Surface Laptop 3: A new chapter

It was almost eight years ago to the day that I walked into the Microsoft Store in Toronto to purchase the very first Microsoft Surface Pro sold in the world. There was a huge midnight event planned so that on the day of the release – February 9, 2013 – anyone lined up at the Microsoft Store in New York City could buy it at one minute after midnight. A blizzard closed New York City, and while Toronto was also hit by a terrible snowstorm, it was not enough to close the city down. The unboxing videos on my blog (here) are cute to see – I am sitting in the theatre at the store wearing a Microsoft Canada shirt.

Over the next few years I would trade in and trade up that Surface Pro several times – I have had a Surface Pro 2, Surface Pro 3, and I still have my Surface Pro 4 which I purchased on December 9, 2015… making it the longest I have kept a computer in use in many years. I retired it today, February 2, 2021… a little over five years since I unboxed it.

IMG_4379

One of the reasons I kept upgrading the Surface was that I had friends who worked at the Microsoft Store who were willing, when something went wrong with the device, to replace it for me with the newer device. Yes, I had to pay any cost differences, and yes, I had to purchase a new Complete Care warranty for each new device, but it worked, and I was happy to spend the money.

When my friends at the Microsoft Store were no longer able to help me with that (which likely coincided with my no longer being a contractor with Microsoft Canada) I decided to stick with what I had. I did not need to spend the money for new laptops every year.

There is a known defect common with the Surface Pro 4 in that the battery starts to expand (which is likely not safe anyways), warping and then pushing the screen out from the device. While it still works (and very well!) as a docked device, it could no longer be considered a portable computer. It was time, especially with my travels about to start up again.

I gave a lot of thought to what to replace it with. I am no longer affiliated with Microsoft, and I am a little miffed that Microsoft would not do anything about the warped battery issue (which is a very well known issue with the Surface Pro 4). On the other hand, I have all of the accessories for the Surface, including extra power cables, docking stations, and more. I considered buying a competing product, but I kept coming back to the positives – my Surface Pro had a lot of miles on it, both literally and figuratively. In truth, it owed me nothing.

IMG_4378Of course, a lot has changed in eight years. When Microsoft released the Surface Pro, you had the choice of memory and hard drive size. A few years later they released the Surface Book, and I thought long and hard before opting to stick with the Surface Pro. Since then, Microsoft released the Surface Laptop line, and it was a difficult choice. I ultimately chose the Laptop because I almost never used the Surface Pro as a tablet, and the (slightly) larger screen of the laptop was appealing.

  • February 9, 2013: Surface Pro
  • February 13, 2014: Surface Pro 2
  • July 3, 2014: Surface Pro 3
  • December 9, 2015: Surface Pro 4
  • February 2, 2021: Surface Laptop 3

Friday evening I placed the order on Microsoftstore.com. Had I placed the order a couple of hours earlier, I likely would have gotten the computer yesterday. As it was, the UPS delivery came at 4:15pm, and I was excited. I opened the box on camera (as I have done now with each of my Surface devices), and have now been working on it for the last couple of hours. Here are my initial impressions:

  1. This is a gorgeous laptop. I opted for the Cobalt Blue package with 8gb of RAM and a 256gb hard drive. It is a sleek design for sure – I remember envying Mac users for the design that went into their laptops but no more. The is an impressive device to look at, and having a choice of five colours (Black, Sandstone, Cobalt Blue (Alcantara©), Platinum, and Platinum (Alcantara©)) is a nice touch.
  2. There is a Business Bundle that is more expensive that would come with the Windows 10 Professional build of the operating system, but as I own licenses for the more expensive OS I opted to save the money. What did surprise me somewhat was that the version of Windows is 1909. I would have expected at least 2004, if not 20H2. It would take an hour to perform that upgrade, but I was able to work on the device in the background, so I was not really concerned.
  3. I love the keyboard. While I liked the Surface Pro keyboard, I always felt it was a bit flimsy. Not needing to be able to pull off the keyboard as we could on the Surface Pro means they could make this more solid indeed. At the same time, the wrist rest has a material feel to it which I like.
  4. The 13.5” screen may not sound like much, but the extra 1.2” over the Surface Pro makes a real difference. The device also comes in a 15” model, but I opted to stay smaller, lighter (by .6lbs), and yes… cheaper. I opted to save the $200 and spend it on a nice box of cigars.

One advancement of the newer models over my Surface Pro 4 is the USB-C port. The newer Surface Pros have them too, so that was not a factor in my decision.

For reasons I cannot figure out, WordPress is not allowing me to embed my unboxing video, so I uploaded it to YouTube and you can watch it here.

I have had my new laptop for only a few hours so I should be happy with it. As I have told so many people of late, even the lowest end laptop on the market today will be sufficient for most users, so the Intel i5 CPU with 8gb of RAM will likely be enough for my day to day needs. If I need more power then I still have my HP EliteBook with an Intel i7 and 32gb of RAM. I suspect this machine will be sufficient for most everything I do. Next week I will be traveling to deliver a course in Florida, and I will only take this machine. I suspect that traveling lighter will suit me just fine… if I do need more power, I will have Azure VMs to fall back on.

I spent more on this laptop than I needed to, but I earn my living on my laptop so I need the power and reliability. The four year Complete Care warranty cost a little extra, but the peace of mind is priceless… If my laptop dies (or falls off a cliff) in the next few years I will not be out of pocket.

I will report back as I go… Based on the reviews and feedback I heard before making my decision, I do not expect to have anything bad to say anytime soon!

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