Microsoft debuts Surface Pro 9, Surface Laptop 5, and Surface Studio 2+
Microsoft (MSFT) on Wednesday debuted a slew of new hardware for its Surface line of products, including a new Surface Pro, Surface Laptop, and a host of accessibility hardware designed to help users with disabilities more easily access their PCs.
All together, the latest Surface products provide a deeper look into Microsoft’s vision for the PC market and Windows operating system. It doesn’t hurt that they also come just ahead of the start of the holiday shopping season.
The flagship product in Microsoft’s lineup is the new $999 Surface Pro 9. The company’s laptop-tablet hybrid keeps its built-in kickstand and detachable keyboard, not to mention its 13-inch PixelSense display.
Outside, the Surface Pro 9 looks a lot like its predecessor, the Surface Pro 8. But inside, the Pro 9 gets an updated 12th-generation Intel (INTC) Core processor complete with two Thunderbolt 4 ports for fast data transfer and charging. The company says the Intel chip provides a 50% performance boost over last year’s Surface Pro.
Microsoft is also offering its new custom Microsoft SQ3 chip with 5G connectivity powered by Qualcomm (QCOM) as an option for the Surface Pro 9, with a heavy focus on battery life and AI capabilities. The company says you can get as much as 19 hours out of a single charge with the SQ3 chip, not to mention a cellular connection when you’re out of WiFi range. Of course, you’ll also get those Thunderbolt 4 ports too.
Windows maker also unveiled its latest laptop, the aptly named, Surface Laptop 5. A traditional clamshell laptop, the $999 Surface Laptop 5 is available with a 13.5-inch or 15-inch display and packs Intel’s 12th-generation processors. Like the Surface Pro 9, Microsoft says the chip upgrade improves performance by 50% compared to its predecessor.
Then there’s the $4,299 Surface Studio 2+. An all-in-one desktop with a display that folds nearly flat so that you can write or sketch on it, the Studio 2+ is a uniquely designed desktop designed for creators who also want a little bit of gaming on the side.
For 2022, the Studio 2+ gets an updated Intel Core H-35 processor, which the company says also gets 50% faster CPU performance and an NVIDIA (NVDA) GeForce RTX 3060 graphics chip that offers double the video capabilities. The Studio 2+ also gets Thunderbolt 4 ports, and an upgraded camera and microphone setup.
Finally, Microsoft has announced that it’s bringing its Adaptive Accessories to market. Beginning on Oct. 25 in select markets, the accessories allow users with limited mobility to access their Windows PC without issue, whether that’s via specially designed joysticks or directional buttons.
The lineup looks as exceptional as always, but they come at a time when the PC market is falling back down to Earth from its pandemic-level highs. According to Gartner, worldwide PC shipments collapsed 19.5% in Q3 to 68 million units.
And while the holidays are a traditionally popular time for PC sales, this year could be especially tough as stubborn inflation batters consumers’ wallets.
Microsoft CVP Yusuf Mehdi, however, says there are signs that the jump in PC usage, at least, isn’t going away.
“We’ve seen 10% more minutes on each PC pre-pandemic versus post-pandemic, and that’s driven by a whole bunch of new…use cases,” he said. “We have 300 million more people using new apps for communications like Discord and WeChat, WhatsApp, and, of course, gaming... We’ve just seen the PC have more value for people.”
Whether the Surface line is able to overcome current market trends and hit a successful holiday season, remains to be seen.
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