Surface Studio 2: Half Baked Refresh

Come on Microsoft. Why would you use a 7th generation CPU that came out in the January 2017? Especially when there are Six Core 8th generation CPUs readily available and given the price of the Studio 2 starting at $3,499. Sure the Studio 2 now comes with a Nvidia 1060 or Nvidia 1070 which is leagues ahead of the Nvidia GTX 965 of the previous generation. But this significantly limits the demographics this device would be a good value for.

What has changed?

  • 7th Generation i7-7 CPU
  • 6GB Nvidia GTX 1060 or 8GB Nvidia GTX 1070
  • 1TB or 2TB Solid State Drive instead of Hybrid Drives
  • 16GB or 32GB of DDR4 RAM
  • Brighter Display and Better Contrast
  • Additional USB-C Port

Who is this for?

This device is for digital artists, architects, or people who will make good use out of the large pen supported touchscreen. Without that, it is hard to justify shelling out 3.5K for a device with these specifications. Gamers will find better value going with laptops like the Razer Blade 15 and MSI GS65 Stealth which both have a faster CPU and higher refresh screens. Video producers will want a Six Core CPU to decrease rendering time.

I really wish Microsoft could have found a way to put a Six Core CPU into the Studio 2. It would have made the Studio 2 a much better value.


Surface Pro 6 and Surface Laptop 2: Matte Black Increment

Microsoft announced minor updates to the Surface Pro line and Surface Laptop line. Despite Microsoft claiming talking points like the “Surface Laptop is 85% faster”, not much has changed in terms of the overall experience. So what is new?

New Matte Black Color

Both the Surface Pro and Surface Laptop line now have a new Matte Black option. One thing that other tech sites have noted is the matte black does not attract fingerprints as much as the other colors.

8th Generation CPUs

The Surface Pro 6 and Surface Laptop 2 now comes with either a Quad Core i5 or i7. This is definitely a significant improvement from the 7th generation dual-core processors from the previous generation.

Lower Starting Price

With the elimination of the 4GB models for both the Surface Pro and Surface Laptop, the base model for the Surface Pro 6 now starts at $899 for the i5 with 8GB of RAM while the Surface Laptop 2 starts at the same $999 but for the i5 with 8GB of RAM. Both devices are now more competitive compared to other laptops on the market.

Windows 10 Home come standard

Oddly enough, you no longer get Windows 10 Pro with the Surface Pro line. This is disappointing since you lose the ability to encrypt your drive using Bitlocker. You do at least get Windows 10 Home instead of Windows 10 on S mode for the Surface Laptop line.

Quieter Keyboard and Better Contrast

Microsoft also mentioned that the new devices come with a quieter keyboard, though I have never heard of anyone complain about that on a surface device. They also mentioned that the screens have better contrast now.

No USB-C Port

Despite the Surface Book, Surface Go, and Surface Studio line all having a USB-C port, the new Surface Pro and Surface Laptop do not come with any port changes. It even more surprising given the newly announced Surface headphones charges through a USB-C port.

If you have the Surface Pro 5 (“New Surface Pro”) or Surface Laptop, there is little reason to upgrade to the newer generation. Whether the Surface Pro 6 and Surface Laptop 2 can compete with existing 2 in 1s like the Lenovo Miix 520 and upcoming laptops like the Asus Zenbook UX433, only time will tell.


Surface Go is official: The 10 inch $399 mini Surface

image via Microsoft

Microsoft announced the Surface Go a couple weeks ago and demo units have finally started popping up in retails stores. The 10 inch 1.15lbs device is said to be running Windows 10 in S-mode with the ability to do a one time switch to full Windows 10 if the user so desires. The device also supports the usual array of accessories that the bigger Surface Pro supports, from the surface pen to the surface dial. A smaller version of the Type Cover with the Alcantara is also available for purchase as an accessory.

image via Microsoft

The device starts at $399 for the 4GB RAM 64GB eMMC Storage model with the 8GB RAM 128GB SSD being $549. Both models have the Pentium Gold 4415Y CPU and Intel HD Graphics 615. With a 3:2 ratio screen at 1800 x 1200 resolution, the display should be pretty sharp and pleasant to use. Microsoft has also rated this device to get up to 9 hours of video playback.

I have spend a bit of time playing with the demo unit and so far it seems to perform decently well. It certainly should be able to perform basic tasks like email, browsing the web and watching Netflix. Once the unit is officially out on August 2nd, we will dive more deeply into just how far this little tablet can go in terms of performance.


Third Party Apps reading your Gmail? Yup, that is happening

Third Party Apps reading your Gmail? Yup, that is happening

image via wikipedia

A recent Wall Street Journal article has done an in depth report on Third Party applications reading your email contents sometimes without your explicit consent. Many of these companies (e.g. Earny) rely on your email content to create better algorithms, generate information to sells to other party for advertisement and/or marketing. Often times, your personal emails can accidentally end up on servers or read by an actual employee to improve their service. Although this is the reality of making machine learning algorithms better, companies should give users more control over their own data. As a consumer, make sure to take some time to throughly read through any privacy policy and user agreements when signing up for a service. It is often times best to do some research on how a particular company monetizes and then decide whether you are okay with trading your privacy for the free and convenient service.

Source: Wall Street Journal