Microsoft today announced the Surface Book 2 and the Surface Laptop notebook in India starting at Rs. 86,999 and going all the way up to Rs. 295,999. With this pricing, the two variants of the Surface Book 2 and the Surface Laptops pose direct competition to the MacBook Pro.
All Surface notebooks are equipped with great displays with support for the Surface Pen and Surface Dial for creators and offer the ease of portability. Microsoft contends that the Surface trio will not only meet the needs of pro consumers but also be a compelling choice to consumers on the fence, struggling to decide between high-end laptops and options which offer great value for money.
If you’re a hardcore Windows fan who has no intention of jumping the ship and buying a MacBook, the Surface Laptop and the Surface Book 2 deserve your attention. We were at the launch event of the three laptops and got some time to spend on the three devices and here are our initial opinions about them.
Build and Design
The build is where all three of the Surface notebooks excel in my opinion. Starting with the Surface Laptop, the notebook comes in standard laptop form factor with a fixed screen. Like the Surface Pro which has been available in India for a while, the Surface Laptop comes with Microsoft’s signature Alcantara fabric which covers palm-rests. The soft touch material resembles suede but is finer and more refined.
Underneath the soft-touch material, the body is actually made of aluminum. Microsoft says that the body of the Surface Laptop is laser-cut for precision. It does feel gorgeous, and that’s coming from a MacBook Pro user (and a recently solemnized Apple fanboy). With a 13.5-inch display, the laptop weighs at 1.25kg which makes it more desirable than other similarly equipped Windows laptops.
The Surface Book 2, on the other hand, feels much more sturdy and premium. With its magnesium alloy chassis, it feels ready to take on the MacBook Pro. Unlike the Surface Laptop, both the – 13.5″ and 15″ – come in a 2-in-1 convertible form factor. Microsoft has done a good job splitting the hardware between the tablet display and the keyboard dock to suit different use cases.
For instance, the Surface Book 2 notebooks have two batteries – a smaller one inside the tablet while another inside the keyboard. Similarly, while crucial stuff such as the CPU, RAM, and SSD is located in the tablet, the dedicated NVIDIA GPUs sit inside the keyboard. The Surface Book 2 also works as a handy stand for the Surface Pen which you can stick to the left edge of the notebook using with the help of the inbuilt magnets.
The Surface Book 2 comes with fulcrum hinges that do a good job of holding the display in place when you open it. The two notebooks also feature cameras on both the back and the front and while these are not very impressive, they are much better than the dismal webcam on the MacBook Pro.
Overall, the three laptops definitely look and feel premium from all perspectives and have compelling features like a hi-res touch screen and stylus support, which we will get to in a bit.
The Microsoft Surface Laptop is equipped with a 13.5-inch “PixelSense” display with a resolution of 2256×1504 pixels. One of the most appealing factors of the Surface’s success is the stunning display which other Windows OEMs often forgo. The display supports 10-point multitouch and has more than 4,000 pressure points to improve input using the Pen. Lastly, the display also comes with a Gorilla Glass 3 coating to prevent everything from nasty nudges to accidental drops from causing a lot of damage.
At the same time, the Surface Book 2 variants have 13.5″ and 15″ displays. The smaller display has a resolution of 3000×2000 pixels which results in higher pixel density compared to the Surface Laptop. Meanwhile, the larger 15″ display has a resolution of 3240×2160 pixels to ensure that the increase in the display’s size does not impact the quality.
I am grateful for the panels here and it is one of the most alluring aspects of the Microsoft Surface line-up.
Hardware and Software
The Surface Laptop and the Surface Book 2 have convincing dimensions and still manage to pack in some great specifications. The former comes with up to 7th gen Intel i7 CPUs along with a maximum of 16GB RAM. The Surface Laptop also supports SSD storage options ranging from 128GB to 1TB. It features options between Intel Iris HD 620 and 640 integrated graphics.
The only complaint I have with the Surface Laptop is the lack of dedicated GPUs but if you can’t do with a dedicated graphics processor, the Surface Book 2 is always there. The Intel Core i7 variants of the Surface Book 2 comes with options between NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 (2GB dedicated VRAM) and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 with a maximum of 6GB GPU.
Apart from the massive GPU, the Surface Book 2 also has options of up to 8th gen Intel i7 CPUs and up to 16GB of RAM. This makes these notebooks worthy competitors to the high-end MacBook Pros and other gaming laptops priced above Rs. 2,50,000.
In terms of the software experience, the Surface Laptop runs on Windows 10 S while the Surface Book 2 comes with Windows 10 Pro. The Windows 10 experience is pretty standard, but considering these devices are made and tuned by Microsoft itself, you can expect a high level of optimization as well as fewer bugs, and far less bloatware than a usual Windows laptop.
Pricing and Availability
The Surface Laptop, which is meant to compete against the entry-level MacBook Pro 13-inch, comes at a starting price of Rs. 86,999 while the highest variant goes up to Rs. 233,999. The Surface Book 2 13.5-inch variant is priced between Rs. 137,999 and Rs. 257,999 while the 15-inch model starts at Rs. 222,499 while the highest variant will retail at Rs. 295,999.
The laptops are available at major offline retail chains and online retailers including Flipkart, Amazon, and Paytm starting today.
Tell us more about your opinions on the Microsoft Surface Laptop and Surface Book 2 while we promise to bring you an in-depth review very soon.