Everything Microsoft Announced at Its Surface Event
- By Chris Paoli
- September 24, 2021
Microsoft showed off its updated and expanded line of Surface devices this week, positioning the new Surface Laptop Studio as its flagship Windows 11 laptop.
"With Surface Laptop Studio, we built on the heritage of both Surface Book and Surface Studio, bringing you the power of a desktop, but also that portability needed in a laptop," said Panos Panay, Microsoft's chief product officer, during the live virtual event. "And then the creativity of a Studio all in one."
The new hybrid laptop is the "most powerful Surface" the company has ever made, according to Panay. He touted the device's "dynamic woven hinge" as having improved durability over its previous-generation hinges, and its 14.4-inch PixelSense Flow display, which supports a resolution of 2400 x 1600 and 120Hz.
The Surface Laptop Studio, which is now available for preorder and will be released on Oct. 5, can be used in three modes, thanks to the hinge. The first is a traditional laptop configuration, with a full keyboard and touchpad with haptic support. The second, called "stage mode," angles and brings the screen forward, covering the keyboard. The company said this form was designed for presenting, gaming and content consumption. Finally, the screen can completely cover and lay flush with the keyboard in a mode called "studio," transforming it into a more traditional tablet, designed for creativity, especially when paired with the Surface Slim Pen 2 (sold separately).
Depending on your budget and power needs, Microsoft is releasing different models, with a choice of 11th-generation Intel Core i5 or i7, GPU choices of Intel Iris Xe Graphics or Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 TI laptop GPU, and SSD storage options of 256GB, 512GB, 1TB or 2TB. The starting price for Microsoft's flagship device is $1,599.
Microsoft Surface Duo 2
Wednesday's event also included the announcement that Microsoft is taking another swing at a foldable Android device. The Surface Duo 2 has two 5.8-inch, 1344 x 1892 OLED displays connected by a hinge, supports 5G and the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, running on Android 11 at launch.
New features over the last iteration also include a magnetic bar, to keep your Surface Pen device in place, and a Surface Duo Glance Bar, which shows basic information, like the time, weather and text messages when the device is closed.
Two major complaints with the first generation of the Surface Duo were the somewhat lackluster single camera and the difficult screen-sharing between the two screens. Microsoft is addressing the first issue with three 12-megapixel cameras (ultrawide, wide and telephoto) and demonstrated increased optimization when sharing information between the two screens.
In the presentation, Shilpa Ranganathan, CVP of mobile and cross device experiences, made the case for Surface Duo 2 as a productivity device by showing off how seamlessly Microsoft Teams can work with the two-screen configuration and how easy it is to use apps like shared whiteboards, when paired with a Surface Pen device.
The device is available now for preorder for $1,499 ($100 more than the previous model).
Other Surface Announcements
Microsoft packed its 50-minute presentation with announcements of upgrades and refreshes of almost all of its Surface products and accessories. Some of the additional highlights include:
- Surface Pro 8: The new model sports an increased 13-inch screen, while keeping the relative size of the previous versions by decreasing the side bevels. It also includes two Thunderbolt 4 ports and a Surface Pen holder on the keyboard.
- Surface Slim Pen 2: The new pen device can work across the entire line of Surface devices and now features built-in haptics.
- Surface Go 3: Microsoft's budget Surface device ($400 without keyboard) comes with a new Intel Core i3 chip that the company said is more than 50 percent faster than last year's model, has an increased battery life and can be purchased with built-in LTE support.
- Surface Mouse: In a show of commitment to sustainability, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella unveiled the eco-friendly Surface Mouse accessory, made from 20 percent recycled ocean plastics and packaged in a 100 percent recyclable box.
Surface Spare Parts
In other Surface news, Microsoft last week announced that spare parts can be ordered for commercial customers, allowing IT departments to repair enterprise-deployed Surface devices and extend the longevity of the hybrid tablets.
According to a Microsoft blog post:
We have a longstanding commitment to maximize product life, minimize waste, use more renewable resources, and improve the modularity, reparability, and recyclability of our devices -- including our packaging. We are also working with our industry partners to make available more repair options that ensure the quality of repairs, safeguard consumer's privacy and security, and help protect consumers from injury.
Starting Oct. 15, commercial customers can order spare parts, including SSD doors and kickstands. Notably absent from the list of available parts were replacement batteries.