I get a lot of notebooks to review and though I like them, none have lured me away from the my Surface Book Performance Base. Yes, I know that’s a two year old notebook, but I love it! So I was surprised that over the last month I kept reaching for the S940, it is all about the display, but it does have more to offer.
The reason I can’t put it down is the display, it’s 4K with HDR 400 (500 nits of brightness) we love it even though it’s not touch (ugh, why isn’t it touch!?). And we love its quad-speaker setup powered by Dolby Atmos. It has a Microsoft Precision Touchpad, excellent but a little shallow keyboard, and three USB Type-C ports (two Thunderbolt 3), along with a Windows Hello infrared camera for instant logins.
A business notebook built for Netflix
We can’t say enough about the display, it comes in HD and a full 4K display and what we’re freaking out about is the 4K version. The 4K panel is jaw-dropping, with native HDR 400 support letting you stream Netflix, and Amazon video with high-dynamic range. That content looks fantastic, making this PC ideal for those who binge a lot of Netflix in bed.
Color accuracy is also excellent with 100 percent sRGB coverage and 86 percent Adobe RGB. It’s powered by an 8th Gen Intel Core i7 processor with 16GB of RAM, so when I do need to edit, I haven’t been disapointed by the performance. Exports take longer with out the support of a dedicated graphics card, but Intel’s UHD 620 graphics have done the trick.
The lack of touchscreen is a problem, my stunning display is covered in fingerprints because I’m so used to a work flow with pinching, poking and flicking that it doesn’t make sense to me why it’s not there.
The reason we suspect they dropped the touch was that it’s not a 2 in 1 and it has a curved Contour Display on the side edges. It’s similar to the curved display’s on smartphones and it makes the bezels look even thinner as they sweep away from the device. We also have a reverse notch which we like. It gives us a raised edge to grab when we open the notebook and we prefer it camera higher up and not in the keyboard or shooting our chest at an awkward angle.
Speaking of the camera it’s 720p but they could have done with a better quality camera, it sucks in low light. Which is a let down. I’ve been reaching for my phone to do video chats with friends and leaning my phone on the display instead of using the camera.
The keyboard isn’t a deep as my Surface Book, but I adjust quickly and we like the different levels of backlighting they keys provide. I do watch a lot of Netflix in bed, and in the dark, so a dimly lit keyboard and low display brightness are important to me. The S940 handles both requests like champ.
The sound from the Quad Dolby Atmos speakers is also amazing! We love this as a binge watching machine! These might be the best speakers I’ve heard on a thin and light device… possibly ever.
There are just three ports – all of which are USB Type-C, with two being powerful Thunderbolt 3. There’s also a headphone jack. That means living the dongle-life, but you should be used to it by now. Charging with the included 65-watt charger is also done through one of those Type-C ports leaving you at least two open for dongles or hubs.
Battery Life can be an issue since the display can go so bright. If you have it turned right up pushing over 500nits to a 4K display you’re looking at 5 hours. If you turn it down to 20% (which is still totally fine) you get about 6.5-7hours. One thing to consider is that this does come with USB Type-C Rapid Charge (in power-off mode), so shutting down and juicing up is something you can consider doing if you’re hard pressed for power.
Heat and fan noise are as expected. A laptop this thin running a Core i7 U-processor will have some audible fan noise, especially if installing a Windows Update while plugged in and on max performance settings.
We had one day where we heard the GPU fan grinding, the ball bearings had clearly come out of alignment. We powered down and let the device cool off. I then took a look at shutting down some programs and the display brightness when I was video editing. It gets hot and the fans can get loud, it’s the biggest downfall I’ve come across so far.
|Display||13.9-inch UHD (3840 x 2400) IPS LCD, HDR400, 500-nit brightness|
13.9-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS LCD, Dolby Vision HDR, 400-nit brightness
|Processor||Intel 8th Gen Core i5 or i7|
|Graphics||Intel UHD 620|
|RAM||8GB or 16GB LPDDR3|
|Storage||256GB, 512GB, or 1TB PCIe SSD|
|Ports||Two USB-C Thunderbolt 3, one USB-C 3.|
|Camera||Windows Hello IR camera|
Up to 15 hours (FHD) or 7.5 hours (UHD)
USB-C Rapid Charge
|Dimensions||12.57 in x 7.77 in x 0.48 in (319.3 mm x 197.4 mm x 12.2 mm)|
|Weight||Starting at 2.64 lbs (1.2 kg)|
|Price||Starting at $1,399.99|
With it’s stunning display and premium build it is no surprise that we’re starting at $1400! If you spend a lot of time with you notebook and in addition to it being your main work device it’s also your TV, this is totally reasonable!