Microsoft (MSFT) held a Windows 10 devices event this morning and the company wasn’t kidding around about the theme. New and updated Surface gear, an updated Microsoft Band and long-awaited Lumia flagship smartphones were shown off.
Here’s what you need to know.
Surface Pro 4
While the first Surface tablets were far from a hit, Microsoft has honed the design to the point that the 2-in-1 tablets are becoming popular enough for other tech giants to take notice.
Apple (AAPL) is releasing the iPad Pro with it’s Surface-inspired Smart Keyboard cover and now Alphabet’s (GOOG,GOOGL) Google is following suit with the Pixel C Android tablet — also offered with a keyboard cover.
Microsoft is fighting back with an upgraded Surface Pro 4 that lives up to Microsoft’s promises of compatibility with previous-generation accessories, despite gaining a slightly larger display.
The Surface Pro 4 gets the new generation Intel (INTC) Skylake CPUs that Microsoft say make this tablet hybrid 50% faster than Apple’s MacBook Air. A thinner, Gorilla Glass 4 display cover is touted as being the best touchscreen experience available.
The new Surface Pro 4 has a 12.3-inch display, but keeps the same overall dimensions as the Surface Pro 3, so upgraders can keep using their existing accessories — although Microsoft also unveiled a bunch of upgraded versions including an all-new Surface Pen, thinner and lighter Type Cover with glass touchpad and an improved dock with more input/output options.
RAM can be loaded up to 16GB, and storage tops out at 1TB.
Starting at $899, the Surface Pro 4 is available for pre-order now and goes on sale Oct. 26.
After years of positioning its Surface tablets as MacBook Air replacements, Microsoft doubled down on its efforts to supplant Apple’s hugely popular notebook with its first ever laptop: the Surface Book.
With a machined magnesium body, 13.5-inch high-density display, backlit keyboard and 12-hour battery life, the Surface Book is clearly gunning for the MacBook Air and Apple’s super-svelte new MacBook.
However, Microsoft is actually claiming the Surface Book — which sports Intel SkyLake Core i5 or Core i7 CPUs — is the most powerful 13-inch laptop on the planet and twice as fast as the MacBook Pro.
Besides supporting touch input for Windows 10, the Surface Book has another advantage over Apple’s notebook offerings. That 267 PPI display can be physically removed and used independently as a tablet.
Prices start at $1,499 with pre-order available now and sales beginning Oct. 26.
New Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL smartphones
Fans of Windows have waited a year and half for a new flagship Windows smartphone, and Microsoft has finally acted with the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL.
Following in the steps of Apple, Samsung (SSNLF) and Google, it’s releasing two versions — big and bigger.
The Lumia 950 has a 5.2-inch OLED display with WQED resolution and is powered by a Qualcomm (QCOM) Snapdragon 808 CPU with 3GB of RAM on tap. Like previous Lumia flagships, it’s big on camera performance with a 20 MP PureView sensor with a triple LED flash and optical image stabilization.
To keep that powerful hexa-core CPU from overheating, this is the first commercial smartphone to use liquid cooling.
The Lumia 950XL takes the display up to 5.7-inches and its CPU is upgraded to octa-core performance (also liquid cooled).
A more budget-friendly Lumia 550 was also announced, a 5-inch Windows 10 phone that will sell for $139 in Europe before hitting the U.S. in 2016. The Lumia 950 and Lumia 950XL start at $549 and $649, respectively, and will be available in November.
Microsoft Band and HoloLens News
A new version of the Microsoft Band activity tracker was also unveiled today. With a curved OLED touchscreen display, it looks sleeker than the original, while the new Microsoft Band has Cortana support baked in. Available for pre-order starting today, the new Microsoft Band costs $249.
While there was no news on HoloLens availability, Microsoft did announce that HoloLens development kit will go on sale in the first quarter of fiscal year 2016 for $3,000.
With the Windows 10 launch, Microsoft began its road to redemption after the Windows 8 misstep, and uptake on its new operating system has been good. Now it has the hardware to take full advantage of Windows 10.
The company is finally getting a horse back in the flagship smartphone race, defending its convertible tablet market with the Surface Pro 4 and with the Surface Book, Microsoft is openly going on the offensive against Apple’s successful laptop business.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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