Microsoft Surface is a billion dollar business for Microsoft. From an idea to successful division, Surface has proved itself. All the credit for this success goes to ‘Panos Panay’ and his team. It created the product category from each product launch. It all started from a failed start, ‘Surface RT’ on October 2012 and now they have launched their new product, ‘Surface Laptop’. It is gaining lots of positive reviews, but I beg to differ. Let me start from the beginning.
February 2013 marks the new era for the Microsoft hardware dreams, day when the ‘Surface Pro’ was launched. A hybrid 2-in-1 system which has the portability of a tablet with the performance of a laptop. It was just more than a tablet + laptop model, it broke the traditional barrier of keyboard and mouse interface and let the user use a more natural way of interacting with the system, Pen and Touch. With the detachable keyboard, you can anytime switch from laptop to keyboard and vice versa. The device was powered by Intel Core processors with cut edge technology, it is now diving OEM to develop something like this.
Then we saw ‘Surface Book’ on October 2015. This was a device which no one could ever imagine. Surface Pro was there for all the basic and extensive task, but still there was still a section left, high extensive task; task which required more than CPU, task which required GPU too. This is where Surface Book came into the picture. Dedicated GPU, more screen size and detachable keyboard base, it had everything, from portability of Surface Pro to the performance of a high-end laptop. It too is a touch screen device. It is surely a ‘Ultimate Laptop’.
Everyone thought this could be all but Microsoft proved everyone wrong with the launch of ‘Surface Studio’ on December 2015. A 28 inch all in one PC is best of all. A giant screen which sits at around 20 degree angle provides creators a large canvas. This too is a touch device. Users can just dive into this enormous display and let their creativity flow. Just like real life canvas you can literally lean on the device, put all your body weight, combine the Pen, Dial and Touch and you’ll feel the power in your hand. You can bring your creativity like no one else can.
All these devices for every users but there is a Surface device dedicated to business. A wall mounted whiteboard known as ‘Surface Hub’ with 100-point multi-touch projective capacitance optically bonded sensor. Designed for meetings and conference rooms, powered by Win 10, with the support of UWP apps, it surely is dream fulfilling device for corporate users.
Summarizing it all the Surface product created a new category. Let the user use it for something more, something different and something exciting. Use these devices with more natural like input. Surface Pen comes to life with these devices. Just pick any of these (Pro, Book, Studio) and it will let you forget every other device available. Portability with Pro and Book is best you can have, just detach and keyboard and use it like a tablet, with the help of pen you can literally forget the difference between real paper and electronic paper on these devices. Studio gives power to all, a coder, a painter, a photographer, a musician and more. You name your profession and it is there for you. All these just blows your mind. No one can define the power, beauty and portability of device, you need to feel it yourself. After all these there is now ‘Surface Laptop’, which for me is the shame to the Surface brand.
First, let us see what this new product is. As its name, it’s just a ‘Laptop’ and nothing more. A 13.5 inch screen integrated with PixelSense technology, 3:2 aspect ratio, 2.76 lbs and 14.5 mm thin, this is a gorgeously beautiful device. It has the thinnest LCD touch model ever, SSD directly integrated into the motherboard, powered by latest Intel i5 and i7 processors and the battery backup of up to 14.5 hours. It comes with new streamlined, secure, simple version on Win 10, Win 10 S. It’s not that just the hardware that can take all the credit for this much battery backup, the streamlined version Win 10 S too gets the credit for this. This version uses less power than Win 10 Pro which hence results to the more backup.
Device price starts from $999 for Intel i5, 4 GB RAM and 128 GB SSD and goes up to $2199 for Intel i7, 16 GB RAM and 512 GB of SSD. It has all the required ports, touch enabled, support Surface Pen and Dial and comes in four beautiful color (Burgundy, Platinum, Cobalt Blue and Graphite Gold). Developed by Surface team, optimized by Microsoft and combined with the Win 10 Pro (you can upgrade Win 10 S to Win 10 Pro via Store) no doubt it can outperform any other competitor. The keyboard is covered with fabric matching to the device color. It is a most beautiful device ever built by any company, powerful like nothing else, then why it’s a shame?
Shame to the Brand
I would have happily given it all the point if this product if it’s been launched by any other brand, any other Company but it’s a ‘Surface’, a category defining brand. It sure has Touch, supports Pen and Dial but you can’t use touch and pen to this device as a primary input like Pro, Book and Studio. Its screen wobble while using, you need to hold the screen with one hand to use the Touch and Pen. It’s not even 360 rotatable. It’s literally just a ‘Laptop’. No hidden surprises, no category defining feature, just nothing.
If you remember the launch of Surface Book, Panos Panay talks about the culture in Surface. How he can’t sleep with the thought of ‘Just a Laptop’. How Satya Nadella pushes them to be growth hackers. All these resulted to the Surface Book, which by the way was much more than a ‘Laptop’. After one and a half-year he is only one who launched just a ‘Laptop’. It doesn’t have the portability of a tablet, keyboard and mouse is supposed to be its primary input. No matter how much Microsoft promotes it with Touch and Pen but it can’t be as productive as Pro and Book when comes to Touch and Pen. Surface was all about Touch and Pen, Surface Laptop is not one of them. Even Surface Pen doesn’t come out of the box and user need to buy it separately.
It’s an education targeted system but, it doesn’t add up. Same configuration Surface Pro 4 (with keyboard and Pen) comes at $979 and Surface Laptop (integrated Keyboard with pen) comes at $1059. There would be two differences between them, 12.3 inch Pro with 6th Gen processors and 13.5 inch Laptop with 7th Gen processors. If you ignore the screen size, difference in processor generation hardly matters for a high school student. Microsoft wanted to launch Win 10 S with an optimized hardware, they could have simply launched Surface Pro 5 and Surface 4 with a Win 10 S version or they could have come up with larger Surface Pro. At least it would have portability of a tablet, users could use Touch and Pen as their primary input and more over it could have lived up to its brand name, ‘Surface’.