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Microsoft sent me its new Surface Laptop 2 for a test run. After using it for a couple days, I'm convinced that Microsoft can build a heck of a laptop and is more serious than ever about hardware.
This is an Apple-level device with Windows 10, an operating system I've grown to love in recent years.
The Surface Laptop 2 looks killer, especially in the black color I received to review. This model starts at $1,299 with 256GB of storage, while the silver computer is available for $999, though it only has half that amount of storage. Microsoft also sells the laptop in burgundy and blue.
If you like MacBooks, you should take a look at the Surface Laptop 2. It's thin and light, just like you expect from a MacBook, but even beats Apple at some new features.
For one, it has a touch-screen display.
It's convenient to be able to reach out and tap an icon or switch an app through the touch screen. You can also buy a stylus and use the screen for marking up documents or fine-tuning a Photoshop image. I like that Microsoft still includes a more traditional USB port for keyboards, mice and other peripherals, instead of following Apple and forcing users to USB-C. There's no SD card slot, though, if that's important to you.
Like Apple's MacBook Pros, the Surface Laptop 2 runs on Intel's latest eighth-generation chips. They're more powerful than the prior generation, at least on paper, but I didn't really notice much difference while working throughout the day in a web browser. Most things felt fast, and I was still able to use Photoshop to edit pictures. Without dedicated graphics, this isn't really a machine for hardcore gaming, so keep that in mind.
Windows 10 has improved drastically, and you should give it a try if you haven't used a Windows device in a few years. You might be surprised at how good it's become. One feature I really like is called Windows Hello. Paired with the camera on the Surface Laptop 2, it can recognize my face and unlock the computer in a split second when I open the lid. Apple hasn't added Face ID to its laptops yet, but it seems likely to happen. I know some people probably don't like the idea of facial recognition, so you can still use a regular password or PIN if you prefer.
The keyboard is excellent. That's important because Apple has faced a lot of complaints about its earlier MacBook Pro and MacBook butterfly keyboards. Some people have complained about the keys getting stuck. The keys on the Surface Laptop 2 have nice bounce, and I was able to type quickly almost immediately. There's also a good even backlighting across the surface. I'm a little worried about the Alcantara fabric that surrounds the keyboard, though, and I'm curious how it holds up over time. It looks like it could get greasy or worn down.
The battery is pretty good, at least better than my standard-issue work laptop from Dell. That computer gets me a few hours of use, while the Surface Laptop 2 lasts most of the work day. I unplugged it in the morning around 8 a.m. and it still had 40 percent left when I checked it after lunch at 2 p.m. Your mileage will vary depending on the screen brightness and what you're doing, however.
I've been critical of some of Microsoft's other computers, namely the Surface line, because it's hard for me to justify the cost of a tablet that doesn't include a keyboard. Conversely, the Laptop 2 has a keyboard and doesn't try to double as a tablet.
Maybe that's why I don't see any real faults here — the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 sets out to do one thing and does it very well. If you're in the market for a new laptop — especially one that runs Windows — you'd be silly not to consider the Surface Laptop 2.
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