Microsoft Surface laptop

Kerry Wan/ZeDnet

It’s been about 20 hours since I received the message Microsoft Surface laptopI stripped it of all its glory, and placed it on my desk instead of the person I trusted MacBook Air M3. This morning, I practically browsed my usual apps and services like any other day — only this time, on a Windows PC instead of a Mac.

Maybe it’s the fact that the Surface Laptop line has always had a “MacBook for Windows” aesthetic with its aluminum design. Maybe it’s the fact that this year’s Surface Laptop and MacBook Air come in 13- and 15-inch sizes. The gap in AI skills may be… for now.

also: Microsoft just announced the all-new Copilot+ PC to rival Apple’s M3 MacBooks

Whatever the case, this scenario is basically Microsoft’s latest dream Copilot + PC initiativewhich unites a new wave of PCs that deliver enhanced on-device AI capabilities (with an NPU that must run at least 40 TOPS), improved battery life and efficiency, and highly portable designs.

You’ll be hearing and seeing more about these branded laptops over the coming weeks, months, and perhaps years. But for now, here are three ways the Surface Laptop actually made switching from a MacBook Air more beneficial than I expected.

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1. Smoother on-device AI features

Microsoft Surface Laptop NPU

Kerry Wan/ZeDnet

I have not yet integrated any AI tools into my daily workflow, in part because… Best chat bots Available task services require me to navigate to them (read: type a URL, sign up for an account, or both) and not the other way around. That’s a little bit of friction in the user journey, combined with past experiences Artificial intelligence hallucinationsIt’s kept me on the sidelines for the past two years.

That’s why I was so happy with the current suite of AI features available on the Surface Laptop, most of which are seamlessly integrated across popular apps like Microsoft Word, Paint, and Teams. Instead of forcing services on me through pop-ups and automated behaviors, AI services for cleaning text documents, creating images, and applying video filters are always just a click away.

also: Microsoft is delaying the recall after security concerns, and is asking Windows Insiders for help

Having a dedicated auxiliary switch certainly adds to this burden-free experience. As I’ve been re-learning Windows shortcuts and multitasking tricks and also discovering apps, benchmarking services and games Already supported on ARM Platform (spoiler: there’s still enough to accidentally download anything), it would have been helpful to have an assistant accessible via keyboard, sound, and the taskbar.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the new Copilot+ AI features is that they work On the device — Based on local data, providing more private, secure and faster processing capabilities. For ordinary users, this may not matter. But if keeping your personal data protected (and away from anything) matters. Remote cloud servers) priority, you’ll feel a little better using the AI ​​features on the new Copilot+ PCs.

2. Windows Hello feels faster than ever

Microsoft Surface Copilot

Kerry Wan/ZeDnet

One of the things I always do when testing any laptop, phone, or tablet is to see how quickly the device can be activated and unlocked via facial recognition. If a device, like a Macbook Air or Pro, doesn’t support facial recognition, I’ll rate the speed based on the fingerprint sensor.

also: I just ordered the cheaper Surface Pro option – why I (probably) won’t regret it

Comparing my M3 MacBook Air to a Surface Laptop isn’t exactly a comprehensive comparison, but since the Windows Hello setup — which leverages the laptop’s infrared (IR) camera and front-facing camera — I feel like I’m experiencing a new level of comfort. It’s much faster than waiting for your laptop to turn on, then tapping your password or fingerprint.

Best of all, Windows Hello turns on automatically when I lift the laptop’s lid open, and it’s able to scan my face even in dim environments thanks to the infrared camera.

3. Support touch screen

Microsoft Surface laptop

Kerry Wan/ZeDnet

I know. Just like Windows Hello, touchscreen support has always been a key feature offered by Microsoft Surface laptops (and other laptops). Windows computers) on MacBooks, but the feature makes a noticeable difference in the context of a Copilot+ PC.

also: I’ve showcased every new AI feature coming to Copilot+ PCs, and I’ve nearly sold out on the hype

For example, the new Cocreator tool in Paint requires you to type a prompt to create images And Draw a basic diagram for your co-pilot to work with. Normally, I’d have trouble drawing circles and straight lines on the trackpad, but I didn’t have to do that on the Surface Laptop. Instead, I pulled the laptop closer and started drawing with my finger.

While I’ve always found the touchscreen functionality to be more useful on larger screens, with smaller screens Surface Laptop 13.8 inch It feels like a 2-in-1 tablet. When my writing space is limited, like on a bus, plane, or crowded coffee shop, being able to reach out with my hand and tap, swipe, and drag items on the screen is incredibly useful and intuitive.

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