The COVID-19 pandemic has put paid to big tech events for the time being, but companies are still pushing out their wares. Microsoft is the latest firm to launch a new suite of hardware: the Surface Book 3, the Surface Go 2, the Surface Headphones 2, and the new Surface Earbuds.
As those numbers tell you, these are all product updates except for the Surface Earbuds, which were announced last year and are now finally going on sale. Microsoft’s answer to the Apple AirPods, the truly wireless Earbuds feature on-board touch controls, all-day battery life and some neat Office 365 integrations – like the ability to have your Outlook emails read out. On sale from May 12, they cost US$129.
For a more immersive (and expensive) audio experience, there’s the option of the Surface Headphones 2 (the originals arrived in 2018). Microsoft is promising a 20-hour battery life, adjustable noise cancellation, and 13 levels of ambient noise control so you can get your aural environment just right. Also on sale from May 12, they’ll set you back $249.
The Surface Book 3 follows the Surface Book 2 from 2017, and is the most powerful laptop Microsoft has ever put out. Available configurations include the latest 10th-Gen Intel processors, up to 32 GB of RAM, and up to 2 TB of SSD storage. The graphics options are impressive too, with Nvidia GeForce GTX or Quadro RTX options on the table.
According to Microsoft, you’ll get up to 50 percent extra performance compared with the Surface Book 2, and over 17 hours of battery life, though it seems that very little has changed in terms of the exterior or the design. Once again, the screen can be detached and used as a tablet, and as before there are 13-inch and 15-inch variants (it’s all very MacBook Pro-esque). The laptop goes on sale on May 21, starting at $1,599.
If that’s a bit rich for your blood, then the affordable Surface Go 2 might suit you better, a sequel to the 2018 original. Designed as a budget alternative to the Surface Pro line, the Surface Go 2 is primarily a tablet that can do double duty as a laptop with a keyboard attachment (see also the Apple iPad).
At 10.5 inches, the screen has grown bigger on the Surface Go 2, and Microsoft says it’s up to 64 percent faster than its predecessor too – though at this price don’t expect blazing performance. The Surface stylus and keyboard covers are extra, but the Surface Go 2 itself goes on sale for $399 and up, from May 12.
Of course both the Surface Book 3 and the Surface Go 2 come running Windows 10, which is now able to swap between desktop and tablet modes without skipping a beat. It’s one difference to the Apple approach, where iOS, iPadOS and macOS remain separate.
“The new Surface Go 2, Surface Book 3, Surface Headphones 2, Surface Earbuds and accessories are designed to help you do what you need, from anywhere – a concept that has taken on new weight since we first started working on these products,” explains Microsoft in a blog post. “Instead of planes, coffee shops and offices, we’re moving from home office to kitchen table to couch, but our need for devices that keep us productive and connected has never been greater.”
Microsoft also unveiled some new accessories today. The $259.99 Surface Dock 2 gives your laptop more ports and more versatility when it’s at home, and the $99.99 Microsoft USB-C Travel Hub gives your laptop more ports and more versatility when you’re on the go. Both start shipping at some point later this month.
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