Surface Laptop: The Fine Print

Posted on May 2, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Surface with 78 Comments

Surface Laptop: The Fine Print

With Microsoft announcing perhaps its most exciting hardware device ever, there’s been a bit of scrambling. But now that we’re finally in a quiet space and can pay more attention to the details, here are some interesting tidbits about Surface Laptop.

Both good and bad.

Bad: That $999 price is for a base model with 4 GB of RAM. And it’s only available in one color, platinum. (I mentioned this previously in A Closer Look at Surface Laptop Configurations.)

Bad: There of the four advertised color choices—Burgundy, Cobalt Blue, and Graphite Gold—are only-available in the $1299 configuration. If you want a Core i7-based system, you are stuck with platinum too. (I also mentioned this previously in A Closer Look at Surface Laptop Configurations.)

Good: From now until the end of 2017, any Windows 10 S user—including any Surface Laptop customer—can upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for free. Normally, this will cost $50, and this promotion should end any “bait and switch” complaints. For now.

Good: Surface Laptop delivers the best of Surface Book—a gorgeous 13.5-inch 3:2 PixelSense display, that perfect keyboard and touchpad, and so on—for much less than a Surface Book.

Bad: The expansion ports are straight out of 2015: One USB 3, one miniDisplayPort, and—ugh—Surface Connect. Guys, it’s 2017. It’s time to move to USB-C/Thunderbolt 3, especially on a device you literally advertise as being good to go for the next four years.

Good. It’s compatible with Surface Pen and Surface Dial.

Bad. It does not include Surface Pen or Surface Dial.

Good: Video playback battery life is 14.5 hours. Since this is the battery life measurement I make, I can tell you that this is quite good: Surface Book with Performance Base was 11:30. This was, by far, the best battery life I’ve seen this year.

Bad: Mary Jo Foley demonstrated that the Surface Laptop, inexplicably, is not as lappable as the HP laptop she currently uses. It’s better than existing Surface devices, she says, but is a bit top heavy.

Good: The Surface Laptop is the first portable Surface device to utilize Intel Kaby Lake processors. Our national nightmare is finally over.

Bad: You can only get Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 on Core i7 models (at $1599 and up). But you can’t get a dGPU on any model.

Bad: 4 GB on the base model is not enough. It’s 2017.

Good: Each Surface Laptop comes with one free year of Office 365 Personal, which provides 1 TB of OneDrive storage.

Good: Surface Laptop is available for pre-order today in 20 countries, and not just the US and Canada, as usual.


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