Normally, today would be the day when Microsoft would host press and analysts in New York City to show off its spring hardware line. Instead, on May 6, Microsoft is announcing its new Surface lineup via a blog post.
Almost every product the company is unveiling has been previously rumored and expected. The new models are more evolutionary than revolutionary, largely maintaining the same design. The new Surface Book 3, Surface Go 2, Surface Dock 2, Surface Earbuds, and Surface Headphones 2 are all making their official debut. Microsoft also is adding a new USB-C Travel Hub to the family. Orders for all of these products can be placed as of today, with most of them ready to ship starting next week.
Microsoft’s positioning for its Surface line is all about helping users do what they need from anywhere, which, these days, could simply mean from the kitchen table to the couch.
The Surface Go 2, Microsoft’s “more affordable and portable” 2-in-1 at 10.5 inches, is slightly larger than the original Surface Go and features smaller bezels. Microsoft officials said it is 64% faster than the original, thanks to the new Intel 8th generation Core M processor option. Microsoft also is claiming improved battery life, at 10 hours. (My rule is thumb is the actual battery life for Surface devices, and most Windows PCs is about half of what manufacturers claim.) Microsoft has added dual microphones, a 5MP front-facing camera, and is offering new Type covers and pens separately. Prices start at $399 for just the tablet with no keyboard. Availability is May 12.
Microsoft will ship Go2 with Windows 10 Home in S Mode (yep, it’s still a thing), which means it will only run Store apps, but can be upgraded for free to regular Windows 10 Home. Commercial channels will get the Go 2 with Windows 10 Pro preloaded. The target audience for the device is K-8 students, firstline workers, and other business customers who care more about portability than power.
Microsoft is marketing Surface Book 3 as its most powerful laptop. Officials say it will perform 50% better than Surface Book 2 and offer up to 17.5 hours of battery life. Options include a choice of 13 or 15-inch models, Intel 10th Generation Core CPU and choice of NVIDIA discrete GPU, and up to 32 GB of RAM. The 15-inch model has NVIDIA GeForce especially suited for gaming and there’s an NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000 option for commercial and education customers. The base model starts at $1,599 and will be available starting May 21.
On the accessories front, the Surface Headphones 2 will offer up to 20 hours of battery life, ear cup rotation of 180 degrees, and both black and platinum color options. They’ll be available on May 12 for $249. The Surface Earbuds, which Microsoft had hoped to deliver last year but delayed, also will be available starting May 12. They’ll cost $199 and, as previously announced, and will include touch controls for handling phone calls, playing music, and managing tasks like Play My Emails in Outlook Mobile or dictation in Word, Outlook, or PowerPoint. Microsoft says they’ll have “all-day” battery life and will come with a wireless charging case.
The Surface Dock 2 and the USB-C Travel Hub will both start shipping later this month to customers in select markets. The Dock 2, which will be $259.99, includes two front-facing USB-C ports; 2 rear-facing, video-enabled USB-C ports; two rear-facing USB-A ports, 1 Gigabit Ethernet, a 3.5mm in/out audio jack and Surface Connect support. The Travel Hub will feature one USB-C port, one USB-A port, 1 Gigabit Ethernet port, and HDMI 2.0 and VGA ports.
Because users will need to buy these items without being able to see them in person in a store due to the COVID-19 coronavirus restrictions, Microsoft is offering a 60-day return window for them. The company also is providing free shipping, on-demand training, and personalized virtual walkthroughs and Surface All Access financing.