A year after the pandemic started, it’s now become crystal clear that technology companies are playing it safe with new product releases. Look no further than Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 4 — it sticks with the Surface Laptop’s four-year-old wedge design and updates the internals.
Microsoft is not an outlier. Apple is guilty of the same with the M1 MacBook Air and Pro — they’re laptops that look just like the ones they replaced. That’s no coincidence. The pandemic taught us all a valuable lesson: we need technology that is durable and reliable. Now is not the time for gimmicks; we need webcams that don’t look like trash, connectivity that keeps Zoom calls working, and build quality that can withstand the unpredictable conditions of a home that’s also an office, a classroom, and a daycare center.
The Surface Laptop 4, starting at $999.99, promises nothing but reliability. It comes with the same 13- and 15-inch 3:2 touchscreens, an Ice Blue color first introduced with the Surface Laptop Go, and new 11th-gen quad-core Intel or AMD Ryzen Surface Edition processors. The latter is particularly interesting since Microsoft ditched Intel for AMD on the Surface Laptop 3 and it seemed like the beginning of the end for Intel. Microsoft appears to have reconciled with Intel (or perhaps Intel threw a boatload of money at the company). This is a win for Intel now that the company is fighting tooth and nail against ARM-based silicon (Apple Silicon and Qualcomm 8cx) and AMD’s Ryzen CPUs.
More power, longer battery — Microsoft says users can expect up to 70 percent more performance on the Laptop 4 versus the Laptop 3 and in most cases up 2x faster performance. Graphics performance is slightly stronger on the Laptop 4’s with AMD’s Ryzen Surface Edition CPUs. Microsoft also is boasting up to 19 hours of battery life on the 13-inch Laptop 4 with Ryzen compared to 17.5 hours with an Intel Core i5. That’s clearly an attempt to surpass the M1 MacBook Air’s 18 hours of advertised battery life. I can’t wait to test the battery life on this machine to see how it compares.
On the 15-inch Laptop 4, the Ryzen version has up to 17.5 hours and the Intel Core i7 gets up to 16.5 hours. The Laptop 3 only lasted “up to5 11.5 hours.”
Launching in the next few weeks — The Surface Laptop 4 is available for order starting today on Microsoft’s online store and retails like Best Buy in the coming weeks. Just in time for the end of the school year, which I still think is so weird for “back to school” campaigns. But hey, I’m in journalism, not in advertising.
Free Surface Earbuds — The trend this past year has been to bundle a freebie accessory (or two) to get people to buy new devices. Microsoft’s throwing in a free pair of Surface Earbuds if you purchase a Surface Laptop 4 before April 15 from Microsoft or Best Buy’s online.
Accessories made for Microsoft Teams — Integration, integration, integration. That’s the name of the game for all of Microsoft’s new accessories that come with some kind of integration with its Teams communications service. Microsoft’s got a bunch of new ones including the Surface Headphones 2+ with “on-ear Teams controls and improved remote calling” ($299.99), the Modern USB and Wireless Headsets ($49.99 and $99.99), Modern Webcam capable of 1080p HD video and HDR ($69.99), and Modern USB-C speaker ($99.99).
Review coming soon — By the time you read this, I’ll probably have unboxed the Surface Laptop 4 to begin testing. Aside from performance and battery life, what do you guys want to see in my review? Now’s your chance to have your questions answered? Tweet me @raywongy and I’ll get on it!