Microsoft’s October 2019 event has come and gone, and as we expected, the tech giant came ready to compete with the best of them. Yes, Microsoft is back in the phone industry and at the best time possible to continue the wave of foldable devices. Microsoft unveiled its latest hardware and software at the event, some of which won’t be hitting retail stores until 2020. They showed the world where they are as a company and where they are headed. It’s safe to say the tech industry is in good hands.
In total, Microsoft launched six new devices in addition to Windows X, a new operating system that will help add functionality to dual screen devices. After stopping production of phones years ago, the company is looking to make a comeback with the Surface Duo. This comes as a surprise as it eventually stopped producing phones after its troubled 2014 purchase of Nokia for over $7 billion. Here’s everything Microsoft announced at the surface event and how they say it’ll impact productivity.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3
Microsoft kicked off the event by unveiling its latest touchscreen laptop, the Surface Laptop 3. It comes in two variants, a 13-inch and a 15-inch display model both coming with a few key changes.
The new trackpad is 20% larger than that of its predecessor, studio microphones for better sounding video calls, fast charge capabilities (up to 80% charge in under an hour), a powerful new processor and a new AMD graphics card. Microsoft’s head of devices Panos Panay also pointed out that the device comes with a quad-core 10th-generation Intel Ice Lake processor which is twice as fast as its predecessor and the AMD Ryzen Surface Edition graphics processor which is three times as fast as the MacBook Air.
Panay went on to throw a little shade on Apple laptops as he said “You can never compromise on a computer”, then began discussing the new keyboard design (something Apple is currently struggling with). He also added “It’s hard to be productive without a mouse” which in my opinion is taking a jab at Apple’s laptop replacement, the iPad Pro. To top it all off he made references to the new design of the Surface Laptop which has no rubber bumper around the screen nor a “finger” on the bottom of the device.
Oh and unlike similar devices, the laptop can easily be repaired as you can unscrew the feet of the laptop to get to the motherboard and the hard drive is replaceable as well.
Both variants of the laptop are available for preorder, and will be in stores October 22. Pricing starts $999 for 13-inch model, while the 15-inch variant starts at $1,199.
Surface Pro 7
The most popular 2-in-1 on the market has a big brother. Microsoft unveiled an updated version of its Pro tablet which has a few additions over last year’s model. For one, there are new Studio microphones for better voice capture even in noisy environments. The aim here is to enable users use speech to text in Windows with ease. There have also been software updates that control the stylus, making interaction with documents more natural. For instance, using the stylus you can cross out a word in Word and it will disappear or input data into a cell in Excel using the pen.
The updated Pro Tablet will start at $749 for the base model. It is already available for preorder and will ship October 22.
Surface Pro X
Seems like “X” is hot right now. Like Apple did with the iPhone X, Microsoft decided to ruin its numbering system by jumping right from the Surface Pro 7 to the new Microsoft Surface Pro X. This is truly a high-end 2-in-1 with just 5.3mm thickness and weighs only 1.68 pounds. The super slim and light convertible has very thin bezels with a display resolution of 2880 x 1920 and measures 12-inches diagonally.
It packs a custom Microsoft SQ1 processor which according to Microsoft has 3x more performance per watt than the Surface Pro 6. Microsoft says its ARM chip runs at 7W compared to the 2W on most devices, allowing the Surface Pro X to not only be thin and light but have better battery life. It is also the first Windows PC to have an “Integrated AI engine”. Also, it comes with fast charging capability, LTE connection, removable hard drive and it instantly turns on when you lift the lid.
Microsoft didn’t just name this a “Pro” for no reason. There is a new Surface Slim Pen with 4,096 points of pressure for high sensitivity and accuracy. This responsiveness means you can use the stylus to create art works that mimics work produced from real-life tools. Other useful tools include being able to lay the Surface Pen on its side and apply light pressure to add more feint shading to artwork.
The Surface Pro X, meanwhile, will be available in early November, priced at $999.
Microsoft is officially joining the race for the best foldable device on the market. However, Panay says the dual screen device won’t be available until “Next holiday”. The Surface Neo is super thin touchscreen laptop at 5.6mm where both sides of the device are displays, enabling it to be held like a book and or laptop. I have to say its not a “True foldable” as it is the device that folds and not the display. There is a360-degree hinge that allows both displays to be folded in any position. A stylus hangs off the back magnetically, charging when not in use.
Also, there is an optional magnetic keyboard that can flip up over one of the displays enabling you to type with ease if you’re not a fan of typing on glass. You also have the option of using both displays and connecting an external Bluetooth keyboard. The device detects when you place the keyboard on the screen and immediately adjusts the interface. Microsoft wants to get it into developers’ hands as soon as possible so that when it’s ready to ship to consumers–likely the holiday season of 2020, Panay said–it’ll be as complete as possible.
Well, Microsoft apparently showed off more than one unfinished device, perhaps a marketing strategy. The Surface Duo was also unveiled. This is essentially a smaller size version of the Surface Neo that runs a combination of Google’s android with Microsoft apps that can be used as a foldable smartphone.
Microsoft selling point here is that the device will let users multitask without compromise. Panay showed off someone taking a video call while running PowerPoint and answering emails. Most devices don’t have the power or display size to run multiple processor-intensive applications simultaneously.
Because the device features two discrete displays bound together by a 360-degree hinge, hopefully it won’t have the same issues Samsung’s Galaxy Fold has faced. Like the Surface Neo, the Surface Duo will be available in the holidays in 2020.
Joining basically every other tech giant out there, Microsoft decided to come up with its own pair of true wireless earbuds. The earbuds have 8 hours of battery life per charge, and their case holds another two full charges, meaning that theoretically the buds can be used for 24 hours before needing a full recharge. Their earpieces were designed to fit snugly in the ear, but not dive into the ear canal, which can be uncomfortable. The design allows users to be able to hear noise from the outside world if needed.
The earbuds will cost a whopping $249 and Microsoft says it’ll be available in time for the holiday season. The price is bit higher than that of it’s competitors but the company says it expects deep integration with Office 365 and thus make them a must buy for office workers.
In addition, using the buds you can live-dictate a PowerPoint slide deck while tapping the buds to change slides, or dictate to Word to write a document. Various swiping and tapping gestures can open apps like Spotify and control them.
Windows 10 X
He we go again with the “X”. The windows 10X is specifically designed for dual-screen devices, which apparently are becoming a thing. Windows 10 X will recognize what orientation you’re holding up your device, and size the windows you have open accordingly. If you plop a keyboard over one of the screens, like Microsoft’s magnetic one, it’ll pull your windows onto the top screen and leave a tiny bar for keyboard shortcuts and emojis at the top of the second screen, which Microsoft is calling the “wonderbar.”
The new software will likely roll out to consumers around the same time as the Neo and Duo.