MICROSOFT’S SURFACE BRAND had a rocky first few months. When it launched in 2012, people loved Microsoft’s innovative, tablet-like hardware design, but the software was too confusing and too limited for many longtime Windows users.
Now, more than four years on, things are different. Not only does Windows run much more cleanly on tablet hardware, but it’s also become clear that Microsoft was an early innovator in mobile-friendly hybrid PC design. It’s hard to find a PC-maker today that doesn’t ape Surface’s kickstand-packing, detachable-keyboard-rocking form factor.
Since launching the first Surface ultraportables, Microsoft has expanded the Surface line to include a full family of computers, from a standard laptop to a giant, drafting-table desktop. If you need a portable Windows PC, it’s hard to find a nicer physical experience than what Surface offers. The problem is one of choice: with such a diverse family of premium computers, which is best for your needs? Not to worry—we’re on this like a Type Cover on a Surface Pro.
THE BEST ALL-AROUNDER
Surface Laptop (i5, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD), $1,299
This device isn’t as swish as the transforming, flexible computers that made the Surface brand famous, but bear with me for a second. If you need a laptop, you need a laptop. Kickstands and clicky magnetic keyboard covers don’t work well in every situation, so we’re going with the Surface Laptop as the best pick for most shoppers. Sure, it’s not a tablet, but the Surface Laptop is a killer notebook computer.
Featuring a gorgeous, 13.5-inch high-resolution display, a lovely-feeling keyboard, a stellar glass trackpad, and a slim case, the Surface Laptop is well-built and easy to handle. It even foregoes the new USB-C standard and gives you a good, old-fashioned USB-A port, so it should be much easier to find accessories that work without requiring a dongle. It also has a magnetic charging port. If you’re a klutz who trips over your power cord all the time, this can be a lifesaver. It severs the connection between the wall plug and the computer before the laptop goes flying across the room like a Frisbee.