Microsoft continued the fall tech showcase season last week, unveiling updates to its Surface line of devices as the company prepares for the launch of Windows 11 on Oct. 5. The upgrades ranged from near overhauls to small tweaks, including welcome iterations on accessories that enhance the user experience of the laptops and tablets.
With many of these new devices set to release alongside the new operating system, let’s run through what these new Surface devices are packing under the hood.
No device underwent as drastic a redesign this year as the Surface Pro 8 tablet. The new display removes the clunk of past models, packing in a larger touchscreen display (13 in.) while reducing the bezels. It also includes two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports for the first time, greatly expanding the devices compatibility with external devices.
Internally, the Pro 8 ups the processing speed with the newest 11th generation processors from Intel. As far as battery life, Microsoft claims it will last 16 hours on a single charge, though those claims remain to be vetted by in actual use cases. The Pro 8 starts at $1,099.99.
Microsoft unveiled three accessories compatible with most Surface devices that represent interesting steps in development. The Surface Slim Pen 2 adds a haptic motor to the $130 stylus that the company claims makes using it feel more like putting pen to paper. A new eco-friendly Ocean Plastic Mouse ($24.99) made from 20% recycled ocean plastic serves as a nice compliment and a step toward Microsoft’s stated goal of zero-waste operations by 2030.
The company also announced the Surface Adaptive Kit—a collection of labels, port indicators and openers that make Surface devices more accessible for users with disabilities.
Dual-screen devices are back in a tangible and interesting way, and Microsoft’s updated entry in the market provides some interesting improvements that move it closer to a mobile device while maintaining the power of a small tablet. The Duo 2 adds a new three-camera array, 5G support (though availability of 5G networks is still lacking) and a Glance Bar screen on the hinge where users can see information common to a smartphone home screen, including notifications.
The price tag ($1,499.99) is still steep, but the additions make the device more attractive, though you’ll need an additional $65 half-sleeve if you want to dock and charge the Slim Pen 2 on the device. The Surface Duo 2 releases on Oct. 21.
The latest addition to the Surface lineup, the Surface Laptop Studio’s most eye-catching feature is the hinge on the back of the device. Adding it allows for the screen to be moved closer to the user, giving it three different constructions that cater to different uses. Microsoft describes the laptop as its “most powerful Surface we’ve ever built,” powering it with Intel 11th generation i5 and i7 processors in variant models. The i7 version comes with an Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti GPU, giving it intriguing gaming capabilities. It also boasts up to 2TB of SSD storage. The Surface Laptop Studio starts at $1,599.99.
Little has changed with the Surface’s low-end device, but where the next iteration does improve is in processing speed. All variants of the device include beefier Intel processors than its predecessors, with the Core i3 version performing 60% faster according to Microsoft. The Surface Go 3 starts at $400.
There isn’t anything new to report in terms of the internal construction or external upgrades to the Surface Pro X. But the company did introduce a new WiFi-only model of the tablet. This new version carves $100 off of the starting price, knocking it down to $899.
Brian Bell is a queer freelance writer covering tech, pro wrestling, esports, games, comics and TV. Find and follow him on Twitter @WonderboyOTM.