September 24, 2021
Microsoft unveiled its fall product line including the Surface Duo 2 folding phone, Surface Laptop Studio and Surface Pro X that comes in a Wi-Fi only version. The Duo 2 hits the streets October 21 and the others on October 5. The new devices will no doubt get a bounce from Windows 11, announced earlier this month with rollout to begin later this year. The Duo 2’s rear mounted camera with thee lenses is a welcome upgrade. The previous model had one lens and required that the case be opened and folded backward for taking photos. Another big change is the petite Laptop Studio, which has three modes enabled by a hinged case.
“If the Surface Book and Surface Studio had a baby, it would be the Surface Laptop Studio,” writes Wired about the 14.4-inch touchscreen laptop. Aimed at mobile professionals and students, the device features a hinged case that can kickstand into presentation mode or allow more conventional access to the keyboard. In addition to the Laptop Mode and Studio Mode there is a Stage Mode for up-close and immersive movie and gaming experiences.
Specs include a 120Hz refresh rate, a 1080p front-facing camera and choice of 11th generation (Core i5 or Core i7) Intel processor. The new Surface Slim Pen 2, sold separately, has haptic feedback for a more responsive interactive experience. The Surface Laptop Studio (above) starts at $1,600.
In addition to the Wi-Fi-only model, the Surface Pro X changes include improved Windows on ARM performance for optimized apps including Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, Microsoft Office and Microsoft Teams. Unchanged are the 13-inch touchscreen display, battery with 15-hours of juice, upgradeable to 16GB of RAM, all running on Microsoft’s bespoke processors. List price is $900 (about $100 less than its predecessor.)
The Surface Pro 8 2-in-1 business laptop expands the display to 13 inches and adds brightness. Its display is bigger and brighter than the Surface Pro 7. It has a 120Hz refresh rate, Thunderbolt 4 ports, and works with Slim Pen 2 (not included). The pen can be charged and stored on a detachable keyboard (sold separately).
Better low-light camera capabilities will enhance low-light Zoom sessions, Wired notes, adding, “Microsoft says the Pro 8 is more than twice as fast as its predecessor, offering 40 percent higher CPU performance and 74 percent faster graphics.” The Pro 8 also runs on an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor and starts at $1,100.
The main Surface Go 3 upgrade is in the processor, with choice of a dual-core Intel Pentium Gold 6500Y or a 10th-gen Intel Core i3. Eleven hours of battery life for the tablet-laptop hybrid is also an improvement. The $400 retail price is the same, as is the 10.5-inch screen, kickstand, 5-megapixel front camera and 8-megapixel rear. Attachable keyboard is sold separately.
The Surface Duo 2, Microsoft’s dual-screen portable contender with curved glass screens (above), integrates phone capabilities and ships with Android 3 upgrades and a rear camera module that has wide, ultrawide, and telephoto lenses. It is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 5G chip, “the top-end smartphone chip found on most flagship Android phones today,” according to Wired. It retails for $1,500.
Although CNBC points out that “Microsoft doesn’t make a lot of money from hardware,” with just 4 percent of second quarter revenue generated by hardware, it is nonetheless putting in the effort to supply high-end productivity devices. The global PC market, CNBC says, citing Gartner estimates, is led by Lenovo, HP, Dell and Apple.