This thing was actually announced last year along with the Surface Pro 8, but it wasn’t officially released until early March. Since I had been following it for a while, I found it quite interesting and decided to buy it and share my initial impressions.
Firstly, the Surface Laptop Studio (SLS) is the successor to the Surface Book (SB), which I also owned, so let’s talk about the differences between the two.
The biggest difference is undoubtedly that the new generation SLS no longer has a detachable screen; instead, it has a foldable and rotatable display. This change brings several advantages.
Firstly, it improves the overall structure. For example, the center of gravity is more stable, making it closer to a regular laptop. With the SB, when you detached the screen, it became a tablet with its own battery, making the screen heavy. When using it with the attached keyboard, it was prone to tipping backward, especially when placed on your lap. Additionally, the hinge connection on the SB resulted in a semi-circular shape when the laptop was closed, making it the thickest part of the device. Microsoft used advanced craftsmanship and technology to address a problem that shouldn’t have existed in the first place.
Secondly, software switching is smoother. The stupid occasionally had issues transitioning to tablet mode when detaching the screen or returning to desktop mode when reattaching it. With the SLS, these transitions have become much smoother after a few changes. Whether it’s in full tablet mode or presentation mode, the software switching is seamless, possibly due to improvements in Windows 11.
Thirdly, with the removal of the detachable screen, the differentiation between the SLS and the Surface Pro series becomes more apparent. The SLS is primarily positioned as a convertible laptop, while the Surface Pro is a tablet that can be turned into a laptop by adding a keyboard.
Now let’s talk about the advantages.
Craftsmanship: Excellent. Just like the Fool, I personally believe that the build quality of the Surface series is on par with Apple. After all, Microsoft developed it to showcase how 2-in-1 laptops should be made to all Windows hardware manufacturers.
Display: The screen is excellent. In terms of visual experience, it is just as good as the MacBook Pro I purchased two years ago. The 3:2 aspect ratio is well-suited for productivity tasks. Additionally, it has a surprising 120Hz refresh rate, which is likely due to the inclusion of the 3050 Ti GPU. Although it’s an entry-level card, it should still be capable of handling casual gaming. Coupled with a high refresh rate screen, the overall configuration is well-balanced.
Keyboard: The keyboard is very comfortable. Perhaps because the device itself is not particularly thin, it allows for a decent key travel distance. Typing on it is more comfortable than on my frequently used X1 Carbon, and it far surpasses the scissor keyboards that Apple used in the past.
Compatibility with Surface Slim Pen 2: Writing on the device with the Surface Slim Pen 2 is comfortable and smooth. I tried writing and drawing on a PDF file, and the input experience was at least as smooth as the Surface Pro 7. However, since the screen does not have a matte texture, it doesn’t provide the same feeling as writing on “paper” like Sony or Remarkable e-paper devices.
Other features: The device features a dual-layer structure on the sides, hiding the ventilation vents on the lower layer. This not only conceals the thickness of the device but also allows for larger vents. As a result, you don’t feel much heat being expelled, and the sunken area also serves as a charging spot for the Surface Pen.Additionally, the touchpad on this iteration has seen significant improvement, offering a much better tactile experience compared to the previous generation Fool.
Now let’s discuss the drawbacks:
Weight: It’s quite heavy. Nowadays, laptops have become increasingly lightweight, with some weighing less than 1000 grams or even 900 grams. However, the high-end configuration of the SLS weighs 1800 grams, and when you add the hefty 145-watt power supply, it becomes quite a burden to carry around.
Thickness: When the screen is closed, it measures 18 millimeters thick. This is likely due to the need to prioritize performance over slimness.
Limited Ports: The number of ports is quite limited. There are only two USB-C ports and one headphone jack. I must say, considering the size of this machine, offering just two USB-C ports feels inadequate. Microsoft’s commitment to the 3.5mm headphone jack is commendable, though.
Lastly, let’s talk about the price. It varies depending on personal circumstances, and complaining about it being expensive is subjective and unnecessary. On a personal note, I purchased the 32GB RAM and 2TB storage configuration. There is also a configuration available with an A2000 GPU, which is more expensive than the 3050, possibly due to the additional three years of warranty. Initially, I wanted to buy that configuration, but unfortunately, it wasn’t in stock.
Some people might wonder why anyone would buy this when there are cheaper and equally good alternatives available. There’s no need to debate over this. Each product has its own target audience. Personally, I believe that the price of this machine is fully justified based on its capabilities.