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Product Review: Microsoft Touchscreen Laptops

Product Review: Microsoft Touchscreen Laptops

Microsoft Surface products are a great choice for anyone looking for a thin, powerful Windows laptop or hybrid tablet/laptop with state-of-the-art touchscreen capabilities.

These products offer the power of Intel Core processors, up to 1TB of storage capability and up to 16GB of memory, so they can serve as replacements for high-end laptops.

Aventis Systems now offers three Microsoft Surface touchscreen laptops. All come standard with a one-year Aventis Systems Essentials warranty with the option to upgrade to Express and Extended Parts Replacement warranties.

Microsoft Surface Laptop

Microsoft's new reasonably priced Surface Book laptop is powerful enough to run all your apps and thin enough to carry wherever you go. The Microsoft Surface runs on an i5 or i7 Intel Core processor and ships with Windows 10 S, a new, limited version of Windows.

This operating system can only run apps downloaded from the official Microsoft Windows Store. The benefit of that is Microsoft has vetted every app for malware. The drawback is some apps (such as Chrome and Firefox) are not available in the store.

However, switching from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro is free through the end of the year.

RAM is available in 4, 8 or 16GB — plenty to run all your applications without slowing down. The new Surface laptop's battery life (eight to nine hours with regular use) is good, and the laptop is compatible with the Surface Pen stylus.

The large (13.5-inch) high-resolution touchscreen has a 3:2 aspect ratio, making it easier to view and scroll on webpages and apps. The screen does not rotate to make the laptop a tablet.

The machine has a traditional USB port, mini DisplayPort, headphone jack and magnetic power connector as well as a second USB port on the power brick that can be used to charge a device like a tablet or phone. The laptop does not have USB-C ports or an SD card slot.

The Surface Laptop is designed to look like, and compete with, the MacBook Air and comes in several different colors. Its most striking feature, however, is the fabric that surrounds the keys and palm rests. It is the same fabric used on Microsoft's Signature Type Covers for the Surface Pro tablet.

Microsoft Surface Laptop specs:

  • 6th Generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processor
  • RAM: 4, 8 or 16GB
  • Operating system: Windows 10 S (free upgrade to Windows 10 Pro)
  • 13.5-inch touchscreen
  • Weight 2.76 pounds

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is an excellent laptop/tablet hybrid that can replace your laptop in most cases. This thin, lightweight tablet runs on an i3, i5 or i7 Intel Core processor and Windows 10 Pro operating system. It offers 4, 8 or 16GB of RAM.

The 12.3-inch touchscreen is slightly larger than the Surface Pro 3's and has better resolution as a result. Both the Surface Pro 3 and Surface Pro 4 have an adjustable kickstand to make them stable and easy to use on your lap or a tabletop.

One important upgrade from the Surface Pro 3 is the Surface Pro 4's improved processor, which is better equipped for gaming. This machine also features an improved cooling and venting system that dispenses heat more evenly over the back of the tablet, reducing the need for the fan to activate.

The Surface Pro 4 has a service connector that connects to the new Surface Dock power brick, which has a more elegant design than previous versions. It also offers a full-size USB 3.0 port, microSD card reader and two mini DisplayPort connectors.

Microsoft's Type Cover keys are a little smaller than the Pro 3's but are spaced further apart, making them feel more like a traditional computer keyboard's. The keyboard, which also includes a touchpad, does not come standard on the Surface Pro 4 but can be purchased for $129.

The included stylus pen is attached to the keyboard with a magnetic holder. This replaces the Surface Pro 3's fabric loop holder.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 specs:

  • 6th Generation Intel Core i3, i5 or i7
  • Ram: 4, 8 or 16GB
  • Windows 10 Pro
  • 12.3-inch touchscreen
  • 1.73 pounds

Microsoft Surface Pro 3

The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 has many of the state-of-the art features of the Surface Pro 4, with a few small differences.

The Surface Pro 3 runs on a 4th Generation Intel Core processor and has up to 8GB of RAM, compared to the Surface Pro 4's 16GB. It also runs on a different operating system, Windows 8.1 Pro.

At 12 inches, the touchscreen is slightly smaller than the Surface Pro 4's but still has the 3:2 aspect ratio to provide a sharp, colorful visual display that is great for working or watching videos.

The Surface Pro 3 has a full-sized USB 3.0 port, mini DisplayPort connector and SD card reader that supports cards up to 128GB.

The keyboard with included touchpad does not come standard but can be purchased separately. The included stylus pen is attached to the keyboard with a fabric loop holder.

The adjustable, built-in kickstand is great for use on a desk or tabletop but not quite as comfortable when used on your lap or in confined spaces like on trains and planes.

While the Surface Pro 3 won't replace a laptop for everyone, it is a sophisticated, versatile, streamlined hybrid option for many.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 specs:

  • 4th Generation Intel Core i3, i5 or i7
  • Ram: 4 or 8GB
  • Windows 8.1 Pro
  • 12-inch touchscreen
  • 1.76 lbs