There are two things that hit you when you first sit down with the Surface Laptop. The first: its oddly sized screen. I’m so used to the 16:9 aspect ratio that a 3:2 feels like a step back into an olde world of laptops that’s so olde we still called them notebooks. The slim bezels give away this machine’s 2017 birth, though, and there are advantages: with that super-high res screen, it’s easy to view spreadsheets side by side.
The other is that weird, much-talked about keyboard fabric. If you’re expecting something that feels furry then you’ll be disappointed. It’s almost a halfway house between plastic and short-haired carpet, that feels firm and soft, solid but textured at the same time. Weird, but not at all unpleasant. And while I don’t have a time machine to check if it will look as good in five years’ time, I suspect it will wear well.
One consequence to its design is that it feels as if the keyboard should be detachable – but to attempt such a manoeuvre would be ill-advised in the extreme. In fact, this screen doesn’t even flip round 180 degrees to create a giant tablet, instead holding firm at around 130 degrees.
The fact that key components are sitting in the base means Microsoft can create a super-slender screen, and with a bold, steel silver Windows logo on the rear, this machine strikes a pose like no Surface before. Forget halls of residence: I suspect it will sneak into boardrooms up and down the land. But, aside from the price, there are two things that stop me loving the Laptop. The first is that stingy 128GB SSD in the base model, which will quickly fill no matter what Microsoft may claim about living in the cloud. The second is the omission of USB-C, which strikes me as crazy in 2017.