Microsoft unveils the Surface Pro 4, Surface Book and new Lumia Smartphones!

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 image 001

Software giant Microsoft today announced its next-generation Surface Pro laptop/tablet hybrid, the Surface Pro 4. Designed to take Apple’s upcoming $799 12.9-inch iPad Pro, the $899 Surface Pro 4 offers updated hardware and software features like Windows Hello, the Cortana personal assistant, and of course Windows 10.

The thinnest and most powerful Surface yet, the Surface Pro 4 features a larger display than its predecessor, fitting a 12.3-inch display in the same physical footprint as the older twelve-inch device, making the laptop/tablet hybrid compatible with the existing crop of keyboard accessories on the market.

Microsoft also designed a brand new stylus to go with the Surface Pro 4. They’re calling it the Surface Pen and it’s extremely sensitive at detecting 1,024 levels of pressure.

Surface Pro 4

As mentioned, the new Surface Pro 4 features a 12.3-inch PixelSense 3:2 aspect ratio display in the same physical footprint as the older twelve-inch device. At only 8.4 mm thin and weighing in at 786 grams (1.73 pounds), the new Surface is thinner and lighter than its predecessor.

The PixelSense screen has five million pixels at a resolution of 2,736-by-1,824 pixels at 267 pixels per inch. The contrast ratio is 1300:1. Each display has been individually calibrated to achieve a hundred percent sRGB color.

The new Surface, rated with up to nine hours of battery life for vide playback, is driven by Intel’s sixth-generation Skylake processors (Core m, Core i5 and Core i7), with Microsoft claiming the device to be one-third faster than its predecessor and up to 50 percent faster than Apple’s MacBook Air notebook.

The gizmo runs Microsoft’s Windows 10, which can run both desktop and tablet applications, as the Surface was designed to be a tablet that can replace your laptop.

Check out Microsoft’s rather nicely done promotional video below.

If you can’t see the video embed, watch it on YouTube.

The device incorporates a fingerprint sensor on the keyboard, has the 0.4mm-thick Gorilla Glass 4 covering the front and runs a Microsoft-designed ‘G5’ chipset which controls the Surface’s responsive touchscreen. Built-in flash storage can be upgraded from the base 128 GB to up to one terabytes while the memory varies by model at 4 GB, 8 GB or 16 GB.

Wireless stack supports 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO and Bluetooth 4.0. Other hardware features include a five-megapixel front camera with 1080p video capture, an eight-megapixel sensor out the back with auto-focus and 1080p video capture, stereo microphones, stereo speakers with Dolby audio, one full-size USB 3.0 port, a Mini DisplayPort and a microSD card reader.

A handy side-by-side comparison of the Surface Pro 4 features versus those of previous Surface models is available at the official website. More about the Surface Pro 4 is available in Microsoft’s fact sheet.

Surface Pen

The all-new Surface Pen is bundled with the Surface Pro 4.

It can detect 1,024 levels of pressure so it’s more sensitive and accurate then before. The Surface Pen has an eraser on one end and attaches magnetically to the side of the Surface Pro 4 when not in use.

Microsoft Surface Pen image 001

A dedicated button on the stylus lets you invoke Microsoft’s Cortana voice assistant. A built-in battery provides “all-year battery life,” according to Microsoft.

Last but not least, an all-new Type Cover (sold separately) is available for the new Surface, featuring a redesigned mechanical keyboard, an optional fingerprint reader and backward compatibility with the existing Surface Pro 3 devices.

Pricing

Here’s what the Surface Pro 4 will cost you:

  • $899—128 GB 6th Generation Intel CoreTM M3 with 4 GB of RAM
  • $999—128 GB 6th Generation Intel CoreTM i5 with 4 GB of RAM
  • $1,299—256 GB 6th Generation Intel CoreTM i5 with 8 GB of RAM
  • $1,599—256 GB 6th Generation Intel CoreTM i7 with 8 GB of RAM
  • $1,799—256 GB 6th Generation Intel CoreTM i7 with 16 GB of RAM
  • $2,199—512 GB 6th Generation Intel CoreTM i7 with 16 GB of RAM

These are estimated retail prices so actual retail pricing may wary.

Availability

The new Surface Pro 4 and the new accessories are available for pre-order in select markets October 7, 2015. The Surface Pro 4 starts at $899 and is scheduled to ship on October 26 in Canada and the United States, with additional markets to follow. The Surface Pen is provided in a variety of colors.

Microsoft Surface Book image 008

In addition to launching the new $899 Surface Pro 4 with the Surface Pen stylus, Windows giant Microsoft has another highly-popular Apple product in its crosshair: the MacBook Air.

Billed as “the ultimate laptop,“ the Surface Book is another hybrid device from Microsoft. Featuring an accurate, responsive stylus, multi-touch support and a high-resolution 13.5-inch optically bonded screen that detaches easily from the keyboard, the new Surface Book promises to offer best of both worlds.

Surface Book hardware

The Surface Book is driven by Intel’s sixth-generation Core i5 and Core i7 processors with up to twelve hours of video playback. The 13.5-inch PixelSense display at 267 pixels per inch with improved touch latency and parallax is “natural and fluid to write on,” according to the Redmond firm.

Microsoft Surface Book image 007

In terms of graphics, the baseline Surface Book configuration uses Intel HD graphics 520 but you can optionally upgrade it to discrete Nvidia GeForce graphics with dedicated 1GB of DDR5 video memory and hardware-acceleration for video editing, fast rendering and immersive gaming.

Microsoft Surface Book vs MacBook Pro slide

For those wondering, that 13.5-inch 3:2 aspect ratio screen maxes out at an astounding 3,000-by-2,000 pixel resolution. Contrast ratio is 1800:1 and the display can detect up to ten simultaneous touches at once. Like on the Surface Pro 4, each Surface Book screen has been individually calibrated to achieve 100 percent sRGB color.

If you the embedded video won’t show, watch it on YouTube.

Next, the front-facing camera has five megapixels and supports 1080p video capture (you can use it to log into Windows with the Hello facial recognition feature). An eight-megapixel camera on the back is also capable of capturing 1080p video.

In terms of connectivity, the Surface Book is 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 compatible. Other features include a full sized, backlit keyboard, up to 16 GB of memory, and the same Windows Hello and Cortana software features provided by Windows 10.

Microsoft Surface Book image 006

We should also mention that Microsoft’s new notebook/laptop hybrid sports stereo headphones, dual microphones and microphone jack built-in, in addition to the front-facing stereo speakers with Dolby audio. The computer packs in ambient light, accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer sensors.

Microsoft Surface Book image 005

In terms of I/O, the Surface Book has two full-size USB 3.0 ports, one Mini DisplayPort, a single full-size SD memory card reader and the Surface Connect for power and docking (base and clipboard).

All Surface Book models ship bundled with the Surface Pen stylus.

Surface Dock

The new Surface Dock is available, too. Compatible with the Surface Book, Surface Pro 4 and Surface Pro 3, it transforms your device into a desktop PC by plugging in your dock with the SurfaceConnect cable.

Microsoft Surface Dock image 002

The Surface Dock features two Mini DisplayPorts, one Gigabit Ethernet port, four USB 3.0 ports, one audio out port and an external power brick.

Pricing

The following Surface Book configurations are available:

  • $1,499—128 GB 6th generation Intel Core i5 with 8 GB of RAM
  • $1,699—256 GB 6th generation Intel Core i5 with 8 GB of RAM
  • $1,899—256 GB 6th generation Intel Core i5 with 8 GB of RAM and NVIDIA GeForce graphics processor
  • $2,099—256 GB 6th generation Intel Core i7 with 8 GB of RAM and NVIDIA GeForce graphics processor
  • $2,699—512 GB 6th generation Intel Core i7 with 16 GB of RAM and NVIDIA GeForce graphics processor

These are estimated retail prices so actual retailer pricing may vary.

Availability

The Surface Book will be on sale in Canada and the United States on October 26, like the fourth-generation Surface Pro and Microsoft’s refreshed accessories lineup. The Surface Book can be pre-ordered in select markets October 7, 2015.

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microsoft-lumia-logo-mwc-2015-1

Today Microsoft announced its latest Windows-powered phones, as well as two new members to the Surface family.

The new Lumias are the first devices to ship with Windows 10 (mobile), which represents a massive step forward for Microsoft. What’s all new? Let’s jump in and find out.

Microsoft Lumia 950 and 950XL

microsoft lumia 950 (5)

The new Lumia 950 and 950 XL are Microsoft’s new flagship phone offerings, and both are quite impressive on paper.

First, the 950 is powered by a Snapdragon 808 hexa-core processor with a 5.2-inch WQHD display, 3GB RAM, and 32GB storage (and microSD). The 950XL scales things up a bit, offering the same amount of RAM and storage, but bumping the QHD display up to 5.7-inches and trades out the 808 for a octa-core Snapdragon 810.

Both phones share the same rear 20MP sensor with OIS, USB Type-C ports, Qualcomm quick charging, and the same basic sensors you’d expect. Microsoft also says the phones utilize a form of liquid cooling to help eliminate (or reduce) any potential heating issues.

The new Lumias also support Windows Hello, which will use face-scanning tech via the camera to login users; this is not anything particularly innovative for those over at Camp Android, but a first for Windows (phone) users.

In many ways, the new Lumia 950 and 950 XL look a lot like typical Android devices when it comes to the spec sheet. The big difference, of course, is on the software side. Forgoing Android, Microsoft’s latest devices jump from the Window Phone 8 over to Windows 10 Mobile.

The new platform looks a lot like WP8 did, but offers quite a few under the hood and UI improvements that help it feel much more polished than past iterations of the Windows phone-centric OS.
With Windows 10 Mobile, you’ll now find an integrated store that combines the Windows 8/10 (desktop/tablet) store and the Windows phone store into one. That means just about any universal app should play nicely with a Windows-powered phone, though traditional Windows .EXE programs obviously won’t work.

Probably one of the coolest software tricks for Windows 10 (mobile) is known as Continuum. Basically, this feature lets you experience a full Windows-like experience, complete with a desktop screen and a start menu when plugged into a bigger monitor. The experience isn’t completely like Windows 10 (more like Windows RT with the looks of 10), and so you are limited to what apps will work. That said, any universal app for the Windows store will play nicely, as will programs like Microsoft Office.

So how do you hook up your phone to a bigger screen? This can be done either by connecting a Bluetooth keyboard/mouse and wirelessly streaming to a compatible display, or there’s the Display Dock. The Display Dock is an optional accessory that plugs into the 950 or 950XL and includes three USB ports, including Type-C, as well as a Display Port and an HDMI port. The presence of USB means you’ll be able to use just about any keyboard or mouse, as well as USB drives for extra storage, and other USB powered accessories. No word on its pricing just yet.

Both the Lumia 950 and 950XL are expected to arrive this November, priced at $549 and $649, respectively.

Microsoft Lumia 550

microsoft lumia 550 (2)

Designed to compete with budget offerings in the Android world, the Lumia 550 is a 5-inch device that is powered by a Snapdragon 210 with 8GB storage. Other specs include a 5MP rear cam, 2MP front cam, 8GB storage with microSD expansion, and a 1905 mAh battery.

The phone is priced at $139 and will arrive in December. Judging by the spec sheet, Android alternatives like the Moto G need not get too worried by this one. While the specs aren’t bad for the price, they aren’t exactly amazing either. Additionally, some of the cooler Windows 10 features like Continuum aren’t mentioned, so we doubt the phone is powerful enough to support it.

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10 smartphones of 2014 you can use with your gloves on in the cold winter season!

Hard to believe it’s December already, but if the dates in our calendar, the chilling cold outside, and the barrage of Christmas shopping advertisements are anything to go by, it most certainly is December. This means the time to put your winter gloves on is approaching fast, and while they do keep those fingers warm, smartphone screens don’t get along with them very well.

Although touchscreens with the capacity to sense signals through fabric have been around since late 2012, the amount of gloves made specifically for touchscreen operation outnumbers smartphones with extra-sensitive displays for some reason. Thankfully, this doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find a recent smartphone that works with your beloved pair of mittens. Here’s ten of them, all introduced this year and up for grabs. Each one can keep you fine company during those cold winter bouts outside.

Nokia Lumia 830

The Nokia Lumia 830 is a Windows Phone 8.1 handset with a 5-inch 720p display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 10MP main camera, a 2200mAh battery, and LTE connectivity. Not only it’s one of the finest and relatively affordable WP 8.1 handsets out there, but you can be sure it’s usable in the cold with your gloves on. After all, Nokia was the one that brought this perk into the mainstream!

Huawei Ascend Mate 7

The Ascend Mate 7 is the big daddy of Huawei’s 2014 smartphone line-up. The LTE-enabled behemoth carries a 6-inch 1080p LCD screen, Huawei’s homegrown Kirin 925 octa-core processor, 3GB of RAM, a 13MP main camera, a huge 4100mAh battery, and runs Android 4.4. Now there’s one phablet you can comfortably take out in the cold this year!

Huawei Ascend P7

Ahh, the crown jewel of Huawei’s 2014 output. The Ascend P7 is a svelte, understated smartphone with a big 5-inch 1080p display, a quad-core Kirin 910T processor, 2GB of RAM, 13MP main camera, a 2500mAh battery, and Android 4.4.2. Don’t forget the white gloves to match!

Sony Xperia Z2

The Sony Xperia Z2 had so much to offer that we still wonder what made Sony rush ahead with the Xperia Z3 just six months later. Anyways, the Z2 has a 5.2-inch 1080p screen, a Snapdragon 801 processor paired with 3GB of RAM, a spacey 3200mAh battery, a mighty 20.7MP main camera, and runs Android 4.4.4 to boot! The water and dust resistance are an especially welcome addition to the screen’s enthusiasm towards gloves.

Sony Xperia Z3 & Z3 Compact

If you want the most recent smartphone from Sony, either wait until late February when the Xperia Z4 will (probably) show up, or choose between the 5.2-inch Xperia Z3 and the 4.6-inch Z3 Compact. Both feature Snapdragon 801 processors, 20.7MP cameras, and other kinds of specs-appeal on top of being gloves-supportive. They are also total lookers!

Samsung Galaxy S5

Ah, old faithful! Well, not technically old, it’s just that we’ve barely stopped talking about the Samsung Galaxy S5 after it was unveiled at this year’s MWC. Heck, we’ve been talking about it since late 2013! Although it failed to make the impression Samsung was hoping for, it’s still a water and dust-tight, up to date smartphone that you can comfortably carry in the cold winter.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

We think the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 needs no introduction at this point. It’s one of 2014’s best, most feature-stuffed phablets. Among the hundreds of things built inside it is the option to toggle its screen sensitivity between normal and extra-sensitive, the latter letting you use the note-able phablet with your favorite pair of gloves.

Oppo N3

Chinese vendor Oppo’s October 2014 flagship is just nuts! Sporting a 5.5-inch 1080p screen, a Snapdragon 801 processor with 2GB of RAM, and a motorized rotating 13MP camera, the Oppo N3 is a phone unlike any other out there… with the exception of the Oppo N1, maybe. Anyway, the N3 has Gloves mode among its set of features, but if its pocket-busting $751 price tag rightfully throws you off, maybe you can consider the Oppo Neo – one of the few low-end smartphones that are from 2014, not from Nokia, and can be used with gloves on.

Oppo Find 7 & Find 7a

The QHD-endowed Oppo Find 7 was not without its flaws, but it ranks admirably among this year’s big screen flagships. And so does its sibling, the 1080p Oppo Find 7a. Both are powered by very respectable hardware – we’re talking about Snapdragon 801 processors, 13MP cameras, and possibly the coolest LED notification light in a non-concept device! They also look great, and can be used with gloves during the winter.

Xiaomi Mi4

And finally, the smartphone that conquered China! Meet the Xiaomi Mi 4, an amalgam of premium hardware and supremely cheap price. The Mi4’s 5-inch 1080p touch-screen can be used with gloves on, while the Snapdragon 801 processor paired with 3GB of RAM, the 13-megapixel main camera, and the 3080mAh battery breeze through everything you throw at them. If you manage to snag this beauty for the $325 Xiaomi usually asks for in China, consider yourself very lucky!

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Nokia brand to be replaced with Microsoft Lumia!

If you’ve seen Microsoft’s recent articles about Lumia you know it was coming. The Nokia brand has been phased out by calling the phones just “Lumia” and redirecting Nokia online properties to Microsoft.com. This rebranding effort will expand and soon the lineup will become “Microsoft Lumia”.

Lumia is already the de facto face of Windows Phone – it accounts for about 90% of the market. Microsoft has been busy signing up new vendors but they will struggle to gain significant market share as the big names have mostly neglected WP.
Will Microsoft put its own logo on the devices or will a more restraint Lumia logo suffice? Keep in mind that Microsoft is treading lightly, not to annoy other WP vendors by showing favoritism to its in-house manufacturer.

Nokia Lumia 1020 Used To Shoot Ellie Goulding’s New Music Video: How Long Will I Love You

When it comes to smartphone cameras, the Nokia Lumia 1020 is no slouch. In fact some consider it to have the best smartphone camera on the market at the moment, beating out the likes of Apple’s iPhone 5 which some consider to be one of the better cameras on the market. But how good are we talking about? Would you be able to tell if a video was shot entirely with the Nokia Lumia 1020?

Well we certainly couldn’t and if you have a few minutes to spare, you might want to check out the music video above which features Ellie Goulding’s “How Long Will I Love You” song. The video seems to have a lot of Nokia devices making appearances, such as the Nokia Lumia 1020 and the Lumia 925, but we guess the highlight here is that apparently the entire music video was shot with the Lumia 1020 and put together in Final Cut Pro.

While the video is for the upcoming Roger Michell short film, Tom & Issy, with 20p from each purchase of the song going to BBC’s Children in Need Charity, it sure does look like an extended advertisement for Nokia phones. Either way it is a pretty impressive video and if you’d like to see a Making Of video, check it out below. Who else would have figured that it was shot entirely with a Nokia Lumia 1020?

Stories you shouldn’t have missed this week!

We’ve put together all of the week’s most interesting stories.

Like every Sunday we bring you the stories that were the most popular on ECB during the past week!

If you like what you’re reading, please make sure to spread the love by sharing our posts on your favorite social network.

We’re usually hanging out a lot on Twitter and Facebook 🙂

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