Yesterday evening Microsoft held its Surface event, where it showed off a slew of new hardware in its line of unique products. Here’s what we think were the most exciting announcements.
Surface Laptop Studio
We know you’re normally supposed to save the best for last, but we just feel like we need to talk about this piece of kit right now. First things first, look at it. Just look at it. This thing is a work of art.
The Studio seems a bit like a spiritual successor to Microsoft’s line of Surface Books, the last of which was the Surface Book 3. And with everything this baby’s got going on inside, we think successor might even be a bit of an understatement.
Under the hood, you’ll find a powerful 11th Gen Intel H series CPU (either Core i5 or Core i7), with graphics taken care of by an Nvidia GTX 3050 Ti. As the name would imply, this laptop is set up as an all-in-one studio for designers, which is why it’s so heavy specs-wise. Pair those internals up with a 14in display with a refresh rate of up to 120Hz and you’ve got yourself a beast of a machine for design or general gaming. And we haven’t even started talking about the fancy stuff yet.
Products in Microsoft’s Surface lineup often come sporting a neat twist, that being that their displays can detach so that the whole machine acts as a sort of tablet. The Studio does indeed have a tablet mode, but the way it carries it out is unique. Rather than having a detachable screen, the Studio has a neat double-hinge mechanic that lets you fold the display onto the keyboard, or even just tilt it at an angle that overlaps the keyboard. This makes it perfect for drawing, designing and gaming at a variety of angles.
This design choice is also how the studio gets away with packing such hot internals inside its sleek frame, i.e. it’s better at keeping everything cool.
In more mundane spheres, you can set your Studio up with 16 or 32 gigs of RAM and up to 2TB of storage, which you can actually change yourself if you want to. On the port front, aside from the headphone jack there isn’t a lot going on. Just a pair of Thunderbolt 4 ports. Additionally, Microsoft promises that you’ll get 18 hours out of a single charge.
The bottom line is this machine is a beast in the 2-in-1 realm, and even manages to trounce some standard high-end laptops. The starting price in the US is $1,600, which translates to a little over R23,000 over here.
Surface Pro 8
We already knew quite a bit about the Pro 8 before it was officially revealed thanks to a series of leaks. That said, we were still keen to see it shown off yesterday.
There aren’t any major differences between the Pro 7 and the Pro 8. Mostly just upgrades that you’d expect out of a new machine. The bezels have been trimmed down significantly, giving more room to the upgraded 13in display which can clock out at 120Hz. That’s becoming a more common refresh rate among laptops, but on what’s technically also a tablet it’s pretty spectacular.
Like the Studio, the Pro 8 sports a pair of Thunderbolt 4 ports, as well as a headphone jack. Also like the Studio, the thermals have been significantly improved, so your GPU and CPU experience less throttling if you use them on the go. Finally, Microsoft promises you up to 16 hours of battery life, on a battery that can charge up 80% in a little over an hour.
Inside, the Pro 8 is packing either a Core i5 or a Core i7 CPU, with integrated graphics. You can always use the Thunderbolt 4s to hook up to an external GPU if you want to turn the 2-in-1 into a gaming machine too. You’ve got your pick of 8GB, 16GB and 32GB of ram, and between 128GB and 1TB of storage depending on your configuration. The base model starts at $1,100 in the US, which is about R16,000.
Surface Go 3
As much as we were happy to see this arrive, there’s not a whole lot to say about it. The Go 3 is just an upgrade over its predecessor, which is really all it needs to be, with the low-end kitted out with a Pentium Gold 6500Y CPU and a Core i3-10100Y on the higher-ups. That’s basically it. It’s a gorgeous-looking hybrid at an affordable price. From $400, or R6,000.
Surface Duo 2
While the original Duo was cool enough, it wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire, and its internals hardly justified its price. So the Surface Duo 2 had some face to save here. Fortunately, we think it does it well.
The dual screens, perfect for multi-tasking, have been upgraded. They’re larger, brighter, and faster at 90Hz. Internally, the Duo 2 sports an impressive Snapdragon 888, 8GB of ram, and 128GB to 512GB of storage. There’s 5G support, and a 4449mAh battery. Normally that would net you a full day of use, but with 2 screens we reckon you might run this flat a little faster. Just keep a power bank nearby.
The camera bump on the rear side is home to a trio of wide, ultrawide, and telephoto lenses, each of which seems pretty solid on paper, but need hands-on testing to really show their worth.
The Duo 2 starts at $1,500, or R22,000.
Surface Slim Pen 2
What better accessory to pair up with your 2-in-1 tablet than a stylus, right? The new Surface Pen looks a lot like the old one (the one that shipped with the Surface Pro X) and functions in pretty much the same way, but it has a cool new feature: haptics.
This stylus is packed with tiny motors that whir and click about to imitate the feeling of using a real pen on a piece of paper. Obviously, the effect is probably better felt than described in text, but we’re excited about it regardless.
Microsoft also says that the new Pen is faster and more precise than its predecessor, so it’s the perfect tool for your 120Hz tablet-computer combo.
The Slim Pen 2 is compatible with the Studio and the Pro 8, latching on to their keyboards magnetically when not in use to charge. It also works with the Duo 2. Solo, it ships at $130, or roughly R2,000.
As far as hardware goes, this isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, but it definitely gets an honourable mention. It’s a simple, three-button Bluetooth mouth that eats double-As for power, but it’s made out of 20% recycled ocean plastic. Tying in to the ocean theme, it also comes with an ocean theme for your Windows 11 desktop, which is neat. And the mouse itself is entirely recyclable. Good on Microsoft for keeping things green. The mouse $25, or R360.
And that’s about it, as far as what we were stoked to see at the event goes. Microsoft also spent a significant amount of time bragging about how all of these new toys (barring the mouse) have been meticulously designed for Windows 11. A plug, sure, but perhaps not an unwarranted one.