Cards on the table, while not all of us are at Man of Many, I’m an apple fanboy. To the “core”. Iphone, Ipad, Macbook… you name it. My current weapon of choice: 2016 Macbook Pro. Which is why when given the opportunity to review the new Microsoft Surface Laptop I was very surprised to say the least.
My first impressions of the Surface Laptop was that this was a much sleeker, lighter and overall attractive model than anything Microsoft have produced thus far. Certainly enough to make a die-hard Apple fan do a double take. Even the box it came in had the refined, minimalist Apple-esque feel to it.
The laptop itself is, aesthetically, very appealing. A much smaller gap to bridge for anyone transitioning from a Macbook, particularly the earlier models. The Surface Laptop is very light (around 1.2kg), making it extremely portable and certainly compatible with your school backpack, university tote bag or business manbag satchel. That said, it is still noticeably heavier than the new Macbook and Macbook Air range. Not by much, but it is noticeable.
Under the lid is where you’ll find the Surface Laptop’s most defining, and perhaps controversial features. The screen quality is amazing, Microsoft has provided a 13.5-inch, 3.4 million-pixel LCD touchscreen, featuring a 3:2 aspect ratio and 2256 x 1504 resolution. The touch screen certainly is a refreshing feature for a mac user. While it seems every other significant thing in our lives is becoming touch-screenified (see: phones, cars, McDonalds menus, etc.), Apple remains adamant to keep its laptop screens touch free. Either that or it is drip feeding features through its yearly releases (Apple? Never!).
The Keyboard and surrounding casing may be a bit more divisive. The keys have a distinct plastic feel to them, although they are much more tactile than previous Microsoft laptops. The surrounding casing is covered in stain-proof Alcantara fabric, and while this may add an extra level of comfort to the typing experience, I am not sure I am ready for the integration of fabric into my everyday technology.
It should also be noted that the Surface Laptop is available in 4 colours; Burgundy, Platinum, Cobalt Blue and Graphite Gold.
With Windows 10 S as standard, and running the 7th gen dual core i5 or i7 processor, the Surface Laptop can definitely hold its own. Unless you are a professional gamer, I wouldn’t worry too much about the performance. Importantly, and unlike the new Mac range, there is no USB C port. While this won’t worry most people, it may be an indication that the Surface Laptop is aimed at the current market, not the emerging one.
This is Microsoft’s biggest drawing card. The entry level laptop will set you back $1499 (10% less if you’re an eligible student/staff). For around $800 less than a Macbook Pro, you will get a laptop with essentially the same power under the hood, a comparably beautiful design, Windows 10 S and a touch screen. Microsoft will also throw in 1 year of Office 365 personal. For those after a bit more “oomph” the i7 model will cost around $2499.
Overall, major props must be given to Microsoft. They have produced an incredible laptop, one than many Apple users could viably consider. It has landed some seriously heavy hits on the recent Macbook Air and Macbook. While I still prefer the overall design and feel of the new Macbook Pro, the $800 difference between the two entry level laptops should be enough to make anyone do some serious thinking. I would highly recommend the Surface Laptop to anyone who enjoys the Macbook pro, but can’t bring themselves to justify a $2300 purchase.