Microsoft Surface Laptop is a velvet-gloved jab at MacBooks


— 11:34 AM on May 2, 2017

Microsoft's Surface line of devices is well-regarded by critics and users alike, and it's getting a new member. During its education-focused event today, Microsoft displayed the Surface Laptop to the world, in all its sleek and seamless glory.

At first sight, the new machine resembles a Surface Pro 4 convertible with an attached keyboard, but the differences go a bit deeper than that. The screen on the unit measures 13.5", has a resolution of 2556x1504 (with the standard Surface aspect ratio of 3:2), and is covered with a slab of Gorilla Glass 3. Like the Surface Pro 4 before it, the screen supports both touch and pen input. Microsoft says the panel is the "thinnest LCD touch model on a laptop," and that it's color-calibrated from the factory.

The attached backlit keyboard has 1.5 mm of key travel and a base made of Alcantara, but it hides a trick under its cloth sleeve: a pair of integrated speakers. Microsoft claims the machine is lighter and thinner than all MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models, and that its front edge measures under 0.4" (1 cm). The Surface Laptop weighs a mere 2.8 lbs (or 1.3 kg) and is 0.6" (15 mm) thick at the hinge side.

Buyers will be able to choose between Kaby Lake Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs. The Core i5 model uses an HD 620 IGP, while the higher-end Core i7 packs an Iris Plus Graphics 640 adapter with a 64MB eDRAM cache. Memory capacity can be configured with 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB, while storage comes by way of a PCIe SSD up to 512GB in capacity.

The company also made no small amount of noise about the battery life of the Surface Laptop. Microsoft says users can expect to go up to 14.5 hours between charges (at least during video playback), and that this figure once again outmatches all of Apple's portable Macs. The cooling vapor chambers are integrated into the chassis, something that Microsoft says substantially improves cooling performance and makes for a quieter laptop overall.

The Surface Laptop is Microsoft's first device with Windows 10 S onboard. The operating system could be somewhat faster than regular Windows 10, though it'll be limited to installing applications from the Windows Store. The OS on the Surface Laptop can be upgraded to Windows 10 Pro for free until the end of the year. After that, pro users will have to shell out $50.

Pricing starts at $999. Just in case you don't like the standard-issue laptop gray, Microsoft has you covered. In the U.S., the Surface Laptop is available in four colors: blue, gold, burgundy, and gray—though this only applies to the model with a Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. Prospective owners get a free one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal and 1TB of OneDrive storage. Microsoft expects shipments to start on June 15.

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