With the pandemic forcing a lot of us to work from home for the foreseeable future, it’s very likely people are upgrading their devices to something more suitable. And, it’s safe to say Microsoft is aware.
In response to these trying times, the company unveiled its next-generation Surface Pro X with some new improvements. Not only does it come with an all-new chipset, longer battery life, and support for more apps, but it also has a new feature built specifically for video chat called “eye contact.” Yes, it’s as creepy as it sounds.
The Surface Pro X starts at $1,499.99, which is higher than the $999.99 starting price for its predecessor.
Now, let’s talk about what’s improved with this new 2-in-1 as compared to last year’s model — it might help to justify that increase in price.
To power the device, Microsoft has introduced its second-generation SQ2 chipset which is suitable for more intense multitasking. But if you don’t need such a beefy processor, you can opt for last year’s SQ1 instead. Either way, both versions come with LTE connectivity and up to 15 hours of battery life (an increase from 13 hours on its predecessor).
Since the device runs Windows 10 on an ARM processor, Microsoft confirmed it’s rolling out expanded support for its 64-bit applications. But it’s important to note that unless the app has already been ported to ARM64, you won’t be able to install it on the Surface Pro X. If your workflow mainly involves running Microsoft’s native apps, then this shouldn’t be an issue.
Speaking of those native apps, Microsoft has improved performance for Microsoft365 applications and its Edge web browser, so they should now run more quickly and consume less battery power. The company is also releasing a native Microsoft Teams client, which makes sense considering everyone is constantly on video chat.
Now that we’re on the topic of video chat, let’s discuss that creepy eye contact feature. Basically, it adjusts your gaze on video calls when you’re not looking directly into the camera. That way, it appears as if you are to help establish better eye contact. Thankfully, the feature can be turned off via settings and it also only works in landscape mode.
Microsoft isn’t the first to introduce a feature like this, though. With iOS 14, Apple introduced a somewhat identical feature called “Eye Contact” for FaceTime calls. Similar to Microsoft, it adjusts your eyes so that it appears as though you’re looking into the camera when you’re staring at the screen.
The feature certainly makes sense, considering how nauseating it can be to look back and forth from the camera to the display. And, due to the pandemic, I experience that nausea a lot with plenty of meetings over video chat. But that doesn’t mean I want a front-facing camera tracking and adjusting my pupils on the screen.
In terms of other specs, the Surface Pro X remains similar to its predecessor.
It features a 13-inch touchscreen display (with 2880 x 1920 pixel resolution) and a built-in kickstand on the back, 2-watt stereo speakers with Dolby Audio, dual microphones, and two USB-C ports. The front is also home to a 5-megapixel front-facing camera with 1080p video, and a 10-megapixel rear camera which is capable of shooting 4K. For colors, you’ll have the choice between matte black or a new platinum variant.
Configuration options include 8GB or 16GB of RAM and 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB of storage complete with a removable hard drive.
If you want to use it as a full-blown laptop, you’ll have to purchase the compatible accessories, like the Surface Pen and Surface Pro X Keyboard separately. The keyboard attachment does come in new colors, including blue, red, and platinum.
If the Surface Pro X is a little too intense for you, Microsoft also introduced the Surface Laptop Go. With a starting price of $549 and a weight of 2.45 pounds, it’s the company’s most affordable and lightest laptop yet. But it’s probably the better option for those in need of a new PC for lightweight multitasking, word processing, streaming content, and video chatting.
In terms of availability, both new Surface PCs will be available on Oct. 13.