It’s what’s inside that counts
As you may recall, Microsoft’s Surface Pro is a tablet with a keyboard you can add on, while the Surface Book is a laptop with a keyboard you can take off. The Surface Laptop, by contrast, is – as its name makes admirably plain – a proper laptop. They all run Windows 10, of course, while taking up less room in your bag than most other machines that do so.
Stylish, portable and outperforms most rivals in this bracket
The Surface Laptop 2 arrives at the same price as its first incarnation, which is something to be grateful for these days. It still has a 13.5in touchscreen (always a good compromise between screen space and portability), with a very sharp 2256×1504 pixel resolution, and it now comes with eighth generation Intel iS or i7 processors. Even the cheapest option has a quad-core i5-8250U chip and 8GB of memory, making it a no-compromise portable PC, even if the 128GB of storage might feel a bit tight and it comes only in a ‘Platinum’ silver finish.
The version we tested was identical to this on paper except for a choice of four colours and a doubling of the storage. That’s an implausible more than the standard model just for what amounts to an extra 128GB, even though if gives you a more comfortable capacity. Pricier configurations with the i7 8550U processor will obviously be faster, but this doesn’t add any more cores and has the same UHD 620 integrated graphics.
At just 1.25kg, this is a laptop you can take anywhere and balance on any convenient body part, although it also feels solid on a desk, helped by the clever hinge, which opens easily to any angle and stays there.
The crisply engineered aluminium case is thin but sturdy, but we’re still not so sure about the alcantara fabric finish around the keyboard. Microsoft accepts that this wall show some wear over time; some users report that a very careful rub with car-upholstery cleaner every few months keeps it fresh, hut it’s not replaceable, which seems a very odd design choice for something you might use heavily.
In our tests, the screen covered 96 per cent of sRGB colours with extremely high accuracy, and touch is a bonus, along with the option of adding a Surface Pen. While Apple’s non touch 12in MacBook has just one USB typed port for all purposes, the Surface Laptop 2 has a traditional USB 3.0 – on the left, to
Table of Contents
1.6GHz Intel i5-8250U quad-core processor • 8GB memory • 256GB SSD • 13.5in 2256×1504- pixel touchscreen • Webcam • USB 3.0 port • Mini DisplayPort • 802,11ac Wi-Fi • Windows 10 Home • 14.5x308x223mm (HxWxD) • 1.25kg • One-year warranty
irritate mouse users – plus separate charging and monitor ports. With no SD card slot, the only way to expand storage would be a compact USB stick in that single socket. The magnetic Surface Connect power plug is an excellent feature, reminiscent of Apple’s sadly discontinued MagSafe.
The processor performed well in our tests, and is kept cool by a new heat pipe design that’s silent except when the fan occasionally kicks in. It almost doubles some of the old model’s performance scores, beating some rival laptops with the same chip, and falling only slightly behind i7 models. A bit of light 3D gaming is also possible.
We were disappointed, though, that the battery ran out after playing video for just over seven hours – 50 per cent less than before. You’d get more battery life in basic tasks, less with heavy work and Wi-Fi. The final change is that you get Windows 10 Home, not the restricted Windows 10 S, which is welcome.
Microsoft has improved the Surface and kept the same price, making it a great choice.
See also THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO…OLED laptops
Huawei Matebook X Pro
This slim 13.9in laptop has a dedicated GPU, which makes it better for gaming and video editing