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Microsoft Surface Book: Microsoft unveils impressive new Windows 10 devices

Microsoft's powerful new hybrid laptop is already being labelled a 'Macbook Pro-killer'

Doug Bolton
Tuesday 06 October 2015 19:03 BST
Microsoft's new Surface Book
Microsoft's new Surface Book (Microsoft)

Microsoft has unveiled a host of new Windows 10 devices, and appears to be taking aim at Apple's domination of the high-end hardware market.

At an hour-and-a-half briefing in New York, Microsoft announced it would be launching a number of new products that would expand its new Windows 10 operating system much further, which is now apparently running on 10 million devices.

Amongst them was a powerful new laptop/tablet hybrid, an activity tracker-cum smartwatch, and two new smartphones that will become the latest flagship Windows phones.

The products look interesting in their own light, but with the upgraded Surface tablet and Microsoft Band activity tracker, it looks like the company is trying to one-up similar devices recently announced by Apple and Google.

The Surface Book

Microsoft just unveiled the first laptop they've ever made themselves, and it looks pretty impressive.

Like other laptops already on the market, the screen is a removable tablet, that can be taken off or flipped around as your please.

Unlike existing laptop/tablet hybrids, the Surface Book is full-sized. They've made a lot of the keyboard, which they say gives a "perfect" typing experience, but most importantly, the tablet is bigger and more powerful that most others, making it a competitor to both the iPad Pro and Macbook Pro.

The Surface also works with the Surface Pen, a smart stylus that Microsoft says will have a full year of battery life - just in case you have a moment of inspiration but can't make a note because your stylus is out of battery.

The Surface Book is fairly powerful too - Microsoft says it's "the fastest 13-inch laptop ever made anywhere on the planet," with the newest Intel Core i5 and i7 processors available for buyers to choose.

There's also a Nvidia GPU in the Surface, but the tablet needs to be connected to the keyboard if you want to use it.

The Surface Book's screen detaches, becoming a powerful and versatile tablet (Microsoft)

It's basically a powerful laptop that can split to become a powerful and mobile tablet, and it's been received very well.

At the moment, it goes up to 512GB of storage with 16GB of memory, and has two USB 3.0 ports and a SD card slot.

It's available for pre-order in the US for $1,499 (£980), and should be making its way to the UK soon.

With the equivalent iPad Pro with keyboard and stylus looking likely to set US consumers back $1,300, this more powerful Microsoft version could make Apple bosses nervous.

The Surface Pro 4

Microsoft's Surface Pro, with its multicoloured detachable keyboard, has been around for a while, but the latest incarnation is more refined and more powerful than previous models.

Earlier versions of the Surface Pro were imitated by Apple, with the iPad Pro and Google, with the Pixel C, but the 4 looks likely to go beyond both of these devices.

Like everything unveiled at the briefing, it's running Windows 10, and is thinner, lighter and more powerful than earlier Surfaces.

It's also compatible with earlier Surface keyboards, so there's no need to upgrade your whole setup if you want to get the new tablet.

However, the new keyboards have been made a bit more sturdy and refined, and they've got fingerprint sensors integrated.

It's available to predorder in the US for $899 (£590), and is available with up to 1TB of storage and 16GB of memory.

Microsoft Band

The new Microsoft Band is an updated version of their previous activity tracker of the same name, which was released last year.

The old Band always looked fairly clunky and plasticy - the new version is much sleeker, with a curved touch-screen OLED display.

This is a major design upgrade on the old, flat, LCD display on the last one.

The band's new design is a major improvement on the clunky old one (Microsoft)

Like the old Band, the new version features a GPS, heart rate and sleep tracking, phone notifications and ready-made workouts. It also can record vO2 Max, a metric usually only found in sophisticated athletics watches.

However, it's also edging more into smartwatch territory - when linked to your phone, you can use the band to read and send text and voice messages.

It also has apps for services like Uber, Starbucks and Twitter.

Based on the promotional video, Microsoft sees the band as an activity tracker, but there's far more smartwatch-like features in it that there was in the last one, as Microsoft possibly tries to gain some ground in the smartwatch market, in which its rivals, Samsung and Apple, tend to dominate.

Lumia 950 and 950XL

These two phones are Microsoft's new flagship mobiles, and will lead the charge in trying to make Windows Phone popular once again.

Both run Windows 10, and are reportedly fast and nippy, due to their improved OSs and powerful insides.

The camera is 20 megapixel, and the slightly larger 950XL is liquid-cooled, a very unusual feature in a mainstream smartphone.

Windows Phone doesn't have nearly the same amount of apps as iOs or Android phones, but Microsoft hopes that the success of Windows 10 will lead to more people developing for the phone in the future.

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