As a Chief Technology Officer, I meet with a lot of clients, partners, and executives within our customer base. I have often found the clicker clatter on a keyboard (taking notes) in a meeting off putting and acutely aware that it can look like I’m not paying attention or catching up on emails. Sorry to say, I do get the same impression sometimes of others in meetings (it’s like having your camera off in meetings!).
Taking notes and actions in meetings
But….often, if we are using a laptop to take notes looks like we are not paying attention, then ways the alternative?
It amazes me (at a technologist) that “most” people still resource to scraps of paper which they shove in their bag or at best a neat company (or vendor freebie) paper notebook. Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying you should never write on paper, but there’s a much better way… Stay with me here!
We take notes for a few reasons…
To be clear of our actions during the meeting or workshop
To jot down the names and roles of people in the meeting
To summarise key points and
To of course take notes that we will later use for following up on, or to look back at in a week or month or so.
Using a physical notebook to take notes can causes admin and security headaches.
I need to hope I do not misplace my book and know where it is and how to find the notes I took in ink. This not only means my notes are gone but others may have access to stuff I capture (which could be confidential).
I need to write up my notes and type them into OneNote, Outlook, or CRM system.
I may need to search for something in the notes and can’t remember exactly what book it’s in or what I’m looking for.
That’s where the Surface with pen and ink comes in (yes, I am aware you replace this with an iPad or other tablet and pen), but my key message here is why not to use scraps or paper, or even a traditional clamshell notebook for typing notes.
Note taking is best with Surface and Pen
Here are some reasons I can’t imagine using anything other than Surface with pen and ink for client and team meetings:
Perception and Focus: It looks like I am paying attention, taking notes on the meeting at hand and not doing emails or something else.
You remember more: This is true. research shows that when we write notes down than when we type them
It’s a natural Writing Experience: Using a Surface Pro (or Surface Go) with Surface Pen provides a natural writing experience that feels like writing on paper. I can write notes, draw diagrams, underline things, and even cut and paste text etc and then highlight or scribble all over it. It’s just like using pen and paper and has so many other benefits.
Realtime Collaboration: If I am with other teammates, I can use the features in Microsoft OneNote and collaborate in real-time. Using a shared OneNote, I can write and draw on the screen, and my colleagues can see my work in real-time and add their notes to it. This makes it easy to brainstorm and collaborate on ideas. Alternatively, I can keep my notes as “my notes”.
Efficient Notetaking: Using Surface with Pen makes note-taking more efficient and saves me time later. I can choose to leave my notes as digital ink (this means I can search the text later without converting it to text), or I can have apps like OneNote convert my handwriting into text which then makes it easy for me to copy and paste into emails, CRM systems or anything else. Using OneNote, I can also easily organise my notes into folders and different notebooks.
Professional Experience and Appearance: As a technologist, working on Surface with pen and ink looks professional and sleek. I find it’s a great way to make a good impression on clients and colleagues and helps us promote the use of the best devices of business on the market.
Secure yet accessible: Since my notes are digital (in my case in OneNote), I can access them securely anywhere from any device whenever i need them. I don’t need to worry about losing my notes, not being able to find content or having to ask others to “send me their notes”. If I lose my device or get a new one, my notes are securely stored in the cloud.
Best Surface devices to use
With the exception of the Surface Laptop Go, all Surface devices support touch, pen and ink, however for the optimum inking/writing experience you don’t want to be trying to write on a clamshell type laptop. As such I’d suggest either the
Anything other than Surface + Pen + OneNote is a compromise in a meeting where I need to take notes. It provides a natural writing experience, makes it easier for me to come back to my notes, search for notes later and keeps them safe and secure.
Using Surface devices with ink and touch is also a superior experience and looks professional too. No more tatty notebooks, no more typing loudly on a keyboard with a screen between you and your customers or colleagues or boss.
New devices? More AI? What is coming to Windows 11 andSurface?
Microsoft has announced that they are holding what they describe as a “special event” on September 21st in New York City. Whilst no formal details have yet been shared (or leaked on social media), the expectation is that this will focus on the unveiling of new Surface products (this usually happens around this time), and we expect there to also be an AI-Infused theme to the announcements.
What will Microsoft announce on the 21st of September?
We don’t know officially, however what I expect is that they will use to announce a refresh of several of their existing Surface devices which didn’t get the “refresh love” last October. As such, I would expect Microsoft to formally announce.
Surface Laptop Studio 2 – since V1 has now been discontinued.
Surface Laptop Go 3– there is lots of hope this will have an ARM variant though from what have heard they are sticking to Intel.
Surface Go 4 – again hoping for an ARM variant this year but think I’ll be disappointed.
I’m not expecting a Surface Pro 10 or Surface Laptop 6 to be annouced at this event and have heard this is more likely in the Spring 2024.
There will no doubt be a big focus on AI this year. Last year, with the announcement of Surface Pro 9 5G (which is ARM powered and I am using today), was the first of its kind to feature on chip AI capabilities which in turn enable a bunch of AI enhanced video and audio enhancements known as Windows Studio Effects. Surface Pro 9 5G’s front-facing camera it’s enhanced and assisted by a Neural Process Unit (NPU), that powers feature such as automatic framing, hardware-based background blurring and sustained eye contact during video calls all of which work much better than the native teams (software) experience – the automatic framing super smooth.
I expect all devices announced from this point forward to leverage this on-chip NPU technology.
Sustainability will be front a centre
I also think that the new devices will be even more sustainable – lower power, longer battery life, lower carbon and more repairable. Microsoft are committed to Surface being 100% recyclable by 2030.
AI will be everywhere
I am also confident that Microsoft will use this opportunity to highlight the recent advancements in AI.
Windows 11 will very soon get Copilot and will leverage unique capabilities in the new Surface portfolio and upcoming updates to Windows 11, Bing Chat Enterprise which leverages the deep integration of OpenAI’s ChatGPT-4 chatbot technology into Microsoft’s Enterprise Search and Bing.
I aslo hear will see demos of third party integration into Windows Copilot from the likes of Spotify, Adobe and others. For Windows Copilot to really make an impact, third-party plugins will be a key part of the Windows Copilot System.
Surface Laptop 5 is available in several colours including platinum, black, sage and sandstone, this latest iteration of hasn’t changed much from last years’ Surface Laptop 4. It features the same dimensions and form factor as previous generations (which has barely changed since the original version) but has received the annual welcomed tech update and now includes the latest 12th generation Intel chipsets, built on the Intel® Evo™ platform, offering up to 50% power than previous generation. Find out more about Intel Evo?
Thanks to Microsoft, I was able to get my hands on a Surface Laptop 5 on launch day and have been using it as my daily machine to allow me to put it through the paces and write this hands-on review.
If you have never looked at the Surface line of laptops before, then you should! – Microsoft make the most gorgeous looking, premium devices on the market – all of which feature an anodized aluminum metal process, resulting in a luxury and smooth finish, which closely resembles the look and class of a MacBook. If you’ve ever used a cheaper, plastic built Laptop before, you will instantly notice the premium feel of Surface difference.
There are a range of colours available, but the 15-inch model only offers Black or Platinum, while the 13.5″ version also provides the option of Sage and Sandstone. I like the black personally on Surface Laptop range though I do think next time I might try a colour!
Microsoft also offer Alcantara options for the keyboard area, although it is limited to the 13.5″ Platinum model only. This gives a slightly soft and more premium finish to the keyboard deck, which provides a nice alternative to the aluminium metal. See below.
Overall feel and use
This is a quick laptop. I have been using a Surface Book 2 and Surface Pro X for a few years now as my two main devices, yet after just a few hours with the Surface Laptop 5, I could feel that this was a great bit of kit. Everything from the speed to power on (instant on), Windows Hello sign-in, launching apps, multitasking, and switching apps was effortless and fast. Video was smooth and audio was sharp and felt like it surrounded me.
The Surface Laptop 5 itself is thin and light – the 13.5 ” I am testing weighs just under three pounds, which is perfect for on-the-go and taking between home and office.
Both the 13.5″ and 15″ models look similar their predecessor, the Surface Laptop 4 (and those before it – a design that still looks modern and fresh. The device feels every bit premium design as you’d expect from a Surface. It is built from high quality refined aluminium in the popular minimalist design, with full size keyboard, large and responsive track pad, 120Hz, 3:2 ratio, 201 PPI pixel sense display, protected by Gorilla Glass 5.
Sensors, camera and speakers are hidden out of sight, the lid has an elegant and subtle Surface Logo on the lid, and around the sides of the device are the standard range of ports, which consist of the Surface Connector (I know many don’t like this but I like it from a consistency perspective), USB-A, USB-C (Thunderbolt 4) and a 3.5mm headphone jack (which interestingly has been removed from the latest Surface Pro 9 line up).
Microsoft have also further perfected the balance and feel of the device, with one-handed opening and nicely cut-away base that gives the impression that the device is floating above your workspace.
Available in 13.5- or 15-inch variants, the screen is super clear and bright and features 120Hz refresh, 3:2 aspect ratio 201 PPI pixel-sense display. The 3:2 aspect ratio is standard across all Surface devices and gives additional vertical space when working on docs or browsing the Web, but it does mean you’ll get the black pillar box lines top and bottom if watching a movie in 16:9. The screen aspect ratio works really well for work and school.
The screen features the 10-point multi-touch as is super responsive, giving it a natural advantage over other premium products like the Apple Mac Book Pro (which still doesn’t have a touch screen). The screen is super precise and supports all Surface Pen generations. The screen also supports Dolby Vision IQ which works by adjusting the colours on the screen based on the levels of ambient light to boost your viewing experience. Watching movies appeared better than my home TV (I need to upgrade) with ultra-vivid colours which are powered by Dolby Vision®3.
I personally find use any device without a touch screen cumbersome to use as touch now feels so natural across almost every other type of device we use.
The screen is protected with Gorilla Glass 5 (GG3 on the Alcantara version), which not only protects the screen but also provides great resistance to scratching.
Camera / Webcam
The front-facing camera is set in the bezel of the display. This is an HD 720p quality optic that supports Windows Hello. To be honest, 720p seems a bit poor for a premium level laptop, but the camera is high quality and provides good images even in poor light.
Camera quality is ok – more than enough for video calls, but you wouldn’t use it for high-quality photos – a little grainy.
Audio and Sound
Audio quality on Surface Laptop is really good, especially compared to cheaper devices on the market. You get dual studio mics located each side of the web cam and the speakers, leverage Dolby Atmos®.4 to provide virtual surround sound. It’s great for Teams calls or watching movies etc.
As always with super thin devices, connectivity is minimal but practical. All the ports are located on the left-hand side of the laptop with just the Surface connect port located on the right side which can be used for charging and connectivity to a Surface Dock which then gives you almost endless connectivity options as well as multiple screen support at 4k.
You get a single USB-A 3.1 and a USB-C port which supports Thunderbolt 4.0. There’s also a 3.5mm headphone socket and the Surface charging connector.
For connecting more than that you’ll need to use a Surface dock or use Bluetooth of course.
For a device you can carry around and use all day – it needs to be light and have great battery life, or you are forced to carry a charger around “just in case”. Good battery life of course needs to balance three things – performance, battery life and power consumption.
Microsoft say that Surface Laptop 5 can last up to 18 hours of battery life, but the test conditions used by manufacturers is rarely the environment most workers use daily.
I averaged 9 hours and 32 minutes of battery life on a single charge.
I have been using Surface Laptop 5 for just over a month now and have not had a day (yet) where I needed to plug the device in to charge to get me through the day. In my environment I didn’t do anything special – and had settings within Windows as follows:
Screen Brightness: Auto Keyboard Backlight: Off (this is going to use power) Screen Brightness: 60% (with auto-adjust off) Power Saving Mode: Auto Power mode: Recommended (default)
With these in place, and using a typical mix of Teams calls, Office apps and Web Apps, I averaged 9 hours and 32 minutes for the laptop to go from 100% to it shutting off when i ignored the “plug me in” notifications. By best day was 11 hours 12 minutes and my worst day (which was all day on video calls), the the laptop still powered through for 8hrs 4 mins.
Microsoft is committed to sustainability and carbon reduction, and this applies to the Surface device family also. Microsoft Surface laptops and tablets are EPEAT gold-registered, and Microsoft are committed to carbon neutrality across the supply chain by 2030.
From a repairability perspective (which also reduced waste and prolongs device life), Surface Laptop 5 devices have a replaceable SSD, display, battery, and motherboard, amongst other swappable components. This is a huge win for consumers and business since it means they can not only stretch out the lifespan of the Surface Laptop 5 by replacing failed components, but it also goes a long way to help corporate ESG goals. This is not unique to Surface Laptop 5 either, the slide below from Microsoft showcases just how repairable Surface now is.
Surface is also committed to:
Ensuring packaging is from recycled, renewable or responsibly sourced content by 2025
Eliminating all virgin, single use Pretoleum-based plastics by 2025
Being fully recyclable by 2030
Uses 100% recyclable packaging by 2030
In the race for king of premium, this is also another winning factor over devices like the Apple MacBook.
Microsoft even have a YouTube video showing some of this repairability. ⬇️
Verdict – Why Choose Surface?
Surface Laptop 5 may not be a radical new or wow design, but Surface Laptop just works. I’m a big fan of Surface, so you may consider me biased (but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong)!
To me there’s four main reason I choose Surface over other brands.
Look: High-quality, thin, lightweight, premium design and workmanship
Performance: Vast range of technical configuration (and therefore price)
Support: Built to run Windows by the company that makes Windows
Sustainability: Repairable, strong commitments to re-use and recycle as well as low-power and excellent battery life (easily lasts a full day of use).
Like similar clickers on the market, the Microsoft Presenter + can be used to control your PowerPoint and PowerPoint Live presentations.
The similarity ends here, however, as Presenter + is the first clicker that’s also Microsoft Teams certified, meaning it can also help you control and navigate your Teams meetings as well as providing control over your presentations when using PowerPoint Live from within Teams.
Microsoft say that “Presenter + reflects how work has changed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic“.
Presenter + costs ~£69 so is not the cheapest “clicker” but is the first designed to work with Teams and brings meeting controls into your hand.
In the Box
… Is the Presenter + device and a charging Dock plus the usual manuals etc. The Presenter + can also be charged directly with a USB type C cable meaning you can leave the charger plugged into your laptop safe knowing that should you need to you can top up the charge with any USB cable.
The back of the device has a simple on/off switch a Bluetooth pairing button.
Set up is easy.
Un-box the device and turn it on (there’s a switch on the back)
If not already installed, install the free Microsoft Assessory centre app from the Store
Head over to your Windows Bluetooth settings and pair the device. It also accepts pairing to multiple devices which is useful if you use a different device at home to when out and about, and even remembers any custom settings you apply to it.
Open the Microsoft Accessory Centre and follow the on-screen prompts to set-up the device and customise any of the settings you wish to.
Controls and Use
Microsoft Presenter + is not just a PowerPoint clicker.
In addition to the usual slide forward and back buttons, there is an also a giant Microsoft Teams button that allows you to quickly join Teams meetings and do things such as raise or lower you hand when in a meeting without reaching for your keyboard or mouse, giving a much more natural presenter experience. Microsoft also say that you can use Presenter+ with most other meeting apps, including Zoom, though I haven’t tested this yet.
Also on the device is a giant mute button, which can mute and unmute your microphone when in a call/meeting, and the remote nicely vibrates when your turn mute off, so that you know your audience can hear you talking.
You are also able to customise the left and right buttons to your individual needs using the Microsoft Accessory Centre app.
Another cool feature which sets this apart from other clicker remotes is that you can use Presenter + to grab and focus the audience’s attention with the screen pointer by pressing the middle 🔆button.
The is well built, presenter remote that makes Teams Meetings and Presenting within them simple and easy. I’ve only had the joy of using this in a couple of meetings so far and the true test will be how it enables me to true be hands free.
One thing I wish it had, would be the ability to spotlight text/highlight text when presenting or zoom in / focus to a section of the presentation. It might be possible to do this via a keyboard shortcut programmed into the device, but I haven’t found a way of doing that yet.
Microsoft Surface celebrated 10 years of Surface yesterday, with the 2022 line up, which saw Surface Pro 9 with 5G, Surface Laptop 5 and Surface Studio 2 + being launched.
With what was a modest event, compared to previous years, Microsoft unveiled a handful of new and updated Surface devices including:
Surface Pro 9
Surface Pro 9 with 5G
Surface Laptop 5
Surface Studio 2+
Audio Dock and Microsoft Presenter +
The keynoted by Panos Panay, EVP and Chief Product Officer at Microsoft, kicked off the event taking viewers through the history of Microsoft’s journey with Surface.
Surface Pro 9
Always my favour form factor that makes Surface a Surface is the Pro range. Microsoft Surface Pro 9 tablet was annouced with a new Liberty floral print design in blue colour, which has been created in collaboration with design house Liberty London.
Like the Laptop 5, The Surface Pro 9 comes equipped with Thunderbolt connectors and has a 120Hz, 13-inch PixelSense display which makes it perfect for use both as a hand-held tablet and as a laptop when attached to a type cover keyboard.
Microsoft displayed how the Windows 11 adapts with larger spacing between apps when the keyboard is detached from the tablet. Microsoft showcased just how quickly Windows 11 adapts to the change in use, with larger spacing between apps when the keyboard is detached from the device.
Surface Pro 9 is the first in the series with 5G capabilities. This variant is built on the ARM-based Microsoft SQ3 processor powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon and has a battery life of up to 19 hours.
Other variants of the tablet are powered by Intel’s 12th-generation EVO processor.
The front facing camera is centred and field of view has been widened. The (optional) Surface Slim Pen 2 The tablet has a microactuator inside, which, according to Microsoft means “its ink-focussed view makes writing on the screen feel like writing on paper with digital ink that appears to flow”.
Exlusive also to the Surface Pro 9 5G model, is a new NPU (neural processing unit) which Microsoft said is the most powerful ever in a laptop. The NPU gives the Pro 9 the ability to dynamically focus on the subject at all times, even if the subject is moving. It can automatically creates blur effects and smooth auto framing.
Also provided by the NPU, is a new Voice Focus, which drastically cuts out all kinds of background noise. This was showcased with a leaf blower and hair dryer and seemed extremely impressive (almost magical).
Surface Laptop 5
Laptop 5 was first new product revealed at the event and follows last years Surface Laptop 4, released in 2021.
Following the same popular design size, Laptop 5 was shown being opened with just one hand revealing a new, quieter keyboard which has been further optimised for responsiveness. As you’d expect, the design is sleek and light and available in four colours, including the newest colour, sage green.
Surface Laption 5 is built on the latest Intel EVO platform and now has Thunderbolt 4 ports.
Microsoft says that the laptop is up to 50 percent more powerful than its predecessor. It has up to 18 hours of battery life and features a fast charge feature, which powers up the laptop in 30 minutes to provide 9 hours of battery life.
The Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 has the usual 3:2 PixelSense display for both their 13.5-inch and 15-inch models and feature Dolby Vision IQ to deliver richer details and sharper contrast that are tuned to automatically adjust colour accuracy. The screen is also 120hz.
From an audio perspective, we get Dolby Atmos 3D spatial processing speakers, placed right behind the corners of the keys on the keyboard.
Surface Studio 2+
A superb device that many thought had been forgotten was also brought back to life. Oddly called Studio 2+, rather than 3, this could suggest a design change might come in the future, but for now it keeps the futuristic design of Studio 2 and is beautiful.
Surface Studio 2+ is powered by Intel i7 quad-core processor and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060, which Microsoft say is “five times more powerful than the original Surface Studio.”
It comes with three Thunderbolt ports in keeping with rest of the line up and has a 4K display with a colour depth of DCI P3. This also naturally features both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos audio.
The gorgeous 28inch screen can be adjusted with just a one-finger push which allows it to intelligently glide and stay in what ever position works for the mode of work. Leveraging Windows 11’s snap layout feature, the screen is large enough to have four separate 14-inch display windows open at the same time, something designers love.
Audio Dock and Microsoft Presenter+
Two other hardware products were revealed at the event. These were Microsoft Presenter+, which is a Teams remote with a mute button, and Audio Dock with multiple ports and spacial speaker and mic
Windows and Surface Together
Whilst the focus was of course about the new Surface line up, most of which were inline with the predictions, the importance and development of Windows was also front of stage. As such, Microsoft used this event to showcase new features for Windows 11, many designed specifically around Surface and other multi form factor devices like Surface Studio Laptop, a Surface Pro and Studio 2+.
Following up from the Windows 11 22H2 update that is now rolling out, Microsoft highlighted so of the new accessibility features that are built in to Windows 11. This incudes a system-wide live captions from audio content, which automatically appears on the screen when any audio from any source is playing.
Among other accessibility features showcased was system wide voice access for voice control and navigation which include new natural voices.
Pricing and Availability
No official announcement of the price of any new Microsoft Surface product was made during the event.
Microsoft has confirm what many were expecting. They are holding a Surface event next month (October 12th).
Being held and streamed online also, the event, which is officially dubbed “Microsoft Fall 2022 Event,” is being hosted the day before its global Ignite Event. October also marks the 10 year anniversary of Surface! Wow.
What to expect
As is usual this time of year, the rumour mill and noise around the event is on fire.
It is “expected” that Microsoft will be annoucing the Surface Pro 9 which will have the option of Arm or Intel processors, update to Surface Laptop and a new (but different) Surface Studio.
There is also rumour of new Surface accessories coming too, and knowing Microsoft there will also be a couple of suprises..
To find out first hand what is new and what to get excited about, you can register and watch live by registering here.
For users / owners of Surface Headphones 2+ (for Business), Microsoft are rolling out a new firmware update which enables the devices to be Microsoft Teams® certified using native Bluetooth® without a dongle.
This means users of Surface Headphones 2+ will be able to depend on reliable connections during calls and interact with intuitive touch control with the convenience of not having to worry about the dongle – something which will improve productivity and ease of use for employees that (like me) often navigate different workspaces and devices for hybrid work and everyday life.
This is made possible by Microsoft leveraging the improvement in Bluetooth connectivity directly via the Surface companion app for Windows and Mac desktop clients.
Specific other vendor devices will, in the future, also get firmware updates to support native Bluetooth stack certification support.
For more information about Surface Headphones, you can check out the Microsoft product pages here.
Last year, I reviewed the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go. Now, after a couple of weeks of use as my “temporary” daily machines, this is my review of the updated, 2022, Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 which starts from just £600 in the UK (about $US 700).
So – in short, the 2022 edition of the Surface Laptop Go 2 is a fantastic device for anyone in an admin role, those who travels a lot, work in education, front-line, sales etc., that needs a “good” overall performer (for email, web, office apps, bit of Netflix or Paramount+, etc.) but isn’t a “power user”. Laptop Go 2 is sleek, fast, affordable, portable, and easily powerful enough for most productivity tasks at home or work.
INTRODUCING “LAPTOP GO 2”
Version 2 of the Surface Laptop Go 2 – is every bit similar in shape, size, look at feel than the original but improves on it in several ways (under the hood). Inside, we now get an 11th Generation Intel Core processor alongside Intel Iris Xe graphics [last year’s model had the 10th Gen processors and Intel UHD graphics).
Microsoft say that the battery life in this model has also been slightly increased, partly owing to new Operating System Efficiencies in Windows 11 along with the lower power consuming 11th Gen chipsets.
LOOK AND FEEL
Laptop Go 2 weighs in at just 1.13kg and measures just 278.2mm x 206.2mm x 15.7mm – making it beautifully compact and lightweight and ideal for both students or anyone who travels or commutes a lot who are looking for something small, light but functional to take back and forth on the daily commute.
As you come to expect with a Surface Device, Laptop Go 2 is sleek and stylish. It comes in four colours including the standard Platinum, Ice Blue, Sage, and Sandstone. The model I tested was the Platinum model which is made of lightweight aluminium and has the familiar mirrored Microsoft logo on the lid.
When you open the clam-shell lid, you are presented with a full-size rubberised plastic keyboard, which Microsoft claims “provides 30% more key travel than the MacBook Air and a large trackpad. Being a more “budget friendly” device, there is no backlighting on the keyboard and the trackpad doesn’t have haptic feedback like the new Surface Laptop Studio debuted.
The power button (which does light up), also serves as a fingerprint sensor which you can use with Windows Hello to unlock the laptop.
Connectivity-wise, you get the same ports as on the Surface Laptop and last year’s Laptop Go 1 – a Single USB-C port (which supports 4K video), Single USB-A port, 3.5 mm headphone jack and the Surface Connect port which it uses for charging. You also get Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1.
Note: the USB-C port doesn’t support charging like many new laptops, so you’ll need to keep using the Surface Connect Port charger which comes in the box.
The screen on the Surface Laptop Go 2 has a 12.4-inch PixelSense touchscreen display with a resolution of 1536 x 1024p and a 3:2 aspect ratio like that found on most of the newer Surface family. The display is bright, clear, and sharp with great colours and black blacks – event in direct sunlight. Don’t get me wrong, Surface Laptop Go 2 is not intended for professional-level graphics or artwork, but it is more than good for viewing documents, web pages or watching videos. It also doesn’t support use of the Surface Pen, which is of course another cost saving thing.
The Webcam – is tiny and located between two small spatial microphones on the top edge of the screen. Unlike the “bigger” versions of Surface, this does not support Windows Hello and is only a 720p. This is the one area I wish Microsoft hadn’t “saved money” on as webcam quality is important in the new world of hybrid and remote work. I’m also so used to the Windows Hello Camera and personally prefer it over the fingerprint reader. Microsoft say that the camera on the Laptop Go 2 is an upgrade on last year’s model and features a “new camera module providing improved brightness, contrast and colour balance“.
Low light and bright backlight quality was handled well, but the image did feel a little grainy at full screen – I think I’d still prefer at 1080p webcam though – feels like a compromise we don’t need.
SPECS, PEFORMANCE & BATTERY
SPECIFICATIONS The device I’ve had on loan, is powered by a Quadcore, 11th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor, the Intel Iris Xe graphics chipset and 16GB RAM along with a 256GB SSD.
Like all Surface’s Laptop Go 2 is available in both consumer and business editions. The business version ships with Windows 11 Professional and providing enhanced secure features including Secured-Core security features, which includes a dedicated physical TPM 2.0 chip (rather than virtual TPM in firmware which the consumer model has). Choices are otherwise limited in these more budget friendly devices, and Microsoft simply give you options over how much RAM and SSD storage you need.
The entry level unit has 128GB SSD, but only 4GB RAM and no fingerprint reader.
PERFORMANCE Spoiler – Laptop Go 2 is not designed to compete with the bigger members of the Surace family like the Surface Laptop, Surface Pro or Studio when it comes to raw power, and graphics performance, but it did do a decent job of everything I threw at it. Throughout my week of testing, I had multiple apps open, including Teams, Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook and used it a few evenings for watching a few films and even tried out Clipchamp to edit one of my son’s YouTube “clips” he’d made all without feeling like I was using an under-powered device. I even managed a bit of Minecraft on the device as well as playing TrainSimWorld 2 and Forza Horizon using Xbox Streaming – more on that later!!
BATTERY LIFE Microsoft states that Laptop Go 2 provides up to 13.5 hours of ‘typical device usage’, but my loan device lasted about 25% less than that – 9hrs 16mins in fact of constant use in my usual home working test scenario:
Connected via Wi-Fi.
Screen Brightness set to auto.
Bluetooth connected headset, keyboard, and mouse.
Mix of normal daily use – no special tests – 8-10 Teams Video Calls (camera on), Core Office desktop apps and some social media apps and web browsing.
Connected to 4K Ultrawide screen via Surface Dock v1.
This is, I would say the main area of disappointment compared to the advertised specs – as I think you’d still want to take a power adapter out with you – “just in case”.
9 hrs isn’t awful but it’s nowhere near the “up to 13.5hrs”.
One day Microsoft will get this bit right and maybe when (if) they shift to ARM based chipsets for Laptop Go and Surface Go we will see battery life closer to what Apple manage to squeeze out their “M” chip-based devices. performance out of the battery.
XBOX GAME STREAMING
So – this was never going to be the best experience, but while on holiday on the Isle of Wight (if you haven’t been – you should go by the way), I wanted to test Xbox remote play on our Xbox One X (I know I know, where’s the Series-X!). My first test was done running on NowTV broadband (70Mbps or so).
On returning home yesterday, I then recreated the scenario from my desk, streaming from the same Xbox (which is in the same house). The experience was pretty much the same.
In summary, for fast framerate games like this, I’d say “it works pretty well”. Game play was surprisingly good. It did struggle with the odd refresh glitch and jittery in places on high frame-rate games (I was testing it with Forza Horizon 4) but overall and given the spec of the Surface Laptop Go 2, was more impressed than I thought I’d be. The video below show’s how this played out.
ROUNDING IT ALL UP
Battery life aside – Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Go 2 is a great all-rounder device for students, consumers or business users that are on more of a budget or than need something new and modern, gorgeous, and premium in feel that is both ultra-portable, and good enough for everything a “typical user” needs.
If you are big into gaming, (see above) big graphics/design and art, or you are a number crunching, coding, power-user then, you’ll want to look at the high-end devices like the Surface Laptop Studio or Surface Book 3 – though you can “get buy” when travelling if you need a game-fix and want to play remote or cloud play with the Xbox App.
In recent years, Microsoft has taken a leaf out of Apple Book and is know known for putting together some pretty awesome product launch and general marketing videos for their Surface Lineup and Windows 11.
Whilst we usually only see these things at annual press events and new product launches such as Laptop Studio or Surface Duo, Panos Panay has recently taken to social media and posted a really awesome mashup reveal of the latest innovations across Windows 11 and the Microsoft Surface Products.
Many of my followers will know that I am a huge fan of Surface and also an MVP for #Windows11, but I must admit, this short video even gave me goosebumps since it really does capture the best of what makes Surface devices truly remarkable and innovative (setting the standard for other OEMs). The video also shows some of the latest enhancements within Windows 11 that were annouced formerly in their Future of Work event on the 5th April, where Panos showed off enhancements to things like Fluent icons, the Start Menu, and Windows Hello.
Microsoft is known for setting the standard and innovating the laptop market with Surface and with Surface Laptop SE they have done it again – this time at the lowest end of the market with the extremely cheap but well built Surface that starts from just £229.
What is Surface Laptop SE?
Microsoft target market for Surface Laptop SE is schools that buy laptops in bulk to give to students in classrooms and/or to take home. This is laptop for children from primary age up to mid-secondary school age, which explains why this has been built with lower end specifications and the more lightweight and plastic design.
Surface Laptop SE is not sold commercially or direct to consumers and runs Windows 11 SE, which relies on remote provisioning, deploying, and admin for installing and maintaining applications.
Note: Windows 11 SE is not like Windows 10 in S Mode. Windows 11 SE run apps from both in and from outside the Microsoft Store. The main difference is that the OS is trimmed down and has been specifically optimised for lower specification devices. Windows SE is Microsoft's solution to help empower teachers and learners with productive, sturdy and reliable laptops at scale.
For a device that costs between £229 and £300 you might think “really!!!!”, but I’d say that Microsoft has done it again and created an awesome piece of budget hardware which should set a new standard for low-end devices built specifically for Pre-School, Primary and lower Secondary School students.
The Microsoft Surface Laptop SE is available to education through Surafce resellers and also via Microsoft directly and pricing starts from just £229 for the 4GB RAM/64GB model, which comes with a dual-core Intel Celeron N4020 processor. The model I tested, was the slightly higher specification model which retails at around £299 and has 8GB of RAM, 128GB storage and a quad-core Intel Celeron N4120 CPU.
First Impressions: Look and Feel
This looks like a Surface! From a design perspective, the Surface Laptop SE has some similarities from its sibling, the Surface Laptop Go, but has a much more attractive price for the education market. To get to a price of just £229, Microsoft have had to compromise in a number of areas such as swapping the sleek “Surface” metal for a more child-friendly plastic for the overall chassis design. Do not let that put you off though – it is still a sleek and elegant design that looks modern, clean and far more premium than it should for a device at this price.
The top lid features a simple but bold Surface logo, while the underside of the device is clean with just seven screws that hold it together allowing for easy accessibility for repairs – yes – this is a repairable device! Alongside this, there are four rubber feet with the two rear ones being slightly taller than the front to allow a natural and angled keyboard typing experience.
Port and connectivity wise, the Laptop SE has a USB Type-A, USB Type-C (which supports power, data and video display), a headphone jack, a separate barrel type charger in favour for a the standard Surafce Connector – which I found a little odd, but presumably is much cheaper to replace.
Laptop SE is extremely light – weighing just over a kilo at 1.11kg (about 2.4 pounds) which is the weight of a bag of sugar! You can see my “unboxing experience” below.
First Impressions: Useability
So first things and weird to get my head round is that the Surafce Laptop SE does not have a touch screen, nor does it support pen and ink! This is not surprising given the price point but had to put that out there – it is a Surface after all!
It’s normally easy to tell a cheap/budget laptop from the quality of the casing, keyboard and trackpad but not on Surface Laptop SE. The experience on Laptop SE is every bit premium and features exceptional quality and usability. Unlike many other budget laptops, Microsoft have reinforced the keyboard, which provides a sturdy and premium typing experience which is IMO the same as the experience on any Surafce Laptop Go .
As a budget device, Microsoft have replaced the usual LCD multi-touch screen found it other Surface devices with a 16:9 aspect ratio, 11.6-inch non-touch TFT screen with a resolution of 1366×768 and an aspect ration of 135 pixels per inch.
When using the Surface Laptop SE, the display is bright, colours look good and the matt screen works well (especially given that in a school environment it’s usually bright and light). Viewing angles are good too and it’s easy to see the screen even if you are looking square on. Finally, screen bezels are a bit thick, but given this is designs for school use, it means you dont grab the screen when closing the lid or changing the angle.
Surface Laptop SE is equipped with just a 1-megapixel 720p (30 FPS) front-facing camera, which is of course a lower budget option compared to the flagship devices. Despite the lower resolution, I was pleasantly surprised by how well the camera worked (even in low and bright light), and in a Teams test call with myself, the image quality was very good and sharp. The onboard microphone is also really good (well it was in limited test environment) and did a great job of picking up all the relevant voice tones.
Given this is a device for schools, it needs to last the school day at least right and even more if the schools are providing these on a 1:1 basis for students which is happening more and more.
Battery life is good, Microsoft claims 16 hours, which they never seem to get right in real life, but I used my test device for a whole day from 8:30am until the battery died at around 4:30pm – a solid 8.5hrs of constant use with it plugged into a second screen, running on wireless and with all my common apps open including Teams which I used for around 6 Teams Meetings.
Performance and Workload
Surface Laptop SE is totally silent in operation. It doesn’t get hot, it does not have a fan, so it produces no ambient noise – at all.
My Test Scenario 1. Battery fully charged (no plugged int mains) 2. Wireless On 3. External Monitor Connected via USB-C in Extended Mode 4. Brightness and Power all set to “auto” 5. Workloads tested: 6 x Teams Calls (with video), PowerPoint, Outlook, Word, Excel, Edge
As you’d imagine by the insanely low price point, Surface Laptop SE is no power horse, though it performed surprisingly well given what I threw at it.
For the main all my core apps like Office Apps and Teams ran well. The device comes with Minecraft Education Edition installed too, so took this for a spin over lunch and it too ran without an issue or lag (I just need to learn how to play it). Surface Laptop SE seemed quite happy chugging along with the majority of my day-to-day productivity apps together. Apps running via the browser were naturally more responsive which is one of the great things with modern apps like Office 365 in the browser.
The only place where it seems to “struggle” a bit, was initial device boot up, resume from sleep (which takes a second or two) and general “first time” app launching where you really notice the performance lag of the “out-dated” chipsets in this device – the N4120 Celeron processor is some 3 years old. This isn’t Microsoft’s fault as it’s the best they can do (and they have done well) with what Intel offers at this low price point.
That said – performance it is not awful, and after a few hours of use, it feels normal to be honest – this is due in part to the way in which Microsoft optimised Windows 11 SE to take the best advantage of the low-power Celeron N4120 processor, including streamlining the Windows 11 OS to use less system resources.
I cover Windows 11 SE in a separate post.
Conclusion and Closing Comments
Given the age range and sector this device is aimed at – it is more than adequate and a great bit of “value” Surface tech.
Surface Laptop SE highlights what makes Surface, a Surface and it sets the standard for low cost, good quality laptops for primary and secondary education. Microsoft’s attention to detail, focus on core features, and quality design where it matters are all what Surface does best and Surface Laptop SE is no exception.
You won’t be buying one of these for the office, but even though this is designed for school children. It feels good to use and doesn’t feel like a budget friendly device at all. Most students (even teachers to be honest), don’t “need” a high-end Surface Laptop or Pro and if this means schools can equip students and teachers with technology to facilitate digital curriculum then Surface Laptop SE can go a long way to help school achieve this.
This of course, brings us to the obvious question about why Microsoft doesn’t sell this directly to consumers as well (with Windows 11 Pro)? I think they should – I’d certainly buy one for my 7 y/o. I think with a slightly better CPU, it would make a great home laptop at a crazy cheap price.
To end this review, if you work at a Primary or Secondary School, are looking at ways to increase your device to student ratio or provide a laptop for every child, Surface Laptop SE should be looked at.
Santa was kind this year and allowed me to get my hands on a Surface Duo 2. Before I drive into the formal review, I’d like to summarise by saying that Surface Duo 2, whilst very much similar and samey is much better and more refined better than the original Duo. Whilst a Dual Screen may not be for everyone, it’s different and is great once you to adapt to it.
IMO, having two screens available will (once you get used to it) leave you wondering how you ever made do with just one before. It’s a convenience and multitasking experience that once you get used to is hard to let go of.
The Duo certainly get’s attention and is simply an awesome blend of Surface and Android then this device is worth every penny or cent.
The original Surface Duo was released in 2020 and whilst a thing of beauty (it looked gorgeous, was pretty responsive and a real “wow piece”, it lacked (for most) some key things such as NFC, and decent cameras which stopped me for replacing my daily driver (a Samsung S20) for the Duo.
The Surface Duo 2
Surface Duo 2 is simply the most beautiful bit of mobile technology I have ever set eyes on. It is a work of art, the Picasso of devices, and you just want to touch it and use it. The original Duo only came in a white (Glacier) , but the Duo 2 adds another colour option of black (called Obsidian) which is also stunning.
As I said in the intro, having two screens available to you (once you get used to it) will leave you wondering how you ever made do with just one before. It’s a convenience and multitasking experience that once you get used to is hard to let go of.
Surface Duo 2 is simply the most beautiful bit of mobile technology I have ever set eyes on.
Under the hood, Microsoft have given us a flagship mobile chipset (the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888), 2 beautiful screens, NFC, fast charging, the latest Bluetooth, 8GB of RAM and updated cameras (both on the front and in a new 3-camera cluster on the rear). There’s also a glance bar on the sides to see notifications. These hardware improvements have enabled me to use the Surface Duo 2 as my day-to-day device, which the original Duo fell short of.
Yes it is bigger than my “old” Samsung S20 Ultra, but it does feel ok in my pocket (now that my Surface Bumpers have arrived). Unlike the original, the Surface Duo 2 arrived with Android 11 waiting to be installed which, combined with the updated guts makes it feel super fast and responsive with no noticeable lag.
One week in and I haven’t experienced any major quirks, and my only annoyance is that the battery is still not as good as I would have hoped (more on that later) but then I have been using it (ok, showing it off) a lot and of course the Duo has to power two screens.
Design and Feel
The Surface Duo 2 feels more polished than the Surface Duo does. It still looks every bit Surface Duo, Microsoft have clearly listened to feedback and made a number of key refinements over the first generation.
One of the most noticeable changes (you can’t miss it), is the camera bump on the back of the device. Microsoft have added a powerful triple-lens camera setup (there was no rear camera in the original Duo), which means the cameras do protrude from the back of the device (like with most phones). This was a slight concern to me when I first started using the device, mainly because it’s so noticeable compared to the original Duo! The cameras are surrounded with a tough plastic material, which extends beyond the glass back of the camera. This means that camera lenses are not in direct contact with the back of the left side of the device when it closes. Its does stick out though and you can’t help think “I hope I dont damage it”.
With Duo 2, Microsoft has also addressed one of the most annoying things about the original Duo which was that you had to open the device just to check the time or see if you had any notifications – a problem you don’t get with single screen phones. Surface Duo 2 has notification displays (called the Glance bar) that wraps around the edge of the device and are activated with a simple tap of the unlock button to show the time or a missed notification.
Like the original Surface Duo, the Duo 2’s selling point and USP is centred around the dual-screen design.
Two screens make every day tasks so much easier. Everything from reading an eBook across two screens feels more natural, whilst being on. Teams Call and making notes in OneNote on another is simple a fluid. Another great example is when you are reading and email or on a web page with links. With dual screens, clicking a link means these can open on the second screen to read later. As I have said a few times now, having two screens at your disposal massively changes the ways in which you can multitasking on your device.
The displays themselves are simply beautiful and clear. Like many other aspects of the Surface Duo 2, the screens have been upgraded too. The original Duo had two 5.6-inch AMOLED displays with a 1,350 x 1,800 resolution, which “combined” into an equivalent single 8.1 display with a 1,800 x 2,700 resolution.
With Surface Duo 2, there are two 5.8-inch displays, which open up to a “combined” 8.3 inch single screen. Each display gives 1,344 x 1,899, which with a combined resolution of 2,688 x 1,892.
Each display on the Duo 2 has a 90Hz refresh rate and up to 800 nits of brightness. Duo 2 can also deliver over 87% of the DCI-P3 colour gamut which is actually slightly better than the Surface Laptop Studio, a device designed specifically for art and graphics focussed tasks.
Gesture support for the Surface Duo 2 is unchanged from the original. This is good becuase it works well, allowing for example, for you to swipe up and drag towards the middle of the two displays to have an app span both screens. Additionally, most Microsoft apps (and a few third party ones), take full advantage of the dual displays on the Surface Duo. I find apps like Outlook most useful on a dual screen whereby you can have your email list and your current emails side by side which makes scanning through and responding to email much easier and similar to what you’d expect on a Windows/Mac desktop app.
Microsoft Teams is another app that leverages the full potential of the dual screen capability of the Surface Duo. With Teams on a Surface Duo, you can have chat open on one display, with your video call open on the other which makes the mobile Teams experience much more aligned to how we tend to use apps and multitask in a Teams meeting. The Amazon Kindle app is good example of a non Microsoft app that has also been optimised for dual screen devices.
The launcher screen (which is the home screen UI)even allows you to group and launch apps side by side as I have shown in the example below from my original Surface Duo device.
The hinge mechanism on the Surface Duo 2 is the same as on the original Duo. It’s slick and smooth with just enough resistance to prevent it opening by accident and once open, it stays open and in place.
When you are paying this kind of money for a flagship phone, you expect decent cameras, and this was one area the original Surface Duo fell short. Whilst I’d day that Surface Duo is not really aimed at the average iPhone or Samsung S series customer, if you are going to use it as your primary device (whether that is work, personal or both), you don’t want to have to carry a second camera around just to be able to take good photos.
The Surface Duo 2 has two cameras, a 12MP front facing camera, and a triple-lens camera on the back which encompasses a 12MP wide lens, a 12 MP telephoto lens and a 16MP Ultra-Wide angle lens.
The camera bump does mean, however that you can no longer fold the device back completely but it’s a small price to pay for awesome cameras.
The image below is one I took while visiting Kew Gardens in London over the Xmas break.
If you’ve seen or used the original Duo, you will notice the photo quality is a huge improvement from the original and was one my biggest disappointments.
Specifications and Performance
With Surface Duo 2, Microsoft have put a decent flagship chipset inside. The original device, while an innovative bit of technology, struggled IMO to grab the attention needed because the chipset components used weren’t at the specification the device or the price-tag commanded.
This time, Microsoft have got it right – and includes the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chipset, a leap ahead of the Snapdragon 855 which makes up the guts of the original model. RAM in the Surface Duo 2, has increased from 6GB to 8GB, but this is lower in comparison to what other vendors are heading for with their top end devices. Highend Samsung devices for example, now ship with 12GB.
Does it matter? Well, it may not be a RAM related thing, but I’ve read reviews from others seeing performance issues with Duo 2 where the phone gets “stuck” in a the camera app when taking lots of photos, or more precisely when switching from camera to another app and back again. I have not seen this myself yet but it’s something I’ll be on the look out for.
So far though, from my week of use, the Surface Duo 2 works and performs extremely well. I am comparing most of the day to day use with my previous daily device (the Samsung Galaxy S20) and it is at least on par with this, but far more fun to use.
Like all mobile phone makers, battery life gets close attention, and the published numbers are never (in true day-to-day life) accurate.
Microsoft claim “up to 15.5 hours of video playback and 28 hours of talk time”, which definitely sounds impressive. Here’s how the Duo 2 performed for me over Christmas Day and Boxing day….
Though out these two days, I took lots of photos and videos of the kids, family and friends, did a fair bit of web browsing, WhatsApp messaging and general “showing off” of the device, and it did fall short of Microsoft’s claims but faired better than I actually thought it would…
The Surface Duo 2 lasted 11.5hrs before the battery got to the critical 10% level. I didn’t try it with single screen only (why would I), but in essence I’d say it performed about as well as my 1 year old Samsung S20. I think I will still need to bring a battery charger with me for a full day out (fortunately the Duo 2 does support fast charging).
Another big use case of the Duo is gaming, after all this is a device made by the same company that built the Xbox and of course they have recently just released their Xbox Cloud Gaming service. With Surface Duo, You can play games using the second screen as a controller or you can stream console games using an Xbox controller.
Microsoft Surface Duo 2 is available to buy (at time of writing) from £1,349 – which gets you the base/standard configuration with the Snapdragon 888 chipset, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. For another £150 you can get the 256GB version and there’s also a version with 512GB RAM if you really need that much!
Unlike the original device, Surface Duo 2 doesn’t come with the Bumper case that is designed to protect it from falls and knocks – the first thing I did was spend another £38 on one in an attempt to keep it looking new and shiny. Many may not see this as a big deal, as the sides of the Surface Duo 2 are a more rugged plastic this time but its an expensive device so the bumper is the least it deserves to keep it looking pretty.
Yes, Surface Duo 2 is an expensive device, but it’s more competitive with the phones around it. As an example, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 costs £1,599, which is slightly more expensive than the same spec Surface Duo 2.
Just a few…
The Microsoft Launcher needs updating. It’s far out of date compared to the Standalone version you can run on any other android phone and other a couple of dual app launching shortcuts, lacks features of the standalone launcher.
The size of the camera bump (mainly its noticeable since the device is so thin) is overwhelming at first but when you use it you soon forget how good the cameras are (especially compared to the Duo 1).
Touch response is an issue at times on the Surface Duo 2 as it was on the original and an area of the software that Microsoft really needs to work on. Hopefully the upcoming Android 12 update and promised updates will address this.
Apps optimised for dual screens are few and far between. It’s a shame that not nearly enough app developers take advantage of the capabilities and flexibility of using dual screen technology effectively. This is not limited to Surface Duo of course – there simply aren’t that many of these type of devices in the market today.
Would I recommend?
In short Yes
Being a Surface Fan and Windows MVP, I am always going to say yes!!! but in all honestly, the Surface Duo 2 is a truly unique and beautiful device that delivers a really solid solution for IT professionals, senior managers or tech enthusiasts.
Surface Duo 2 addresses all the short comings of the original and is a device that allows you to replace your daily driver.
Just like the Surface line up for business, Surface Duo 2 hits the professional market spot well. If you are an IT enthusiast, love the Surface Brand and want a device that stands out from the crowd, delivers a powerful and unique experience over the run-of-the-mill iPhone or Samsung devices out there then this a device that will not disappoint.
2022 will celebrate 10 years of Surface
2022 will see Microsoft celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Surface. The first device launching in October 2012 with the Surface RT followed shortly after by the Surface Pro (I still have a working one in my office somewhere too).
Being a big fan of the Surface Family, and being a fan of the Surface Go 2 LTE for traveling and working on the go, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the Surface Go 3 and put it through a days work to see how much compared to the Go2
Introducing the Surface Go 3
The Surface Go 3 is essentially an under the hood upgrade to last years’ Surface Go 2. Internally, the entry-level Pentium Gold 4425Y processor has been replaced with a Pentium Gold 6500Y chip, while the higher end model (the one I have been evaluating) has had its Core m3-8100Y chip replaced with a 10th-gen Core i3-10100Y chip. Being 10th-gen is key as this means it will run and support Windows 11 which the Surface Go 2 family will not (officially anyway).
While not a power horse (and not designed to be), the Surface Go 3 is still the cheapest, smallest and lightest Windows 11 Surface device from Microsoft that gives you the full experience of Surface including Surface pen support, 10-point multi-touch and Windows Hello camera.
Same Quality Look and Feel
The Surface Go 3, looks almost identical to the Surface Go 2 which is no bad thing. There are rumours and “leaks” online that a black version is also coming very soon which will be nice as I am a fan of the Surface Pro X which I have in Black and feels a little more “Professional” in my opinion.
A year on, the Surface Go still looks modern, but the screen bezels, which are 13mm at the top and 12mm at the sides, are wide by modern standards and again I’m surprised these weren’t made a bit smaller. Surface is very popular in schools and one of the reasons for the larger bezels is to help with screen grip and reduce accidental tapping on the screen or so we are told!
The size of the Surface Go 3 is 245 x 175 x 8.3mm and weight is 544grams. The screen is the same 10.5inch, 1,920 x 1,080 IPS screen and the body is high quality, solid magnesium body, complete with “any angle” kickstand, single USB-C port, Surface Connect Port and, headphone jack port.
Specifications, Speeds and Feeds!
As with the Surface Go 2 before it, the spec sheet is only half the story and it is easy to dismiss the Surface Go range due to its specification when comparing to the big brother devices like the Surface Pro 7 or 8. Whilst I would have liked to see a “little more grunt” under the hood, the Surface Go, is, however, in my opinion, a great bit of modern workplace kit and deserves serious consideration when looking at future 2-in-1 purchases for both home and work – depending on the use case of course. Here’s the headlines:
Core Spec: The base model features just 64GB eMMC and 4GB RAM with no pen or keyboard. The higher end version (I really wouldn’t bother with the lower end one unless on a real tight budget) is built with a Intel Core i3 10th Gen/128GB SDD and 8GB RAM.
Battery: The Surface Go 3 improves on the battery life of the Go 2 and delivers 9hrs 31mins according to benchmark data. My own personal tests delivered me just over 8hrs of constant use with a blue tooth mouse and the Type Cover Keyboard attached, connected via wireless and with me in and out of Teams calls, Outlook and usual office type apps. That’s not bad considering the battery is only a little larger than the Surface Go 2’s (28Wh versus 27Wh) but not as good as Apple manage with their iPads.
Wireless: comms in the Surface Go 3 has been extend to Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5 which is powered by the Intel AX200 card, and there is also an NFC radio inside too. The LTE version also ships with Fast 4G support either in physical SIM or eSIM.
Keyboard: The Surface Type Cover keyboard is rightly regarded as a design classic and something that has been copied, cloned and built upon my most other OEM vendors. The Surface Type Cover keyboard is sleek, easy to type on, and very light and even has a backlight. Unlike the majority of it’s “clones”, it also has a trackpad for the full-on “mini laptop” experience.
Front FacingWebcam: The Webcam on the Surface Go is 5MP and is exceptionally good quality. The picture and video quality is crisp and colours are vibrant and low light support is good too. The camera also supports video recording at 30fps / 1080p. Generally the cameras on Surface devices are always fantastic – and the Go 3 is no exception. Combined with the highly effective microphone array, makes the Surface Go 3 ideal for videoconferencing apps like Teams (or WebEx or Zoom). The webcam also supports Windows Hello facial recognition.
Rear Camera: At the back of the device is average quality flash-less, 8MP camera that, like the front facing webcam, can shoot 1080p 30fps video. Quality is good and clear and great for school field trips etc.
Surface Go 3 starts from £369 (£30 cheaper than the Go 2) and as always with Surface devices, specification options, regional variations, promotions and volume, and accessories all affect the end price.
Note: Surface Go doesn’t ship by default with a Pen or the Type Cover Keyboard which to me are what makes a Surface a Surface.
Without these promos the price for commercial organisations is around:
Typical Price (inc. VAT)
Surface Go 3: Pentium Gold/4GB/64GB eMMC [no extras]
Surface Go 3: Pentium Gold/8GB/128GB SD [no extras]
Surface Go 3: Intel i3/ 8 GB / 128GB [plus Pen and Type Keyboard]
Surface Go 3 Consumer Pricing Table
Stay clear of the entry-level Surface Go 3. Yes, it is very cost effective, lovely to look and great if you just want to do web browsing type activities or use it for the occasional film or word doc etc.
If you are going Surface Go, go for the Core i3 model with 8GB RAM and 128GB SSD and dont forget the keyboard.
Finally bear in mind the use case. I love the Surface Go family but as a secondary device to my primary and not as a daily driver. They are great for school use – my 7 y/o uses my old Surface Go 2 for school work and loves it as its a “proper” laptop, runs Windows and he can use the pen to make “things come to life!”. I also work with many commercial organisations that use Surface Go for front-line staff due to the light-weight build, LTE options and good battery life.
Based on leaks, past years and media gossip we expect to see:-
Surface Book 4
Surface Pro 8
Surface Go 2
Surface Duo 2 (aka surface phone)
So as my friends, colleagues and followers know I’m a big fan of Windows and Surface so just a tad excited for the annual Surface hardware event on Wed Sept 22nd 2021.
There’s been loads of coverage by Windows Central for example as well as many other spotters and bloggers as well as what has been refreshed in previous years. As such ere’s what might be coming based on the rumours and leaks and update history of past events.
Surface Book 4?
One of the most rumoured design changes “may” be coming to the Power horse that is the Surface Book 4. This (if true) will be a major uplift to the current model and w is expected to feature a brand new design with non-detachable 2-in-1 design which will basically combining the best of Surface Laptop with the Surface Pro form factor to create the new Book 4.
Based on the renders and numerous leaks, the display on the Surface Book 4 will be able to be pulled forward and laid flat over the keyboard deck for drawing or taking notes which also resembles similaraires to the Surface Studio.
I’d expect the usual upgrades to the internals, USB A to be ditched in favour of USB C (or even thunderbolt) and upgraded graphics capability and a possible increase in screen refresh rate to match the new dynamic refresh which is part of #Windows11.
The big question is will this in fact be called a Surface Book 4 or something else… Time will tell.. But I think its fair to say that this is likley to be the biggest highlight of the event on Wednesday.
Surface Pro 8
The flagship Surface Pro device (which will most likely be called the Surface Pro 8) should also be unveiled.
There is unlikely to be any major design changes but there are rumours we will see a more Surface Pro X feel to this years model with a bigger display and thinner bezels. There also be the usual spec upgrades to chipsets and processors to the latest and greatest.
There also been reports that Microsoft might be ready to up the screen to support a new dynamic refresh rate of up 120Hz for this years higher end Surface devices.
Surface Go 3
The ever popular Surface Go is likely see just a modest upgrade this year with better chipsets and battery and again will most likley keep the Intel Pentium Gold processor as well as an i3 (or maybe i5 option to match the Surface Laptop).
Other than, not expecting much else other than it would be nice to see an option of black… Everyone loves a black Surface.
Surface Duo 2
I loved the Duo v1 (price tag aside) but it lacked a lot of leasing features that would have earned more airtime…
There been lots of rumours and leaks in this one but we hope to see a much better phone that still builds on the amazing looks and quality of the original. We expect and hope to see it feature at least:
Latest Processor (Snapdragon 888)
5G and Bluetooth 5
Upgraded camera, as well as rear cluster
Upgraded battery and Screen
A new Surface Studio?
I’d love to see a new Studio but not heard any rumours on this one and suspect the new Surface Book 4 may create the hybrid graphics powerhouse in a mobile form… Who knows…we all will in a days time.
Where to watch the event?
The event is streamed live at 4pm UK time (11am ET) and can be watched (or register for a reminder) here.
I have been lucky to have an aluminium Surface Laptop 4 13.5″ with 16Gb and the AMD Ryzen 5 chipset on loan for about 8 weeks, so thought it was about time I wrote my review! Thanks #SurfaceUK for the loan.
Overall feel and use
Microsoft’s latest and ever gorgeous looking Surface Laptop 4 naturally features the latest generation Intel or AMD chipsets, new colours and best of all much improved battery life which lasted a full 8hrs of constant use in my test – which is pretty damn good in my book (or laptop!)
As with previous iterations, it’s hard to spot any visual differences between this and Surface Laptop 3, with it matching the dimensions, weight, port selection and design which still looks beautiful and premium as ever.
As always, the keyboard is great quality, quiet and with great “key travel” making it easy to type. The large trackpad is smooth, responsive and precise but still manages to not get in the way of typing.
Screen is bright, great resolution with it’s standard 3:2 aspect ratio. Sound from the speakers are also clear and crisp and even has surprisingly good bass and mid tones and doesn’t sound at all tinny. Films on Netflix sounded really nice – though of course sound better beamed to a high quality set of speakers or sound bar!
The webcam naturally supports Windows Hello face recognition for logging into Windows in a split second and provides 720p quality webcam (with great light and perfect field of view and microphones are better than most for video calls.
Surface Laptop 4 was whisper quiet in operation – and in my all day use test I really couldn’t hear the fans when they did kick in, which they did a few times as I was working in direct sun with video on and lots of apps.
Battery life was some way behind the claimed 12± hrs but did last a full 8hrs with constant use – sitting outside in the sun, blue tooth paired headset, Wi-Fi and brightness set to high. My day was spend in back to Teams video calls along with regular dips into Apps such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Battery settings were left to their defaults.
My day started at 7.00am and Surface Laptop 4 got me through to just after 3:00pm when it hit 10% and battery saver engaged. I had, in my bag an external USB battery pack (just in case) which then managed to get me about 75% charge in about an hour so I didn’t technically need to finds a mains plug (though without my USB battery pack, my day wouldn’t have finished earlier than planned)!
Inside the device
As you’d expect with the latest version, the internal components of Surface Laptop 4 have been upgraded from Laptop 3. For the first time Microsoft has the AMD’s Ryzen 5 processors available in the 13.5in laptop. The Intel version gets options of 11th-gen Core i5 or i7 chips and graphics has also been significantly improved thanks to the use of the built-in “Xe integrated” graphics.
The Surface Laptop 4 is (as expected) a premium quality, thin and light weight Windows 10 power-notebook from Microsoft.
The device is modern, sleek, is very light yet high quality and feels great to use. Its quick and responsive and definitely attracts that “jealous look” as Surface devices always seems to stand out in a crowd.
One of the other great things (small but important) with Surface over many other OEMs is the lack of any bloat ware. Surface comes with “just Windows 10 installed“, and the standard stock apps (including Office which needs to be activated). This means it runs fast out of box and you don’t spend hrs removing bloatware!!
A great laptop for home or work that won’t disappoint – just wish Microsoft would let me keep it!!
Last week Microsoft opened (after initially announcing back in November 2019) the availability of their new Surface EarBuds.
My Earbuds arrived today and I’m already really impressed (ok I love the Surface brand) – and I hope this blog will gives you a good summary and justifies why I’d recommend you go and grab a pair
Spoiler…. They work with any device, feature gesture controls not buttons, have fantastic battery life and work with any digital assistant…
I managed to pick there up direct from the Microsoft Store for £179 including delivery (Microsoft are currently offering a discount of 10% for teachers, parents, NHS and armed forces)!
Look and Feel
Microsoft’s new Surface Earbuds look quite big on first look (compared to say Apple’s) but I love the them.. They look very pretty “Surface”.
The charging case is sleek and protects them when not in use as well as keeping the charge topped up.
In Ear Feel
So they do look a little big when you first get them out the box and pop them in (I’m used to wearing Platronics 8200 headset so the buds are bigger than what I am used too). After 4 hours though, I had forgotten I was wearing them at all. – They fit really well but Microsoft also supply removable tips in three sizes: small, medium and large. The medium ones were fine for me.
Pairing is simple and can be done like pairing any other Bluetooth device but you can also use the new Surface Audio app which is available across all the 3 app stores.
Pairing is initiated using the pairing button on the bottom of the case and really is oneclick. If you are using the latest Windows10 built the Bluetooth quick pair works seemlessly.
As soon as mine were connected the Surface Audio app popped up and told me there was a firmware update to install which took about 5 mins.
OK, so 4 hours in… Good. Really good.. but a little more bass would have been nice..
With some random #spotify lockdown songs playing, sound was good. Immersive, good mix of bass, mids and treble (if fact bass was better than I expected), though a little bit more bass would have been nice..
Being on COVID-19 lockdown, I don’t get much background noise at the moment. It’s worth pointing out that Surface earbuds do not have active noise cancellation, but I found that because the Surface Earbuds fit snug into my ear I don’t imagine this will be too much of a problem.
The EarBuds have dual microphones per bud and seem to be really good at only picking up the sound you want them too (me). On a Teams call earlier today, my attendees said said they could hear me clearly.
Controls and gestures:
One of the coolest features of the Surface Earbuds is its extensive app integration (not just Cortana). With a triple tap, you can open Spotify and then you can tap or swipe to increase the volume, skip tracks or summon your preferred digital assistant with a 5 second press. These controls also work with other apps… Netflix, Disney Plus..etc
The smooth, flat surface of the Surface Earbuds has perfect senstivity, so even a light tap works. Once I had practices a few times my success rate of using gestures to perform tasks was almost 100%.
Personally, I love that Microsoft opted for gestures rather than buttons, which I think would have ruined the feel and pleasure in using these buds… No one likes pressing a large plastic gadget into ones ears!
Microsoft 365 Integration
Being Surface, these are supported by Microsoft 365 apps and can be used transcribe text in Word use live translation in PowerPoint as your present. You can also use these to read your emails in in Outlook on iOS and soon Android too.
That said… I can’t see anything that you can’t do with any other headsets….
According to Microsoft, Surface Earbuds will last 8 hours on a charge, which is among the longest battery life of any wireless earbuds currently available.
The charging case also holds another 24 hours worth of charge, or three full charges.
Mine have been playing to themselves for 5 hrs so far and have just over 30% battery left.
Out and about (test drive)
No strange looks at least.. Certainly different from the apple pods but I really like them. Comfy and don’t feel like they will fall out anytime soon. Sound was good and battery lasted all day..
Couple of days in but love them. Some may criticise the larger pod design when compared to apple for example but it works really well and is needed for guesture control which is really nice and unique. These really feel premium and what I what expect from a device carry the Surface brand.
Intuitive gesture controls
Great feel in your ears
Crisp, sharp and loud sound
Excellent battery life.
Microsoft 365 integration. (but not unique to Surface devices)