Get ready for the word “Surface” to gradually look more and more weird through repetition, as Microsoft just unveiled five major bits of Surface branded hardware. And that’s before you get on to little extras like the Surface Slim Pen 2 which refines Microsoft’s stylus with “tactical signals”.
The most interesting thing the company unveiled was the Surface Studio Laptop – a brand name which combines two existing products into one. For those unaware, the Surface Studio is a large all-in-one desktop with a massive 28in touchscreen that can be pulled about and drawn on like a giant tablet. The Surface Laptop, meanwhile, is just a bog-standard laptop. Well, a very good one actually, but you get the idea.
So how are these two concepts married? Well, the hinge allows the 14.4in touchscreen to be popped out like an electronic canvas, as well as used in traditional laptop or tablets styles. It’s powerful too, with 11th-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processors backed by either an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti or an RTX A2000 GPU. Prices start at US$1,600 (~NZ$2,270) and get a whole lot more expensive from that already pricey starting point.
Then there’s the Surface Duo 2, Microsoft’s second attempt at an Android smartphone, and one that clearly doesn’t follow the tried and tested ‘black rectangle’ approach of other Android devices. Instead, this is two black rectangles linked via a hinge, offering a different take on foldables to Samsung.
As previously anticipated, Microsoft has fixed some of the issues with the original, by including the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor, 5G support and NFC. There’s also a new triple camera array, with a 16-megapixel f/2.2 main sensor, a 12-megapixel f/1.7 OIS wide lens and a 12-megapixel f/2.4 telephoto snapper for long-distance shots.
Unfortunately, one thing Microsoft hasn’t fixed is the price, which is a spicy US$1,500 – or around NZ$2,128. That’s only around NZ$425 less than the Samsung Galaxy Fold 3, with both a display that actually folds, and an external screen for use when closed, which makes it sound like a tough sell. Considering how quickly the original Surface Duo – also ‘optimistically’ priced – dropped from its RRP, you may well want to hang on if this sounds your bag.
Next up, there’s a refresh to the Surface Pro X – an ARM based 2-in-1 that didn’t quite deliver on its lofty promise due to buggy app compatibility. While the hardware has barely changed – you can buy it with the original SQ1 chip or a more modern SQ2 – the introduction of Windows 11 out of the box should mean far better reliability thanks to 64-bit software emulation. It’ll be available on October 5 – the same day Windows 11 arrives – with prices starting at US$900, or around NZ$1,277.
If you’re still a bit wary of ARM due to the previous Surface Pro X, there’s always the tried and tested regular Surface Pro, which now has an 8 after it. The Surface Pro 8 now comes with a slightly larger 13in screen which supports 120Hz refresh rates. 11th-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processors are the order of the day, and you can expect Intel Iris Xe graphics. Microsoft says that it performs twice as fast as the Surface Pro 7, and if that tempts you, prices start at US$1,100 (~NZ$1,562) with preorders starting today.
Finally, there’s the Surface Go 3. While the name may sound like Surface Pro if said quickly and quietly, it’s a far weaker machine aimed at entry-level 2-in-1 buyers. It comes with either a dual-core Intel Pentium Gold 6500 chip or tenth-generation quad-core Intel-core i3 processor, with either 4- or 8GB RAM. We’d recommend avoiding the model with eMMC storage though, unless you’re a digital masochist who enjoys sluggish performance. Still, the price is right, with the Surface Go 3 starting at just US$400 – or around NZ$568.