Surface Laptop 2 questions

drinkingtea

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jan 31, 2016
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Hi everyone. I have only ever owned MacBooks, but the Surface Laptop 2 is currently discounted by $300 and I'm thinking of getting one for law school.

I've had many problems with my MacBook (12"), and I can barely type on its ridiculously flat keyboard and the keyboard design on the newer MacBook models are just as frustrating when I tried them, IMO. So, I'm thinking of getting a Surface product for the first time, especially since I would save about $500 dollars if I would go with the Surface Laptop 2 vs. a MacBook Pro. The keyboard on the SL 2 is very nice as well.

Questions about the SL 2/Microsoft from former/current MacBook owners:

1) How reliable is Microsoft? I've read about all of the issues, but I've also read that Microsoft has been getting better.

2) What do you do about insurance? How has your experience been with it? Did you purchase it from Microsoft? I am planning on buying the laptop from either Best Buy or Costco.

3) What do you like about the Surface Laptop? What don't you like about it?

4) How long should I expect it to last? I need it to last me about 3 and half years.

5) Any other advice? I'm a bit nervous to transition away from MacBooks/Apple, but I just can't afford Apple anymore.
 
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Queen6

macrumors 604
Hi everyone. I have only ever owned MacBooks, but the Surface Laptop 2 is currently discounted by $300 and I'm thinking of getting one for law school.

I've had many problems with my MacBook (12"), and I can barely type on its ridiculously flat keyboard and the keyboard design on the newer MacBook models are just as frustrating when I tried them, IMO. So, I'm thinking of getting a Surface product for the first time, especially since I would save about $500 dollars if I would go with the Surface Laptop 2 vs. a MacBook Pro. The keyboard on the SL 2 is very nice as well.

Questions about the SL 2/Microsoft from former/current MacBook owners:

1) How reliable is Microsoft? I've read about all of the issues, but I've also read that Microsoft has been getting better.

2) What do you do about insurance? How has your experience been with it? Did you purchase it from Microsoft? I am planning on buying the laptop from either Best Buy or Costco.

3) What do you like about the Surface Laptop? What don't you like about it?

4) How long should I expect it to last? I need it to last me about 3 and half years.

5) Any other advice? I'm a bit nervous to transition away from MacBooks/Apple.
I used a 2016 Surface Book before passing it on to my daughter, the notebook was faultless and remans to be. I don't own a Surface Laptop, equally I would expect the same with 3 years being a very reasonable expectation although I suspect the notebook will last a good deal longer.

Mac's are dead in the water now thanks to questionable design decisions, diminishing reliability and spiralling prices versus reducing value. I switched to W10 for my professional needs and have had zero issues with multiple notebooks from various brands.

My last Mac, ironically also a 12" MacBook is now replaced, same terrible jamming/sticking keyboard, single USB C port is now loose, keyboard marks the display and the battery capacity is almost done. Very far from my previous Mac's some of which albeit older have stood up far better with heavier use. Sadly Apple has sold out to the point that profit is above everything else, with Tim & Co doing little more than riding on it's customers loyalty...

Q-6
 
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SDColorado

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I have had experience with the Surface Pro (2017) and the Surface Book 2, but none with the Surface Laptop.

Even the keyboard on the Surface Pro type cover is superior to the current butterfly keyboards on the MacBook Pro imho. They are far better on the Surface Pro and I imagine the Surface Laptop is a similar keyboard to the Surface Book 2, since it isn't a type cover.

Microsoft stumbled out of the gate, which isn't surprising. They weren't the only ones to have some teething issues, but they do seem interested in improving and growing market share. Customer service seems to be improving as has product reliability with each new model. I think most of the issues were with the early Surface Pro models and the initial Surface Book. The Surface Laptop seems to have been reliable in the initial release and I would expect that it has been improved in version 2.

I would recommend purchasing the Surface Complete Warranty. If you buy the Surface Laptop 2 from Costco, they have an extended warranty through Assurion. My experience with Assurion would suggest you should still add Complete through Microsoft.

Again, I have no experience with the Surface Laptop 2. But a few things I do like about the other Surface Devices I have tried.

1) I am a big fan of the 3:2 aspect ratio. I also like the Mac, which is a 16:10. But that kind of thing is a personal preference.

2) They seem well made, the keyboard has good travel and pitch is quiet and is nice to use. Far better than Apples Butterfly keyboard. The trackpad, while not as good as Apples, is probably as good as any non-Apple and is still a great trackpad. Overall build quality is good. Solid and the magnesium alloy is strong and cool to the touch. I really like it.

3) The display is bright with high pixel density. The text is clear and dark, colors vibrant and pleasing. It may not be the most color accurate display if you are in need of an Adobe RGB reference display, but it sure looks good.

4) The performance with Windows 10 is snappy and the machine remains cool and silent.

5) Good battery life

6) Touch Screen

7) Appealing color choices rather than Space ̶B̶r̶o̶w̶n̶, err Gray and Silver. The MBP design was once cutting edge, but it is growing a bit long in the tooth and boring.

I have had the Surface Pro for about 18 months now and it has traveled a lot with me by car, plane, and motorcycle. It has been trouble free to date (knock on wood), but I see no reason why it won't last another 3 years.

The hardest part with any change is stepping outside our comfort zone. Once you're used to Mac and MacOS change can seem a bit odd and uncomfortable at first. Give it some time and I think you will find that you will adjust more easily than you might now believe.

Microsoft gives a 30 day return period which I believe is currently extended through the end of January for the Holidays. Both longer than Apple initially at 30 vs 14, but Apples Holiday period is only through the 15th. I believe Costco may give 90 days? If so that is a nice period to seeing how you adjust and adapt to the change.
 

GoldfishRT

macrumors 6502a
Jul 24, 2014
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I really liked my experience with the original Surface Laptop but I did return it.

I would make a few very strong suggestions:

Microsoft Complete for the laptop is $150 for 2 years, 2 accidental protections, and a 50? dollar deductible. Get it. These are completely sealed and basically unrepairable outside of Microsofts own supply chain. Whatever goes wrong with it, you're paying for a replacement. It's just whether you want to pay $50 (plus the initial purchase of the warranty) or $500. You can use it to replace the device in two years for a new one if say...

The alcantara goes bad. Which it will. I don't care what anybody says, it's not a great material for a laptop. The primary reason I returned mine - and I understand I suffer from sweaty palms - is that my silver/grey model had permanent darkening where my palms rested within about 3 weeks. Go black or anything but grey.

Otherwise, it's probably the slickest, most refined Windows experience you can get. If you can live with the alcantara, and limited port selection, I'm not sure why you'd consider anything else. Unlike the Book, the Surface Pro and Laptop are now genuinely good products for the price - and that should scare the 3rd party Windows OEMs.

I think as a result however, that the already exciting hardware variety in the Windows world is about to get ultra competitive in a really awesome way.
 
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SDColorado

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One advantage of the Surface Pro is that you can change the Alcantara keyboard if the Alcantara (or they keyboard) goes bad

I know they use Alcantara for some luxury car interiors and it seems to hold up well, but I am also sure that there are different grades of Alcantara, just as there are different grades of leather.

But so far mine still looks good after 18 months. Though I do clean it regularly with a bottle of Sonox Upholstery and Alcantara cleaner. I picked it up for about $7 at a local auto store and a little seems to go a long way since obviously the Surface Pro type cover is nowhere near the area of a car interior.
 
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IowaLynn

macrumors 65816
Feb 22, 2015
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I still use 2015 MacBook. Its docked and I use apple extended keyboard unless I use it on couch.

Just bought the SL2. Slick. Still getting use to. Love the 13.5" screen! Also bought MS dock to use as desktop some of the time. Wish I'd gotten black

SL2 does not have SDXC slot like all other Surface units I've had. Wish it had USB-C also.

I'm already Android, Galaxy S9+ along with iPhone X and IPP and wedded to Office and Google with everything on their Cloud storage rather than tied to iCloud. Though you can, I always found apple iTunes on Windows to be a problem best avoided. May have changed?

I found Surface Pro to not very my ideal 2-1 tablet laptop. But Surface series always tempt and a Surface Book 2 might when it turns 3 next year.

No keyboard replacement program for the MacBook?

I think you'll like the SL2 8/128+ with its i5
Try it you couple weeks.
 
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SDColorado

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Congratulations on the black SL2! Good, they had them on sale. Definitely, buy Surface Complete. You can add Complete up to 45 days after purchase, so you don't really need to wait to buy it before opening. Though you may have to bring your machine with you if you purchase it after the time of sale? I am not sure about that. I guess if you bring in the sealed box, it makes it easy for them to "check it out" :)

If you decide to stick with it, I have found that Sonax Upholstery and Alcantara cleaner does a really nice job of cleaning it. I use it on my SP5 keyboard cover inside and out. I got it on sale a little cheaper than the Amazon price, about $14 a bottle, but a little foam goes a long way. It will last me a good long while.

Edit: Also I found the Microsoft Assurance Plan really useful in re-learning Windows after so long away. But I have an MS Store nearby and they gave me a year free with the purchase. After so long away I enjoyed the one-to-one training on learning how to do various tasks and so on.
 
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kazmac

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Congratulations on the black SL2! Good, they had them on sale. Definitely, buy Surface Complete. You can add Complete up to 45 days after purchase, so you don't really need to wait to buy it before opening. Though you may have to bring your machine with you if you purchase it after the time of sale? I am not sure about that. I guess if you bring in the sealed box, it makes it easy for them to "check it out" :)

If you decide to stick with it, I have found that Sonax Upholstery and Alcantara cleaner does a really nice job of cleaning it. I use it on my SP5 keyboard cover inside and out. I got it on sale a little cheaper than the Amazon price, about $14 a bottle, but a little foam goes a long way. It will last me a good long while.

Edit: Also I found the Microsoft Assurance Plan really useful in re-learning Windows after so long away. But I have an MS Store nearby and they gave me a year free with the purchase. After so long away I enjoyed the one-to-one training on learning how to do various tasks and so on.
MS store rep said since the receipt has the Serial number on it and the SL2 is now registered in my MS account all I need to do is bring the receipt and I should be good. Worse comes to worse, I’ll bring the machine in on Thursday morning and get it registered then. Most of the folks are so nice at my MS store. So I look forward to learning from them.

I’ve been told the Complete plan includes training now, but I’ll make sure to inquire again.

Thanks for the Alcantara cleaner link, I remembered you mentioned it before. Great to know.

I am excited about all of this. It’s a very well built -(and nice looking & comfortable)- laptop I know I won’t be forgetting about it like the Acer.:p
 

SDColorado

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MS store rep said since the receipt has the Serial number on it and the SL2 is now registered in my MS account all I need to do is bring the receipt and I should be good. Worse comes to worse, I’ll bring the machine in on Thursday morning and get it registered then. Most of the folks are so nice at my MS store. So I look forward to learning from them.

I’ve been told the Complete plan includes training now, but I’ll make sure to inquire again.

Thanks for the Alcantara cleaner link, I remembered you mentioned it before. Great to know.

I am excited about all of this. It’s a very well built -(and nice looking & comfortable)- laptop I know I won’t be forgetting about it like the Acer.:p
Yeah, ask them if the training is now included. Definitely technical support is and I believe setup support is as well. Which could be useful if you do decide to bring your new SL2 with you and want some assistance setting it up in store and making sure all goes well before leaving. Updates and such.

The folks at the MS Store near me are also really nice. They have always gone above and beyond every time I have been in, including replacing my few days old SP5 without counting it as an incident against the Accidental Damage when I accidentally cracked the display.
 
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ADGrant

macrumors member
Mar 26, 2018
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If you are going to leave the Apple Ecosystem, why go with a company trying to make their laptops as hard to repair as Apple does. If you are going to give up MacOS you should get something in return i.e something that can easily be repaired and upgraded.
 

kazmac

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Mar 24, 2010
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If you are going to leave the Apple Ecosystem, why go with a company trying to make their laptops as hard to repair as Apple does. If you are going to give up MacOS you should get something in return i.e something that can easily be repaired and upgraded.
A fair assessment, but speaking only for me: I am not a tinkerer and do not mind not being able to upgrade the machine. Besides, with the MS Complete warranty, I’ll receive a replacement for $49.
 

ADGrant

macrumors member
Mar 26, 2018
48
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Just asking: why is this such a big deal to you what others do with their laptops and for how long?

If you want to support an OEM that you can upgrade, awesome.

And I'll do what I do.

Simple was that. Have a great evening.
The OP asked "How long should I expect it to last? I need it to last me about 3 and half years". If you only need 2 years out of a laptop that's great but most people are looking for at least 3-4 years.
 

Queen6

macrumors 604
The OP asked "How long should I expect it to last? I need it to last me about 3 and half years". If you only need 2 years out of a laptop that's great but most people are looking for at least 3-4 years.
Time will tell, equally there's no reason not to expect to 3-4 years of use, if not longer. I passed on my Surface Book to my daughter, it's over two years old now and good as new. I rather expect it to continue to function until it's obsolete or the battery needs to be replaced and Microsoft can offer an exchange unit if I'm correct.

Q-6
 

SDColorado

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Nov 6, 2011
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MS does also offer the out of warranty replacement as well. The cost to replace a Surface Laptop 2 is $450 and that can be done in the 3rd, 4th, 5th year or however long you keep it.

Compared to Apple Care+ which is $379 plus a copay of $99 for a display or $299 for anything else, its not a bad option. In other words, the actual cost of repair under Apple Care+ is to $478 to $678.

Additionally, if you own a business or can buy through your business, there is the option of Microsoft Complete for Business, that offers 3 and 4 years coverage and 2 instances of accidental damage. I went with the 4-year option on my Surface Pro 5. 18-months of ownership so far it has been problem free, but its piece of mind for the $329 it cost me since I kind of abuse it. :)
 

AndyMacAndMic

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May 25, 2017
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You only plan to keep your laptop for 2 years?
The OP asked "How long should I expect it to last? I need it to last me about 3 and half years". If you only need 2 years out of a laptop that's great but most people are looking for at least 3-4 years.
Life expectancy has nothing to do with warranty. In the US most devices have a warranty of 1 year, but the lifespan is much longer. If you buy a refrigerator with one year warranty do you plan to keep it for one year?

Silly question.
 
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kazmac

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Hi everyone. I have only ever owned MacBooks, but the Surface Laptop 2 is currently discounted by $300 and I'm thinking of getting one for law school.

I've had many problems with my MacBook (12"), and I can barely type on its ridiculously flat keyboard and the keyboard design on the newer MacBook models are just as frustrating when I tried them, IMO. So, I'm thinking of getting a Surface product for the first time, especially since I would save about $500 dollars if I would go with the Surface Laptop 2 vs. a MacBook Pro. The keyboard on the SL 2 is very nice as well.

Questions about the SL 2/Microsoft from former/current MacBook owners:

1) How reliable is Microsoft? I've read about all of the issues, but I've also read that Microsoft has been getting better.

2) What do you do about insurance? How has your experience been with it? Did you purchase it from Microsoft? I am planning on buying the laptop from either Best Buy or Costco.

3) What do you like about the Surface Laptop? What don't you like about it?

4) How long should I expect it to last? I need it to last me about 3 and half years.

5) Any other advice? I'm a bit nervous to transition away from MacBooks/Apple, but I just can't afford Apple anymore.
This is pretty late to the discussion @drinkingtea, but I hope it helps.


I have some of the same issues with Apple and am slowly transitioning to Windows, but I can tell you what I like about my new Surface Laptop 2.

1) For me, the trickiest thing about Windows is you have to give it your full attention. It demands knowledge and patience. Completely different from Apple. That said, once you learn a little bit of under-the-hood things such as restore points and not mucking with the settings, Windows doesn’t seem as unwieldy. I have a long way to go in understanding it, but I accept that and want to learn.

Of course, I have had some excellent support and help from transitioning Mac users here (Can I say thank you yet again everyone). This makes me want to explore it.

And when you have a beautifully built, solid laptop that is easy to type on, it makes this all a bit less scary.

2) I bought my SL2 on sale at Best Buy, but I purchased the Microsoft complete warranty at Microsoft yesterday. You are covered for two years, and are allowed two replacements for $49 each. Plus, you have two years of one-on-one training and technical support on site. A much better warranty than Geek Squad. I do not feel comfortable with Best Buy’s technicians and figure that buying a warranty direct from the manufacturer is the way to go.

BTW since you’re a student you can get nice deals on the Laptop and warranty.

3) I like most everything about it, especially the keyboard and the display.

Windows Hello is a nice feature for logging in, and overall the experience is very pleasant.

The build quality is fantastic. I do not mind the Alcantara fabric.

Typing is wonderful. The keys are more shallow than I’d like, but they have no impact on my typing speed and they feel comfortable.

Things I do not like, these are minor:

There’s a slight bit of wobble with the display when you use touch (but this isn’t terrible),

I haven’t found where specific settings are yet, ditto with the terminology; but that’s part of the learning curve and being patient.

The price point is Apple-like, but Surface mobile devices go on sale frequently, so you can find a great deal. I did find a good sale. Microsoft has them on sale too (they might also give you a discount on software or peripherals if you’re nice and ask).

4) Given the build quality, I think you could get 3 and a half years.

5) The advice I can give you is be patient with yourself and Windows. Ask questions here. Go for training, watch videos, read help books. I am so delighted with how the Surface laptop is built and feels, I want to use it.
 
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windowstomac

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Jun 23, 2011
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Hi! I've started using a new SL2 today as well. I explain why I'm defecting from Apple in this thread: https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/anyone-else-abandoning-ship.2165021/page-23

So far I'm pretty happy. The setup has been largely smooth. Ironically the only thing that's given me the kind of old-school Windows hassle, complete with uninstalls and non-sensical error messages, is trying to install iCloud for Windows to give me access to my photos. Ironic...

Having a proper keyboard is a blessed relief after my MBP. I have to be honest and say I think I'd convinced myself I liked it before it went wrong because I'd spent so much money on it. I'm already typing with fewer typos after only about six hours with the SL2.

The trackpad, which I feared would be a big backwards step, is a lot better than I expected, and I'm able to use almost all the same gestures I'm used to. It takes a harder click than I've become used to with haptic, and it's quite loud, but I think I'll adapt.

Face recognition logon works well and it wakes fast from sleep.

It's not all perfect - nothing is! Speakers aren't a patch on the MBP. It's also early days and I've been pushing it hard with indexing emails and downloading things, but I don't think the battery life is going to be a match either.

I've already found some satisfactory third/party apps, such as Mailbird to use in place of Mac Mail (I also use Outlook, which is better in its Windows incarnation). I've found a text expander tool, TextExpander, to replace TypeIt4Me from my Mac, and a screenshot tool Greenshot, which is actually an improvement on my previous workflow which involved Skitch and an image resizer.

Very VERY early days, but so far I'm a LOT happier with this reluctant change than I expected to be.
 
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SDColorado

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If I recall, the only way I was about to get iCloud for Windows to install/work properly was to install it before I installed anything else. I forget what messed it up the first time, maybe installing Outlook first? I really can't recall. But installing it to a clean machine with nothing else installed, setting up two-factor authentication and app-specific password as well I believe.