Ever since Microsoft got into the game of hardware, they have tried to make devices that stand out. From tablets that come with a kick-stand to hybrids with detachable displays, the software giant has tried (and in most cases, failed) to create a completely new experience when interacting with a computer. While these R&D experiments have brought up some really nice proof-of-concepts, they have hardly been adopted by the mass market. Even a device as innovative as the Surface Studio is limited to creatives with a huge budget. And thus, understanding Microsoft’s chops at developing exceptional hardware, many Windows fans have been hoping for a simple laptop from the company.
As a response to these consumer demands, Microsoft has obliged with the aptly named Surface laptop. Microsoft’s recent experiments in the computer hardware department have paid off quite well and those experiences play well in the company’s Surface Laptop line. The laptop feels premium and succeeds in standing toe-to-toe with Apple’s aesthetic and well-thought out designs. In line with consumer demands, the Surface Laptop is targeted at students and is sold at a decent price-point.
In recent years, Apple has been trying to create a laptop for the future. They have tried to trim every millimeter from their devices to make them as small as they can but constructing a device this thin means a lot of compromises. Thus, the new MacBook Air comes with a single USB-C port and a headphone jack. This lack of ports means a life full of dongles if you want to extend the capabilities of that one USB-C port. Making the MacBook Air slimmer also meant a shallower keyboard that doesn’t play as well as the keyboards found on other Apple devices.
But Microsoft, while they have been pushing a lot of innovative ideas in the past few years, is very grounded with the Surface Laptop. The Surface Laptop does not try to be anything other than a laptop; it does not come with a detachable screen, it does not come with complex kick-stands and it does not come with any of the Microsoft gimmicks we have been accustomed to in the past. The Surface Laptop is simply a laptop and it comes in a form factor similar to that of the MacBook Air without the blatant compromises.
At its core, the Surface Laptop is still a compact device with a 13.5-inch display and weighing just 2.76 pounds. Because of its smaller form-factor, it also suffers from a complete selection of ports but is better than Apple because it offers at least a dedicated USB 3.0 ports, a mini-display port, a headphone jack, a SD Card slot and a proprietary charging port. The 13.5-inch display, which runs at a native resolution of 2,256 x 1,504, is crisp and vibrant. The device will be a wonder to use while performing creative tasks such as video editing, photographic retouching or graphic design.
Even for tasks such as word processing and editing, the device works wonders thanks to a well-spaced out keyboard. Microsoft has also covered the entirety of the keyboard with a material called Alcantara. This material gives the keyboard and its surrounding areas a nice carpet-like impression that feels really nice when typing. The precision touchpad underneath the keyboard also feels exceptional. But we also need to take into consideration that as good as the Alcantara material feels, it is going to be a chore to clean should it get dirty.
The device is as elegant on the outside as it is on the inside. From the outside, the laptop sports a tampered clamshell design that looks really polished and even the brushed-metal four-squared Microsoft Logo on the front looks great. The laptop also comes in four different colors with matching Alcantara material on the inside: Platinum, Graphite Gold, Burgundy and Cobalt Blue.
Microsoft has also equipped the Surface Laptop with impressive internals. Potential customers can choose from a two Intel Kaby-Lake processors: the i5 and the i7. All other components are also customizable; while the device starts with a base RAM configuration of 4GB, it can go up to 16GB; the internal SSD storage is the same staring with a base memory of 128GB and going up to 512GB. All of these components are actively cooled so somewhere inside that thin exterior, Microsoft has managed to squeeze in active cooling components like fans and heat-pipes.
Right not, the Surface Laptop looks impressive with its thin form-factor, carpet-like feel, crisp display and powerful specifications. Starting at $999, the laptop is pretty affordable and would make for a great device to work on. Since the laptop does not come with any form of dedicated graphics cards, performance heavy tasks such as gaming and content production will suffer but since the device is specifically catering to students, this should not be much of a problem.
And since it comes with powerful processors and plenty of RAM, the device should perform exceptionally well during normal use. And with the release of the Surface Laptop, Microsoft is sending out a clear signal to its competitors and third-party partners that they are serious about getting into the hardware game. The Surface Laptop, for now, is a well deserving heir to Microsoft’s Windows line of products as well as an achievement for its hardware department.
The writer is The Week’s tech guru. If you have any queries, write to us at email@example.com and we will have him answer them for you.