Microsoft rolls out a huge refresh for its Surface computers ... and adds headphones
At its latest major hardware event, Microsoft has announced a host of product refreshes. We've got the Surface Pro 6, the Surface Laptop 2, the all-in-one Surface Studio 2, and even some brand new Surface Headphones. Oh, and the Windows 10 October 2018 update is out now, too.
That's a lot of new devices to weigh up but what you essentially need to know is that all Microsoft's Surfaces, with the exception of the high-end Surface Book, are now more powerful and better than ever before.
The Surface Pro 6 is Microsoft's latest tablet/laptop hybrid device, sticking with the same 12.3-inch display but updated with the newest 8th-generation Intel CPUs, and available with up to 16 GB of RAM and 1 TB of SSD storage – so a formidable computer, if you take the specs all the way up.
Oh, and it's now available in matte black too. Prices for the Surface Pro 6 start at US$899 for the Intel Core i5 model, and it goes on sale on October 16.
If you want a proper laptop, rather than a tablet that can double-up as a laptop, the refreshed Surface Laptop 2 takes a similar upgrade path as the Surface Pro 6: inside there are new 8th-gen Intel processors, offering a speed boost of up to 85 percent Microsoft says, but the design of the computer is largely the same.
Again, there's a new black color available. Like the Surface Pro 6, the Surface Laptop 2 goes on sale October 16, with the cheapest configuration set at $999.
If you're a serious Surface fan then you can go for the Surface Studio 2, the upgraded, premium-level all-on-one. Microsoft says the display is improved to be brighter and have better contrast, though the dimensions and resolution are the same, but this time you're stuck with 7th-gen Intel processors. The graphics get more of a boost, with 50 percent more graphics power under the hood too, apparently.
No mention of a black finish this time around, but the on sale date of October 16 is the same – all three of these Surface computers can be pre-ordered from today, at least in the US. Your starting price for a Surface Studio 2 is $3,499, so these are just as expensive as their predecessors.
New to the Surface family are the noise-canceling Surface Headphones, which Microsoft says have 13 levels of ambient noise control and a total of 8 microphones for making yourself heard on calls. Cortana is on board too, and while the headphones have been "optimized" for Surface devices (whatever that means), they'll function fine as a normal pair of Bluetooth headphones.
As yet we don't have an exact release date on the Surface Headphones, but they'll set you back from $349. Microsoft also announced Surface All Access, a new hardware subscription plan for the US starting at $24.99 a month – for that you'll get a Surface computer, Office 365, tech support and more, though for now we don't know any more details than that.
Finally, the Windows 10 October 2018 update is rolling out now for everyone, Microsoft has confirmed. There's a new Your Phone app for improving syncing and swapping of apps between phone and computer, and with Android phones you can even manage SMS texts from your computer.
There are also improvements to 3D graphics features in Word and PowerPoint, as well as a brand new task manager called To-Do, and a host of other minor improvements. If you don't see the update already, you should in the next few days.
While there's nothing jaw-dropping in what Microsoft announced today, it confirmed the company's commitment to both hardware devices as well as software services in the years to come. Once again some of the best Windows computers of the year (if not the cheapest) are being made by Microsoft.