First Look: Microsoft’s big new device announcements

Microsoft makes a splash with a host of brand new gadgets.

Microsoft on the move

Microsoft on the move

Microsoft didn’t wait long after Apple’s last raft of announcements to rekindle the old rivalry. Like Apple, Microsoft announced an updated pro-style tablet, digital stylus, and a pair of new smartphones, but it also went further than that, rolling out a new fitness wearable, showing off VR technology and even introducing a rival to the MacBook Pro. Have a look.

Surface Pro 4

Surface Pro 4

As expected, Microsoft debuted the new version of its two-way tablet/laptop combination, the Surface Pro 4. It’s an evolutionary upgrade over the Surface Pro 3, boasting a thinner bezel for increased screen size, upgraded internals, and a redesigned Type Cover with mechanical key switches and an optional fingerprint sensor (sold separately). Prices start at $900, and pre-orders open tomorrow. Full availability begins Oct. 26.

Surface Book

Surface Book

It’s another laptop/tablet hybrid, with the emphasis more firmly on the laptop part of the deal – where the Surface Pro 4 is essentially a tablet with an attachable keyboard cover, the brand-new Surface Book is more a laptop that you can remove the screen from. Broadly, it’s a Windows 10 answer to the MacBook Pro – a pre-order will set you back $1,500, with the same availability dates as the Surface Pro 4.

Lumia 950

Lumia 950

Everybody’s releasing a similar combination of standard-sized flagship phone and outsized power phablet lately, and Microsoft is no exception. The Nokia 950 is the former, but it still packs a PureView 20MP camera with all the trimmings, a 5.2-inch 4K screen and the ability to use productivity apps like Office on the go.

Lumia 950 XL

Lumia 950 XL

The 950 XL is the big one of the pairing, boosting the screen size to 5.7 inches and moving the internal hardware up to a Snapdragon 810 octa-core SoC, as opposed to the 950’s hexa-core Snapdragon 808. The Lumias go on sale in November, with the 950 starting at $550 and the 950 XL at $650. Both devices also feature extensive integration with the Cortana virtual assistant and a new feature called Continuum, which is handy when they’re connected to…

Display Dock

Display Dock

 …the new Display Dock accessory, a powered hub that can turn either of the new Lumias into a full-fledged Windows 10 desktop, simply by adding a USB keyboard, mouse and monitor. Continuum lets the phones continue to function like phones, receiving calls and so on, even while they’re being used as desktops.

HoloLens with “Project X-ray”

HoloLens with “Project X-ray”

Microsoft also showed off holographic VR with its HoloLens headset, demonstrating a surprisingly robust VR game in which a player physically dodged attacks and vanquished enemies with a holographic “weapon” anchored to his wrist.

Microsoft Band 2.0

Microsoft Band 2.0

The new version of Microsoft’s fitness wearable, the Band 2.0, features more extensive Cortana integration, has neat new sensors like a barometer, and can do new things like track VO2 levels for athletes. It can even monitor your golf swing.

Microsoft Surface Pen

Microsoft Surface Pen

Astute readers will have noticed this in earlier pictures – yes, there is a new pen available for use with the new Surface devices. Microsoft touted its 1,024 distinct points of pressure and simulated “eraser” on the non-business end – saying that it feels more like an ink pen than a computer stylus.