Microsoft Surface Laptop – when only a laptop will do (review)
4.4Overall Score

Microsoft has expanded its Surface Pro and Book line-up to include an ultra-light laptop – the Surface Laptop.

Where does it fit in the expanding Surface family?

It has a larger 13.5”, 2556 x 1504 screen than the 12.3”, 2736 x 1824 Surface Pro (2017) and is the same size as the 13.5”, 3000 x 2000, Surface Book. It, like the new Surface Pro 2017, uses Intel 7th generation Core i5 or i7 processors.

Why a Surface laptop?

Some feel more comfortable with a traditional clam shell style laptop – something that can sit on your lap – instead of a tablet with a kickstand and detachable keyboard.

While the Surface Pro created the hybrid 2-in-1 category this laptop, and the Surface Book will help redefine the laptop category with its 3:2 screen ratio.

What’s under the hood?

Screen 13.5” PixelSense Touch/Pen Display, 2556 x 1504, 201 ppi, 3.4m pixels, 3:2 screen ratio; 10 touch points; Gorilla Glass 3; 100% sRGB calibrated
Processor Intel Core i5-7200U, 2.5/3.1GHz or i7-7600U 2.5/4GHz
Graphics Intel HD 620 (i5) or Intel Iris Plus 640 (i7)
RAM/Storage LPDDR3-1866, 4/128GB (i5 only), 8/256GB (both), 16/512GB (i7 only) – no SD slot.

1TB OneDrive cloud storage

Camera Windows Hello, 720p front camera
Audio Stereo microphones
Omnisonic Dolby Audio Premium
3.5mm combo jack
Ports Full sized USB-A 3.0, mini-DisplayPort (4K), Surface Connect (will also be compatible with recently “speculated” USB-C charging dongle)
Comms Wi-Fi AC, Dual band, 2 x 2 MU-MIMO
Bluetooth 4.0
Dimensions

Weight

308.1 x 223.27 x 14.48 mm
1.25kg (i5) and 1.28kg (i7)
Battery Rated for 14.5 hours video playback at 50% screen brightness
Construction Aircraft aluminium and Alcantara fabric (in some markets and configurations also Graphite Gold, Burgundy, Cobalt Blue)
Price: i5/4/128GB $1499
i5/8/256GB $1999
i7/8/256GB $2499
i7/16/512GB $3299All prices include 1-year Office 365 personal subscription (purchased prior to 15/10/17) and free Windows 10 Pro upgrade (to 31/12/17).
Student, Academic and volume pricing available
Options Surface Pen https://www.microsoft.com/en-au/surface/accessories/surface-pen   (4096 pressure levels) $TBA but around $150
Surface Dock https://www.microsoft.com/surface/en-au/accessories/surface-dock (add two monitors, 4 USB-3.0 ports, etc) $299.95
Surface Dial https://www.microsoft.com/en-au/surface/accessories/surface-dial  (for on-screen use) $149.95
A variety of mini-DisplayPort adapters

First impressions

The nice white box with blue highlights has the laptop and a 15V/2.58A (38.7W) Surface “ribbon” charger with a 5V/1A USB charge port.

Setup is typical of the Windows 10 – it will ask you about security and privacy and it will work without any enabled.

It follows Surface design cues, it is very light, and the screen section of the unit is very thin and able to be lifted with one finger – very “aluminium/grey” with grey Alcantara fabric on the keyboard. There are other colours as well.

How does it perform?

Windows Store does not have the usual test software and as an upgrade to Windows Pro was out of the question all I can say is that there was plenty of power from the i5/8GB/256GB review unit.

Wi-Fi AC was excellent. In theory, it can reach 867Mbps but in practice, this was about 350-450Mbps at 20 metres from the router.

Boot times were impressive – from cold boot to Windows Hello login in under eight seconds and warm boot in under two seconds. Windows Hello added a less than a second.

Keyboard/trackpad

The Alcantara-covered keyboard has a 1.5mm throw and that is good for touch typists. There is a little key bounce like the Pro detachable keyboard. Using the standard touch-type test, I achieved 95% (of my normal) with no appreciable difference in error rate.

The Alcantara fabric is a hard-wearing material used in premium automotive use as a durable, longer lasting alternative to leather. It should wear very well, it repels moisture and should stand the test of time.