Microsoft recently launched their latest Surface product which has raised a few eyebrows in the tech community. Dubbed the Surface Laptop, this would mark the first completely traditional product in their extremely popular Surface line-up.
Every other Surface product up to now has been some form of a 2-in-1. The Surface Book and Surface Pro are laptop/tablet hybrids, and the Surface Studio is part living room All-in-One PC and part digital art canvas.
The 13.5-inch Surface Laptop is a true clamshell laptop that most of us are completely familiar with. But with traditional hardware, Microsoft introduced a reworked version of their latest Windows 10 operating system which they are calling Windows 10 S.
Microsoft are clearly targeting college students and small businesses with Windows 10 S as it directly competes with Google’s ChromeOS, which are found in Chromebooks. Both of these operating systems are closed and designed to be light and quick but they do sacrifice some functionality.
The Microsoft Surface Laptop had many tech bloggers and journalists awe-struck as the looks and the apparent build quality of the device rivals even that of Apple products. The laptop will also feature a material known as Alcantara in its construction. Oh, and it comes in 4 colors.
Alcantara is a slightly brushy fabric-like material which is basically made of a 70/30 mix of polyester and polyurethane. It first had its use popularized in many high-end sports cars as it is premium-feeling and ages far better than most other materials except for maybe leather, which is significantly heavier.
The Surface Laptop features Alcantara prominently on its keyboard deck; the only thing on it that isn’t Alcantara is the glass trackpad. This is not the first time Microsoft has dabbled with the material, however, the Surface Pro 4 can be bought with a “Signature Type Cover,” which is made of Alcantara as well.
That does raise some concerns, however. Some Surface Pro 4 users with the Alcantara Type Cover report a disgusting build-up of grime on the keyboard after six months and despite trying everything from a vacuum to baby wipes, some have not been able to successfully clean it.
This could be a larger issue if present on the Surface Laptop, however. As unlike a Surface Pro device, you would not be able to just buy a new keyboard deck for it. Despite this, many reports also say that these cases are not as endemic as it may appear.
As for what’s inside the Surface Laptop, it’s very typical mid-2017 specs. We’ll be seeing an option for seventh generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processors (most likely dual-core CPUs), up to 16GB of RAM and a maximum of 512GB of solid state memory.
The $999 base model comes with the Core i5, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. Many have felt this configuration to be sub-par and have opted to recommend the $1,299 Core i5 model with 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD to be a minimum if you expect to use the device for more than three years before upgrading.
The very high resolution screen looks to be just as impressive as the other Surface products and continues its slightly odd trend of using a 3:2 aspect ratio (most displays are 16:9), which is preferred as its displays more information which improves productivity, although videos will load with thick black bars that some people can’t stand.
Also, it is important to note that the Core i7 models come equipped with the significantly faster Intel Iris Plus graphics chip as opposed to the integrated Intel HD 620 chip on the Core i5 models, so if your planned workload is very GPU or CPU dependant (i.e. gaming/rendering/video editing), it’ll probably be best to pony up for the Core i7.
However, if you are a minimal user who only uses their laptop for productivity and maybe some Netflix, the base model should suit you fine due to the lightweight nature of Windows 10 S, though some may suggest waiting for the device to be sent out for independent testing by tech journalists before putting down an order.
Now for Windows 10 S, which has many people split. It has its pros and cons, and how it affects you really depends on what you plan to use your device for. So without further ado, lets get into this, shall we?
The good thing about Windows 10 S is that it runs significantly faster than regular Windows (boots up in just 15 seconds), uses less battery than regular Windows with Microsoft quoting up to 14.5 hours of use,and we’ll also likely see more manufacturers make affordable, Chromebook-esque products running Windows 10 S.
The bad things about it are the fact that you will only be able to run apps from the Microsoft Store, which may not have certain programs, and that you can’t select your prefered default search engine (read: Google). Microsoft is allowing users to switch to Windows 10 Pro free of charge until the end of the year, so you will have a safety net.
Overall, the Surface Laptop is definitely designed for college-bound students and small businesses alike, but that does not mean it is for everyone. Do your research and consider what is your planned workload to ensure you don’t get burned.
[Featured Image by Drew Angerer/Getty Images]