Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Studio was released on Tuesday, and I’ve been using it for the past few days. It’s more practical than the Surface Book it replaces in Microsoft’s laptop lineup, but it’s still not perfect.The Surface Laptop Studio starts at $1,600, giving Microsoft a chance to capture more of the PC market.
The PC market continues to grow during the coronavirus pandemic as people rush to buy PCs to attend meetings and classes virtually and entertain themselves at home.The Surface Book that this computer replaces is proof that Microsoft is capable of impressive hardware engineering. Its hinges expand and contract as you open and close it, reminiscent of a lotus flower. By pressing a button on the keyboard, you can remove the screen and use it as a tablet.The Surface Laptop Studio ditches that whimsy—the screen can’t be removed—but still offers a unique experience. Here’s what you need to know.The new design is the biggest feature of Surface Laptop Studio.
You can use it like any other laptop, but when you want to use it as a tablet, just slide the screen out and lay it flat on top of the keyboard in Studio Mode. No more clicking buttons or typing keys on the keyboard and waiting to disconnect the display from the keyboard base like you do with the Surface Book.Microsoft Surface Laptop StudioUnlike the Surface Book, which loses a lot of power and Surface Book battery life when you remove the screen, you still have all the processing power when the Surface Laptop Studio is in this mode. And, when laid flat, it’s better suited for reading documents, taking notes, or browsing the web without the need for a keyboard or mouse. You can stay in the flow for longer without having to worry about recharging.When you’re ready to use Surface Laptop Studio like a laptop again,
simply pull up the bottom edge until the display forms a 90-degree angle, then flip the panel over.Microsoft Surface Laptop StudioYou can also switch to what Microsoft calls “Stage Mode,” which brings the display closer to you by positioning the bottom of the keyboard between the keyboard and trackpad. This is useful if you use your computer to watch movies, play games, or draw on the screen without the need for a keyboard.Underneath the Laptop Studio’s trackpad is a spot where you can store and charge the new $130 Surface Slim Pen 2, which contains a haptic motor so that if you write or draw with more force, it Will push back with more pressure. Powerful magnets ensure the pen won’t come loose.
This is a more thoughtful solution than fixing the stylus to the edge of the display like people do on the Surface Book.Microsoft Surface Laptop StudioThe display is crystal clear, and a new feature in Windows 11 lets you take advantage of its 120 Hz refresh rate, which makes scrolling through websites and photos smoother. It may also help save Surface Laptop battery life. Microsoft says it’s testing a dynamic refresh rate setting that automatically reduces the refresh rate for less graphics-intensive tasks. I haven’t been able to try it yet because there are no compatible graphics drivers.The trackpad is larger than any on a Surface PC. It provides tactile feedback, so no matter where you click, you’ll get a response, just like on Apple’s MacBook. This is a huge improvement over the Surface Book’s trackpad.
Overall, this is a fun and powerful computer that can be used in a number of different modes depending on your needs. But it’s not perfect.Microsoft is using the launch of the Surface Laptop Studio to switch up the ports on its top laptops. The latest Surface Book includes two traditional USB-A ports, a modern USB-C port and a full-size SD card reader, as well as a headphone jack and Microsoft’s proprietary Surface Connect charging port. There are two USB-C ports on the Laptop Studio that support the current Thunderbolt 4 standard, but the USB-A port and card reader are missing.
This means customers will have to use a dongle to connect their devices to it, which is disappointing.Microsoft’s Surface Connect charger feels outdated. It’s been around since 2012, so Microsoft has reserved it for those who have accessories to use with it. It’s magnetic and easy to connect or disconnect, which is nice in case you trip over the cord, but I think it can be cut off completely. If you forget the cable, though, at least you can still charge via USB-C.Surface Books offer hard-to-ignore power and volume buttons on the top edge of the display. On Laptop Studio, the power button is located to the left of the delete key on the keyboard. It takes time to get used to it.
Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio, additionally while the volume keys are in the same easy-to-find spot on the Surface Book on top of the keyboard, they’re not as easy to press as the old buttons when you’re in a hurry. Microsoft speaksSperson said the company’s research showed that most Surface Laptop users wanted power and volume buttons on the keyboard, which helped the company make the Laptop Studio display thinner.Battery life isn’t great either. My review unit, which typically lasts about 4.5 hours on a charge, packs an Intel Core i7 chip and 32GB of RAM. That’s well short of the 18 hours of battery life Microsoft claims for the Surface. That’s also shorter than the 6.5 hours I got on the Surface Book 3 and the nearly 7.5 hours I got on the Surface Book 2.Although the new design is smart, the Laptop Studio feels more polished than the Surface Books. Flipping the display over and revealing Microsoft’s Dynamic Weave hinge seems to be one step closer to the device’s innards. I can’t help but worry that switching between modes several times a day might wear out the components. However, I had no issues checking the laptop.
Microsoft Surface Laptop StudioA Microsoft spokesperson told CNBC in an email that Microsoft’s testing standards for the Laptop Studio “take into account how users cycle the device through various modes in their lives and even transport the device to ensure we deliver the highest quality and durability.”
experience”.Like the Surface Book, the base model Laptop Studio costs $1,600, which can be pricey. ASUS, HP, Lenovo and Samsung all sell convertible PCs with similar or superior hardware configurations at lower prices. For example, Samsung’s 15.6-inch Galaxy Book Pro 360 costs $1,300. Things are better at the higher end. The Laptop Studio Microsoft loaned me costs $2,700, and a similar Lenovo ThinkPad costs about the same.final thoughtsThe Surface Laptop Studio is a better
computer than the Surface Book it replaces. It’s less flashy, but more focused on providing a good experience when people want to use the laptop in non-traditional ways, specifically using touch gestures or a stylus on the screen .I love working on Surface Laptop Studio, playing video games, and listening to music. People looking for impressive performance and the ability to write on their Surface as a computer should consider this machine, just be aware of battery life.