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Microsoft Surface Laptop Review: The anti-MacBook Pro

Microsoft knows how to make sleek hardware. If the Surface Book is handsome but bulky, and the Surface Pro is more minimalistic but suffers a less-compelling keyboard, then the Surface Laptop falls happily in-between. You don’t get a fancy detachable display, no, or even a 360-degree hinge. Instead, it’s a neatly finished, beguiling traditional laptop form-factor with some eminently pleasing material decisions.

Most noticeable, of course, is the Alcantara. If you’ve been inside a sports-leaning car in recent years you’ll probably have seen the fabric before. It’s often used on steering wheels and seats, where it’s more grippy than traditional materials like leather. In the case of the Surface Laptop it makes for a soft place to rest your wrists.

Alcantara is surprisingly resilient for what feels much like delicate suede, though that’s not to say it’s impervious to casual treatment. I suspect that, in a few years time – or less – there’ll be some greasy palm-rests and staining in-between the keys, for instance. Unfortunately, though Microsoft offers several colors of Surface Laptop, the Alcantara itself isn’t user-replaceable.

There’s a port spectrum right now on modern laptops, and it’s turned something as typically mundane as connectivity into a fairly controversial topic. At the one extreme you have Apple, with its wholehearted embrace of USB-C and Thunderbolt 3. In the middle, you have a whole host of Windows 10 notebook-makers, who have hedged their bets with a mixture of the new USB-C and older, legacy ports for data and video.

Then you have Microsoft. While the Surface Laptop may be cutting edge in many ways, when it comes to connectivity it’s oddly reticent to update. You get a regular USB 3.0 Type-A port, a Mini DisplayPort, a headphone jack, and Microsoft’s magnetic Surface Connector for charging. The power brick itself has a useful USB port for charging a second device at the same time. Sadly there’s no SD card slot, which seems a shame given there’s plenty of space along the sides of this 2.75 pound notebook for one.

If you’re doing a like-for-like upgrade from one PC to another, Microsoft’s decision will probably make life fairly straightforward: your existing accessories will plug right in. All the same, I do wonder whether Microsoft has needlessly committed owners to a headache somewhere down the line. While the rest of the computing world may not have envisaged the USB-C ecosystem taking hold quite so aggressively as the MacBook Pro does, that’s nonetheless definitely the way things are moving. One day, and probably not one day all that far away, the Surface Laptop will look passé.

Perversely, the Surface Laptop’s most compelling feature is also its most frustrating. Out of the box it runs Windows 10 S, a version of Windows that Microsoft says is intended primarily for students and teachers. It avoids the so-called “burden of PC hygiene” by effectively preventing you from downloading apps from outside of the Windows Store. Try to download from a website, and you’ll get a pop-up message saying you can’t, and directing you to Microsoft’s store instead.

There, so the theory goes, Microsoft will signpost its Windows Store equivalent app instead. Unsurprisingly that works best when there’s an official version of the same download: then, you simply access it through the Windows Store and benefit from its malware checks and such. I had mixed results when Microsoft tried to suggest similar alternatives, however. Sometimes the suggestions are okay: not great, no, but okay. Other times, like not being allowed to install Chrome because Windows 10 S only allow Microsoft Edge, I was less enamored.

Happily – though a little confusingly – that’s eminently possible. Switching from Windows 10 S to 10 Pro takes about five or ten minutes, sees all files, customizations, and apps preserved, and can even be done from the “This app won’t install” popup”. Eventually, Microsoft says, it’ll cost $49 too, but for now it’s free. What you can’t then do is go back: this is a one way trip.

I suspect it’s a trip most people will take, unless their school is providing the Surface Laptop as a managed machine and they’re not allowed to shed Windows 10 S’ shackles. I was a little disappointed that, once you upgrade, there’s no real help for regular users to set up S-style limits for your kids’ user accounts, for instance. What I wanted was the ability to say “yes, the admin can install whatever they please, but everyone else is still locked down” but, while those sort of granular polices are available, you’re left to your own devices to configure them.

That, though, is par for the course with any Windows notebook. What makes the Surface Laptop so charming in a sea of Windows 10 machines is the little details: the extra mile that Microsoft goes, often unnoticeable in and of itself, but which makes its presence felt in everyday usability. The perky Windows Hello face recognition that, by powering up the camera as soon as the hinge starts to move, means you’re often at the desktop by the time the screen is all the way open. Microsoft’s obsessional power and thermal management, which means the fan is most often silent.

Performance from this $1,299 Core i5 Surface Laptop, with 8 GB of RAM, 256 GB of flash storage, and Intel HD Graphics 620, has been fine for everyday purposes. There’s a cheaper, $999 version with half the RAM and half the storage, but I suspect you’ll quickly resent those compromises. If you plan on doing video editing, or even thinking about gaming, the Core i7 model – which starts at $1,599 – has better Iris Plus Graphics 640 to go with its faster processor. No, it’s not going to replace your gaming rig, but integrated graphics have come a long way.

Microsoft claims you’ll get as much as 14 hours use from the Surface Laptop, though that’s based on nothing more arduous than playing locally-stored videos on a loop. In a typical day I saw more like eight hours, which is still reasonable given the size. I don’t think it would be too tricky to coax an hour or so more from it, either, were I cautious.

Ever since Microsoft started making Surface computers, people have been asking for a regular notebook. It’s taken some time to arrive, but you can’t fault Microsoft from giving people exactly what they requested. The Surface Laptop may come dressed in an unusual Alcantara suit, but the reality is that beneath the fabric this is the everyday “Nexus of Windows notebooks”: the solid experience today that average buyers want, without having to worry about next-gen ports or unusual form-factors.

How that buying decision will feel two years down the line I’m not so sure about, and I do think most people are better off bypassing Windows 10 S from the get-go for the full version. Nonetheless, Microsoft has delivered just what was asked of it. The Surface Laptop is the go-to, gimmick-free notebook that puts Windows 10 front and center.

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Surface Laptop 3 Vs Surface Laptop 4: Is It Worth The Upgrade?

Surface Laptop 3 vs Surface Laptop 4: is it worth the upgrade?

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The Surface Laptop 4 is pretty much official, and it comes in two versions: AMD and Intel.

We went ahead and decided to do a preview roundup on how it would compare with the current model.

We’re also expecting Microsoft to unveil the Surface Headphones 2 and other accessories at an upcoming event as soon as next week.

Yes, it’s already confirmed – the Surface Laptop 4 is a reality and it could be launched as early as next week. WinFuture was first to discover an official support page on Microsoft’s sites where you can allegedly already download AMD and Intel drivers for the upcoming device.

However, we went ahead and tried to download the actual drivers, but in the end got only an empty Notepad file. So yes, somebody in the Redmond building made a small mistake and confirmed what was already pretty much known.

Surface Laptop 4 comes with AMD and Intel versions

As it was previously rumored, the new Laptop from the Surface family will be released in two versions: sporting either AMD or Intel versions. The same WinFuture hints that the device could feature the following specs:

How does it fare against the Surface Laptop 3?

Naturally, the first ones to think of buying the Surface Laptop 4 will probably include also current owners of the Surface Laptop 3.

According to Winfuture, here’s a complete table featuring all of the Surface Laptop 4’s specs:

AMD version or custom chips?

As you probably know, the Surface Laptop 3 features the 3000-series chips; and you’d think that the next logical step is the 4000 series. However, of course you want the latest and greatest – and that’s AMD’s brand new Ryzen 5000 mobile processors. 

Still, there’s hearsay that Microsoft could be getting custom chips directly from AMD ( referred to a chip as a Ryzen 7 Microsoft Surface Edition). If that happens, then the laptop’s CPU could be a mix of the 4000-series and the 5000-series. And in that situation, yes, the upgrade makes more sense. 

Same looks, same storage choices

If you are looking to make the jump hoping for better looks, you’ll be disappointed: the specs and form-factor of the Surface Laptop 4 seem to be in line with previous models. Thus, if you were hoping for narrower bezels or perhaps a larger trackpad, then this isn’t the laptop you’re looking for. 

You’ll be able to choose between 13.5- and 15-inch models available, with a 3:2 aspect ratio. The same 32GB of RAM and 1TB of storage will be present in the newest model, as well.

Thunderbolt 4 connectivity is apparently also missing, but we’ll be able to know for sure once the product is officially presented. 

NOTE

The Surface Laptop isn’t yet officially released, so we can’t yet compare the two laptops. But with so much information around, we decided to do a small roundup. When the official launch will take place, we will make sure to update with the actual specs.

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Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 Launched With Amd Ryzen And Intel Cpu Options

After launching the new Surface Laptop Go in the global market last year, Microsoft has now unveiled its new Surface Laptop 4 lineup. The Redmond giant is offering a choice between Intel-powered or AMD’s Ryzen-powered Surface Laptop 4 this year. The CPU options are available for both the 13.5-inch and the 15-inch models.

Surface Laptop 4 Launched: Specifications

The Surface Laptop 4 features the same design as the Surface Laptop 3, which was unveiled back in 2023. Both the 13.5-inch and 15-inch variants pack a PixelSense touchscreen display with a 3:2 aspect ratio and 2256 x 1504-pixel resolution (201 PPI). The bezels are fairly slim and you have an HD camera, along with a studio microphone array, onboard.

The Surface Laptop 4 now comes with either the latest 11th-gen Intel Core processor or AMD Ryzen 4000-series CPU. Now, it is worth mentioning that Microsoft is not using the latest Ryzen 5000-series processors like other laptop makers such as Acer or Asus. Instead, the company is sticking with the older Ryzen 4000-series CPUs with Zen 2 architecture. As for the Intel variants, you have Intel’s latest Iris Xe graphics onboard as well.

As for the ports selection, Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 includes 1x USB Type-C port, 1x USB-A port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and the Surface Connect port. Much like the Surface Pro 7+ from earlier this year, this device also includes a removable SSD storage slot on the rear.

Price and Availability Surface Laptop 4 (13.5-inch Models)

Now, the base model of the 13.5-inch Surface Laptop 4 comes with either the AMD Ryzen 5 4680U CPU or the Intel Core i5 1135G7 processor. Both the variants pack 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage and start at $999 (~Rs. 75,132).

However, the Intel CPU-powered model can go up to $2,299 (~Rs 1,72,902) for the top model that comes with an Intel Core i7 CPU paired with 32GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD storage. Moreover, Microsoft plans to bring a higher-end AMD model with 16GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage later this year. It will be priced starting at $1,199 (~Rs 90,173).

The 13.5-inch Surface Laptop 4 in two finishes and four color variants. The new Ice Blue and Platinum variants have tone-on-tone Alcantara finish, whereas the Sandstone and Matte Black variants boast an all-metal finish.

Surface Laptop 4 (15-inch Models)

The 15-inch AMD-powered Surface Laptop 4 variants, on the other hand, start at $1,299 for the base model. It packs the Ryzen 7 4980U CPU, paired with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage. The higher-end variant comes with 16GB of RAM, 512GB of SSD storage, and is priced at $1,699 (~Rs 1,27,799).

As for the color variants, you can choose between Platinum and Matte Black metal finishes for the 15-inch Surface Laptop 4. There is no Alcantara finish available for this variant.

The Surface Laptop 4 will go on sale in the US, Japan, and Canada from April 15 (i.e tomorrow). There is currently no word for when Microsoft will bring its latest Surface Laptop to other markets.

Ello Review: It’S Not The ‘Anti’ Anything

Ello review: it’s not the ‘anti’ anything

You’ve probably seen Ello pop up on your RSS feed (or however you happen to keep up with information) over the past few days. The new social media site has been dubbed the “anti-Facebook”, due to its strikingly sparse interface and promise to not make you the product. To gauge how accurate that is, I went inside to discover what Ello is, and who it isn’t for.

To my mind, Ello is like any other bootstrap startup. It’s simple, pretty effective at one thing, and simple enough to grasp. Those who try to over-complicate Ello do it a disservice. It’s social, just a different take on what that is, and means.

For Ello, the goal is to feed you info on a macro scale. It’s like a warehouse full of people who somehow heard that there was a party there. A party may happen, but we’re all a bit early to the event. You know, if a party actually breaks out.

Posting is dead simple, and you can mention people you follow via the familiar “@” tag. Finding new users is easy via “discovery”. You can upload pics or GIFs to a post, too. That’s really about it. Being beta, there aren’t many bells and whistles yet.

Though simple, Ello might suffer from being a bit too open. It’s social without boundaries. You don’t have to use a real name, a picture, or even give any info about yourself. If you like vacationing in Ibiza, Ello will speak to you. They still ask for responsibility from users, but that’s self-regulation, and social media doesn’t lend itself to that.

That’s not to say Ello is void of reason or cause, though — it’s just different. Their ethos is that you aren’t the product, but that’s a bit obfuscated by a few facts. They’ve raised nearly half a million dollars in venture funding, and will charge for features down the line.

To their credit, backers say they’re fine with Ello’s current trajectory. Ello also doesn’t seem to be aiming for a big spend from users. Things like managing multiple accounts with one log-in will cost around $2. That’s not a lot, but could speak to the true aim, here.

Ello has a laundry list of to-do items, like the aforementioned log-in. Their list of features to be added doesn’t mention if you’ll need to pony up some cash to use them, though. The basic features are, and will likely remain, free. That strategy works for time-waster games on your iPad, but can a social site sustain that?

The rules clearly outline who is welcome to use Ello, with things like “Don’t threaten people” or “Don’t hate” prominently displayed. Still, the lack of a real name policy makes those rules easy to sidestep for the willing.

Ello won’t be for everyone, and it’s a weird little site right now. It’s like Tumblr in that it has GIFs, but also a lot like Medium in format and fit. Ello is social, but not as formal as Facebook. You get info, but not as quick or as much as Twitter.

Is Ello the anti-Facebook, as so many have put it? Not really. Ello is a fresh look at social, but it’s still social. You still need to know people, or get to know them. No social site is the anti-Facebook. That’s like saying Facebook was the anti-MySpace. It wasn’t, it was just different.

Ello is also different. It’s also beta (in so much that their search feature wasn’t working for me). Ello also isn’t for everyone, nor are they trying to be. It’s not an “anti-Facebook”, or “punk rock social”, or any of the other tags people give it.

It’s just Ello. Don’t label it, just try it.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Vs Surface Pro 2 Comparison Overview

Announced on Tuesday, the Surface Pro 3 went on pre-orders starting from the very next day and its large footprint makes it a perfect laptop replacement. Except for its size, how far is the tablet a worthy upgrade to the Surface Pro 2? Go through the comparison between two the second and third generation Surface Pro tablets to know the differences.

Display and Processor

The Surface Pro 3 is pretty large in size than its predecessor with a 12 inch diagonal ClearType FHD display boasting a unique 3:2 aspect ratio instead of the traditional 16:9 aspect ratio in the earlier models. The tablet packs in FHD resolution of 2160×1440 pixels that is termed “Pixels Free” by the vendor. In comparison, the Surface Pro 2 features a 10.6 inch display with a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels. Definitely, the latest offering is a better one with 38% increase in the screen size and 50% boast in the resolution.

In order to slim down the Surface Pro 3, the company appears to have ditched the internals. Well, the tablet is the thinnest ever Intel Core product and this applies even with the Type Cover attached to it. To achieve this, Microsoft has incorporated the powerful Intel Core i7 processor into the diminutive build. There are different variants of the Surface Pro 3 and they use Core i3, Core i5 or Core i7 processors under their hood.

Camera and Internal Storage

The cameras get a significant upgrade in the Surface Pro 3 as both the front and rear snapper are upgraded to 5 MP to enable high-resolution video calling and quality photo and video capturing. On the other hand, the Surface Pro 2 packs dual 1.2 MP cameras at the front and back for basic functionality.

Both the Surface Pro 3 and Surface Pro 2 come in four different configurations with varying internal storage options – 64 GB, 128 GB, 256 GB and 512 GB and there is a  micro SD card slot for expansion as well. The same applies to the RAM capacity as both the tablets house either 4 GB or 8 GB of RAM with no different.

Battery and Design

While the Surface Pro 2 uses a 42 W-h battery that is claimed to deliver up to 7 hours of web browsing, the one used in the Surface Pro 3 remains unknown, but it is rated to provide up to 9 hours of web browsing. This is a solid 10 percent increase from that of the yesteryear mode.

Software and Features Key Specs

Model Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Microsoft Surface Pro 2

Display 12 inch, 2160×1440 10.6 inch, 1920×1080

Processor Intel Core i3/ Core i5/ Core i7 Intel Core i5

RAM 4 GB/ 8 GB 4 GB/ 8 GB

Internal Storage 64 GB/ 128 GB/ 256 GB/ 512 GB, Expandable 64 GB/ 128 GB/ 256 GB/ 512 GB, Expandable

OS Windows 8.1 Windows 8.1

Camera Front and rear cameras with 5 MP resolution and 1080p video recording Front and rear cameras with 1.2 MP resolution and 720p video recording

 Battery 9 hours backup 7 hours backup

Price and Conclusion

The Surface Pro 3 pricing starts at $799 for the base Core i3 model with 64 GB of default storage space with 4 GB of RAM. It has to be noted that this latest model with significant improvements is priced cheaper than the Surface Pro 2 that is priced starting at $899 for the Core i5 model with 64 GB of native storage and 4 GB of RAM. However, Microsoft seems to have not considered that the laptop replacement to ship with a free Type Cover as the accessory is available for an additional cost of $129.Price and Conclusion

Pricing apart, the Surface Pro 3 with a larger and crispier display, thinner build and enhanced features could make it an efficient product in the market being a perfect laptop replacement. Moreover, the presence of the Core i7 processor is pretty much appealing as it will deliver great levels of productivity.

Surface Book 2 Laptop Has Slow Performance When Unplugged

Surface Book 2 laptop has slow performance when unplugged

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readers this month.

More and more users have stormed the forums of different online communities searching for help regarding their Surface Book 2 laptop.

They are unsatisfied with the fact that the Surface Book 2 slows down in performance when unplugged from the wall.

Their reaction is understandable considering that a high-end laptop should by definition be a mobile computer.

Here is what one user had to say about this issue on the Microsoft Community forums:

My Surface Book 2 has been running into a problem since 2 weeks ago. Whenever it is not connected to the power charger, it runs significantly slower. It will take 5x longer to load up pages and open up programs. But, whenever I connect the charger back, processing speeds are back to normal. I’ve taken my Surface Book 2 to the Microsoft store and they’ve done an OS repair on it, but it hasn’t fixed the problem. Any suggestions on how to remedy this?

The problem is caused by the fact that the Surface Book 2 has been constructed to supply 95 watts of power.

Unfortunately, this amount of power is not enough to run all the components of the laptop at full speed.

The laptop requires around 105 watts of power to be able to run all the hardware contained. Microsoft decided to use the Nvidia chip and force it to make up for the difference in power. 

Tackle the Surface Book 2 slow performance when unplugged problem 1. Set the power settings to Best performance

Check to see if the issue improved.

Is the Wi-Fi on your Surface Book 2 slow? Try these solutions

2. Use ThrottleStop to fix the problem temporarily (Warning: Voids warranty)

Note: It is very important that you understand that using ThrottleStop to fix this issue will cause your laptop’s warranty to be ended. Beyond this, there are no long-term observations about how this software can affect your laptop. It is recommended that you try this method only if you’ve taken the details above into consideration.

This method has proven effective for some users. If you’ve read the note above and you want to try this method, please follow these steps:

Download ThrottleStop on your PC.

Deactivate the option BD PROCHOT.

3. Visit a local Microsoft Store and ask for assistance

In case you didn’t try the method mentioned above, and you still have your Surface Book 2 under warranty, it is recommended that you visit your local Microsoft Store.

They will be able to guide you in order to choose the best possible solution.

Conclusion

Please don’t hesitate to let us know if this guide helped you solve your Surface Book 2 slow performance problem.

Do you have any other fix suggestions?

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