Not An Apple Fan? Here Are 4 New Things You'll Love

Photo: Courtesy Microsoft.
We’ve already seen the latest smartphones from Apple and Google, and now it’s Microsoft’s turn. Today, the company debuted new smartphones, a new tablet, and a notebook, the Microsoft Surface Book. It’s like Christmas in the Windows universe.

Everything Microsoft announced today runs on Windows 10. These tools are loaded with Microsoft’s intelligent assistant Cortana, Office, Skype for chatting, and Continuum, which ensures your experience is smooth and synced across devices. You can also use Microsoft Hello to unlock your phone, tablet, or notebook using infrared-based iris recognition technology (which could beat swiping your finger, as long as it works properly). Microsoft wants you to have a completely unified platform, with your apps and data available whenever you need them, on whatever device you’re on.

“We make things that help you make things, and make things happen,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said onstage. Here’s what you need to know about Microsoft’s latest.

Lumia 950 & 950 XL
Following the pattern set by the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Microsoft’s flagship smartphone comes in two versions: the 5.2-inch Lumia 950 (pictured above) and the 5.7-inch Lumia 950 XL. They feature gorgeous, pixel-packed OLED displays with 564 and 518 pixels per inch, respectively.

Lumia phones are renowned for their excellent picture-taking abilities, and the 950 series looks like it will be no exception. These feature a 20-megapixel rear-facing camera with a three-LED RGB flash. Between that insane camera and the flash, the phone is designed for incredible low-light performance (no red-eye or ghostly pale people when you use the flash, either). On the front, these phones have a 5-megapixel camera for high-quality selfies (for reference, that’s the same quality camera as on the new iPhones).

Both phones come with 32 GB of storage, Qi wireless charging, and 3 GB of memory, but the 950 XL has a slightly more powerful eight-core processor (to the 950’s six-core). Impressively, you can use either of these phones in conjunction with a new display dock if you want your phone to double as your computer. That’s right: Plug into the dock and a computer monitor, and you’ve got a full Windows 10 desktop experience in front of you. This doesn’t interrupt your phone, either; you can still use it to make calls while it’s powering a display. Pretty crazy — in a few years, you may not even need a laptop at all.

The Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL will go on sale for $549 and $649, respectively.

(But, if you’re not looking to spend $650 on a new phone, Microsoft’s also got a budget option: the $140 Lumia 550. The 550 features a smaller, 4.7-inch display, a modest 5-megapixel camera, and a 1.2GHz processor.)

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Photo: Courtesy Microsoft.
Surface Pro 4
The newest addition to Microsoft’s tablet-notebook-hybrid lineup is the Surface Pro 4, a 12.3-inch tablet that, like its predecessors, works in conjunction with a Bluetooth keyboard (called TypeCover). The Surface Pro 4 is Microsoft’s answer to the MacBook Air, and according to its stats, the tablet is 50% faster than Apple’s premiere ultra-portable notebook. If you value portability, versatility, and use a lot of Microsoft services, the Surface Pro 4 could be the notebook (replacement) of your dreams.

The Surface Pro 4 features a 267 PPI display with over 5 million pixels. The tablet is thinner than the previous generation's Surface Pro 3, measuring only 8.4mm thick, but that is a fair amount thicker than the 6.1mm iPad Air 2. However, as we mentioned before, Microsoft positions the Surface Pro 3 as a MacBook Air competitor. While some people do use the Surface as their main machine, from what we've seen, it's usually more of a tablet — used on planes, or in situations when lugging a larger notebook is inconvenient.

For security, it’s got a built-in fingerprint reader, but you can also use Windows Hello for facial recognition. And inside, the Surface Pro 3 has an Intel Core i7 processor, 16 GB of RAM, and 1 TB of storage. So that means it’s a full-on computer and can handle just about anything you throw at it. (Perhaps, with this added power, it will become a full-on notebook contender.)

You can pre-order the Surface Pro 4 now for $899, and it will be available October 26.
Photo: Courtesy Microsoft.


Surface Book
But what if you need something more? Microsoft’s first-ever notebook, the Surface Book, could be just the thing. It’s got a 13.5-inch diagonal touchscreen with 267 PPI, the latest Intel processors, and 12 hours of battery life. It weighs only 1.6 pounds and measures 22 mm at its thickest point. The powerful Surface Book is a Microsoft Pro competitor, and it’s reportedly twice as fast as Apple’s premium notebook.

The Surface Book is interesting because for several years now, Microsoft has touted the Surface tablet as its notebook replacement. But, apparently the company has realized that there is a segment of power users who need more than what a tablet can offer and who want a more traditional laptop experience. Still, if you do decide you want to show off your latest designs to a coworker, you can pop this Book's display off its hinges and use it as a tablet; then, lock it back into its notebook position. It’s still a hybrid device.

Both the Surface and the Surface Book can be used with Microsoft’s new pen, which offers 1,024 levels of pressure and comes in several different colors.

The Surface Book starts at $1499 and will ship October 26.
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