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Microsoft is updating its MacBook Air competitor for the work from home age

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Daniel Howley
·Technology Editor
·3-min read
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Microsoft's Surface Laptop 4 comes in two sizes, 13.5 inches, and 15 inches. (Image: Microsoft)
Microsoft's Surface Laptop 4 comes in two sizes, 13.5 inches, and 15 inches. (Image: Microsoft)

With remote work becoming the new normal for more employees, Microsoft (MSFT) is rolling out the latest version of its Surface Laptop. Available today and starting at $999, the Surface Laptop 4 carries over many of the same features of 2019’s Surface Laptop 3, but gets both Intel (INTC) and AMD’s (AMD) latest processors for more power and battery life.

It also comes as the PC market experiences a dramatic increase in sales amid the work-from-home push, with global shipments spiking 32% in Q1 2021 versus Q1 2020, according to Gartner.

But Microsoft has serious competition in the form of Apple’s MacBook Air, which packs Apple’s own M1 processor and a $999 price point. Still, the Surface Laptop 4 certainly has the makings of another solid entry into Microsoft’s device lineup.

Two sizes, two chips

The Surface Laptop 4 comes in two sizes, a 13.5-inch model and a 15-inch model. Both offer touch screen displays. Unlike the Surface Laptop 3, however, both the 13.5-inch and 15-inch units can be outfitted with your choice of an Intel 11-generation Core processor or an AMD Ryzen chip. Apple’s MacBook Air, meanwhile, is only available with a 13.3-inch display, but packs Apple’s custom M1 processor.

Regardless of which size of the Surface Laptop 4 you select, Microsoft says you’ll be able to choose from an Alcantara or metal finish, as well as a variety of colors. Apple’s MacBook Air is available in three colors.

Microsoft says the Laptop 4 also gets a webcam with low-light performance in mind, for those of us who don’t have a ring light setup to illuminate themselves during work meetings. What’s more, the Laptop 4 gets Dolby Atmos speakers and a studio microphone array. Basically, Microsoft says the Surface Laptop 4 should be the right fit for your work-from-home needs.

As far as connections go, the Surface Laptop 5 gets both standard USB A and USB C slot; a Surface connection port; and a headphone jack.

Surface accessories

In addition to the Surface Laptop 4, Microsoft also debuted its new Surface Headphones 2+ with built-in controls for Microsoft’s Teams service for $299. The company also has its new Microsoft Surface Modern USB and Wireless headphones for $49 and $99, respectively if you’re looking for a new work-from-home setup at a lower price.

And if you’re in need of a new webcam, but don’t want to shell out the $999 for a new Surface Laptop 4 just to get one, Microsoft has announced its new Microsoft Modern webcam that captures 1080p video with high-dynamic range capabilities and a 78-degree field of view. That, however, won’t hit the market until June when it will cost $69.

Microsoft’s new products follow the release of its first annual Work Trends Index last month. The survey, which included results from 30,000 people across 31 countries, found that 73% of workers want their employers to continue to allow flexible remote work options.

With those kinds of numbers, Microsoft may have plenty of opportunities to get its Surface Laptop 4s in front of consumers — as long as the global chip shortage doesn’t slow down supplies.

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