At today’s Surface event, Microsoft unveiled a number of new and improved Surface products, including the new Surface Pro 8, a creator-focused Surface Laptop Studio and the Surface Duo 2, an updated version of its dual-display folding smartphone. While you can watch the event in its entirety via the above video, we’ll break down the biggest announcements from the livestream.
Surface Pro 8
One of Microsofts biggest announcements at today’s event was the Surface Pro 8, a major upgrade to its Surface Pro line, whose updates have been rather incremental going back to the Surface Pro 3. Headlining the upgrades is a new 120Hz display, Thunderbolt 4 support and updated chipsets that bring Intel’s 11th Gen quad-core Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors.
The new 13″ PixelSense Flow Display is larger, both in physical dimensions and resolution, than previous Surface Pro devices. The 2880 x 1920 pixels(267 ppi) multitouch display runs at 60Hz by default, but supports up to 120Hz refresh rate, and will intelligently alter the framerate to optimize performance when needed and battery life for less resource-intensive tasks. The display offers Dolby Vision support for high dynamic range (HDR) content and works with the new and improved Surface Slim Pen 2 to offer a unique writing experience that matches the feeling of a pen on paper, according to Microsoft.
Another major improvement is the inclusion of Thunderbolt 4. Gone are the USB-A ports seen on past Surface Pro devices. Now, the Surface Pro 8 includes two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, which support external monitors, external storage and even an External GPU for times when you need a little more processing power for editing video (or gaming). Unfortunately, the USB-C ports don’t double as charging ports, which is reserved for the usual Surface Connect port.
There are multiple Surface Pro 8 configurations, but pricing starts at $1,099 for a quad-core Intel Core i5 version with 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD and tops out at $2,599 for a quad-core Intel Core i7 model with 32GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. Those prices are also the base models of the lower-end and higher-end configurations, too, so additional add-ons and accessories and further increase the price.
Other features include a 3.5mm audio port, Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity, 2W Dolby Atmos-certified speakers, a 5MP front-facing camera with 1080p video and a 10MP rear-facing camera with 4K video. Microsoft claims up to 16 hours of battery life during ‘typical device usage.’
You can find out more about the Surface Pro 8 and try out the configurator on Microsoft’s website.
Surface Laptop Studio
The next computing product Microsoft announced is the Surface Laptop Studio, a successor to its Surface Book lineup that combines the form factor of a laptop with the flexibility of a tablet. What does that mean? Well, for Microsoft, that means putting a hinge in the center of the display so you can fold the screen over the keyboard to use in what Microsoft calls ‘Studio Mode.’
Like the Surface Pro 8, one of the biggest differences between the Surface Laptop Studio and its predecessors is its 14.4″ PixelSense Flow Display with a 2400 x 1600 pixel resolution. It also carries over the same 120Hz refresh rate and Dolby Vision support from the Surface Pro 8.
Behind the display is what Microsoft is calling the Dynamic Woven Hinge, which enables the computer to work in three different form factors: laptop, stage and studio. Laptop mode, as you might’ve guessed, is when the computer is laid out like your average laptop with the screen attached to the keyboard at the bottom. Stage mode is a hybrid configuration where you can tilt the screen forward from the hinge and have it sit atop of the keyboard with only the touchpad showing. Lastly, Studio mode is when the screen is entirely folded down on top of the bottom half of the computer to effectively turn it into a tablet.
The Surface Laptop Studio features the same I/O options as the Surface Pro 8, inlcuding Thunderbolt 4 and Wi-Fi 6 support.
Configurations start at $1,599 for a quad-core Intel Core i5 processor with Intel Iris Xe graphics, 16GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. If you jump up to the quad-core i7 configurations, which start at $2,099, you’ll get NVidia’s RTX 3050 Ti GPU (4GB of VRAM) for additional graphics processing power, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. Pre-orders are available now and the first units are set to ship on October 5, 2021.
You can find out more and test out different configurations on Microsoft’s website.
Surface Duo 2
The last major announcement during Microsoft’s event was the Surface Duo 2, its second iteration of its dual-screen folding Android smartphone. On the outside, the Surface Duo 2 remains largely unchanged from its predecessor, but inside Microsoft has improved a number of key components to make it a more well-rounded device.
At the heart of the device is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 chipset, which is a welcomed improvement from the 855 in the previous version, but still short of the Snapdragon 888+ chipsets we expect to see in the next generation of flagship Android devices. In addition to improved performance, this chipset offers 5G connectivity.
The dual AMOLED PixelSense Fusion Displays open up to 8.3″ (diagonally) and offer a combined resolution of 2688 x 1892 pixels (401 PPI). Microsoft says the 90Hz displays cover 100% of sRGB and DCI-P3 color spaces and top out at 800 nits max brightness. Both displays are covered by Corning’s Gorilla Glass Victus.
Microsoft has also dramatically improved the camera array onboard compared to the original Surface Duo, giving the Surface Duo 2 a triple-camera array. This trifecta includes a 16MP F2.2 ultrawide camera, a 12MP F1.7 wide camera with optical image stabilization and a 12MP F2.4 telephoto camera with optical image stabilization.
Other hardware updates include the addition of NFC and support for Microsoft’s lineup of Surface Pens.
The Surface Duo 2 starts at $1,499 for the base model, which includes 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. You can find out more about the Surface Duo 2 and pre-order one on Microsoft’s website.