I’m just about through moving into this shiny, new Surface Laptop Studio that I’ve acquired and, since it’s time for a blog article, it occurs to me that a Surface computer discussion might be worthwhile.


I’ve never been the sort to appreciate big, heavy laptops, I’ve always had a fancy for small, light, “ultraportable” machines.  I had such a machine with me when I attended an MVP Global Summit a number of years ago.  At this Summit, Microsoft did a one-time special for those attending, an entry level Surface2RT (ARM processor) machine at a ridiculously low price.  I wasn’t in the market for one at the time, but the deal was just too good to pass up. Little did I realize this would be the beginning of a multi-year, multi-machine journey that would involve the Surface Pro2, Surface Pro 4, Surface Pro 5, Surface Pro 6, and finally, this Surface Laptop Studio.  I bought this machine (the BIG guy, i7, 32 GB RAM, 2TB SSD!) for my birthday last year, but hadn’t set it up until a week or so ago.  Can you say Raw Horsepower?

The Good

Have you looked at one of these critters? Small, light, fast as all get-out, and as sexy as any machine manufactured by anyone, IMHO.  The Surface Pro series, in particular, turned out to be just the perfect machine for my usage.  Attach the keyboard, set it up on a desk, and you have a full-featured laptop.  Snap the keyboard off, turn it from landscape to portrait, and you have the perfect note-taking device, particularly if using OneNote.   I picked this trick up way back in the Windows XP Tablet Edition days when I discovered that I could add an Engineering pad template to OneNote and take notes, draw pictures, etc., just as I did with a pencil and one of these Engineering pads, but with the advantage that my writings were now part of a fie I could move around, I could OCR the hand written text, and print it all anytime I wanted hard copy.  Too Cool!!!

The Bad

The problem with Surfaces is that they are either awesome machines, or door stops, and not particularly good ones at that.  When they die, they’re dead, Jim!  They cannot be opened or repaired; the only real recourse is to get a replacement from Microsoft.  If the machine is under warranty, this is an inconvenience; if it is out of warranty, it becomes an EXPENSIVE inconvenience, the replacement fee is anywhere from $400 to $700.  Not so cool!  In all fairness, Microsoft has released a YouTube video showing how to get the Surface Laptop Studio apart to replace things like the battery, SSD, and the like.  More information is available in this Neowin.net article.

The Ugly!

I mentioned that I’ve been in a journey…a fair part of that journey has been a nightmare from Hell!  To date, NOT ONE of the many Surfaces I’ve owned has lived longer than two and a half years.  Starting with Surface2RT, some months after getting it, the touch screen stopped responding.  This turned out to be a bad update Microsoft released for it, so the hardware wasn’t really bad, but the Microsoft Store I took it to simply replaced it.  The Surface Pro 2 developed bad cooling fans after about 16 months – you could hear the fans screaming a block away.  I’d purchased Microsoft’s extended warranty, so this was a free replacement.  Next, we have the Surface Pro 4.  Have you heard of Flickergate?  This is a design flaw that causes the screen to flicker and fold over that MANY folks experienced to the extent that a class action lawsuit was started.  Microsoft finally acknowledged the issue and set up a replacement program for affected users.  Sadly, after having my SP4 replaced 5 TIMES, only to have the issue return, I gave up.  During all this, a Surface Pro 5 (or just Surface Pro) mysteriously arrived at my doorstep.  I got the extended warranty (lesson learned!!), set it up, and started using it.  Half a year or so later, a Surface Pro 6 also mysteriously arrived; I again got the warranty and set it on a shelf.

Several months after the SP5’s extended warranty expired, it shut itself off right in the middle of a Teams meeting one morning.  I tried to power it back on, I got the Surface logo for 15 seconds and it turned itself off again.  No combination of button presses and holds will get me beyond this.  So, out comes the SP6 which still has a couple months of extended warranty left.  It has been running fine (maybe 15 months) up until a week or so ago when it started giving me 01a bluescreens, citing memory management errors.  It does this quite randomly, from several times a day to every few days.  None of the recommended tests and corrective measures have changed anything, the OS is current with all updates, no apparent malware, so I’m still scratching my head.  So, out comes the Surface Laptop Studio and away we go again.


Time will tell if this is a good investment.  The SLS is bigger and a LOT heavier than any of its predecessors, I’ll have to see how that works out.  The feature set is wonderful, and the tilting screen is awesome!  I’m certainly encouraged by the fact that I can actually get this one apart without destroying it; I just hope I won’t have to.  Yes, I did get the extended warranty also.  My two recommendations for prospective buyers are DO get the extended warranty, you’re likely shooting yourself in the foot if you don’t and DO make COPIOUS BACKUPS!!!  They are what saved my bacon during the SP4 replacement saga.