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What Surface Book users will love about Surface Laptop

I'm an avid Surface Book user. It's my main laptop that I take everywhere with me. It's been my main laptop since it came to the UK in early 2016, and I've been using it every since. I absolutely love my Surface Book, more so than any other laptop I've ever used. Yesterday, however, my new Surface Laptop arrived.

Here are my first impressions.

The Laptop

I've been pretty open about my thoughts on the Surface Book. But I don't love everything about it. I dislike the hinge when closed because it makes the laptop feel thicker than it actually is. I also dislike how heavy it is compared to other Ultrabooks, and above all, I dislike how top-heavy the Surface Book is. Apart from those three things, the Surface Book is basically perfect.

I've been using the Surface Laptop for about a day at this point, and it looks like Microsoft has fixed those three issues I had with the Surface Book. It's not top heavy, which is great for "lapability." It doesn't have that silly hinge design, meaning it's super thin when closed, and it's also not as heavy as the Surface Book, which is another bonus, especially considering I travel everywhere with my laptop.

So, from the get-go, Microsoft appears to have fixed the problems I had with the Surface Book. Literally all of them. I'm not an avid pen user, and I almost never detach the screen on my Surface Book, so the Surface Laptop missing this capability is a non-issue for me. I will admit, however, I prefer the cold aluminum base on the Surface Book compared to the Surface Laptop's new Alcantara base.

I don't dislike the Alcantara. In fact, I think it looks incredible. I just don't particularly like how it feels. I much prefer the premium metal over fabric. I've only had the Laptop for a day, so I can't really comment on whether the Alcantara stains. So far it's held up tremendously well, but I'm not exactly messy when around my laptop.

Of course, the Surface Laptop also comes bundled with Windows 10 S, which I haven't hung around with for too long yet. I could get by with Windows 10 S, but I'd much rather have the freedom to install programs from outside the Store if I ever need to. The upgrade to Windows 10 Pro is free until the end of the year, so I took advantage of that straight away.

My Surface Laptop is the Intel Core i5 with 8GB Ram and 256GB Storage. My Surface Book is also the Intel Core i5 with 8GB RAM, but the Book only came with 128GB storage at that spec configuration. The Laptop is rocking an Intel chip Kaby Lake over Skylake, and it is incredibly fast waking up from sleep and logging in with Windows Hello. In fact, it's much faster than my Surface Book.

The Kaby Lake chips also improve sleep, so when listening to music I can close the lid, have the Laptop go into "sleep" mode, but continue to play music. This is similar to how tablets or phones work. I'm not sure how useful this will be on a laptop, but it's good to have nonetheless.

Best Microsoft Surface Laptop Accessories

Best Microsoft Surface Laptop Accessories (Image credit: Windows Central)

The Surface Laptop has a slightly lower-resolution screen compared to the Surface Book — 2256 x 1504 versus 3000 x 2000 on the Book. Side by side, I can notice a slight difference. However, when using the Laptop on its own, it's almost like there's no difference. The screen is crisp and clear, and bright too. I much prefer the screen on the Surface Laptop, because it looks crisp and clear while also benefitting from longer battery thanks to the lower-resolution.

Both Surface Book and Surface Laptop speakers are tremendous, with the Surface Laptop coming out on top with louder and "bass-ier" sounding speakers. On the Laptop, the speakers are hidden under the keyboard, which I don't particularly mind apart from one small thing: When listening to music loud, it vibrates the keyboard, which makes your fingers feel all funny.

Final impressions

Microsoft's Surface Laptop may be my new go-to laptop. I'm going to continue using it over the next few days and weeks to really get a feel for it before I make any final decisions. Moving away from my Surface Book will be a big deal because I really love it.

That said, the Laptop fixes all the complaints I had about the Surface Book, and that is a very good start.

See Surface Laptop at Microsoft

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

42 Comments
  • For articles like these, where you compare, it would be nice to list out the points. 🙂
    Both are just great products in my opinion. The laptop is basically a Surface fan's dream "laptop" for everyday use! Actually, any laptop user would appreciate the Surface Laptop and it's build quality.
  • Too much push for Surface Laptop I see. Alright, Surface Laptop has its place but so has Surface Book. Liking of hinge is a subjective thing I believe. For me it gives the book a very unique look like a, well, "book" and your liking for laptop is again derived from the fact that you are not an avid pen user again "subjectivity". The complains you had about Sufrace book are actually the things that make Surface book, Surface BOOK if it had all these things you are yearning for it would have been called laptop in first place. The right thing to say here is both the machines have different target users and probably you fit better into the laptop category but there is nothing radically wrong with book. 
  • ^this exactly! The Surface Book is a diversity device: a "Book", which covers laptop, tablet, touch, pen, etc. with a most innovative beautiful design covering every aspect mostly right. The Surface laptop is that: a "Laptop".
  • completely agree!... When I was on the hunt for a new powerful laptop at the end of last year, it didn't cross my mind to get a 2-in-1 design up until the very moment of having to take the decision... I am glad I actually bought the Surface Book, and I am someone who tries to take advantage of every feature my devices offer... I detach its screen almost daily... and I use it as a notebook for a saturday class I'm taking.... I use its dGPU for gaming and rendering my designs, and being a mechanical engineer I marvel at the design... Saying that the hinge is "silly" its almost outrageous because the tech it hides its incredible, and in my opinion it vastly outweights the con of having a "thicker device"... The Surface Book is indeed very heavy for its size, but the Clipboard alone is extremely lightweight compared even to 10" tablets.... For me is the perfect device and it suits me very well... I do which I could get rid of some bugs it still have...
  • "Too much push for Surface Laptop I see.
    It is the first new Surface device to launch in 26 countries starting yesterday. Forgive us for wanting to cover it and give our various opinions/experiences lol
  • lol that's alright but the liking of laptop over book is the thing I talked about here. I know you guys are excited to cover it I am excited to read about it as well. 
  • It's just an opinion piece. There's nothing inherently wrong with liking the laptop. I don't think the article is saying the things that make up the surface book are bad, just that for the writer they personally didn't prefer them.
  • Yeah that's why I only said in my comment that those likings are subjective. I didn't say Zac is right or wrong. I didn't say there is anything inherently wrong in liking the laptop either.  
  • Love the hinge! Love SB and SL, and SP.
  • I'm more curious about the fabric than I am afraid I won't be able to keep it clean. Just thinking about how I use my laptops now suggests it should not be too much of a problem for me. I have yet to see this on the laptop in person but in pictures, it looks gives it a bit of an "avant-garde" vibe. Its unique and I like it. Great article OP, as usual. Very adult, clear headed, technically honest and professionally written.
  • 128GB and no microSD expansion slot?
  • The Surface Book has an SD card slot (not micro, full size).
  • For laptop users, the Surface Laptop is the winner. But for 2-in-1 users, that is hybrid keyboard/pen users, the Surface Book is the winner of a two way (Surface Laptop vs Book) race. But 2-in-1 users can also opt for the Surface Pro series (as I do) or 360-degree hinge laptops such as the HP Spectre x360. What I don't understand is why Microsoft could not have found a way to include a 360 degree hinge, along with a very thin and light display, in the Surface Laptop. It seems that this would only add to the pool of potential buyers. Or from another view, what are the downsides to a 360 degree hinge, assuming it is designed correctly (reliable, rugged, proper amount of force required to move it, ...).
  • Regarding Alcantara, why not also offer Surface Laptop models with a more traditional metal or carbon fiber reinforced plastic keyboard surface? By not offering such models, Alcantara becomes an objection that Microsoft must overcome for some interested buyers. But by offering models with traditional designs, Alcantara becomes only a market advantage for potential buyers who want it.
  • Presumably, they were trying to differentiate it from the rest of the market. There are plenty of other choices that offer those other materials, and they're not trying to be all things to all people. Yes, some won't like it, but that’s okay. Their partners have plenty of offerings for those people.
  • Totally agree with you, Chris, and Zac too. Just like Zac, I don't dislike the Alcantara look, but I prefer the metal premium feel. Other tech sites have also questioned the use of fabric (durability, ease of cleaning) on the SL. Wish MS had given us a choice between fabric and metal. Saw the burgundy color at my local MS store and loved it, but the Alcantara caused me to pass and hope for a change of material on the next generation.
  • Nice review.
  • I don't know how the Surface Laptop sounds, but I found the Surface Book's sound to be quite bad, even compared to similarily priced laptops.
  • No mention of the SD card slot, second USB port and graphics card. Yeah I'll stick with my Surface Book.
  • Man I really want a SurfaceBook
  • I really love the design of Surface Laptop, it beautiful and a perfect replacement for my 13" Macbook Pro. I hope Microsoft considers the following for the next generations of the device to make it the best and the most desirable laptop. 1- Not all fans are touch or pen users, and the touch drives up the cost. What if we had a non-touch option?
    2- Some users prefer an aluminum or a carbon fiber finish instead of the Alcantara fabric. One may prefer such options.
    3- Improvement of the port selection, because of many complaints about not having a USB-C.
    4- Adopting the i5 fanless design from Surface Pro.
  • For me the surface laptop slots into the same space as the HP Spectre 13 Laptop 💻 but it has pen, higher res screen and touch to justify the extra cost - basically light and sleek looking fashion conscious laptop. It doesn't get me excited as there's not really anything new but some people really just prefer a laptop and this is a very nice one
  • Microsoft wants the OEMs to supply the broad swath of Windows 10 devices.  Microsoft is building the Surface as a brand that exemplifies Windows 10 whihc means touch, pen, ink.  They really believe (as I do) that in the future, you will spend just as much time writing on your device as you type on your device.  Add in Cortana and you have an ecosystem that becomes much more of an extension of the Humans ability to communicate, voice, writing, and type.
  • I love my Surface Book for its hinge, the fact that it can detach, it's discrete GPU and it's higher resolution. I've traveled with it and have had 0 issues with "lapability". I also don't find the Book very heavy but maybe that's because my last laptop was a 5 years old ASUS that was thicker than a Snicker. For those that want a traditional laptop at a cheaper price, go for the new Surface Laptop. For the rest of us that want/need more power and like the its uniqueness; we'll stick with Surface Book.
  • Nice! I'm getting one! Surface Book
  • Can somebody explain that sleep thing? Does Kaby Lake support some new sleep mode that is not present on Skylake? As far as I know, on my Surface Book only UWP apps are allowed to keep playing music when you close the lid. Not even Project Centenial apps will stay playing. Is this changed on this Surface Laptop?  
  • Good articles, good points, as always, great job Zac!
  • I won't buy till the keyboard is metal sorry
  • Same here. Some of us just prefer practical over unique and pretty I guess. I for the life of me, cannot understand why they didn't consider a version without the alcantara.
  • The Porsche Design Book One is pretty much the better version of surface book. The hinge problem is fixed, better design and components.
  • That is entirely subjective. The Porsche Design Book wouldn't suit me the way the Surface Book does.  I never saw the hinge as a "problem", it is just a different design that serves a different purpose, it keeps the device stable when opened, shifting is center of mass a bit. Additionally it leaves a gap so you can use the device closed when attached to an external screen and the dGPU (which Porsche doesn't offer) is working. And the other reason I think the Surface is the better device for me, is the display. The aspect is simply the best for productivity, I wouldn't go back to a wide screen laptop, specially if I intend it to use as a designing tool.  I am sure the Porsche is a nice device but the design and components of the Surface Book are top notch. No complaints there. 
  • That is entirely subjective. The Porsche Design Book wouldn't suit me the way the Surface Book does.  I never saw the hinge as a "problem", it is just a different design that serves a different purpose, it keeps the device stable when opened, shifting is center of mass a bit. Additionally it leaves a gap so you can use the device closed when attached to an external screen and the dGPU (which Porsche doesn't offer) is working. And the other reason I think the Surface is the better device for me, is the display. The aspect is simply the best for productivity, I wouldn't go back to a wide screen laptop, specially if I intend it to use as a designing tool.  I am sure the Porsche is a nice device but the design and components of the Surface Book are top notch. No complaints there. 
  • Why keep playing music when you close the lid?  Lets assume you are wearing bluetooth headphones and you are sitting down doing some work.  But you have a meeting to get to so you close up shop and head to the meeting.  Why not keep listening to your music as you walk, ride the subway, etc...? I wear hearing aides and I own a device called a soundgate, which links to my computer.  If I am in a office environement and I want to listen to music of listen to a video on the computer, the sounds goes straight ot my hearing aides.  The nice thing about my hearing aides is that the batteries last about 4 days.  So I dont really think about recharging them.  Given that a pack of 20 batteries cost $19, I am spending $2 every 4 days or so.  For me the hearing aides are neccessary.  Small price, but the utility of the bluetooth connection is huge.  
  • dumb question 493.8:  I am a SB nut job, but am looking seriously at buying the SL.  While, like Daniel, I don't use the pen and tablet mode all that much, i do use it.  So, can I use Onenote, for example, and put the screen side flat down as a tablet and take notes?  Awkward, i know, but sometimes there are meetings where a pen and screen/paper are most helpful.
  • This is a problem. All 3 Surfaces are 90% perfect. If the Pro had a performance base with its keyboard, trackpad and battery. The Laptop with an extra USB-A (yes I dont want C yet) SD-card reader (why did they not includ this!!!!) and a 360 degrees hinge. The Book with a tighter hinge, less top heavy and a kick-stand (sow we could actually use it in tablett mode) I need a easey to travel-work with, a good sized track pad and a card reader (SD ore micro-SD is booth great) sow for now I am sticking to my Surface pro 3 waiting for the Surface Book 2.
  • I prefer the surface book because it has a graphics card.
  • Why would the surface laptop be top-heavy? It has no computing components in there. Only a screen like every other laptop. Book is top-heavy because it has an actual motherboard up there.
  • Isn't almost everything in the Book on the top part, just an additional battery, GPU and some wiring for ports are on the lower part?
  • This is a lousy review. If you don't detach the screen, and you don't use the pen, you should have never bought the Surface Book in the first place. The Surface Laptop is a nice machine, but it doesn't compare to a well spec'd Surface Book.
  • Don't mind the hinge just wished it could bend 360 degrees.
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAI6yIZI3rg https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Microsoft+Surface+Laptop+Teardown/92915 This website says repairability of this product is ZERO. Any thoughts?
  • surface book has sd card slot, surface laptop doesn't