Surface Laptop 3 first impressions

After a long time I am using a Windows laptop. New job, got a new laptop – a Surface Laptop 3 – and I am quite excited about it. In the previous job I had a Lenovo Carbon X1 but I wasn’t that much excited about it and in fact I used to use it as a jumpbox from my Mac. I would RDP into it and VPN from there to work thus letting me use the Mac more or less and treat this as a management/ work box. Not so with the Surface, I like it.

I went with the 15″ version and I love the screen. Looks great. Again, not much Windows laptop experience recently so every other laptop could be this great for all I know, but at least compared to the Carbon X1 I love this. This is the closest Windows laptop I’d consider as an alternative to a MacBook. No, it cannot replace a MacBook, but if I had to live with a Windows laptop this would be the one. Great screen, even better screen ratio of 3:2. A nice keyboard, a large trackpad (wish it was placed slightly down though and larger)… this is good stuff. The screen feels a bit flickery at times, while it’s trying to adjust to the ambient light and figure out what to do I think. It is also touch screen but I don’t care about that. I love the aspect ratio though, so much more fun to read.

Didn’t realize Windows too supported Trackpad gestures like macOS now so I can three finger swipe to change desktops for instance (it is four fingers by default but one can change) or two finger scroll. Yum!

The device is probably a fingerprint magnet and that’s going to ick me out later, but I can live with it… I think.

One weird thing – when the laptop is plugged in to the charger it has a sort of vibration to it. Not always but 9 times out of 10 – this one time I am typing this with the cable plugged in, no vibration; but every other time I could feel it and it was awkward. Guess I’ll just leave it unplugged in such cases.

Windows itself is fine. I don’t have much requirements. Give me Visual Studio Code, Windows Terminal, Nerd Fonts, oh-my-posh, Git, WSL 2, Firefox, Notepad++… and I am done. I do like that Microsoft lets you use the Microsoft Store without a Microsoft account – Apple would never allow that. It nags me now and then to sign up to OneDrive with my Microsoft account (because I didn’t sign in to Windows with a Microsoft account) but that’s fine.

Overall, pleasently surprised. Back to a Windows device after some 3 years I think and no complaints with Surface Laptop 3 so far. Pity that Surface Laptop 4 is rumoured to come out in April 2021 – am going to be jealous.

Update 1:

Random Windows thing coming from a macOS background. You can’t re-arrange desktops and they don’t remember which app was where after a restart. Came across this tool which may have some workarounds (yet to try). It can also change the shortcut key to switch desktops I think – something I miss.

Another useful tool is TaskbarX. This one centers your taskbar icons.

Update 2 (15th March 2021):

The honeymoon period is ending I am starting to get irritated with it. Lot of little quirks that put me off and re-affirm my notion that Windows is kind of half-baked – loads of new features and improvements, but they don’t all work well together.

  1. The screen irritates me. It is fine at night but during the day I hate it. Especially when I take it off the power it stars to have a weird colour. Kind of like the gamma is turned up or down. It’s not the brightness settings, nor the automatic brightness settings based on the surroundings, as I have disabled both of these. The screen doesn’t become less bright – just weird. (Update: I upgraded the graphics driver to the one’s provided by Intel. Will moan here if that hasn’t made a difference).
  2. I am starting to have the desktops feature. Not very easy to use coz you can’t rearrange etc.
  3. The transparency feature thing is rubbish. With it on, when I switch desktops the taskbar briefly becomes opaque then transparent. It’s a slight thing but irritates me. Only fix is to disable transparency but then I lose it everywhere (including places like Windows Terminal).
  4. If you swipe via the touchpad to change desktops it is a different sort of animation to pressing the Ctrl+Win+Arrow key. Not consistent.
  5. And I am still bugged I can’t change the keyboard shortcut to change desktops.