Microsoft’s most expensive Surface device is about to get even more expensive.
At a press event on Wednesday, Microsoft will unveil several Surface Pro tablets, Surface Laptop models, and a Surface Studio 2+ desktop, the last of which hasn’t been updated in several years.
The new 28-inch Surface Studio 2+, an all-in-one desktop, now has an Intel Core H-35 processor, 50% faster CPU performance, and an updated NVIDIA chip for faster graphics. The device also includes an updated screen, cameras, microphones, and supports a digital pen for on-screen drawing. It also has multiple ports, including USB with Thunderbolt 4, and the screen can be split into four different apps at once for more multitasking.
Surface Studio 2+ starts at $4,299 and $4,499 with Digitame pencil. The previous Surface Studio 2, released in 2018, received some flak for its $3,499 starting price. price. Microsoft told CNN Business that this year’s price increase is attributed to several significant improvements, including the new processor, a 1TB SSD hard drive for faster file transfers, and an improved 1080p camera, among other features.
Announcements about the renewed Surface product line will kick off Microsoft’s day Power up developer conference on Wednesday. The event arrives as Microsoft marks the 10th anniversary of the Surface line, which originally launched with a tablet to take on the iPad.
Like other tech companies that have introduced new products this fall, Microsoft is also facing a tougher economic environment, including high inflation and fears of a looming recession, that could make it difficult to convince customers to spend three or even four figures on upgrading their devices.
While the new Surface products aren’t much different in terms of design or screen size than previous iterations, the latest devices do come with a few upgrades, including new chipsets for better performance.
Microsoft showed off its flagship Surface Pro 9 tablet, once again intended to replace the laptop. The two-in-one device features an aluminum casing in new colors as well as a built-in kickstand and a PixelSense display. Beneath the display is an HD camera, upgraded speakers and microphones, and a custom G6 chip. Microsoft said the chip helps power digital ink applications, such as Ink Focus in Microsoft OneNote and the GoodNotes app for Windows 11, which is designed to make the user feel like writing with pen and paper.
Surface Pro 9 also offers a choice between processors. The first option is a 12th generation Intel Core processor based on the Intel Evo 4 platform with Thunderbolt 4, a combination that promises 50% more performance, better multitasking and desktop productivity, faster data transfer and the capacity to attach to multiple 4K displays. The second option is a Qualcomm Snapdragon-powered Microsoft SQ3 processor with 5G connectivity, with up to 19 hours of battery life and new AI features.
Surface Pro 9 is available in four colors, including platinum, graphite, sapphire, and forest. It starts at $999.
Microsoft also unveiled an update to its ultraportable Surface Laptop 5, which looks a lot like its predecessor but with a processor upgrade that may try to bring it closer to the competition with Apple’s ARM-based chipsets for laptops. macOS.
Surface Laptop 5 runs on the Intel Evo platform and comes in two screen sizes: 13.5-inch and 15-inch. It comes with updated Dolby Atmos 3D spatial speakers, a front-facing HD camera that automatically adjusts camera exposure in any lighting, and several new aluminum colors including cool metal, sage, and alcantara. The company also said that it promises a day of battery life on a single charge and is 50% more powerful than its predecessor.
The Surface Laptop starts at $999 for the 13.5-inch version and $1,299 for the 15-inch version. Surface product pre-orders begin Wednesday in select markets and will begin hitting shelves later this month.
Microsoft hardware devices make up 3% to 5% of the tablet market, according to David McQueen, an analyst at ABI Research. Instead, most of its revenue comes from the Microsoft operating system on different types of devices and associated apps and cloud services.
“Microsoft is able to stay in the hardware business thanks to the revenue generated from these services,” McQueen said. It’s a similar approach to that of Google, whose Pixel smartphone remains a niche product but serves as a way for the company to highlight its apps and operating system.
On Wednesday, the company also announced a new Microsoft Designer and Image Creator app in Bing and the Edge browser to bring advanced graphic design to the general public. The platform relies heavily on a partnership with startup OpenAI and its AI-powered tool DALL-E 2, which generates custom images using text prompts. DALL-E 2 will also come to Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI service.
Brands are increasingly using the DALL-E 2 for both advertisements and product inspiration, according to Microsoft. In a blog post, the company detailed how toy company Mattel looked to DALL-E 2 to conceptualize what future cars might look like, for example by changing colors and writing “make it convertible” among other commands.
Experts in the field of AI have expressed concern that the open nature of these systems, which makes them adept at generating all kinds of images from words, and their ability to automate the creation of images means that they could automate the large-scale bias. . In an earlier test of the OpenAI system, for example, typing “CEO” returned images that all looked like men and almost all were white.
Microsoft said it is taking the concerns seriously. Microsoft servers will reject inappropriate text requests, according to the company, and users will eventually be banned for repeat offenses.
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