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Microsoft launches new Lumias, Surface Pro 4, and the Surface Book laptop

Microsoft Surface Book

Yesterday, Microsoft held its big event at which it released new Lumia smartphones (the 950 and the 950XL), as well as a long-awaited update to its Surface Pro 3, aptly called the Surface Pro 4. There was also a new fitness band called the Band 2, but the biggest surprise was perhaps the company’s new laptop – the Surface Book.

The Surface Pro is starting to finally gain some traction, helping Microsoft fly past more than $800 million in revenue in the past year, and it’s refined and honed the concept with its latest model. Thinner, lighter, more powerful (50% more powerful than a MacBook Air, it was claimed), along with a new Surface Pen that attaches magnetically to the side. It was all fairly impressive if you’re interested in Windows laptop/tablet hybrids, and the reception has generally been positive. It’s not a device that I’d ever consider (next purchase, this year’s updated MacBook Pro i7 with 16 GB of RAM and Intel Skylake CPUs), but for many people it could be the laptop/tablet replacement they’re looking for.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4

 

More of a surprise at yesterday’s event however was the aforementioned Surface Book. Aside from the name being ever so slightly reminiscent of a MacBook, it does feel like Microsoft is shooting for the Apple demographic here, at least judging by the price. The machine itself is a premium quality (magnesium?) device with a proper keyboard and a hi-res screen (coined PixelSense) that also accepts pen and touch input. Microsoft has also beefed up the trackpad with a larger glass covered model and 5-point multi-touch capability. Some say it’s now on a par with Apple’s, which are generally considered the best you can get.

The specs are also impressive – with decent RAM and storage configurations. However, the most unusual thing about the Surface Book is the hinge mechanism, which allows the screen to detach for use as a tablet. The device’s graphics chip is in the base, which means it’s less powerful in tablet mode but can still be used for the majority of tablet-oriented tasks that users might want. Connecting the screen back to the keyboard allows the full GPU power to be harnessed, though the hinge, while clever, looks rather unsightly and even prevents the lid from closing fully flat. Whether that will put of consumers remains to be seen, but it’s likely that considering the Surface Book’s price (at least $2,500 for one of the more high end models) it’ll be the Microsoft faithful (and enterprise users) who go all in and buy one.

Microsoft Lumia 950
Microsoft’s Lumia 950 and 950 XL

 

Microsoft said it’s not trying to be a hardware company, but it’s certainly encroaching on Apple’s territory slightly with the Surface Book. At the end of the day though it still runs Windows, and for many (including myself) that’s enough of a deal breaker for such serious money.

By Roland Banks

Roland Banks has been passionate about mobile technology for the past 20 years. He started his career at British Telecom's research division working on collaborative virtual reality environments, before becoming a video streaming specialist at 3 UK where he helped launch some of the world's first mobile video services. More recently he enjoys writing about his obsession, and developing software that helps mobile operators analyse their subscriber data.

Roland has lived in Asia for the past 5 years, and tries to indulge his other passion for riding motorcycles whenever possible.

8 replies on “Microsoft launches new Lumias, Surface Pro 4, and the Surface Book laptop”

It’s disappointing to note the biased journalism in this piecThe rest of the tech world seems to have plenty of praise for the new Surface models but Mobile Industry Review take an increasingly cynical Apple-centric view

It’s disappointing to watch Mobile Industry Review take a cynical Apple-centric view on these devices whilst the wider tech press seem genuinely impressed.

Roland almost begrudgingly acknowledges their specs and performance but sneeringly points out he will not be buying one.

I really don’t care what Roland buys, but using his personal choice to weakly underline his journalistic stance is very poor journalism indeed.

Of course there are comparisons with Apple products, but when Apple introduced the iPad Pro the other week did Roland suggest it was a response to Microsoft’ Surface..?

Roland doesn’t even mention the smartphones at all (the most ‘Mobile” device he could’ve “Review”-ed); he doesn’t report that they undercut similar-specced iPhones considerably or offer advanced features such as the Continuum dock, but I suppose that would be at odd with his closing paragraph:

Where Roland suggests that “for many” Windows itself is the deal breaker. Need we remind Roland that Windows outsells Mac massively?

Of course, I’ve noticed all this because I’m a disgruntled ex-Nokia (now Microsoft) Fanboy, so all the outraged Apple users can now calm down and go back to rubbing their… 6s’s

But the truth remains:

The editorial stance of Mobile Industry Review is increasingly out of step with the wider tech world.

What you see above is Roland’s view and nowhere have I specified that he must ensure his writing or perspective is in line with the wider tech world.

The huge challenge for Microsoft is relevance in an Apple centric world. I will write my view shortly. In the meantime why don’t you consider writing your analysis for us to publish here Steve?

Thanks for taking the time to reply, Ewan.

I follow a lot of media that is antipathetic to Windows & Windows Mobile because I value the counterpoint to my own (admittedly limited) views.

From the ‘nobody cares about Windows Phone’ standpoint of Messrs Whatley & Constantinescu to you and and Ben mercilessly torturing the erudite Blandford on the 361 podcast, it is important to temper our enthusiasm for any platform or brand.

Sometimes that is painful listening, but that is why we follow and love you all (including Roland, who I know produces & researches a lot for you)

Whilst I thank you for your generous offer, if we are to write our own reviews, what is the point of following MIR?

I look to you and other media for the wider Mobile Industry (re)View because I trust your BRAND. I certainly don’t want MIR to follow the industry vox pop and I do hope to be better challenged with unbiased, well-reasoned criticism here in the future.

Peace and Love

Steve

We routinely include perspectives from others Steve, so I think it would be really valuable.

I’ve got an idea: I’ll ask the marketplace to give us some perspective that we can publish. I could see myself swapping back to Windows as a primary platform thanks to the work Microsoft have been doing.

The depressing reality is how the great unwashed in the enterprise marketplace simply aren’t even looking at Windows.

OK, Ewan – you’re on!

I’ll get something together based on my experience of Windows 10 Mobile so far against the backdrop of the new Lumia 950’s

Talk soon

Steve

Hi Steve,

well it’s good to know that I’ve stirred up a bit of debate. For the record, I do actually use a Windows PC as my main work computer for software development, and for that (for what I do certainly) I prefer Windows to Apple. As far as Windows Phones go, I’ll try and be a bit more open to the platform 🙂

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