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New Surface Devices: Pro 7, 15" laptop, ARM Surface, Dual Screen Surface and Phone!


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Microsoft is holding a Surface event tomorrow to show off all their new hardware, but most of it was leaked yesterday. The new Surface Pro 7 seems to finally have a USB-C port, there's a 15" varient of the Surface Laptop, and most interestingly, there's a all new ARM based Surface.

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Almost certainly powered by Qualcomm's 8cx chips, I'm personally very interested in how MS handles this second attempt at building an ARM based Surface. I believe in MS's ability to get Windows, web browsing, and Office working well on such a device, but I'm pretty dubious as to their ability to get anything else. What exactly this device will bring to the table is an open question, but it has me personally interested.

 

 

The leaks also mentioned Windows 10X, likely a fork of Windows that will be used on an upcoming dual screen Surface product. If we see that product tomorrow, it will steal the show, even if it's not entirely ready. People have been speculating about dual screen Windows devices as far back as the Courier concepts, so it'll be exciting to see something real.

 

 

 

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So the even was this morning, and we did indeed see the expected updates. The ARM based Surface X was announced, but you'll really be paying extra for that weight savings and battery life, since it starts at $999, compared to the Surface Pro 7 starting at $749. I imagine the ARM performance is great, as long as you're not running anything emulated. MS spent very little time discussing software. They got Adobe up on stage to talk about apps, but then disappointed by only announcing Fresco, their new drawing app, would be "optimized for Surface." If all you do is Office+Web and can use the cloud for everything else, maybe it's a great device. For everyone else, it seems overly expensive and probably ill fitting.

 

Still, the real excitement was around the rumored two screen Surface Neo:

 

It's pretty slick, even if I would personally question how universally useful the form factor is. It's two 9" displays that fold together, not a folding screen. So it's very focused on productivity. I isn't scheduled to ship until the end of 2020, and I think it says something that MS doesn't think folding displays will be ready even then. Given the screen divide, it's really meant to be doing either two things at once, or one app that splits across (like Outlook, with a list of emails on one screen and an opened email on the other). Given that it doesn't really work very well as one screen, this feels like it'll only work well with MS stuff. No one is going to build specific apps for this. If it was a bending screen, and it could do all this and just be a bigger screen when you wanted it to be, it would be so much more enticing, as it is, it feels like a stopgap.

 

Speaking of which, MS also surprised everyone by showing off their Surface Duo phone:

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It's basically a miniature version of the Surface Neo, with two 5.6" displays. It's running heavily skinned Android, so at least MS isn't trying to get people to build apps for another OS. The product design isn't finalized, so things like a missing rear camera will likely change (although with this design putting the camera on the "front" seems like it would work best). Wired has more details. The Duo is also scheduled for release at the end of 2020.

 

I think it basically has the same problems. No one other than MS will make apps that support both screens, so you're left with a device that is is only advantageous while multitasking. Whenever you're not doing two things at once, you're carrying around a device that is extra large and thick for very little benefit. Unlike the Galaxy Fold, all that extra screen doesn't even give you a better Netflix experience. MS says this is a different category of device. It's not a smartphone and it's not a 2-in-1 like the Surface. I don't really buy it. It's replacing your phone.

 

Still, as much as I think these devices are stopgaps that basically no one should buy, I'm excited that MS is experimenting and building the software experiences that will make foldable screen devices much more interesting. Once that tech is ready, MS could well be in the best position to take advantage. They're working on the UI paradigms that will make those future phones and PCs more than just a bigger screen in a smaller package. Kudos to MS for pushing boundaries and creating cool new stuff. It'll be interesting to see if all their work pays off, or if Apple and Samsung and whoever else are just able to steal the best ideas to put in devices that will actually sell.

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Man great products announced but that presentation was just horrible. Like WTF. It's not like they can't do great presentations. When they announced Surface studio that was Apple level.

 

With that said, I'm quite interested in the Neo when it's out next year. My main home PC is a Surface Pro 4 and I've been happy with the line so far (wife has a Pro 5).

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