Mi­crosoft Sur­face Lap­top

A fan­tas­tic pre­mium lap­top for a rea­son­able price, as long as you don’t need up­grades to RAM or stor­age

PC Pro - - November 2017 Issue 277 -

SCORE ✪✪✪✪✪ PRICE £1,041 (£1,249 inc VAT) from mi­crosoft.com/en-gb/store

It might be the least rad­i­cal lap­top or hy­brid that Mi­crosoft has yet pro­duced, but that doesn’t mean the Sur­face Lap­top is short of fresh and in­no­va­tive think­ing. The de­sign, for ex­am­ple, drops the MacBook Air chrome look for matte-fin­ish alu­minium, a range of sub­tle colour tones and an an­gu­lar, slim­line style that looks amaz­ing. And it’s as smart as it is stylish. Weigh­ing only 1.25kg and a lit­tle big­ger than a hard­bound A4 notepad, you could com­fort­ably carry Mi­crosoft’s lap­top around all day, yet it has the 13.5in screen and er­gonomics to get just about any­thing done.

That screen is one point of con­tention. There’s no dis­put­ing its in­cred­i­ble clar­ity and def­i­ni­tion, with a 2,256 x 1,504 res­o­lu­tion giv­ing a pixel den­sity of 201ppi. It’s per­fectly bright, hit­ting a max­i­mum lu­mi­nance of 397cd/m², and rich colours and punchy con­trast make pho­tos and movies look fan­tas­tic. Colour ac­cu­racy is also im­pres­sive, with an av­er­age Delta E of 1.41 and 95.6% cov­er­age of the sRGB colour gamut. The 3:2 as­pect ra­tio makes a lot of sense when you’re web-brows­ing or work­ing on a sin­gle ap­pli­ca­tion, mak­ing the screen seem big­ger than it is. It’s only when you’re snap­ping two win­dows to ei­ther side that you miss the width of a 16:9 dis­play.

Us­ing Mi­crosoft’s pen doesn’t feel as nat­u­ral on the Sur­face Lap­top as on the Sur­face Pro or Sur­face Book, par­tic­u­larly as the screen can’t tilt any­where near as far back­wards. When you do, though, it’s ev­ery bit as sen­si­tive to mo­tion, weight and pres­sure, so you can still take notes. Most users will prob­a­bly es­chew the op­tional sty­lus, but still use the touch­screen for sim­ple Win­dows tasks and ges­tures; the kind of thing at which it ex­cels. Used in com­bi­na­tion with the gen­er­ously sized, smooth and ul­tra-re­spon­sive touch­pad, it makes Win­dows a plea­sure to nav­i­gate around. Does the key­board let the side down? Not at all. Once you get used to the slightly odd feel of the Al­can­tara ma­te­rial on the sur­round and wristrests – some love it, some aren’t so sure – the keys are well-sized, well-spaced and ex­tremely well-weighted, and the Sur­face Lap­top doesn’t suf­fer from the slight bounce that pulls the Sur­face Pro’s Type Cover back from great­ness. The sound, mean­while, has you won­der­ing how on earth the Sur­face lap­top can pro­duce such a racket. The bass isn’t mas­sive or over­pow­er­ing

“The 3:2 as­pect ra­tio makes sense when you’re web­brows­ing or work­ing on a sin­gle ap­pli­ca­tion, mak­ing the screen seem big­ger”

but there’s enough of it to give ac­tion film sound­tracks some much-needed thump, while there’s a sur­pris­ingly wide stereo spread.

Per­for­mance is ev­ery bit as good. With Win­dows 10 Pro in­stalled, the mid-range Core i5-7200U/8GB RAM ver­sion de­liv­ered a bench­mark score of 49, be­hind the Core i7 Sur­face Pro but ahead of most of the com­pe­ti­tion. Move up to the more ex­pen­sive Core i7/16GB vari­ants, and you could com­fort­ably do any­thing that doesn’t in­volve com­posit­ing and ren­der­ing 4K video or edit­ing ex­tremely high­res­o­lu­tion im­ages.

Of course, the Sur­face Lap­top doesn’t come with Win­dows 10 Pro pre­in­stalled, but Mi­crosoft’s more se­cu­rity-con­scious Win­dows 10 S. For many of us, the lim­i­ta­tions of Win­dows 10 S – par­tic­u­larly the fact that only Win­dows Store apps can be in­stalled – out­weigh its se­cu­rity ad­van­tages, but as Win­dows 10 Pro can be in­stalled at no ex­tra cost, this isn’t re­ally a rea­son not to pur­chase.

Much the same goes for the Sur­face Lap­top’s con­nec­tiv­ity. There’s no USB-C con­nec­tion, just a sin­gle USB 3 port, an au­dio jack and a mini Dis­playPort, but while fit­ting the first would have been smart, it doesn’t re­ally limit your op­tions at this point.

The Sur­face Lap­top isn’t nec­es­sar­ily the best pre­mium lap­top of the mo­ment, but it’s the one that of­fers the best bal­ance of mo­bil­ity, er­gonomics, per­for­mance and price. Throw in a bat­tery life of 10hrs 42mins and it’s an out­stand­ing de­vice in nearly ev­ery way.

LEFT Mi­crosoft has es­chewed MacBook Air-style chrome for a stylish matte-fin­ish alu­minium

LEFT The in­cred­i­bly clear screen has a res­o­lu­tion of 2,256 x 1,504, re­sult­ing in a pixel den­sity of 201ppi

ABOVE Some users will love the un­usual Al­can­tara ma­te­rial – some re­ally won’t

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