Microsoft’s Surface rebuilt to be thinner, more powerful

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We hope you weren’t set on a new computer, because two more are on the way, and from the looks of things, these could be winning improvements.

Overnight, Microsoft has made some announcements that affect the world of Windows, and now that Microsoft’s Windows 10 has been out in the world for a few months, the company is keen to talk about how it’s going.

For instance, in the few months since Windows 8.1’s replacement arrived, it has been installed on 110 million devices, which Microsoft says has been updated at three times the rate of Windows 7 within the same time frame.

With that in mind, the company is ready with hardware, or about ready, anyway, designing new computers for its new operating system, and talking up apps for its ecosystem, which it hopes more people will use.


The hardware is what grabs us from this announcement, however, and as expect, Microsoft has an update for its Surface Pro line of computers.

That update adds a number and slims down on some others, as Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 jumps to the Surface Pro 4, which in turn adds new specs, drops in size and increases some of the technology to be better for everyone.


Let’s start with the specs, and this time we’re jumping from the Intel fourth-gen Core processors of the Pro 3 up a couple of generations to the sixth-generation Core technology known as “Skylake”, relying on either a Core M3 for the low end, all the way up to Core i5 and i7 processors in the high end. The weight doesn’t take much of an increase with either, with the low-end m3 model fetching 766 grams while the more performance capable i5 and i7 variants will barely tip the scales at 786 grams.

Inside, you’re talking between 4 and 16GB RAM, while storage jumps from 128GB and can hit all the way up to 1TB if you need it, while wireless options cater for Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11ac WiFi.


The screen has also been updated, with the 3:2 aspect ratio sticking around from last time, but both the size and the resolution jumping, as 12 inches jumps to 12.3 and the resolution moves on from 2160×1440 to 2736×1824.

That might look like just a bunch of numbers to you, but what that translates to is a sharper screen with more “Retina-like” graphics, beating both the Surface Pro 3’s 216 pixels per inch and the MacBook Pro 13 inch’s 221 ppi (pixels per inch) count with 267 ppi on the Pro 4.

Microsoft’s screen has also been updated to support a new pen which provides up to 1024 points of pressure from the updated Surface Pen, which itself looks a little more like a pencil now, while the cameras built into the body can play with Windows Hello, meaning you can unlock a Surface Pro 4 simply by looking at it.


Other Surface staples are here, too, such as the hinge on the back for turning the tablet into a stand, a microSD slot for upgrading the storage, and a magnesium casing, while the Microsoft proprietary connections from last time stick around, providing the same charge technology and the same keyboard dock, handy if you want to bring over accessories from last time, like the fabric keyboard, of which there is also a new variant of.


Up to nine hours of battery life are possible from this one, and you’ll find the price on the Surface Pro 4 starts at $1349, with availability from November 12, the same date when Microsoft’s first store in Australia opens.


Now a new Surface was expected, but what wasn’t was something to go alongside the new Surface, and this is the computer that really has our attention.

A little bit different, this is Microsoft redesigning the laptop.


This redesigned laptop is to be Microsoft’s Surface Book, a hybrid laptop that takes a slightly larger take on the Surface Pro 4 and equips it with a magnesium casing, providing similar specs and features, but also packing in a little more power if you really need it.

Inside, you’ll find either the Core i5 or Core i7 options just like the mid-to-high-end Surface Pro 4 computer, with the same options of storage, and either 8 or 16GB RAM, but with this computer, you’ll find an option for an Nvidia GeForce discrete graphics chip built into the keyboard section, catering for games and video content creation if need be.


The keyboard section is also very different from the fabric keyboards of the Surface Pro 3 and 4, with a magnesium body complete with backlit keys and the sort of travel you might expect from a laptop rather than a keyboard accessory.

It does need to be noted that the Surface Book is, essentially, a detachable Surface Pro in a laptop body, but the screen is a little different, bringing in a 3000×2000 13 inch display showing up the same 267 pixels per inch seen in the Surface Pro 4, making it suitably high end. It also supports the same sort of touch as the Pro 4, and even take the new 1024 level pressure sensitive Surface Pen.

Battery life jumps up on this model, too, increased to up to 12 hours of video playback, with support provided for the Surface Pro 3 accessories also.


But the main reason the Surface Book grabs us comes from the idea that it seems like Microsoft is listening.

Indeed, after using the Surface Pro 3 for an extended time, we can tell you that its greatest problems stem from a keyboard that could barely survive the length of a full laptop life, as well as a screen that just doesn’t feel like it was made to go the distance equally.


In this computer, both appear to have been addressed, with a custom display and a more laptop-inspired keyboard, complete with a unique hinge. And while this is more laptop inspired than the tablet-heavy Surface, we’re okay with that, because if the Surface Book can improve the reliability, that can only be a good thing.

Pricing on the Surface Book comes in at $2299, and you’ll find this one in stores from November 12, also. Stay tuned, we can’t wait to get this one in our hands.