I know I’m a bit late writing about this, but in my defense the products haven’t made it to retail yet. This week Microsoft announced their new hardware products, and it was amazing. Microsoft Band 2, Microsoft Lumia 950 and 950XL, Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and the show stealing Microsoft Surface Book.
There was another demo of HoloLens, and a pre-order for the developer kit. However, since playing with it at //build/ this past year I haven’t been all that excited about it. Plus, as you’ll read soon, I have better things to spend $3000 on.
First up is the new and improved Microsoft Band. It has a better fit than the original and they achieved this by making the screen curved and moving the batteries around. They added a barometer to help measure altitude changes. They did not mention anything about battery life. This was one of the things that I didn’t like about the original Band. It is fine for three days but it’ll shut off when you least expect it to. Like at 3AM when you have an alarm set for 7AM. They signed up more partners this time around and the metal finish on the device makes it look a lot cooler. The overall reaction to this device was so good that my wife actually heard about it and said she wants one instead of a FitBit. This will retail for $299 and is available October 30th.
Next up is something that I’ve been waiting a long time for. The Lumia 950 and 950XL. The screen is WQHD (Wide Quad High Definition) and it packs a 20MP (mega-pixel) camera. The front camera allows for facial recognition authentication which is built into the new OS that powers the phone. At the end of the day what’s to say? It is a smart phone, but this one packs a little difference. For $99 you can buy an adapter that will plug it into a computer monitor and keyboard/mouse and turn it into a computer. The demo of this was pretty neat, but honestly I don’t know if I’d ever use this feature. This new phone is powered by Windows 10 and will be available this November for an unlocked price of $649 for the 950XL.
Take last year’s blockbuster Surface Pro 3, expand the screen size to 12.3 inches, remove the Windows button, and then pack in a more powerful processor and you have this year’s Surface Pro 4. You have additional options of processor, memory and storage. From a Intel Core M3 all the way up to an Intel Core i7 processor the power in this tablet promises to be 40% faster than last year’s model. With memory options up to 16GB of RAM I wouldn’t doubt that it is more powerful than my faithful Surface Pro 3. They also improved the pen giving it 1024 states of pressure sensitivity and a magnet to hold it onto the edge of the device. Also, they improved the keyboard giving it chicklet style keys and a larger touchpad. The Surface Pro 4 is available now for pre-order and will ship on October 26th.
Microsoft did something they never do. They pulled a, “Oh and one more thing.” They introduced a new laptop called the Surface Book. This is a 13.5 inch screen at 3000x2000 pixel resolution. It includes the same Surface Pen that comes with the Surface Pro 4. The big difference here is that this is a laptop. The Surface Book has a graphics chip from nVidia built into the keyboard, but you can take just the monitor off and carry it like a tablet. The word on the street is that in tablet mode the battery lasts 3 hours, but when plugged into the keyboard base it has a 12 hour battery. The Surface Book is available now for pre-order and will ship of October 26th.
I would love to get a Surface Book. The one I want though is currently out of stock, oh and it’s $2700. That puts it slightly out of my price range. I figure I have a good Surface Pro 3 and can live with it until next year when a new version of the Surface Book becomes available. I will add to my Surface Pro 3 by getting the new Type Cover that includes a fingerprint reader. This doesn’t mean that I’ll be happy about it though .
As for the phone, the only real question is do I get the 5.2 inch screen 950 or the 5.7 inch screen 950XL. I’ve been needing a new phone for a while and this fits my personality perfectly. I will report on it once I get one. Someone on Twitter pointed out that this phone was probably finished before Panos Panay took over the phone group. What this means is that he didn’t have a chance to put his personality into it. It isn’t the Surface Phone that a lot of people were talking about, but the next phone to come from Microsoft will have his fingerprints on it and that will be a really good thing. It will mean it will be a phone I’m excited about.
The Band is another question. I have the first Band and it is literally coming apart. The rubber next to the screen is ripping off and the battery compartments have been rubbed to the metal casing. I’d like to get a new Band, but I’m just not sold on the $249 price tag. It is $50 more than the original and I’m sure it is worth it.
One thing that did happen with this announcement is that it really got people talking about Microsoft hardware again. The Surface Pro 4 is an amazing machine, but more than that is it paved the way for the Surface Book to come in and be the pinnacle of hardware for the Windows ecosystem. I’m proud of that for Microsoft, and I hope this is just the beginning.