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Microsoft Updates Lumia, Surface Pro and Introduces Surface Book

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It was a busy morning for Microsoft yesterday, as they announced several key hardware products at their press event. Here’s a quick recap from my point of view.

Xbox

  • Now joining the Limited Edition Forza Motorsport 6 bundle is the upcoming Limited Edition Halo 5: Guardians Bundle with a downloadable copy of the game, a custom Spartan-themed metal case, matching custom metal controller, and 1 TB of storage. The listed release date is October 20, and it’s priced at $499.
  • Windows 10 will be coming to Xbox One “this holiday season”, nothing more specific yet.
  • A new high-performance Elite Gaming Controller coming in “October 2016” and priced at $199.99.

HoloLens

Microsoft demoed a game developed internally for the HoloLens VR platform, called Project X-Ray. It had a player wearing a virtual weapon over his right hand and forearm, which moved along with him. The player defended a section of the stage, containing two walls and a couch, from flying robot attackers.
It was very interesting to see a human player interacting with computer-generated game elements, and it fired up the gamer geeks in the audience. But it was not really representative of what the HoloLens experience must really be like, because it was shown from the vantage point of an audience observer, rather than the player himself. Also, it was a full-frame video projected on a large screen, rather than the narrow field of view we have seen the HoloLens goggles to have.

Microsoft Band

Microsoft introduced the new version of the Microsoft Band fitness tracking device.

  • New design, with a curved display – classier for wear while at work, but still functional for working out
  • Cortana integration
  • Integrated barometer, to track stair climbing & other elevation increases
  • Estimates VO2 Max, saying they are the only device that does this
  • Preorder starting today
  • Available starting October 30
  • $249

Lumia Phones

Next it was phone time, and on to the new flagship models, the 5.2“ Lumia 950 and the 5.7” Lumia 950 XL. They wrapped up the phone discussion with the new affordable Lumia 550. Building on their theme of “Windows 10 in your pocket” and the promise of the coming universal apps, they also offered a distinct new vision of computing, with their Continuum features and the new Display Dock to connect the phone to a full-size display, keyboard, and mouse.

Lumia 950 & 950 XL

  • New “adaptive antenna” configuration
  • Hexacore (950) & octacore (950 XL) processors
  • Liquid cooling (!)
  • OLED screens
  • 564 & 518 ppi
  • Always-on lock-screen info display
  • 20 MP rear camera
  • triple-RGB flash
  • 5th-gen optical image stabilization
  • dedicated camera button
  • 4K video recording
  • 32GB built-in storage + SD card slot
  • USB-C port @ 5Gb/s
  • Fast charging mode: 50% charge in 30 minutes
  • Available in November
  • Starting at $549 (950) / $649 (950 XL)

Display Dock

  • USB in from phone
  • HDMI & DisplayPort
    * 3 USB ports out
  • Phone (touchscreen) & desktop (external display/keyboard/mouse) operation are independent & simultaneous
  • Word, Excel, PowerPoint, & Outlook scale up PC-like on the external display
  • Pricing & availability TBD

Lumia 550

  • Available November
  • $139

Surface Pro 4

The Surface Pro 4 looks to be a strong incremental upgrade to last year’s Surface Pro 3. It generally has the same appearance, but boasts lots of improvements, listed below.
Coming alongside the Pro 4 is a new Surface Dock, which ditches the cradle design for a much smaller single-cable connection scheme.
Microsoft has also improved the portable keyboard to the Type Cover 4, with an improved keyboard and trackpad, and an integrated fingerprint reader.
Also, a new Surface Pen with variable pressure, an eraser, 5 colors, and interchangeable tips will come with the device.

  • Thinner at 8.4 mm (vs. 9.1 mm)
  • Lighter at 766 g (vs. 794 g)
  • Fit & finish improved
  • 12.3“ display (vs. 12”) without increasing footprint (reduced bezels)
  • 2736 x 1824 @ 267 ppi – 5 million pixels (vs. 2160 x 144) “PixelSense” display
  • Microsoft Pen & Touch chipset
  • 30% faster than Pro 3 – 50% faster than MacBook Air
  • up to 16GB RAM
  • up to 1TB storage
  • Preorder starting October 7
  • Available starting October 26
  • Starting at $899

Surface Pen

  • Eraser on back
  • 1024 pressure levels
    * “All-year battery life”
  • Magnetic storage, appears to attach to any part of the metal case
  • 5 colors
  • Interchangeable tips to mimic different kinds of pens/pencils
  • Also works with Surface Pro 3, Surface 3
  • Available October 26
  • $59.99

Surface Pro Docking Station

  • One connection to the Surface with a new SurfaceConnect cable
  • 4 USB 3.0 ports – 2 front, 2 rear
  • 2 DisplayPort ports, 4K-capable
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • Also works with Pro 3
  • Available October 26
  • $199.99

Type Cover 4

  • Laptop-class keyboard – 1.3mm travel, 19mm pitch
  • Fingerprint reader to right of trackpad (also available without)
  • Trackpad 40% larger – glass
  • 5 colors
  • Also works with Pro 3
  • Available October 26
  • $159 with Fingerprint Reader, $129 without

Note: if you want to pre-order the Type Cover with Fingerprint Reader today: the “Pre-order” buttons for both versions of the Type Cover 4 point to the same page in the Microsoft Store. You need to select Onyx as the color option (it’s the only one available right now) in order to get the fingerprint reader. You’ll notice the price increase when you select it.

Surface Book

The big reveal of the day was the Surface Book, which was introduced as: “what if we took the Surface Pro and made it into a laptop?” It has a unique hinge design, is very thin and light and powerful, looking like the MacBook Pro killer they would want it to be. Then they blew the audience’s minds by pulling the display out – it’s actually a 2-in–1, with a detachable, reversible tablet. It’s an interesting design, with the USB ports, the GPU, and other components remaining in the keyboard when the tablet screen is detached. I’ll be very curious to see how this performs in actual use.

  • Dynamic Fulcrum hinge design
  • Keyboard detaches, reversible – USB ports, GPU are in keyboard
  • “Clipboard mode” without keyboard, in portrait orientation
  • “Draw mode” with keyboard attached and reversed (stowed behind tablet)
  • 13.5″ PixelSense display – 267 ppi – 6M pixels
  • “Best-in-class key stroke” – quiet, stable, comfortable – 1.6mm travel
  • NVIDIA GeForce GPU
  • GDDR5 memory
  • 12-hour battery life
  • “Fastest 13” laptop on any planet” – claimed 2x faster than MacBook Pro
  • Includes Surface Pen
  • Also works with Surface Dock
  • Available October 26
  • Starts at $1499