. The build quality feels/looks top-notch like previous Surface products. What I really like about the Surface Laptop is the weight distribution. Though it weighs in at 2.76 pounds, it feels lighter than that. That’s what good weight distribution across a 13.5-inch laptop can do.

Display: Excellent. Microsoft didn’t skimp on display resolution (as some PC makers are starting to do). It has a high-pixel-count 2,256-by-1,504 resolution. Some PC makers are now regressing to more prosaic 1,920-by-1,080, even on pricey, high-end laptops. While that allows PC makers to save on costs and boost battery life (high-resolution displays use more energy), Microsoft — even with its high-resolution display — is claiming an eye-opening “up to 14.5 hours video playback.”

Configurations: the Surface Laptop starts at $999 with 4GB RAM and a 128GB SSD. If you’re going to run Windows 10 S in education, that will probably be fine. But consumers looking to take advantage of the free upgrade to Windows 10 Pro will probably opt for the $1,299 option with 8GB/256GB.

Limitations: keep in mind that Windows 10 S won’t let you run Regedit, PowerShell, and the DOS/Command prompt and some important apps that power users need. And you’re locked into apps that come from the Windows Store only. Those limitations will drive lots of users to Windows 10 Pro.

Surface Laptop Device Manager: a Toshiba SSD.

Credit: Brooke Crothers

Surface Laptop Device Manager: a Toshiba SSD.

Alcantara fabric-covered keyboard: not a fan.

Credit: Brooke Crothers

Alcantara fabric-covered keyboard: not a fan.

 

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