Microsoft may be a software and services company, but when they deal in hardware they aren’t joking around. They proved it today with a jam-packed presentation, releasing a new wearable, demoing a future holographic XBox option, new Lumia phones, a new Surface Pro 4, and a surprise release of a laptop called the Surface Book!
Let’s start with their mobile announcements. The new Microsoft Band is a health and fitness guru on your wrist; it will track your heart rate, exercises, calorie burns, sleep, and even your golf swing. Oh, and it will also notify you of emails, calendar entries, texts and calls. Basically, it’s like the nerdy aspects of the smartwatch and your gym teacher got tossed in a blender, and out popped the Microsoft Band 2. This one is less boxy than the original, with improved sensors, and it will cost $249. Preorders are set to go now at Microsoft’s store.
The Lumia line has been updated too, with the Lumia 950 and 950XL making their debut. Windows 10 on the Lumia line is going to offer universal apps, meaning in theory a developer could create an app that runs on Windows PCs AND is simultaneously compatible with Windows Phone. It might help the app gap issues, but assuming that’s not a problem for you, these are sporting big processors, liquid cooling technology, Carl Zeiss lenses with optical image stabilization, and of course all of Microsoft’s Office and productivity apps. In addition, Windows Phone 10 uses something called Continuum, which allows you to share your phone’s screen with a bigger screen, and with an optional dock you can even include a keyboard and mouse, making the Lumias mini-PCs.
Microsoft also announced the Surface Pro 4. Like the previous Surface Pros, it is compatible with pen input, and Microsoft has a new magnetic pen that’s even more accurate than prior generations. In addition, the keyboard cover now has a bigger, glass trackpad, making it more laptop-like in that configuration. It will be starting at $899, though prices increase quickly if you add in faster processors and the Type Cover.
Finally, Microsoft surprised everyone with a touchscreen laptop called the Surface Book. Not only is it a touchscreen Windows laptop, but the screen is detachable,giving it a tablet mode as well. If you’d prefer the extra battery life and processor boost you get from keeping the keyboard attached, the screen rotates all the way around, giving it a significant number of possible configurations for use. The Surface Book starts at $1,499, but like the Surface Pro 4 gets progressively pricier as you up the specifications.