A Week with the New Surface Laptop

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I’ve been on the road for a week with the new Surface Laptop and I think I fully get what a lot of old Apple users used to see in their Macs. It is kind of cool to be using something that is as much art as it is a productivity product. I thought it would take me a while to get used to having Alcantara on the keyboard face but my hands pretty much screamed in delight when they first touched it and never looked back. This thing is kind of amazing.

Let me walk you through my experience.

The Surface Laptop

First, realize that while this is positioned as a student notebook and comes loaded with Windows S this is not a product that you’d typically see a student use. This is more something you’d expect an executive to have. More brand-new BMW, less used Chevy. If my parents had bought me one of these when I was a kid, I’d have been over the moon but I’d also wonder if they were nuts because I didn’t exactly baby my stuff when I was young.

The Surface Notebook is one of the latest product in Microsoft’s Surface line, which was created to be a stronger alternative to Apple products. Unlike the other Surface products, this doesn’t even pretend to be a tablet—it is a full-on notebook running Intel components and configured so it has a 10+ hour battery life. And, for once, I think 10 hours may be a reasonable measure because I never once felt I was running low on power in normal use.

My Week

I was going on an extended trip and didn’t prepare the Notebook till the night before. As with prior Surface offerings, the Surface Notebook is boxed so it presents itself to you when you open the box—like any high-end offering. One of the first things you notice is the product sports no brands or stickers. It only has a Windows logo on the lid and that’s it. Once out of the box it took about 2 hours to fully patch the product, switch it from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro (Windows 10 S won’t run the Chrome browser or Steam at the moment), to download and install Office 365 (why this isn’t automatic by now is beyond me), and sync all my files. Much of this was unattended.

The Surface products have an unusual power supply. What I think is ironic is that I’ve always thought that Apple’s magnetic power plug on their old Macs was superior because it prevented damage when someone tripped on your power cord. But just as Apple was eliminating that feature Microsoft was bringing it to their products and now Microsoft, not Apple, has a magnetic power supply plug and I still think it is brilliant.

The notebook has a rich feel to it. The lid in particular feels like solid aluminum, compared to other products which may have gone too far to save weight, the Surface Notebook just feels rich and more luxurious.

Like all of the current generation Surface products, the Surface Laptop supports Windows Hello facial recognition. This means that when you open the lid, if it can see your face, you get right through security and can start working.

The first Surface tablets didn’t work well on some planes, they tended to fall off the back of the trays, Surface Book and now the Surface Laptop don’t have those issues and they are both far better on laps as well.

Sadly, the notebook does have one shortfall, it doesn’t have an NVIDIA or AMD graphics card and instead just uses Intel graphics. While Intel graphics has improved over time, when playing a high-end game it still doesn’t supply the kind of horsepower that the title needs to run effectively. As a result, I’d still favor the Surface Book with the Performance Base if gaming was important (and it often is, though I rarely have time for it when I’m on the road).

Wrapping Up: I love this thing

It is hard to not fall in love with the Surface Laptop. It is as much art as it is productivity took. It kind of takes your breath away, not only when you first see it, but every time you use it, and it has really decent battery life and a light carry weight. If it just had AMD or NVIDIA graphics it would be perfect.

Still from the battery life to the power supply to its amazing design, the Surface Laptop remains one of the must lust-inspiring notebooks I’ve ever used. It even comes in colors!

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About Author

As President and Principal Analyst of the Enderle Group, Rob provides regional and global companies with guidance in how to create credible dialogue with the market, target customer needs, create new business opportunities, anticipate technology changes, select vendors and products, and practice zero dollar marketing. For over 20 years Rob has worked for and with companies like Microsoft, HP, IBM, Dell, Toshiba, Gateway, Sony, USAA, Texas Instruments, AMD, Intel, Credit Suisse First Boston, ROLM, and Siemens.

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