Big tech launch events are like buses on a particularly poorly regulated service. With 12 months of the year to choose from, somehow everyone ends up picking September, October or November for their big showcases, with Apple, Amazon, Meta and Google all choosing to go in the last month.
Yesterday was Microsoft’s turn, but it gets a gold star for actually making its products available to New Zealand on day one. The company unveiled not one, not two, but three new Surface computers you can get your hands on before the year is out.
First out will be the Surface Laptop 5, pictured above in its new fetching Sage colour.
It looks a lot like the Surface Laptop 4, but will pack a lot more punch for multitaskers, thanks to the upgrade to the 12th-generation Intel chips. For some reason there’s no AMD version as there was for Surface Laptops 3 and 4 — it’s possibly something to do with that shiny new Intel Evo certification the laptop qualifies for.
That’s not the only certification it’s got, with Dolby Vision IQ and Dolby Atmos stamps of approval as well. Otherwise, it’s more of the same, though Microsoft says webcam performance has been substantially improved too. It’s available from October 24, with prices starting at NZ$1,849.
Next up is the Surface Pro 9, coming November 7. It’s largely the same iterative update with the move to 12th-generation Intel chips again providing a welcome performance shot in the arm.
But speaking of ARM, things get a bit confusing if you want the 5G model, which comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon mobile processor. That offers better battery life, but compatibility with certain Windows apps was a bit patchy with the Surface Pro X — Microsoft’s last attempt at an ARM-powered tablet.
Both tablets retain the 120Hz, 13in screen from last time around, but once again webcam performance has been improved. Prices start at NZ$1,849 for an Intel model or NZ$2,939 for the ARM 5G model. And no, that still doesn’t include the virtually essential TypeCover keyboard case, which will run you an extra NZ$479.95.
If that made you and your wallet wince, then wait until you see the Surface Studio 2 Plus, which arrives on October 31. It’s a souped-up version of the Surface Studio 2, which came out all the way back in 2018 with its massive and flexible 28in touchscreen, that can be pulled down for designers to doodle on like a giant canvas.
The new model comes with an 11th-generation Intel Core i7 processor and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 graphics card for some sneaky gaming on the side. Not that you’ll have time for gaming, as you try and earn enough to pay off the massive NZ$8,249 price tag.
Microsoft also announced that it would be playing nicely with Apple services going forwards with new apps for Windows 11. iCloud, which is already available, will now sync photos directly with Microsoft’s own Photos app, while Apple TV Plus and Apple Music apps will be arriving next year.
That’s great news for confused multi-OS folks like me, who currently have to use Cider to access Apple Music on Windows 11.