Microsoft unveiled a four-pack of new Surface gadgets at an event in New York City on Tuesday.
We saw the company show off the new Surface Pro 6 tablet/laptop hybrid; the Surface Laptop 2; the Surface Studio all-in-one desktop; and, to cap it all of, the surprise of the $US349 Surface Headphones.
Here’s everything Microsoft just announced – and our first impressions of the new gear, after getting to go hands-on with all four devices following the event.
Surface Pro 6, $US899, available on October 16th.
The Surface Pro 6 was the headliner.
In terms of design, it’s not much different from the current-generation Surface Pro, currently on store shelves. The Surface Pro 6 does, however, sport a modern quad-core Intel processor, which Microsoft says makes it 1.5 times faster than its predecessor.
In terms of aesthetics, you can get the Surface Pro 6 in a new, sleek matte black finish – though that option only comes with certain higher-end models, which will run you more than the $US899 starting price.
In our hands-on time with the Surface Pro 6, we found that Microsoft didn’t mess much with its own winning formula. However, it’s worth noting the somewhat puzzling absence of a USB-C port, which the tech-savvy might find disappointing.
Oh, and the matte black finish looks extremely good in real life.
Surface Laptop 2, $US999, available on October 16th.
The Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 is an update to last year’s original-recipe model.
Just like the original, the Surface Laptop 2 is a 13.5-inch touchscreen laptop, running Windows 10. Otherwise, its most notable physical feature is its Alcantara fabric-covered keyboard.
Much like with the Surface Pro 6, the biggest changes here are under the hood. A current-generation Intel processor makes the Surface Laptop almost twice as fast as the previous model, Microsoft says. And, again, some models come in that pleasing premium matte black finish.
When we tried the Surface Laptop 2, we didn’t find that it changed much from the original version. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing: The Surface Laptop 2’s screen, its high-quality trackpad, and its slick design give it an overall feel that can best be described as Apple-esque. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Surface Studio 2, $US3499, available on November 15th.
Microsoft’s all-in-one Surface Studio 2 is both powerful and gorgeous – but at a $US3,499 price tag, it comes at a significant premium.
The headlining feature of the Surface Studio 2 is its gorgeous screen, which Microsoft says is brighter than the previous model, with better contrast. Just like the older model, the Surface Studio’s screen is on a unique swivel hinge that lets you bring it down to a comfortable angle for sketching or editing.
Apart from the improvements to the screen, the changes in the Surface Studio 2 aren’t super obvious. It has a faster processor, a speedier SSD hard drive, and better graphics hardware from Nvidia – something that’s not super-obvious from a quick hands-on session, but that could make a big difference to pros using the Surface Studio 2 in the real world.
Surface Headphones, $US349, available “this holiday season.”
A surprise from Microsoft’s event: The Surface Headphones, a premium pair of headphones that Microsoft promises will be available later this year.
They’re wireless, charge via USB-C, and have noise cancellation features. They also let you summon Cortana, Microsoft’s voice assistant, and its answer to Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa.
In our brief time trying the Surface Headphones, we were struck by how comfy they are, and how well the noise cancellation works. A twist dial over one ear controls the volume; the other raises or lowers the level of noise reduction.
It’s hard to tell at a Microsoft event just how well these headphones will work. Still, even with the hefty price tag, it’s clear that these Surface Headphones have a lot of promise, and could perhaps even present some worthy competition to the likes of the popular Bose QuietComfort Series III headphones.