Microsoft unveiled several new products on Wednesday, including a new Surface Book 3 laptop and an affordable Surface Go 2 tablet.
It's a tough time to announce new products. Like Apple, which recently released a new iPhone, new iPads Pro and new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air computers, Microsoft wasn't able to hold a splashy press event to talk about its new gadgets. And, with stores closed around the country, people can't really see them in person before making a decision.
But, lots of people are using computers more than ever right now. The company said earlier this week that Windows 10 monthly usage is up 75% from the same time last year.
Here's what Microsoft announced.
The Surface Go 2 follows Microsoft's original Surface Go. It's a miniature and lower-powered version of Microsoft's far more expensive Surface Pro tablets. It starts at $399 and includes a more powerful processor than the first version (Microsoft says it's 64% faster) and a slightly larger 10.5-inch screen.
It also has a sharp 5-megapixel front-facing camera that may be useful right now, since we're all spending more time on video calls. The entry-level model only has 4GB of memory and 64GB of storage, however, which is probably too little for people who want to do more than surf the web. A more powerful version with twice the storage and memory will also be available. The Surface Go 2 will be available starting May 12.
Microsoft announced a new version of its high-end laptop, the Surface Book 3. Like earlier Surface Books, it has a unique design that allows you to remove the screen from the laptop so you can use it like a tablet. It's sort of like Microsoft's version of the MacBook Pro — it's targeted at the same type of power users — just with a screen you can take off and carry around. Microsoft upgraded it to the latest Intel 10th generation processors. It's also adding an option for NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000 graphics, which it says commercial customers have asked for. It starts at $1,599 and will be available beginning on May 21.
Microsoft also announced the Surface Headphones 2, the latest version of its noise-cancelling headphones. They have a new ear-cup that's supposed to be more comfortable and 13 levels of ambient noise control, which lets you choose how much sound is blocked out in the background. But Microsoft said it specifically tuned these to block out people talking in places like noisy cafes (or, right now, noisy households). They'll be available in black for the first time when they launch on May 12 for $249.
The company's Apple AirPods competitor, Surface Earbuds, are finally launching. They were originally announced in October 2019 and were supposed to be sold during the holiday season but were delayed until the spring. I wasn't impressed in an early hands-on with them. They felt clunky, looked a little silly and had buggy controls, though Microsoft has had plenty of time to fix some of those complaints. They'll be available for $199 starting May 12.