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Microsoft brings Surface Pro 8 into the 21st Century – new Pro X, Go 3, Duo and Studio

Surface Family

Apologies to Microsoft for the intro, but its Surface range has always been solid but never leading-edge tech. At last, the Surface Pro 8 gets Thunderbolt 4, and all get Windows 11. The world is back in balance.

I want to explain my elation over Thunderbolt 3 or 4 (TB3 or TB4) and its 40Gbps interface. It is about time Microsoft got with it as other brands have been using TB3 since 2016 and TB4 since 2020!

I have used the Surface Pro series since it began – it is a lifestyle choice. I love the original hybrid tablet/laptop design. It has tons of power as my production PC, and I can travel without needing a second computer.

But it has always been hampered (in my opinion) by the 5Gbps Surface Connect Ribbon connector that provides upstream power and downstream data (including video, audio, Ethernet and USB). You can only expand it via the Microsoft Dock or the excellent and only Surface approved Kensington SD7000 Surface Pro Dock. These enable two [email protected] or two [email protected] monitors and a few USB ports.

The Surface Pro 7 had a USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps) port that enabled me to run one [email protected] monitor over Alt DP and one [email protected] over the dock’s DP Port. Expansion was still minimal. Well, now that is fixed – thank you, Microsoft!

Here is an overview of the new model line-up.

Surface Pro 8

Surface Pro 8 is available for pre-order today at Microsoft Store and from 4 November 2021 from Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi, The Good Guys, and other major retailers,

The Surface Pro 8 satisfies Intel’s EVO program, which means all-day battery life and a host of other features, including TB4. Brief tech specs include

  • 13”, 2880 x 1920, 120Hz, 3:”2 PixelSense screen with Dolby Vision and narrow bezels
  • Intel Core i5-1135G7 or i7-1185G7
  • Up to 32GB RAM and a removable 128/256GB SSD (Fixed 512GB or 1TB)
  • 2 x Thunderbolt 4 ports (also USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 and USB-C 4 compatible)
  • Surface Connect Ribbon port and Surface Type cover port
  • 3.5mm 4-pole combo earphone/mic
  • Windows Hello 5MP 1080p front and 10MP 4K rear camera
  • Stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos downmix
  • Wi-Fi 6 AC and BT 5.1
  • 50Wh battery for up to 16 hours
  • Price: From $1649 (i5/8/128GB) to $3299 (i7/32GB/1TB)
  • Type Cover $259.95, and with Slim Pen 2 $429.95. Pen only $189.95

What more can you say – a welcome upgrade even though it is damned expensive!

Intel is excited to have Microsoft Surface join the Intel Evo family. The new Surface Pro 8 delivers on the uncompromised experiences of the Intel Evo platform. Powered by Intel’s 11th Gen Core processors, this is also the first Microsoft Surface Pro to offer Thunderbolt 4 for best-in-class connectivity and fast charging over a single wire.

Josh Newman, Intel vice president of Mobile Innovation

Surface Pro X

Surface Pro X has a minor refresh to the SQ2 ARM processor and comes with Windows 11 for ARM. Price from $1699 (SQ1 processor, 8/128, LTE) to $2899 (SQ2 16/512GB LTE). Wi-Fi only models will be available soon. Windows 11 brings full 64-bit emulation to run a full range of Windows apps.

Mark my words – Windows on ARM is the future of portable computing.

Surface Go 3

Surface Go 3 is a refresh of the ultra-portable 10.5” 1920 x 1280 3:2 Go 2 with a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 and Surface Connect Ribbon. A choice of Intel Pentium Gold 6500Y or Intel Core i3-10100Y. Buy it for its handbag size, 11-hour battery life, and full Windows compatibility (comes with Windows 11 S version).

Pentium 4/64GB $629 and 8/128GB $849. No i3 pricing yet.

Surface Laptop Studio (formerly Book)

Surface Laptop Studio has morphed from a separate tablet and GPU base to a hybrid clamshell and tablet.

  • 14.4” 2400×1600, 120Hz, 3:2 PixelSense screen with Dolby Vision and narrow bezels
  • Intel Core H35 i5-11300H or H35 i7-11370H
  • I5 uses Intel Iris Xe, and i7 has NVIDIA GeForce RTYX 3050 Ti GPU with 4GB GDDR6
  • 16 or 32GB RAM
  • Removable SSD 256/512GB and 1/2TB
  • 2 Thunderbolt 4
  • Surface Ribbon connect
  • 3.5 mm 4-pole combo earphone and mic
  • Windows Hello 1080p front camera
  • Quad speakers with Dolby Atmos downmix
  • Wi-Fi 6 AC and BT 5.1
  • 58Wh battery for up to 16 hours
  • Price: TBA coming early 2022

An advance but dedicated Book users will miss the detachable tablet section. Coming early 2022.

Surface Duo 2 – yes, it is a phone

Surface Duo 2 (US website)

  • 8.3” 2688 x1892 Pixel Sense AMOLED 90Hz Fusion Display – it is a 2-part 5.8” hinged display with Slim Pen 2 compatibility, 100% DCI-P3, 800 nits, Gorilla Glass VIctus
  • Qualcomm SD888 5G running Android 11 or 12
  • eSIM and SIM 5G supports all sub-6Ghz and 5G Low Band except Optus n40
  • 8GB RAM
  • Tri-camera [email protected], 12MP wide, 16MP ultrawide and 12MP telephoto and separate ToF depth sensor
  • Android versions of Office, OneDrive, Note, Outlook. Teams and more
  • USB 3.2 Gen 2 10Gbps interface
  • 4500mAh battery and 23W fast charge
  • 145.2 x 184.5 x 5.5mm (open) and 145.2 x 92.1 x 11mm (closed) X 284g
  • From US$1499. Starting at A$2,319 in Obsidian and Glacier and in Australia from late October.

I could never understand why Microsoft would release an Android phone when it has Windows 11 on ARM. But the extent of Google Play far outweighs the Microsoft Store. And via its Your Phone companion app, it will seamlessly integrate to Windows anyway.

Summary

Great and worthy upgrades – Microsoft Surface owners will find reasons to upgrade. I know I will!

If you are a business user check our Surface for Business and connect with a local authorised reseller. For a deeper look at these new products, check out Microsoft Mechanics. The Microsoft Launch site has additional information including detailed spec sheets.