Short blog posts, journal entries, and random thoughts. Topics include a mix of personal and the world at large. 

The new Surface Studio is already behind. Again.

Yesterday Microsoft held a hardware event for their Surface line of products in New York City. Microsoft elected to not provide a livestream because the company is simply not as cool and awesome as Apple. Comparatively, Apple’s annual September iPhone keynote was streamed on Twitter.

The team from Redmond is forever chasing the taillights of Cupertino.

The only Surface product I was interested in was the top-of-the-line machine the Surface Studio. I’ve already got a Surface Pro 4 and I’m not keen to replace that anytime soon, especially since the industrial design is still the same on the new Surface Pro 6. I guess I’m not likely to buy a Surface Studio either since I’m very much using the 2017 5K iMac I just bought last year.

It’s nice to look at nice things you can absolutely afford to buy but choose not to.

The original Surface Studio debut two years ago to critical acclaim of its brilliant screen that serves as a monitor and a Wacom-style creative surface when its hinged down in its most flat position. I quite enjoy doing scribbles and jotting down notes with the Surface pen on my Surface Pro 4, and I can only imagine how incredible the experience would be on that vast 28-inch canvas.

However great the display on the Surface Studio was utterly undermined by the lackluster internals. Due to design constraints, Microsoft had to use mobile/laptop parts for better packaging and less heat. That in it of itself is not a problem because Apple have done the same in the iMac line since forever. The issue in Microsoft’s execution with the Surface Studio is that they used one-generations old CPU and GPU chips instead of the latest available; the machine was already out-of-date at launch.

Not to mention the lack of USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, and the slow hybrid SSD hard drive.

So I was eager to see how Microsoft would remedy this glaring flaw at yesterday’s event, and the answer is they absolutely did not. The new Surface Studio 2 indeed received the welcomed spec bump, but shockingly not to the current 8th generation Intel processors and Nvidia RTX20XX graphics. Instead it once again utilizes previous generation chips: 7th generation Intel and Nvidia GTX10XX. Like the original model, Surface Studio 2 is being launched with obsolete components.

There’s still no USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 in the new model, too. Overall it’s a very disappointing showing from Microsoft. After two years, this was all they could’ve come up with?

A short hike up the hill at Mori Point.

A short hike up the hill at Mori Point.

Microsoft Surface line not yet on level of Apple

Consumer Reports, the magazine/agency that Millennials and younger have no idea who they are or what they do, announced today that it’s downgrading Microsoft’s entire Surface line of products from a previous ‘recommended’ designation to now, not so much.    

The independent research entity sites a multitude of reported issues, including random freezing, hangups, and unresponsive touchscreen, aggregating that: 

“25 percent of Microsoft laptops and tablets will present their owners with problems by the end of the second year of ownership.”

As an owner of a Surface Pro 4, I can only say: tell me something I don’t already know. 

I shall say upfront that I absolutely adore the SP4; the display is superb and better than the competition, the duo form-factor of tablet and laptop is a revelation, and the overall design and packaging is engineered excellence on par with the anything made by Apple, the industry benchmark.

The Surface Pro 4 has been on the market for over two years, and to this day there’s still inexplicable hangups and unresponsiveness on mine, the nadir of which is the utterly broken sleep function. Waking the device up from sleep is always a roulette-style game of chance of whether or not upon the first click of the keyboard the screen will return to life. Sadly, it’s miserably hit or miss, and Microsoft have seemingly given up on addressing the issue - after multitudes of firmware and software updates already - now that the fifth-generation Surface Pro device have arrived. 

There’s no question the Surface line of products from Microsoft have in short time revolutionized the Windows computing hardware experience. Finally, non-Apple users have access to high-end premium devices that are designed and created as meticulously as Cupertino has done for the past decade. I myself jumped onboard after having previously ran Macbooks since college. The competition from Microsoft have done well to spurn on both companies. 

What we are seeing today from Consumer Reports is a validation that Microsoft’s meteoric rise in the computing hardware business naturally includes tremendous teething problems.