At an event in New York City, Microsoft unveiled a series of new hardware products including its first ever flagship laptop called the Surface Book.
The Redmond-based company launched a new version of the Band, its smartwatch-cum-fitness tracker, and an updated version of the Surface Pro 3 (logically called the Surface Pro 4), its tablet-laptop hybrid. It also announce that a version of its augmented reality headset called the HoloLens, would go on sale next year for $3,000.
Here are the details:
Surface Pro 4
The Surface is Microsoft’s tablet-laptop hybrid. It was first released in 2012 alongside Windows 8 and has since gone through multiple iterations, including one called Surface RT, which Microsoft eventually killed because of poor sales.
The latest iteration, the Surface Pro 4, is a 12.3-inch device with a 267 ppi screen that is only 0.4mm thick. Microsoft says that even though the screen is slightly bigger than the previous Surface (which came in at 12 inches), the entire device is the same size overall as the Surface 3, since the company found a way to reduce the size of the bezels.
The Surface Pro 4 supports up to 16GB RAM and 1TB on-board storage. It is able to extend its capabilities through a docking station that features four USB 3.0 ports, 2 4K DisplayPorts, and an ethernet port.
The Surface Pro 4 also features a redesigned Microsoft Pen that is capable of sensing up to 1,024 levels of pressure, and comes with interchangeable tips to mimic the feel of different writing instruments like a pencil, marker, ballpoint pen, and more. It attaches magnetically to the side of the Surface and has a full year of battery life on a single charge.
The Surface Pro 4 also features a brand new Type Cover keyboard (sold separately) that now has a larger glass trackpad compared to the previous Type Cover keyboard and now includes a fingerprint sensor for logging on to Windows faster.
Microsoft vice president for Surface computing Panos Panay claimed at the event that the Surface Pro 4 was 50% faster than Apple’s MacBook Air.
Customers in the United States can pre-order the Surface Pro 4 for $899 starting October 7. It ships from October 26, well before the holiday season begins.
The Surface Book is Microsoft’s first laptop. “What could we do for the laptop that we did to tablets?” asks Microsoft’s Panay on stage. “We made the ultimate laptop,” he said.
The Surface Book is a high-end laptop computer with a screen that measures 13.5 inches. It features a 6th generation Intel Core processor, 16GB DDR5 RAM, 1TB of on-board storage, and a 12-hour battery life.
In keeping with the Surface convention, the screen still detaches from the keyboard, but that’s where the similarity with the Surface Pro 4 ends. The keyboard on the Surface Book houses an NVIDIA GTX GPU, which, claims Microsoft, makes the device twice as fast as a MacBook Pro. To emphasise the point, Panay played a Gears of War, a fairly demanding PC game on the Surface Book, and then immediately used Adobe Premiere to edit some video footage.
It also features backlit keys and a multitouch glass trackpad — fairly standard for high-end notebooks of its class.
The Surface Book will go on sale for $1,499 in the United States from October 7, with actual units shipping on October 26.
New Lumia phones
After a gap of more than a year, Microsoft released brand new flagship smartphones, the Lumia 950 and the 950XL.
The 950 has a 5.2-inch OLED display, a high-end Snapdragon 808 processor, 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of expandable storage, a 20 megapixel rear camera, and a 5 megapixel front camera. It also includes enterprise-grade face recognition, which means that you can unlock the device by simply holding it up to your face.
The 950 XL is nearly identical, but features a slightly larger 5.7-inch display.
Both phones support USB-C, which is set to be the standard of charging and data transfer ports on most smartphones going forward.
Perhaps the coolest feature of the new phones that Microsoft showed off was Continuum, which allows the phones to be hooked up to a monitor and power the entire rig like a desktop PC.
They will be available in the United States in November at $549 for the 950 and $649 for the 950 XL.
Microsoft also released a lower-end Lumia 550 device that is priced at just $139.
New Microsoft band
Microsoft released a new version of the Band, its wearable fitness tracker, that now features a curved screen to better fit your wrist.
The new Band includes some new sensors such as a barometer, which allows users to track elevation to measure things like hikes and flights of stairs more accurately, and a VO2 monitor, which measures oxygen levels in the blood, a statistics that is of particular importance to athletes.
The new Band is priced at $249 and will be available in the United States for $249, $100 less than Apple’s cheapest Apple Watch.
Additionally, Microsoft announced that the HoloLens, its augmented reality headset, will go on sale in the first quarter of 2016 at $3,000.
The company also said that Windows 10, its flagship operating system, now powers more than 110 million devices just 8 weeks after launching. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella called it “the fastest ramp-up for Windows ever.”