Scratching the Surface: Microsoft has announced a lot of new hardware


Microsoft has been making some good hardware of late, an idea that we still can’t quite wrap our heads around. They’re supposed to be great at operating systems and games consoles, terrible at phones, and excellent at peripherals. But if they keep on putting out computing hardware like the set announced last night at a New York event, we’re going to have to revise exactly what the company is best known for. Here’s a list of (most of) what they announced yesterday evening.

Quite a few sequels

Microsoft pulled the covers off several new computing devices at their reveal event, though all of them are updates of existing product lines. There is something new (below) but, weirdly, it’s not a computer. We doubt we’ll see a new PC type from them unless they release a dedicated gaming machine (the Xbox One doesn’t count) but these updates will do for now.

Flying the flag ever higher — Microsoft’s Surface Pro 6

Every hardware maker has (or should have) a headline product and for Microsoft it’s the Surface Pro — which has turned 6 already. The new model doesn’t do much to change its looks from 2017 but Microsoft is putting a new 8th-gen Core i5 or i7 processor in the driving seat. A new internal design means that it’s cool enough to run quad-core chips, leading to a substantial speed increase (up to 67%, according to M$). There’s space for up to 16GB of RAM, Microsoft’s claiming up to 13.5 hours of battery life, and like Christian Bale’s Tumbler, it now comes in black. Matte black. They’re set for launch overseas on 16 October 2018.

Making MacBook’s nervous: The Microsoft Surface Laptop 2

Another device that hasn’t changed much on the design side, the Surface Laptop 2 improves on last year’s Surface Laptop by doubling the RAM from 4GB to 8GB and updating their processors to 8th-gen Intel. There isn’t much else changing — the 13.5in 2,256 x 1,504 display, 14.5 hour up-time (while running video), and SSD storage options are remaining the same. We guess Microsoft reckons that they don’t have to mess with (near) perfection. There are black and burgundy colour options and it’ll also start shipping (internationally) from 16 October.

Bigger is better? Meet Microsoft’s Surface Studio 2

So you need an oversized tablet, do you? Not many people do, so you might be working in creative design in some capacity. If you do, the Microsoft Surface Studio 2 is going to be for you. The Studio 2 is a 28in display, which has had its graphics power increased, 2TB of SSD storage, and a hinge that lets users prop it up in various orientations — perfect for showing clients what the latest concept art looks like before you lay it flat again and get back to the salt mines. It carries a massive $3,500 (R50,250) price tag and (surprise, surprise) ships overseas from 16 October.

And something new

It’s not all sequels for Microsoft, they did have something a little… new and different for users at last night’s event. A couple of things, really, but some stuff just isn’t going to work here. So we’ve largely passed over those — the hurt is just too much.

Listen, do you hear that? It’s Microsoft’s Surface… Headphones?

What nobody was expecting was a pair of Surface Headphones to be announced. They’ll be confined to the States at launch but we’re keen on getting a pair. The grey over-ear cans are wireless and incorporate adjustable noise cancelling as well as Cortana, in case you’re partial to the company’s digital assistant. The noise cancelling can be adjusted by turning a volume knob on the left ear-cup (the right ear-cup has an actual volume dial), letting you decide how much of the outside world you’re going to let in. Microsoft’s claiming a 15-hour battery, so it should hold up to most long-haul flights. The headphones can be used with a 3.5mm cable if you’re not feeling the wireless and they charge via USB-C. Launch date? Before year-end, with the US and the UK first on the list.


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