Microsoft Surface Laptop (Surface Book) review

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Microsoft Surface Laptop

The Microsoft Surface Laptop, also known as the Surface Book is an interesting 2 in 1 device. It can function both as a tablet as well as a regular laptop. On top of that, it packs beefy specs in a slim, well designed package. Eager to find out more about this device? Dive in!

 

The Features

  • Comes in several variants depending on your needs (and/or budget)
  • Detachable screen
  • Runs Windows 10 out of the box
  • A very fast Intel CPU
  • SSD
  • PixelSense Display with Pen
  • Built in for Windows Hello facial recognition

 

The Specs

  • Screen Size: 13.5” PixelSense display
  • Screen Resolution: 3000×2000 for the 13” and 2880×1800 for the 15”
  • Processor: Intel Core i5 or Intel Core i5
  • Memory: 8GB or 16GB
  • Storage: Solid state drive (SSD) options: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB
  • Graphics: i5: Intel HD graphics (non-GPU) or i5/i7: NVIDIA GeForce graphics (GPU)
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking; IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n compatible, Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology
  • Camera: 5.0 megapixel front-facing, 8.0 megapixel rear-facing camera with autofocus (also has 1080p HD video recording)
  • Sensors: ambient light sensor, accelometer, gyroscope, magnetometer

 

Overview:

When you see the spec sheet of the Microsoft Surface Laptop, you can see that it’s pretty much the same as the regular Surface Pro. So, what is it exactly that makes this device different? Well first of all you’ll notice that the design is a bit different. It has a new kind of dock for the keyboard which can flip up to very high angles. You’ll notice that it has a not-so-common screen aspect ratio (with it being 3:2 – the same one on a regular A4 paper), but even so, it’s very easy to get used to it. As for its internals, we have a Skylake Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, and up to 16GB of RAM. Depending on your configuration you can also get an NVIDIA dedicated GPU. Keep in mind, however, that this GPU is only available with the keyboard attached, as that’s where it’s located. Overall, the Surface Book isn’t a high-end gaming laptop, but it will run most modern games on medium quality. But that’s not what it’s meant for anyways. The Surface Book aims at creators, such as web and graphical designers, perhaps architecture students, and such.

The keyboard is spacious and is very comfortable to type on. It also has a very deep click, making the typing even more satisfying.  The trackpad works ok, but it’s nothing revolutionary. The Surface Book also has your usual I/O: a combo 3.5mm audio jack, two USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader and a mini-DisplayPort. Note, however, that except for the audio jack, all of the ports are on the keyboard base. The light sensor is a useful function, but it has some issues where it can be a bit too aggressive at times. The facial recognition feature is a nice addition, but I still think it would be just plain easier, faster, and more secure to use a PIN or a password.

As for the pen, it’s the same one as on the Surface Pro 4. It attaches via a magnet, and is interchangeable with the Pro 4. The pen is fantastic. It works with many different apps, such as the Fresh Pain app (a built in one), Microsoft OneNote which even auto-launches when you click the button on the back of the pen, and of course with Adobe’s Photoshop and Illustrator. This is where the Surface Book truly shines, as Microsoft managed to bring the pen and screen up to a point where an external drawing tablet is no longer needed.

Customer reviews (from online reviews)

“Outstanding Laptop! This is an outstanding surface laptop. It combines all the portability and usage features of the other surface devices but come with a big power and battery boost. Great computer so far!”

“Does it all from main computer to tablet. I run my business with a Microsoft Surface Laptop. Powerful enough to handle any task, yet flexible too. If I need to use it purely as a tablet I can detach the tablet from the base, or if I need longer battery life reverse it on the base.”

“Great laptop! Solid machine. I bought the Surface Book to replace a Macbook Pro, and I have been very pleased so far.”

Conclusion for college students:

The Microsoft Surface Laptop is a premium class laptop/tablet, that, while has a specific group of users in mind (mostly being designers and architects), can be used for a wide variety of tasks. It features an excellent design, using high quality materials. While it has had some firmware issues, those are fixed now, and the device runs great. It is also a plus that it has several versions so you can decide which one is right for your needs and/or budget. Even so, it still has a high price tag, with the cheapest one starting at 1499$ and going all the way up to 3299$, but if you can afford it, and would find the pen useful, the Surface Book is definitely the laptop for you.

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