As I continue to struggle to find time to complete my review, here are some interesting findings from Tablet Pro's Justice Frangipane.
US and Canadian customers have until July 31, 2017 to receive credit for their old devices.
N-Trig, the Israeli company behind the digitizer tech in the Surface Pro 3 and many other top Windows tablets and convertibles, has updated its website and now offers a link to a line of replacement pens available via Amazon.
Currently discounted to $40 from their $50 list price, the DuoSensePen2 models are not compatible with all N-Trig digitizers. The new pens can only be used with the following devices: Microsoft® Surface Pro 3, Sony VAIO® Duo 11/13, VAIO Tap 11, VAIO® FIT Family, Acer® Aspire ® R7 572, ASUS Taichi 21/31 and Fujitsu Stylistic Q702.
The pens come in an assortment of five colors.
I recently had a chance to compare the DuoSensePen2 (above, green) with other N-Trig pens from (top to bottom) Sony, Microsoft and Acer. The new model is a full inch shorter than the Surface Pro 3 pen, although it surprisingly doesn't feel much lighter.
A clip cap would be a welcomed addition and help to better balance the pen in the hand.
The DuoSensePen2's nib is about the same consistency as the SP3 pen, slightly softer than the Sony's. Unfortunately, the pen does not ship with any spares.
Of the four N-Trig pens I've tried, I most like the feedback from the Acer Active Pen from my Aspire R7-572 convertible. Be aware that Acer's latest models use Synaptics digitizers and are not compatible.
With the Surface Pro 3 pen selling for $50, these new N-Trig pens are a nice option if you'd like to save a few bucks on a replacement or spare. Hopefully for the next generation, N-Trig will lengthen the pen to a standard size and perhaps design a flared barrel that's closer to a traditional paintbrush.
Some eye candy to start your week: our friend and ArtDock collaborator Alex Cheparev has just posted a video demonstrating the performance of the 3d applications Autodesk Maya 2015, Autodesk Mudbox 2015 and Pixologic Zbrush 4r6 on a top of the line Surface Pro 3 with i7 processor, 8GB ram, 256gb ssd, and Intel HD 5000 video card.
Big changes on the horizon for Microsoft's Surface line, as both a new Surface Mini and larger Surface Pro are expected to be announced Tuesday, May 20.
Because I love rumor-mongering as much as the next guy, here's some tantalizing new info from Windows Phone Central:
For the Surface Pro 3, which is now confirmed as being a real device, there will be five versions offered with varying pricing and configurations:
- i3-4GB RAM-64GB - $799
- i5-4GB RAM-128GB - $999
- i5-8GB RAM-256GB - $1299
- i7-8GB RAM-256GB - $1549
- i7-8GB RAM-512GB - $1949
If this pricing is correct, there is a lot to mull over. First off, we should see prices on existing Surface Pro 2 models should drop by $100 or more.
The $799 i3 model sounds really appealing for sketching and comics reading; but I've never run graphics apps with an i3 so it remains to be seen how well they perform on this processor. This model seems to compete directly with the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2.
It will be really interesting to see what Microsoft's plans are for its existing Core i5 Surface Pro 2 models. Will anyone want a 10.6 inch version if the price difference is only $100?
The i7 is obviously the model that I want but once again I don't understand the $400 premium for 256GB of additional storage.
Therefore, the "sweet spot" in the high end model is the 8GB/256GB model for $1549, this pricing and configuration is on par with the often discounted Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga.
Think it's finally time for that SurfaceProArtist Spring cleaning sale...
Despite its rumored pen, I haven't been paying much attention to the impending launch of the Surface Mini since it will reportedly be ARM-based and therefore limited to running Windows RT.
I've long lamented the lack of decent touch versions of mainstay Windows tools and unless Microsoft has cajoled Adobe and others to develop something big for the Mini, I don't think the situation will change anytime soon.
But in this morning's WinInfo Daily newsletter, Paul Thurrott floored me with this tidbit:
I can now confirm those reports: Microsoft will indeed launch a bigger, Intel-based Surface Pro device at the event. I'm not 100 percent sure what form it will take—I'd like to see an Ultrabook-like model, but given the makeup of current Surface devices it will almost certainly be a tablet—but it will indeed use a high-end Haswell chip and not a low-end Atom-based chip.
Thurrott has further speculation on what he calls the "Surface Pro Maxi" in his WinSuperSite column here.
While I'm surprised by the timing (mostly for my bank account), I think this is an excellent move by Microsoft that will undercut the impact of a rumored Apple iPad Pro.
So what specs would I love to see? Simple: 13+ inch screen, 16:10 aspect ratio, thinner, lighter, faster, more RAM, bigger HD, lower price. A man can dream, right?
I'll unfortunately be traveling during the launch event, but I'll do my best to post the official specs as soon as I can. Look forward to reading your reactions!
To show its gratitude, Microsoft hosted Krahulik and other artists in New York for Monday's Surface 2 event and presented the creatives to the tech media for interviews.
Krahulik has just posted another great read with his impressions of the event and many enhancements found in the Surface Pro 2. It contains lots of juicy nuggets like this one:
The big question seemed to be why I don’t just use an IPad. I had to explain the concept of pressure sensitivity, my need to run programs like Photoshop, Manga Studio and also the power of a real Stylus...It has literally changed how and where I work. I’m an honest to God fanboy when it comes to the Surface and I was happy to share that passion.
Check out the full post here.
UPDATE: One item that wasn't immediately clear in this morning's event was the precise processor and GPU contained in the Surface Pro 2. As reported by PCMag.com, "The Surface Pro 2 comes with an Intel Core i5-4200U processor, up a generation from the Intel Core i5-3317U processor found in the older Surface Pro. The i5-4200U has improved Intel HD Graphics 4400, which leads to better 3D gaming performance on the World of Warcraft demo that was playing on the preview unit (8GB memory, 256GB storage, $1,299) we tried out. "
* * *
Microsoft Surface Vice-President Panos Panay officially unveiled the Surface Pro 2 this morning in New York City and confirmed all the news we've been reporting for the last couple of weeks.
The Surface Pro 2 remains physically unchanged from its predecessor except for an adjustable two position kickstand, now improved for use on one's lap. Boasting 50% greater color accuracy, Dolby audio speakers, graphics performance reportedly increased 50% and overall speed is up 20%.
Panay showcased the speed and processing improvements by manipulating 6K raw video from a Red camera in real time.
Internally, the Surface Pro 2 will house an Intel Core i5 fourth generation (Haswell) processor. Panay affirmed this new processor will yield 75% better battery life and lower heat generation than the first gen model. Four configurations are available: 4 GB/64 GB, 4 GB/128 GB, 8 GB/256 GB and 8 GB/512 GB.
New devices will start shipping Oct. 22, to coincide with the release of Windows 8.1. Pre-orders start tomorrow Sept. 24 8 AM ET.
The Surface Pro will continue to start at $799. Surface Pro 2 will start at $899 for a 64 GB version. Mary Jo Foley reported earlier today that pricing for the other models is $999, $1,299 and $1,799, respectively.
Though I initially missed it while watching the various live blogs, Microsoft also announced a wireless adapter for touch covers, which addresses one of my principle pet peeves. Now you can cradle your tablet while you draw and the keyboard cover will continue to work wirelessly via bluetooth, so you can type the occasional hotkey.
Microsoft is offering 200 GB of SkyDrive free for two years and a "Best of Skype" service with all Surface devices. This includes free international calling and access to Skype wifi hotspots for one year.
Surface Pro and Surface 2 peripherals announced were:
Type Cover 2 in pink, blue, purple and black, 1 mm thinner than original with backlit keys. Proximity sensor detects when you're about to use it.
Touch Cover 2 also backlit and 1 mm thinner and lighter than previous version. The touch cover has much higher resolution sensors than original (1092 vs. 80) and features predictive typing. Both new covers will work with existing products.
Surface Remix Project is an experimental multimedia touch cover with pressure sensitivity that might be interesting to use in conjunction with paint programs. Microsoft showed off the cover in conjunction with a music mixing app.
Surface Power Cover will include a built-in battery that will extend the battery life of Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 devices by 2.5 times!
Surface Docking Station, coming in "early 2014" will work with Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 models only. It will power two monitors up to 384x2160 and includes one USB 3 and three USB 2 ports, a Mini DisplayPort, Ethernet, Audio In and Out and Power.
Additionally Microsoft spent a lot of time unveiling the Surface 2, the replacement for the poor selling Surface RT.
"Lighter, thinner and faster," the Surface 2 is silver magnesium. The Surface 2 is powered by a Tegra 4 CPU and ships with 4GB of RAM. It also features an adjustable two-position kickstand, and upgraded 1920 x 1080, 10.6-inch multi-touch display. Battery life continues to be rated at 8 hours.
The 32GB Surface 2 will retail for $449, while the original Surface RT will sell for $349 while supplies last. A 64 GB Surface 2 will start at $599.
Full specs from Microsoft press release below:
• Surface 2
- Powered by an NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor, making apps run faster and smoother and increasing battery life to up to 10 hours for video playback
- 10.6-inch ClearType Full HD display now renders 1080p video for enjoying shows and movies, and its full-size USB port has been upgraded to USB 3.0 for up to four times faster file transfers
- Camera resolution has also increased, with a 3.5-megapixel front camera and 5-megapixel rear camera, both capable of capturing 1080p video and featuring improved low-light performance, making face-to-face conversations with your favorite people crisp and clear
- Even with these and other upgrades, Surface 2 is slightly thinner and lighter than its predecessor
- Surface 2 will ship with Windows RT 8.1, bringing improvements in key areas such as personalization, search, multitasking, built-in apps, the Windows Store experience and cloud connectivity
- The new Xbox Music allows you to stream millions of songs for free, and an updated Video app and great games from the Windows Store such as “Halo: Spartan Assault” will ensure that you never run out of ways to play
- When it’s time to get serious, Surface 2 is pre-loaded with Microsoft Office 2013 RT — including Outlook RT; simply click in a Touch or Type Cover and get to work
- Surface 2 is available in 32GB and 64GB configurations and will start at $449; full specs can be found here: http://www.Surface.com/pre-order
• Surface Pro 2
- Surface Pro 2 is the successor to Surface Pro and, like its predecessor, is a true laptop replacement, capable of running virtually all your Windows software including the full Microsoft Office suite, as well as apps from the Windows Store
- The portability and simplicity of a tablet when you want it and the power and flexibility of a laptop when you need it
- Powered by a fourth-generation Intel Core i5 processor, which, combined with other improvements, delivers increased performance and up to 60 percent longer battery life than Surface Pro
- Starting at $899, Surface Pro 2 will be offered in 64GB and 128GB configurations with 4 GB of RAM and 256GB and 512GB configurations with 8 GB of RAM; full specs can be seen here: http://www.Surface.com/pre-order
• Value-added services
- To help people get the most out of Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, customers purchasing either device will receive free Skype calling to landlines in more than 60 countries for one year, unlimited Skype Wi-Fi on their Surface 2 or Surface Pro 2 at more than two million hot spots worldwide for one year, and 200 GB of free SkyDrive storage for two years.
- Be sure to check out the Inside SkyDrive blog for more SkyDrive news later today
New accessories - Today’s announcement also includes seven new accessories that will make Surface even more flexible, more portable and more productive:
Touch Cover 2
- Thinner and lighter than the original Touch Cover, measuring only 2.75 mm thin, Touch Cover 2 features backlit keys for even better readability
- More rigid, registers keystrokes with greater accuracy and features updated sensors that support a variety of gestures across the entire keyboard
- Estimated retail price of $119.99 and will be available for pre-order on Sept. 24 in all markets where Surface devices are available for pre-order
Type Cover 2
- Type Cover 2 features the same super-thin, lightweight design of the original Type Cover, but it’s now backlit and will be available in Cyan, Magenta, Purple and Black in the coming months
- It’s also more rigid, providing a better lap-typing experience, and is designed to be noticeably quieter when striking keys
- Estimated retail price of $129.99; available for pre-order on Sept. 24 in all markets where Surface devices are available for pre-order
- Power Cover delivers the same great typing experience you get with Type Cover while extending the battery life of your Surface 2, Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 by up to 50 percent to help you make it through that late-night meeting or the entire flight
- Estimated retail price of $199.99; projected release date of early 2014
Docking Station for Surface Pro
- The Docking Station for Surface Pro lets you quickly connect Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 to desktop PC peripherals in a single step, taking you from laptop to desktop in an instant
- While Surface Pro or Surface Pro 2 is docked, it can connect with an external monitor, Ethernet, speakers and power supply
- PC peripherals connect via its one USB 3.0 port and three USB 2.0 ports
- Estimated retail price of $199.99 and has a projected release date of early 2014
Wireless Adapter for typing covers
- The Wireless Adapter for Typing Covers connects magnetically to any Touch or Type Cover, letting you type from anywhere in the room using Bluetooth technology, so it is even easier to connect Surface to a TV or monitor and type from another location, such as the couch
- Wireless Adapter for Typing Covers will have an estimated retail price of $59.99
- Available for pre-order in the U.S. and Canada beginning Sept. 24
Car Charger with USB
- Car Charger plugs into most cars’ power or lighter ports and charges Surface without the need for an additional adapter
- Also features a USB port to allow simultaneous charging of a phone or other device
- Estimated retail price of $49.99 and a projected release date of early 2014
Arc Touch Mouse Surface Edition
- This special-edition Arc Touch Mouse has been updated to match the look of Surface, and like other Arc Touch mice, it is designed for comfort and flattens for portability
- Connects via Bluetooth 3.0, freeing Surface’s USB port for use by other devices
- Estimated retail price of $69.99 and will be available for pre-order in the U.S. and Canada on Sept. 24; distribution in additional markets is projected to begin in the coming months