This MacBook Owner Has Surface Laptop Studio Envy

It’s fast, it’s powerful, and it transforms!

Key Takeaways

  • The Surface Laptop Studio is an enticing hybrid of laptop and tablet.
  • Even with the base model, performance is on par, if not slightly better, than the M1 MacBook I’m currently using.
  • Switching between laptop and tablet modes on the fly is a huge draw and promises some really flexible functionality.
The Surface Pro Laptop from Microsoft.

Microsoft

Even though I just finished upgrading my current laptop (after several years, no less), the new Surface Laptop Studio is still extremely tempting.

Admittedly it’s been well over a decade since my last Windows machine, and I still very much like using my MacBook Pro. But there are some things my MacBook simply can’t do, such as playing PC games unassisted or using a touch screen interface. The Slim Pen 2 integration is also pretty significant.

There’s no logical reason for me to trade my current laptop in for Microsoft’s new Laptop Studio. What I have now does everything I need with no problem, and it’s only like a year old at this point. Yet, the less logical part of my brain won’t stop screaming at me about how cool the Surface Laptop Studio is.

"As much as I want to say I’m interested in the Laptop Studio because of the performance, that would be a lie."

Performance

Compared to my current rig, the Laptop Studio would definitely be a step up. Sort of. It’s kind of a significant upgrade in some regards and a slight step down in others. At least, depending on which model of Laptop Studio we’re looking at. For the sake of fantasizing but also trying to stay close to reality, I’m just going to talk about the base 256GB Intel i5 model.

At its most basic, the Laptop Studio has twice the RAM and comparable hard drive space. Supposedly the i5 GPU would be a downgrade compared to the M1, but with double the RAM, I wouldn’t expect it to be a significant issue.

Similarly, while the Laptop Studio’s display resolution is slightly lower (2400 x 1600 vs. 2880 x 1800 in the MacBook Pro), it’s about an inch bigger. Well, that, plus it supports Dolby Vision and is a functional touch screen. My MacBook definitely can’t do that.

Though I suppose it’s fair to say that my MacBook is a little more portable—like just a hair. The dimensions are ever-so-slightly smaller, and it’s about half a pound lighter, which makes it a teensy bit easier to carry around. The MacBook also claims about one hour more on battery life, but that’s more or less negligible in my mind. I’m so rarely in a situation where I can’t charge my computer when I’m working it’s a non-factor.

Someone using a Surface Pro laptop in a living room with a gaming controller nearby.

Microsoft

Also, since it’s a Windows machine, I’d be able to use the Laptop Studio to play many games I haven’t been able to touch for years. Being a Mac user on Steam can be quite frustrating at times, so getting rid of those restrictions would be a huge improvement. I cannot properly express how frustrating it is to see the first two X-Com games listed for $5 each but be unable to play them.

Adaptability

As much as I want to say I’m interested in the Laptop Studio because of the performance, that would be a lie. The biggest draw for me is that it transforms from a laptop to a tablet. I love things that transform because it’s been burned into my brain since my first Bumblebee toy in the mid-'80s, but I’m also drawn to the potential functionality of the feature.

For starters, having a laptop with a working touch screen would make transitioning from using a smartphone or tablet way more intuitive. I’m pretty sure we’ve all tried to zoom in on a photo on a computer with a reverse-pinch at some point, right? Additionally, it would be great to instantly switch between using a trackpad or mouse and tapping on the screen directly.

In particular, I love the idea of being able to use it in tablet mode for video editing. I do a fair bit of it in my downtime, and being able to edit via touch screen instead of a trackpad and keyboard shortcuts would be amazing. I can already picture myself cutting clips and dragging them around with a finger, probably saving myself a fair bit of time in the process.

Two people collaborating on a Surface Pro Laptop in Tablet Mode.

Microsoft

It’s the $1599.99 starting price that’s holding me back more than anything. Not because I find it unreasonable given how the hardware and cost compare to what I have now, though. I think that it’s fairly decent when you factor in the larger screen and overall dimensions, increased RAM, and touch screen functionality. So while it’s more than I can swing at the moment, I’m hoping that changes in the future because that shiny new Surface Laptop Studio looks amazing.

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