Microsoft: 2019 Brand Report Card
Microsoft dropped a few spots this year despite offering a solid lineup of laptops and tablets. The company also improved its selection by adding a budget device, the Surface Go, to its ranks.
Microsoft's Key Strengths
- Affordable Surface: Microsoft's peeled away from Apple when it launched the Surface Go, a $400 detachable with a vivid display and solid performance.
- Tons of form factors: Microsoft does an excellent job of showing off the flexibility of its Windows 10 operating system by offering clamshell laptops, bendback 2-in-1s and detachables.
Microsoft's Main Weaknesses
- Limited selection, high prices: While the Surface Go is a much-welcomed addition to Microsoft's portfolio, the company's product selection is still limited, and it charges too much for upgraded components.
- Phone support needs help: You'll want to contact Microsoft online for support because the company's phone agents didn't offer much help.
Top-Rated Microsoft Laptops
- Best Laptop: Microsoft Surface Laptop 2
- Best 2-in-1 laptop: Microsoft Surface Pro 6
- Best Budget Laptop: Microsoft Surface Go
This year, Microsoft nearly perfected its long-running convertible tablets, while introducing an affordable option to the family. Microsoft's concise lineup of products now covers a wider range of customers than ever before. Each of the Surface devices we reviewed this year earned at least a 3.5 star rating, and half of them were awarded Editor's Choice status. With an average laptop rating of 4 stars, Microsoft is firmly in our top three rankings based on reviews.
With significantly improved battery life, the new Surface Pro 6 is the best detachable we've reviewed this year. Along with all-day endurance, the tablet has a gorgeous display, a fast quad-core CPU and a top-notch keyboard and stylus. The Surface Book 2 and Surface Laptop 2 also scored top marks for their brilliant displays and fast performance.
The newest addition from Microsoft is the Surface Go, a $400 detachable with a vivid 10-inch display and strong performance. While we generally like the 10-inch tablet, we wish Microsoft included a keyboard and pen in the box.
Oh, Alcantara! Microsoft's Type Covers are one of the best things about the Surface Pro 6 and the Surface Laptop 2. Seriously, it took a while for some of the staff to stop touching the attachable keyboard deck. But the metal chassis on both systems are just as lovely, although after a couple of iterations they are starting to get a bit old. However, Microsoft has spiced things up by adding another color — matte black on the Pro. And despite being made of magnesium, the Surface Go doesn't feel chintzy and retains the Surface's handsome good looks.
However, Microsoft seems determined to cling to the chunky display bezels, despite the year being 2019. And it'd be nice if the company would stop charging extra for the privilege of having a different color system. The Surface Book 2 could also use an update as the fulcrum hinge design is getting dated.
Support and Warranty (13/20)
Microsoft Surface owners should look online to both the company's YouTube resources, as well as its social media accounts for advice. The folks working its Twitter and Facebook accounts provide fast and complete solutions, compliments we can't give to its phone-support agents, who were one for three in answering questions in our undercover research.
Surface devices come with the standard one year warranty with 90 days of tech support. Attempts to service your Surface on your own will void your warranty.
The Surface line hasn't evolved that much on the outside, but Microsoft has made significant changes under the hood. With the Surface Pro 6, the company was the first to cram a speedy quad-core processor in a 2-in-1. Similarly, the Surface Laptop 2 is up to 85% faster than its predecessor while operating surprisingly quietly under heavy workloads.
Value and Selection (10/15)
Microsoft doesn't make many laptops, but at least the company has a solid entry model. Starting at $399, you can get the Microsoft Surface Go, which is a Windows 10 2-in-1 that features a colorful 10-inch display, a relatively fast processor and Windows Hello. Unfortunately, if you want the Surface Go's comfortable keyboard or pen, they'll cost you $100 each.
MORE: Best Microsoft Laptops
Of course, there's the more-premium Surface Pro 6 and Surface Laptop 2, which start at $899 and $999, respectively. They both sport gorgeous displays, great battery life and speedy performance, but these machines can run well over $2,000. The Surface Pro 6 that we configured cost $1,428.98 and came with a Core i5, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. It costs $300 to go from a 128GB to 256GB SSD, which is too steep an increase.
A step up from those two is the Surface Book 2 ($1,049), which is more suited for creators and professionals. It just recently refreshed to 8th Gen and offers strong performance due to its GTX 1060 GPU.