Surface Go 3

There is a small bump for the Surface Go line, going from version 2 to version 3. The Surface Go is the smallest, lightest, and least expensive Surface device in the lineup, but has suffered from anemic performance compared to the rest of the devices. The only significant change to the Surface Go 3 is that there is now an optional Core i3-10100Y processor, which is a higher speed bin of the venerable Amber Lake-Y dual core SoC that Microsoft used in the Surface Go 2. The base offering still comes with a Pentium dual-core, though the Pentium Gold 6500Y used here is a big step up in some ways since it can turbo to 3.4GHz, whereas the Go 2's Pentium 4425Y lacked turbo altogether.

Meanwhile the base model still ships with just 64 GB of eMMC storage, although 128 and 256 GB SSDs are available, with the latter being only on the commercial lineup. Luckily the price didn’t change, with the Surface Go 3 still starting at just $400, although that model with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of eMMC storage would feel awfully slow for most people.

Surface Duo 2

The second-generation Microsoft-designed folding phone is also being announced and adds performance and usability to help it compete in the high-end of the mobile phone space. Now shipping with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC, the Surface Duo 2 adds a lot to its camera department with the inclusion of a triple-camera for wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto photos.

The folding display also gets a size bump from 5.6-inch individual screens to 5.8-inch panels, which provides an effective display size of 8.3-inches when both are opened. The Surface team also took the opportunity to add 5G support, which is also expected in 2021.

For multi-tasking, there is 8 GB of LPDDR5 memory, and storage options are 128 GB, 256 GB, or 512 GB.

The Surface Duo 2 is really supposed to showcase Microsoft’s Android app suite for Office, and with the updates, it should do a much better job considering the high-entry price of $1500.

Accessories

In addition to the devices, Microsoft is also releasing a couple of new accessories. The Microsoft Ocean Plastic Mouse is made from 20% recycled ocean plastic and is just $25.

The Surface Adaptive Kit, designed in partnership with people with disabilities, is a set of textured labels which can be attached to the keyboard and ports to make it easier to identify what they are by touch and color.

Summary

Microsoft’s Surface team has grown from just designing a couple of devices, to a wide swath of devices covering a large part of the PC market, and they have expanded beyond those borders too with the Surface Duo and Surface Duo 2. Looking at the devices holistically, the design team generally tries to offer something with a slight twist compared to the other designs on the market, and some are more successful design wins than others. The Surface Pro, as an example, as created an entire genre of devices that mimic it, and the update being announced today is a solid refresh of that design which should allow Surface Pro to continue to be the industry leader.

The Surface Laptop Studio is an interesting design, and while not a completely new concept, it looks to be a well-executed take on the convertible laptop. From the specifications, it appears to be taking over from the Surface Book, which was their previous performance-laptop. It is less complicated than the Surface Book, which should lead to an overall better product.

The Surface Pro X certainly did not see very much love, and Windows on Arm did not get advanced at all on the hardware front today. The Surface Pro 8 now gets the same 13-inch display, which is good for the Pro 8, but does diminish the Pro X. Surface Go 3 also got just the tiniest of updates and is still a somewhat awkward device. The base model is inexpensive, but unimpressive, and when the necessary options are chosen, the price creeps up. It is still a well-built device, with a wonderful magnesium allow chassis and individually calibrated display, which sounds great for $400, but the $400 model is significantly more disappointing than the upgraded models sadly.

Microsoft tends to update their hardware at almost random intervals, but quibbles aside, these updates are all welcome, with some really excellent changes, such as the addition of Thunderbolt 4. I look forward to being able to try some of these devices out in the future and see how much the changes impact the device experience.

Microsoft Resurfaces The Surface Lineup For 2021: New Devices, New Designs
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  • Zizy - Wednesday, September 22, 2021 - link

    I wonder why MS decided to use 35W Tiger lake stuff. Those seem the worst laptop chips ever - overclocked 15W ones without any meaningful benefits. Grab 45W ones and configure them to 35W and you are getting a much better part in every respect. Reply
  • Prestissimo - Wednesday, September 22, 2021 - link

    Probably paid handsomely by Intel for the sake of "relationship". Judging by this disappointing event, they're gonna need that money in the coming months. Reply
  • Brett Howse - Wednesday, September 22, 2021 - link

    Except the GPU in the 45W is not as strong as the H35/U series. Reply
  • Zizy - Thursday, September 23, 2021 - link

    Yeah but they are putting 3050Ti in the device. Reply
  • tipoo - Thursday, September 23, 2021 - link

    I can only guess they have a deal with Intel to dump soon to be replaced chips, because they perpetually seem to release things past the chips prime. Reply
  • Zizy - Wednesday, September 22, 2021 - link

    Alder seems to be half a year away for laptops and devices are likely even more out. MS can refresh then, no sense to wait. Ryzen doesn't offer TB4 natively, though I would still rather have Ryzen and ordinary USB-C 3.x.

    True, SB is not being refreshed, but I hope Laptop Studio is addition to the (boring) Laptop lineup, not replacement for Book. (Surface Studio - without Laptop - is a completely different device that is also not getting refreshed)
    Reply
  • Teckk - Wednesday, September 22, 2021 - link

    Oh I thought Alder Lake was holiday launch my bad.
    Yeah Surface Studio hasn’t been upgraded in a while.
    AMD has enough time to integrate TB4 though. Looking at MS history, they might use the current Ryzen series late next year.
    Reply
  • The_Assimilator - Thursday, September 23, 2021 - link

    Thunderbolt offers nothing over USB-C for 99% of consumers and AMD isn't going to waste precious die space integrating a technology that almost nobody wants or needs, never mind that few can afford. Reply
  • Linustechtips12 - Friday, September 24, 2021 - link

    what it does do for certain people is when you have things like an egpu or say some storage device that is thunderbolt, not USB, it just makes it a WHOLE lot easier for the consumer rather than finding out after the 200$ dock they ordered that was in tons of shipment delays and it doesn't work because its a thunderbolt dock not USB, also thunderbolt is still the faster connection and more versatile connection as well. It's more about not being stranded, like having a barrel plug power after but also having USB-C so you're not totally limited with surface connect. Reply
  • lazybum131 - Friday, September 24, 2021 - link

    But Surfaces are also aimed at enterprise. It would probably be attractive to companies that have invested in Thunderbolt docks that work with Lenovo/HP/Dell/etc computers and not need to fork extra for a proprietary Surface connect dock that does exactly the same thing. Reply

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