It might not get the hype of Apple’s big iPhone launch event, but you’d do well to pay attention to Microsoft’s new hardware. The company’s new line of Surface products has been joined by the first ever Surface Headphones. Here’s a need-to-know rundown of all the big new products Microsoft has announced.
Starting at £749, the Surface Pro 6 – as with all the updated PCs – comes with the latest 8th-generation, quad-core Intel Core i5 and i7 processor. For top performance, you can max out the specs and spend £2,149. Cooling and fan noise have also been improved to match the boost in performance.
Not much has changed on the outside, but Microsoft claims the internal refresh makes it 67 per cent faster than its predecessor. A new black matte version is also available – good news for anyone who likes using Windows 10 in dark mode. It’s got the same 12.3-inch, 267ppi display and a stated 13.5-hour battery life. Weirdly, USB-C – which Microsoft has introduced on its Surface Go and Surface Book 2 – is still conspicuous by its absence. The Surface Pro 6 goes on sale October 16, with pre-orders already open.
The second-gen update of the Surface Studio has the same 28-inch display as the original. Microsoft has made some small tweaks, however. That screen is now apparently 38 per cent brighter with 22 per cent more contrast. It also supports 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity when used with the Surface Pen, with tilt functionality also now supported.
Microsoft has stopped short of including Intel’s latest processors. That means the Studio 2 is powered by the same 7th-generation Core i7 as in the original, though the inclusion of a 1TB or 2TB SSD, replacing the hybrid drive, should improve performance. The Studio 2 does have UCB-C in addition to Microsoft’s proprietary Surface Connect, USB-A and Ethernet.
The main upgrade to the insides comes from the new GPUs, with either options for either the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 with 6GB GDDR5 memory or the GeForce GTX 1070 with 8GB GDDR5 memory available. As a result, Microsoft says the Studio 2’s GPU performance is 50 per cent faster than the original. Memory is available in either 16GB or 32GB. UK pricing and availability is yet to be announced, though the Studio 2 is available to pre-order now in the UK starting at £2,694.
The new Surface Laptop is, according to Microsoft, 85 per cent faster than its predecessor. It gets the same 8th-gen Intel processors, with i5 and i7 options starting at £949 and going up to £2,529. There’s also the same matte-black colour option. Again, the update is more of a refresh than a complete overhaul. The base model jumps from 4GB to 8GB of RAM, with the same 13.5-inch, 2256 x 1504 display as the original. Storage ranges from 128GB to 1TB. Microsoft claims the battery should last 14.5 hours when playing video nonstop. Again, USB-C is missing. The Surface Laptop 2 also goes on sale on October 16.
Something unexpected from Microsoft: a pair of Surface-branded headphones with Cortana built-in. The over-the-ear Bluetooth headphones have volume and active noise-cancellation dials built into the design of the cups with play and pause done automatically when the headphones are put on or taken off. Battery life is stated as 15 hours and they charge over USB-C in two hours. The Surface Headphones are only available in grey.
The inclusion of Cortana means you can ask it to play your favourite song, set a reminder or make and answer calls with your voice. The Surface Headphones will only be available in the US when they launch later this year and cost around £270. Plans for a UK launch are yet to be announced.