Almost out of nowhere, Microsoft announced a couple new devices in its Surface range at a closed-door event today. The software-and-hardware giant has pulled back the curtain on the Surface Pro 6 and Surface Laptop 2. Let's take a look at each of them in turn.
According to Engadget's live blog of the event, probably the biggest hardware change between the previous-generation devices is the upgrade to eighth-generation mobile Intel Core processors. Referring to the Surface Pro 6, Microsoft reportedly said that change alone nets the new device a 67% performance improvement over the outgoing model. Although Microsoft touts the devices' upgraded cooling systems, we figure that upgrade would have needed to take place anyway, given the demands of Intel's eighth-gen, quad-core U-series CPUs.
The generational CPU change also offers some gains in the battery life department, as the Surface Pro 6 ought to go for run for 13.5 hours between appointments with a wall socket. The maximum amount of RAM should now be 16 GB along with an option for 1 TB of solid-state storage. The display apparently retains the same 2736x1824 resolution as before, but it's also been the subject of some tweaks as Microsoft reportedly says it has the "highest-ever" contrast ratio—presumably among Surface Pro devices.
Engadget says the new devices weigh the same as their predecessors at 1.7 lb (770 g) without the Type Cover. According to The Verge, the Suface Pro 6 offers the same I/O port selection as the previous model, meaning it still doesn't have a much-requested USB Type-C port.
Along with the CPU upgrade, the new pricing is probably Microsoft's gutsiest play for the Surface Pro 6. The base model is now fitted with a Core i5 processor and will start at $899. Devices are expected in stores on October 16 clad in matte black, blue, red, and grey.
As for the Surface Laptop 2, Microsoft apparently didn't say much about it other than it too has eighth-gen Intel Core CPUs and an improved display with a 1500:1 contrast ratio. According to Engadget, the company did remark that the keyboard offers "quieter typing." The Surface Laptop 2 should start at $999 and will also be available on October 16.
Editorializing a little, I'm a Surface Pro fan myself but I felt the 2017 devices were overpriced and that the Core m3-powered model shouldn't have existed in the first place. I'm glad to see the price and model changes, and only the missing USB Type-C port gives me pause.