Hubert Burda Media

A Jargon-Free Honest Review of the Microsoft Surface Laptop


It was only a matter of time before fabrics normally used by luxury brands trickled their way down to everyday tech products and in the Microsoft Surface Laptop, that material looks right at home.

Alcantara was created in the 1970s by a Japanese scientist who we imagine was presumably annoyed that rain kept destroying his suede shoes and wanted to create a similar gorgeous-looking material that was more resistant to stains and liquids.

Design

Microsoft opted to layer the keyboard with alcantara, making it stand out from the rest of its competitors in the segment. Does it work? It certainly does. Running your fingers over the keyboard is such a pleasurable experience, and the Surface laptop looks great as a whole. In fact, it resembles a certain fruity company’s products, which is the epitome of design in our books.

Microsoft Surface Laptop
Microsoft Surface Laptop

The light aluminium chassis also means you’ll feel right at home at your designated co-working space with the other tenants who all seem to be wielding MacBooks.

The Microsoft Surface Laptop’s slim form factor also makes it easy to store and convenient to lug around. However, with beauty also comes the dreaded spectre of replacements, or lack thereof. If your battery dies, there’s no way for you to replace it, short of tearing apart the whole thing.

In fact, it literally can’t be opened without destroying the whole laptop. Disposable design at its finest.

Performance & OS

My biggest gripe with the Microsoft Surface Laptop is the Windows 10 S operating system. For those unfamiliar with the latest version from Microsoft’s OS factory line, it essentially is the 2018 version of Windows RT. Remember that monstrosity that only allowed you to install Microsoft-approved software and nothing else?

That means no Chrome, no iTunes or any other software that didn’t partner with the tech company. You can only run applications from the Microsoft store. If you have a favourite indie application you regularly use (mine was the eBook system Calibre), you can kiss it goodbye.

Barring that, I must admit that Windows 10 S is snappy and barely lags. Microsoft claims that it will run as fast on Day 1000 as it did on Day One. Take that as you will.

The version I tested was the top-of-the-line Surface, with Intel Core i7, 16GB of memory, and 1TB of storage. It still ran smoothly even though I threw multiple tasks at it, including running multiple design- and memory-intensive applications while playing music.

Display & Ports

The Microsoft Surface Laptop comes with PixelSense display, a name I suspect the marketing department came up with because they desperately wanted the public to know that it’s also a touchscreen.

Colours are vibrant and look amazing, and text rendering is fantastic. But most high-end laptops now have excellent displays and I did not expect anything less from the Surface Laptop.

The three ports on the Microsoft Surface Laptop
The three ports on the Microsoft Surface Laptop

Sadly, Microsoft has only chosen to bestow the device with one USB 3.0 port (yes, not USB-C), a headset jack, and a mini DisplayPort. But I suppose in its quest to make the Surface Laptop as thin as possible, certain concessions have to be made and in this wireless era, ports are the first to go.

Would I Recommend It?

I’m on the fence about the Microsoft Surface Laptop. It’s a gorgeous piece of tech that feels just as great to use but the restrictions imposed by Windows 10 S is a huge turn-off. You can upgrade to Windows 10 (no S) for a small fee now but no one knows if this pricing strategy will continue in the future.

I would say to go in with two eyes wide open and understand what you’re getting into when you finally decide to Add to Cart and Purchase.

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