Surface Laptop in Cobalt Blue

First Look: Microsoft Surface Laptop

It feels a little weird the Surface range – marketed as high-performance tablets with removable keyboards – now includes a proper laptop. Unlike every other Surface, the Surface Laptop’s keyboard does not detach. Trust me, don’t try it.


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The laptop is thin and light. The keyboard section is covered with Alcantara, a fabric that both cushions the screen when closed and makes it nicer to type on a cold day when a metal keyboard would be freezing.

As with a regular Surface, I found myself using the touchpad more than the touchscreen. However, the touchscreen is better for tasks such as dragging items on screen, drawing, opening files, and closing windows. They work together as a good combo.

What really disappointed me was the operating system: Windows 10 S. Windows 10 S only allows you to use verified apps from the Microsoft app store. This is frustrating because the Microsoft app store doesn’t have some commonly used apps (for example, Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox).

If you want to install anything else, and you will, it requires an upgrade to Windows 10 Pro. Upgrading to Windows 10 Pro is free, but only for one computer linked to your account. So if you’ve already upgraded another computer, then you either pay for the upgrade or your laptop may be stuck with a limited range of applications.

This meant I could only use the Surface Laptop with Microsoft-verified products and Microsoft Edge as my browser. It wasn’t awful, but it interrupted my usual workflow. I imagine most users will want to upgrade to Pro on day one.

I liked the Surface Laptop on the whole. I prefer this type of “clamshell” laptop over the hybrid design of the other Surfaces. However, as with other companies’ models there are swings and roundabouts of power versus comfort versus portability versus utility. I do lots of typing in lots of places (offices, cafes, at home, on the bus) so I need a laptop that’s easy to balance, runs a full word processing program, isn’t too heavy or bulky, and has a keyboard layout that doesn’t increases typos.

The Surface Laptop had all these features and a decent battery life; with no real downsides except the software. As someone who is in the market for a new laptop, the cheaper i5 version has made my list of possibilities.

Essential specs

$1699 – $3649

  Intel Core i5 processor Intel Core i7 processor
Graphics Intel HD 620 Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640
Memory 4GB, 8GB 8GB, 16GB
Storage (SSD) 128GB, 256GB 256GB, 512GB
Weight 1.25kg 1.28kg
Display 13.5” screen, 2256 x 1504 13.5” screen, 2256 x 1504
Ports USB 3.0, 3.5mm headset jack, mini DisplayPort USB 3.0, 3.5mm headset jack, mini DisplayPort
Colours Platinum (for all models)
Graphite Gold, Burgundy, Cobalt Blue (for i5, 8GB model only)
Platinum (for all models)

First Looks are trials of new and interesting products from the perspective of our product experts. Our lab-based tests offer truly objective product comparisons.

This computer was loaned to the writer by Microsoft.

By Hadyn Green
Technology Writer