First Look: Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio is a Powerful, Folding 2-in-1 for Creators

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Microsoft left us something to chew on at its Surface live-streamed event on September 22, announcing updates to its iconic Surface Pro (Windows tablet) and Surface Duo (dual-screen smartphone) lines, as well as an all-new computer product, the Surface Studio laptop.

The Laptop Studio is the biggest reveal of the bunch. It’s a 14-inch convertible machine for creative professionals, with a screen that pulls forward on the keyboard and tilts into tablet mode, and more powerful components than an ultraportable. Meanwhile, the update to the Surface Pro line, in the Surface Pro 8, is the first real tablet revamp in years.

We got our hands on all of these products briefly at a post-stream preview event in New York City. In the video below, I walked through the Surface Laptop Studio and the Pro 8, so take a closer look and read on for more details.


The Surface Laptop Studio: Welcome Creators

In the Surface family, the name “Studio” was previously reserved for Microsoft’s tilting all-in-one desktop, the Surface Studio. (The Surface Studio 2 is the newer iteration, as it is, but it was now since 2018.) And, indeed, the Surface Laptop Studio mimics the convertible form factor of the desktop.

Before getting into the thick of it, however, it’s important to hear the basics. The construction retains the traditional high-quality construction and surface materials, in the form of a sleek silver all-metal machine. The chassis measures just 0.74 x 12.72 x 8.98 inches and weighs 3.83 pounds in the base model (or up to 4 pounds for the Core i7 model). So here we are talking about a fairly thin and portable system despite the sophisticated and flexible design.

The Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio in conventional laptop mode (Photo: Molly Flores)

The screen measures 14.4 inches diagonally with a 3: 2 aspect ratio, resulting in a crisp resolution of 2,400 x 1,600 pixels. It also has a 120Hz refresh rate, which is a feature of the panel that isn’t too common outside of dedicated gaming laptops. As with all Surface products, it is compatible with touch input and compatible with the new Surface Slim 2 Pen, a flatter, larger version of the classic Surface Pen that has improved haptic feedback with new devices and Windows 11.

Interior components are about as important to creative professionals as design, and the Surface Laptop Studio is no slouch. Processor options include the Core i5-11300H and Core i7-11370H, which also pair with Intel Iris Xe Graphics (integrated) and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti (discrete) graphics solutions, respectively. The acceleration provided by a discrete GPU can be important for some creative tasks, but not all, so getting RTX graphics juice (especially in something this thin) is nothing to sneeze at.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio: the keyboard layout

For the rest, the memory reaches a maximum of 32 GB and the storage of 2 TB. Even the best-equipped system here is not a paper powerhouse compared to more powerful machines and dedicated mobile workstations. So really demanding workloads may require more muscle. That’s certainly more performance than any mainstream user, though, and we’ll have to put our eventual review unit to the test on creative workloads. The presence of Intel’s “Tiger Lake” H-series processors puts it in a higher level of speed than typical ultraportables that use low-power chips.

The upside, of course, is that these quick parts combine with a tilting touchscreen, not a combination you usually get in a single device. The design is not entirely unknown, however: See the (albeit larger) Acer ConceptD 7 Ezel.


An acrobatic demonstration

So about that form factor. The screen, sitting on a traditional friction hinge near the keyboard and a woven fabric hinge halfway up the panel, can be swung into a number of layouts. From the traditional laptop position, you can release the screen from the bottom half of the cover and pull it toward you, over the keyboard and over the edge of a touchpad, where a magnet holds the bottom of the cover. the screen in place.

Surface Laptop Studio

Surface Laptop Studio: the flexing action (Photo: Molly Flores)

This position is better for viewing content, and perhaps playing games, as the screen is closer and tilted towards the user. The real magic is that you can do the opposite as well, tilting the screen completely flat in the shape of a tablet. Again, watch the video to see this in action.

As far as my impressions go, moving the screen around was a bit awkward at first, but I started to understand after trying it a few times. I can also tell by watching the Microsoft reps manipulate the device that the familiarity will go a long way, as they didn’t have a hard time converting the screen. Magnetic snaps also let you know how and where to move the panel.

The convertibility was good to perform overall, and the use cases are clear. I think tablet mode is Following useful, with its obvious appeal to creative professionals who want to draw on the touchscreen and use the Slim Pen 2 stylus. The stylus also attaches magnetically under the laptop’s front overhang, a smart storage solution that also charges the stylus.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio

The Surface Slim Pen 2 (Photo: Molly Flores)

The haptic feedback in the stylus reproduces, above average for digital displays, the feel of sliding your stylus across paper (although to some extent it still feels like a basic haptic touch). The higher panel refresh rate also helps add to the real-life feel, as the input is smoother. There’s also the haptics in the touchpad, which looks a bit like that of a MacBook, letting you click anywhere and have more satisfying feedback.

The Surface Laptop Studio goes on sale October 5, starting at $ 1,599.99.

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Surface Pro 8: a modern and refreshing update

The Pro 8 is certainly less revolutionary than the new Studio, but it should still prove to be an exciting one for 2-in-1 users and longtime Surface fans. The Surface Pro 7 was released in 2019 (and there has been a component bump since then), but the base design has remained largely unchanged even in previous generations.

The updated Pro 8 marries what we loved most about the ARM-powered Surface Pro X (namely its looks) with the power of the main Surface Pro line, resulting in a fast and attractive new model that’s ready to go. for Windows 11.

Microsoft Surface Pro 8

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 (Photo: Molly Flores)

The main thing you’ll notice is the slimmer bezel set, which we believe made the Surface Pro X a lot more modern when it launched. The effect is the same on the Surface Pro 8. The thinner bezels don’t just look good, as the screen has gone from 12.3 inches to 13 inches, making the screen more active. It makes a big difference, both in perceived appearance and actual screen space, and it helps put the Surface Pro line back into that intangible “object of envy” class.

This display also features a refresh rate of 120Hz and a native resolution of 2,880 x 1,920 pixels. In terms of function, it looks a lot like previous Surface Pro devices, and the detachable Signature Keyboard is, indeed, still sold separately. However, like the Surface Pro X’s keyboard, this one now has a storage pocket or a stylus cutout, and the Pro X keyboard is compatible, if you already have one.

Microsoft Surface Pro 8

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 stylus storage

There is also an increase in internal speed of the original Pro 7, the key to any major product upgrade. The Pro 8 may have a Core i5-1135G7 or Core i7-1185G7 processor, but it should be noted that these are the same chips used in the Surface Pro 7+ for Business, which was the component model. -bump for the Pro 7 I mentioned earlier. If you have this device, it won’t be a performance jump. However, compared to the Core i5-1035G4 chip of the original Pro 7, you will certainly see some improvement.

Watch the video for a preview of the device, and stay tuned for a full review when the units become available.

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