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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.