Microsoft Unveils New Surface Laptop and Pro Lineup, Neo Foldable

Microsoft is holding an event here in New York, where it has launched new Surface devices, including the Surface Laptop 3 in both 13.5 and 15-inch configurations, as well as the Surface Pro 7. It also showed off devices for next year, the foldable Surface Neo and a Surface Duo Android phone.

CEO Satya Nadella introduced Surface head Panos Panay to show off the latest wares in front of a room full of fans.

Panay said Surface is about putting people at the center, to empower users. "Surface can magnify your mind," he said.

Surface Laptop 3 - 13.5 and 15-inches, Intel and AMD

Panay first announced the Surface Laptop 3. It has a 20% larger touchpad with a machined aluminum finish. It uses both USB Type-C and Type-A ports and will come in 13.5-inch and 15-inch versions.

The Surface Laptop 3 features fast-charging over Surface Connect and a removable hard drive. The biggest news is that it will use AMD Ryzen 7 Surface Edition (seemingly custom silicon) with Radeon RX 11 Graphics.

Meanwhile, the laptop's keyboard has 1.3mm of key travel. Panay touted "perfect" travel, as its keyboards have often been lauded by critics.

Panay said that new features were added around repairability for commercial customers. The top can pop up, allowing for replaceable storage. Panay, however, suggested users don't try it at home because they may break it.

The new sandstone finish has no Alcantara. There's also no scoop for a finger, rubber bumper for the screen or even speaker holes. 

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft said the 13-inch Surface Laptop 3 will use a quad-core Ice Lake CPU, making it twice as fast as the existing Surface Laptop 2.

The 15-inch Laptop 3 represents a new screen size for the family. This is also the one with custom AMD silicon, dubbed AMD Ryzen Microsoft Surface Edition. Panay claimed it's the most powerful mobile CPU AMD has ever made, with the fastest graphics performance of any laptop, period.

Custom Ryzen Silicon. (Image credit: Microsoft)

There's also fast-charging, and Panay said you'll get an 80% charge in under an hour, similar to many mobile phones. This will be included on both Intel and AMD models.

The 13.5-inch starts at $999, and the $15-inch starts at $1,199. They'll ship on October 22 and can be pre-ordered today.

Surface Pro 7

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Panay then turned to the Surface Pro 7, the latest iteration of its 2-in-1, bringing up Robin Seilier to the stage to highlight the latest. It will start at $749 and ship on October 22.

Perhaps the biggest announcement was that the beloved tablet is finally getting USB Type-C, which got cheers from the crowd. It's keyboard, from the Type Cover, will also have 1.3mm of key travel, like the Surface Laptop.

Seilier showed demos of Edge, Word and other Your Phone to highlight how Windows 10 works with the tablet for your workflow. That was the bigger focus, rather than highlighting the specs and design, which is largely the same to the previous Surface Pro. The demos showcased inking, studio microphones and other features. 

Microsoft is also bringing pen support to Excel, an announcement that also garnered cheers as Seilier wrote into a spreadsheet.

Microsoft Surface Pro X

This new device is designed to be a more mobile version with LTE and uses a Microsoft SQ1 chipset. It uses Snapdragon mobile DNA with an integrated AI accelerator. Panay said the Pro X will run full Windows. It also has two USB Type-C ports.

The Surface Pro X will be available on November 4 for $999.

The 13-inch display has a 2880 x 1920 resolution, which equates to 267ppi (pixels per inch). The whole thing is less than 2mm thick and weighs just 1.7 pounds.

There's room in the keyboard for a Surface Slim pen. When pulled out, the whiteboard app instantly opens for easy writing.

Panay said AI can make the Pro X empower human interaction. He showed a demo in which a man making a video call made a person look right at the receiver's eyes. This would usually pull 15W, he said. But with the SQ1 chipset, that interaction uses 50 times less power and doesn't touch the GPU, Panay said.

Adobe Chief Product Officer Scott Belsky took to the stage to praise the Pro X as a way to create when not at your desktop. He said Adobe is working on adjusting Creative Cloud to work better with Surface, including the pen. Adobe Fresco is one of the first Surface-optimized tools. On stage, there was a demo with shading, erasing using the back of the pen and different textures enabled by the app.

The Future: Surface Neo

Panay showed off one device that won't debut until over a year from now, during the 2020 holiday season. It's a foldable device called the Surface Neo. The PC uses an Intel CPU, but we're not sure which one.

Microsoft's foldable will arrive with two separate screens divided by a thin bezel. There's a keyboard attachment for more physical typing that still leaves two displays.

It's meant to "remove the conflict between a laptop and a tablet," Panay said.

Each side is 5.6mm thin, and Microsoft says it has the thinnest LCD ever made. The Surface Slim pen magnetically attaches to the back to stay out of the way. The keyboard also magnetically attaches and folds straight onto the product. It leaves room on the bottom screen to still showcase more content than one screen.

The Surface Neo can run different apps on different screens, but some apps will also be able to work across both. We saw Outlook in a demo with Mail and a calendar.

The Future of Windows: Windows 10X

Carmen Zlatef, who is in charge of the Surface Neo's software, introduced a new version of Windows. It's called Windows 10X, and it's specifically for dual-screened devices, like the upcoming Surface Neo.

With the new operating system, Search is instantly available, and apps pop up on the side on the display you choose. More apps will open up on the opposite side. You can also "span" apps across the two sides with a pinch and drag, at which point it optimizes it for a larger display.

Zlatef said the operating system supports "the breadth" of Windows 10 apps, including Microsoft Office.

Microsoft calls the different positions "postures." For instance, holding the device open wide is one posture, as is turning it sideways. Another is when the PC is in tent mode. Another one uses the keyboard, which charges wirelessly. 

Snapping on the keyboard reveals a "Wonder bar," with a trackpad and space for inking on the lower display.

Microsoft Surface Earbuds

In a surprise announcement, Microsoft also announced Surface Earbuds, with a charging case and designed to work with Microsoft Office. In a video, it showed them being used to workout as well, with integration for Spotify. They will ship this holiday season for $249.

Each earbud has two microphones and work on any platform. Microsoft promised 24 hours of battery life.

On Android, there are gestures for Spotify, though Seiler didn't mentionApple  iOS functionality for that.

For PowerPoint, the earbuds can create real-time captions to show what the speaker is saying. It can also use Microsoft Azure to translate into other languages as you speak.

Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming. He also keeps up with the latest news. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Threads @FreedmanAE and Mastodon

  • g-unit1111
    I'm very intrigued by the dual screen devices and their potential to be iPad killers. I also might get a Surface laptop for my next laptop. I like my current Surface and I do use it all the time.
  • Warsaw
    I am also intrigued by the device. However, with it being dual screens I'm sure it'll be pretty pricey. I've been looking at Surface laptops for awhile to get one, the current ones in their specs are not up to snuff for what I am looking for in a laptop. These new ones however, especially the AMD powered ones might be right up my ally. My first Surface pro I still have it and love it but the performance is lagging.

    On an off-topic, why is it comments do not appear under the news articles for some time now? Maybe the past year or two?