Microsoft on Wednesday unveiled two updates to its Surface line of devices, with the third-gen Surface Book and second-gen Surface Go.
The two devices are the somewhat more-unusual members of the Surface mobile device family--with the Surface Book notebook offering a detachable display (compared to the standard clamshell Surface Laptop) and the Surface Go 2-in-1 serving as the entry-level, compact-sized alternative to the Surface Pro series.
The announcement comes as large segments of the population continue work-from-home and distance learning routines amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to massive demand for portable devices. Windows 10 devices are currently seeing a 75-percent increase in monthly usage, year-over-year, said Panos Panay, chief product officer for Windows and Devices, in a blog post. "To help navigate the current environment people are turning to Windows PCs more than ever," Panay said.
What follows are six key things to know about Microsoft's Surface Book 3 and Surface Go 2.
Surface Book 3: Display
Microsoft hasn't made changes to the form factor on the Surface Book 3. Like with the previous version, the device features two sizes for its display--13.5 inches and 15 inches. The Surface Book 3 continues the unique design of allowing the display to be fully detached from the keyboard base; the display can then be used as a tablet, but can also be flipped around and re-attached facing the other direction to work in stand or presentation mode.
The notebook's display includes Microsoft's vibrant PixelSense display technology with high resolution of 267 pixels per inch (3,000 x 2,000) on the 13.5-inch model and 260 ppi (3,240 x 2,160) on the 15-inch version.
Surface Book 3: Key updates
The enhancements for the Surface Book 3 are focused around performance. The notebook offers choices of quad-core, 10th-gen Intel Core processors (Core i5 or Core i7) up to the Core i7-1065G7 (clock speed of up to 3.9GHz). For the 15-inch model, that works out to a performance gain of 50-percent compared to the Surface Book 2.
The Surface Book 3 is also configurable with double the RAM--32 GB--and offers "the fastest SSD we have ever shipped," as well, Microsoft said.
On graphics, the Surface Book 3 adds options to go up to the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 with Max-Q on the 13.5-inch model and up to the Nvidia Quadro RTX 3000 with Max-Q on the 15-inch model.
Surface Book 3: Price and availability
The Surface Book 3 is planned to be available on May 21. The starting price is $2,649 for the base 13.5-inch model with a Core i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage.
Surface Go 2: Display
The Surface Go 2 does get a new form factor, with its PixelSense display moving up to 10.5 inches from 10 inches on the first-gen model.
The resolution also gets a slight bump to 220 ppi (1,920 x 1,280) from 217 ppi on the original version.
Surface Go 2: Other key updates
The Surface Go 2 adds an upgraded Intel Pentium chip for the base model--Pentium Gold 4425Y--compared to the 4415Y on the original model
There's also an option to get a processor that is a level up from the Pentium, with the Surface Go 2 configurable with an eighth-gen Intel Core m3 chip. The Core m3 provides a 64-percent boost on performance from the first-gen Surface Go.
Additional updates include new Dolby Audio speakers and improved dual far-field mics, Microsoft said.
Surface Go 2: Price and availability
The Surface Go 2 is expected to be available May 12. The device has a starting price of $629 for the tablet only (keyboard sold separately) with the Pentium chip, 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage.