Microsoft is also relying on a new generation of Surface products to launch Windows 11. We tried the Surface Pro 8 and the Surface Laptop Studio.
Since the launch of Windows 8, Microsoft has offered ” hero devices “. Behind this English-speaking term hides the definition of a flagship, a product that can be displayed as the best possible demonstration of in-house software and services. To celebrate Windows 11, Microsoft will therefore be able to count in particular on the Surface Pro 8 and the Surface Laptop Studio. Two new designs in the Surface catalog.
Surface Pro 8: a real breakthrough design for a mature product
The first “hero deviceWindows 8 was the very first Surface Pro. The product has evolved enormously, especially with the Surface Pro 3 with which Microsoft found the winning recipe for its idea. With the Surface Pro 8, it is a new major evolution that the brand offers.
The new chassis takes the design of the Surface Pro X : a large screen almostborderlessand a very thin case, easy to transport. The adjustable foot is still there, with a hinge that is really very pleasant to handle. The Type Cover has also gained in volume to now house the Surface Pen, in a rather clever way.
Another big change: the abandonment of the classic USB-A port in favor of two USB-C ports capable, and this is a first for Microsoft, of transferring Thunderbolt 4. There too it is a big step in modernity for the product which had missed several times the possibility of evolving on previous generations.
But let’s come back to the Surface Slim Pen which is now used on almost all of the new range: we find it with the Surface Pro 8, the Surface Laptop Studio and even the Surface Duo 2. The stylus is very easy to handle and offers a little novelty: a very subtle haptic feedback at the level of the mine. I was very scared when I learned that the stylus included a vibrator, but the experience is very well mastered by Microsoft and I come away very convinced.
It’s simple, this little vibration gives a real physical feedback effect on the screen. You almost have the impression that it’s the display that vibrates with the stylus and it simulates the effect of the paper on which you scratch rather well. The vibrations are really very quiet, so that initially I had the impression that they were deactivated. I don’t think this is something that can get in the way.
Last design element to note: the possibility of changing very easily the internal SSD of the machine. It just takes one… thing? You know the tool to open the SIM card slot of your smartphone. A stroke of … thing, then, and we can open the hatch that allows access to the small SSD of the tablet. It is very rare to be able to change a component on this kind of ultramobile product and it is rather well received from Microsoft.
We can’t wait for the full test of the product, but here we are already on conquered ground for Microsoft, which knows very well how to achieve this kind of 2-in-1 under Windows.
Surface Laptop Studio: a new benchmark design
A more difficult territory for the firm was that of the powerful laptop PC. The design of the Surface Book has failed to achieve its objective and the firm therefore disrupts its product by taking inspiration from the Surface Studio, the fixed home PC.
On the product presentation videos, I was rather skeptical. In particular the somewhat strange design of the device with this base present under the keyboard, but less wide than the rest of the chassis. It’s also the Surface product with which I had the least instinctive ease in transforming it from tablet to laptop. And yet, during my minutes with the device, I was rather seduced by the concept.
With this new approach, Microsoft can integrate performance components into the base of the laptop PC, with a dedicated GeForce RTX graphics chip and an 11th generation Intel H-series processor, which should make it possible to run all the greedy software and even a few. games. But this design also keeps the strength of Surface products: the ability to adapt to the needs of the user. The product can adopt three positions: laptop PC, tablet or an intermediate mode that we imagine rather made for watching series and films.
As always with Surface, the design seems mastered from start to finish with excellent finishes and a hinge resistant enough in laptop mode, but flexible enough to transform into tablet mode. A real work of goldsmith.
Another notable element, and this is a first for Microsoft, is the presence of a new generation touchpad with haptic feedback. This is something that we already know at Apple, but which is really well integrated here. A haptic engine is located under the touchpad and allows you to simulate the physical feedback. The feeling of the click is very pleasant, like the vibration system of Google Pixels and iPhones, Joy-con of the Switch or even of Sony’s DualSense.
Here again, we can not wait to be able to test the machine for a longer period of time. The Surface Laptop Studio will be available in early 2022 in France, and the price has not yet been confirmed by Microsoft France. It is once again on this price equation that everything will play out. It’s often been the weak point of Surface products to charge unreasonable prices, IMHO.
A very successful and convincing first experience whether for the Surface Pro 8 or the Surface Laptop Studio.