Microsoft hasn’t had a lot of good fortune when it comes to its own hardware, at least outside of the Xbox consoles. Its first attempt at an iPod killer turned the Zune into a laughing stock, and its efforts to create its own mobile platform as well as adopt Android both ended up as market failures. Surprisingly, it struck gold with the Surface, particularly the Surface Pro line of 2-in-1 detachable tablet PCs that challenged the iPad and offered an even more versatile working experience on the go. That gave birth to a family of products ranging from computers to accessories and some hope that Microsoft has finally succeeded after all those years. Last week even saw the announcement of a new Surface Laptop Studio 2, but reception has been a little bit lukewarm and even doubtful of the future of these portable computers.
It’s not that the new Surface Laptop Studio 2 is terrible, just that it comes two years after the very first model. The Surface Laptop Studio definitely turned heads with its unique design in how it combined laptop and tablet forms in a way no other manufacturer has done before. It’s still a single piece of hardware, unlike the detachable Surface Pro, but part of its display detaches from the back and can be tilted at different angles, transforming the computer into a tablet or entertainment center. It practically combines the Surface Laptop and the larger Surface Studio to create a portable creativity powerhouse like no other.
The Surface Laptop Studio 2 upgrades that design from the inside, with newer options when it comes to specs. There are also some changes from the outside, like the addition of a full-sized USB-A port and a microSD card slot, but the overall form remains the same. It’s more of an incremental step forward, which might sound a bit disappointing considering how much time has passed between the two generations.
What has some Microsoft fans more concerned, however, is what the company wasn’t saying or showing during that event. The Surface Pro 10 was nowhere to be seen, which was strange considering it is the poster child for the brand. Even the smallest Surface got an upgrade, though the Surface Go 4’s middling specs and business-oriented rhetoric might make it less interesting for consumers. The Surface Laptop Go also arrives with a third-gen model, though this is also the less powerful version of Microsoft’s self-branded laptop.
Instead, Microsoft’s event seemed to focus more on its AI-powered Office features, which isn’t surprising considering how it’s a very hot topic and how Microsoft has invested heavily in this technology. But along with the departure of Panos Panay, considered to be the face of Microsoft Surface, there have been murmurs and doomsayings about the future of this product line. After all, the design of the Surface devices hasn’t change that much over the years, and, save for the Surface Laptop Studio, hasn’t seen much innovation either. It remains to be seen if Microsoft has lost its touch and, just like its previous hardware products, put the Surface to pasture soon.
In a world where our trusty smartphones have evolved into pocket-sized powerhouses, it’s natural to wonder if our everyday backpacks could use a tech-savvy upgrade. Well, wonder no more, because Microsoft has just unveiled an ingenious wearable that promises to revolutionize the way we perceive and interact with our surroundings.
Imagine this: a smart backpack, not just any backpack, but one powered by the remarkable capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI). It’s not science fiction; it’s a reality that has recently received the green light from the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Let’s delve into the exciting world of this innovative invention and see what all the buzz is about.
At its core, Microsoft’s smart backpack acts as your extra set of eyes. It’s equipped with the remarkable ability to identify objects in your immediate surroundings. Picture walking down a bustling street, and your backpack can provide you with real-time information about your environment – it’s like having your personal guide right there with you.
yanko design images to size – Microsoft_AI_backpack_03
Beyond object recognition, this intelligent companion can handle tasks for you. Need to set a reminder? Just ask your backpack. Want to add an event to your calendar? Your backpack is on it. It can even assist you in determining the price of an item at the grocery store. Think of it as your reliable sidekick, always ready to assist you on your adventures.
Thanks to its cloud connectivity, this smart backpack is a veritable treasure trove of information. It can fetch data from the internet in the blink of an eye, keeping you informed and up-to-date, no matter where you find yourself. Imagine having Google’s vast knowledge right at your disposal, all from the convenience of your backpack. The phrase “Are you stupid?” is on the verge of extinction! But of course, AI does not aid with common sense yet, right?!
Coming back, the magic doesn’t stop there. This backpack effortlessly syncs with your other tech gadgets, creating a harmonious tech ecosystem that simplifies your life. It’s like having all your devices working together seamlessly, sharing information and enhancing your daily experiences.
Beyond convenience, this backpack could be a game-changer for the visually impaired. With its built-in camera, microphone, speaker, network connection, processor, and storage space, it becomes an invaluable tool, offering crucial information and assistance in navigating the world.
While the potential applications of this smart backpack are vast, there’s a critical aspect that must not be overlooked: ergonomics. Designing the backpack to be ergonomic is key to making it a staple in our daily lives. Just think back to the early days of computing when computers were massive and cumbersome. Now we have lightweight laptops like the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 and MacBook Air. Similarly, ensuring that this smart backpack is easy to carry and lightweight would make it accessible to people of all ages and strengths, much like a smartphone.
Furthermore, this innovative backpack could be a lifeline for the elderly, helping them navigate the modern tech world without feeling left out. Its intuitive design and AI-powered features could bridge the gap between generations and empower individuals to stay connected and informed.
While the release date and availability of this futuristic backpack remain a mystery, there’s no denying that it represents a significant leap forward in wearable technology. In a world where technology continues to reshape our lives, this AI-powered backpack could be the next big thing, seamlessly integrating digital intelligence into our daily experiences. So, stay tuned for updates, because the future of backpacks might just be smarter than we ever imagined, and it could change the way we all interact with the world around us.
At the annual Xbox Games Showcase 2023, Microsoft laid a major emphasis on its upcoming sci-fi RPG dubbed Starfield, along with the announcement of other major titles coming to the platform. But the highlighting bit for us was the announcement of Starfield Xbox controller and Starfield headphones.
At the event publisher Bethesda also unveiled the real-life version of Starfield’s Constellation Edition watch that’s modeled exactly after the one seen in the game. During the keynote, Bethesda made it clear that the timepiece is modeled after the design from the Apollo era and gets a special case to match the vibe.
Bethesda’s highly anticipated game is all set for a September 6th launch – thereby, the announcement of these accompanying accessories makes complete sense. First up we talk about the Starfield Limited Edition controller and headset that both complement each other.
The controller emulates the ship’s controls shown in the game with transparent pad triggers having bronze rumble motors and those metallic bronze hybrid directional pads add steampunk flair. Bethesda describes the retro design as a “NASA-Punk” in the DNA and I second that completely. On top of the clean design are the side and back grips mirroring the panels of the spaceship. The gamepad is easily switchable between devices like Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Windows PC, Android, and iOS.
Similar accents can be seen on the headset which gamers will absolutely love to wear all day long – whether gaming or listening to favorite music. It has a similar matching transparent and metallic bronze mic boom, elevating its look into the premium zone. The 312 grams wireless headphones come with, 40mm drivers, 15 hours battery and support for spatial audio technologies for greater immersion. The gamepad and the headphones can be pre-ordered right away for an ERP of $79 and $125 respectively.
Coming onto Starfield’s Constellation Edition timepiece that the main character wears, Bethesda has perfectly emulated it in real life with seamless phone connectivity. The watch comes with a collector’s case and steelbook copy of the game. While the watch in real life is more of a smartwatch beaming notifications and call prompts, in-game the watch behaves as a compass to show environmental information for planets.
This watch will only be available as part of the Constellation Edition priced at $300. The bundle gives 5-day early access to the Starfield game along with other goodies including Constellation Skin Pack, Constellation Patch and access to the digital artbook.
If you’re a gamer who looks for an ecological benefit in his gaming equipment, Microsoft has got you covered. An Xbox controller “Remix Special Edition” is making its debut this month and the gamepad is made from recycled materials for an eco-friendly Xbox setup with a visual appeal.
As the world becomes increasingly focused on reducing waste and preserving the planet, more and more peripheral manufacturers are looking for creative ways to repurpose old items. Microsoft has been in the thick of things for a while now and is now luring gaming enthusiasts and environmentalists alike with this piece of gaming legacy.
The new wireless Xbox controller – Remix Special Edition, is made from recycled plastic. Before you believe the entire thing is made from environmentally-friendly material; be informed that only one-third of it is made from regrind and reclaimed materials.
With the progress of things in the gaming industry, this subtle choice is also a significant change. The new Microsoft Xbox controller is made from “post-consumer recycled resins” with regrind comprising previously molded colored parts.
The plastic used is sourced from old Xbox One generation controllers and material from CDs, automotive headlight covers, and plastic jugs. This material is ground into minuscule particles to make new plastic for the Remix Special Edition controller. Since the mix of materials and colors is different, each controller – in earth tone colors and textured design – has a subtle variation this gives the Remix edition controller its own look and feel.
The Microsoft Remix Special Edition Xbox controller becomes eco-friendlier with the partnering Rechargeable Battery Pack. The controller with the battery will retail for $85. The pack will start shipping from April 18, so gamers be on their toes if they want to grab it before anyone else.
Gamers are divided as to which controller offers the best combination of ergonomic design, functionality, and strategic in-game advantage. While PlayStation 5 DualSense Edge has some unique features, Xbox comes Series X works for people who like a good in-hand feel.
I gravitate towards the Xbox Series X controller because of the button placement and the fact that it’s ideal for my small hands. While I would fancy a custom-designed one too, this Monolith Xbox Series controller concept has got me confused.
Designer: Nak Studio
Gone are the contoured stems that fit like a charm in the hand, giving way to the triangular-shaped ones. Of course, the controller is themed on the mysterious monolith objects found at different locations around the world which defines these sharp geometric shapes. The Xbox controllers’ signature lights colored form gives way to the glossy grey hue which is completely alien to what we’ve all seen over the years. The big Xbox branding on the sides looks cool though.
At first glance, one would presume the catamaran-like stems to be detachable, and only serve a purpose as desk stand for the controller, but they are in fact a part of the unibody design. Without doubt, the controller will be a bit uncomfortable to hold even for gamers with big hands, let alone mine. The placement of the shoulder trigger buttons also leaves a whole lot to be desired.
The design house has also created a matching Xbox console that I actually do like. While the controller I don’t vouch for because of its lack of ergonomic design, the console looks quite futuristic and a worthy upgrade to the boring Xbox Series X console. So, that addresses my quandary about the implementation of a monolith-inspired Xbox Series concept – the console is cool while the controller is definitely an overkill!
Samsung just announced quite a number of new devices, including its usual Galaxy S flagship smartphone trio. While this is normal fare for Samsung this time of the year, it made a few choice statements that suddenly got heads turning and, to some extent, scratching. Samsung practically revealed that it is working on an “extended reality” or XR wearable device, pretty much a headset, something that it hasn’t done in half a decade. While it was mostly an announcement of intent rather than a teaser of an actual product, it name-dropped a few big names in the tech industry as its partners in this endeavor. While the fact that Samsung is again making a headset isn’t really a world-shattering revelation, the timing of all these hints seems to be a little bit too convenient not to put it in light of Apple’s own upcoming mixed reality device.
Samsung is really no stranger to such headsets and is probably too familiar with their problems as well. It started out with the smartphone-powered GearVR, which it worked on together with pre-Facebook Oculus back in 2015. And then there was the HMD Odyssey which was one of the few Windows Mixed Reality headsets that launched and sputtered out. In both cases, the tech giant has taken a step back along with the rest of its peers, making this announcement all the more intriguing and suspicious.
These days, there are very few notable players in the VR and AR space, with Meta (formerly known as Facebook) and HTC Vive still competing for top slots. Microsoft has pretty much forgotten about its HoloLens, and Google is being typically Google-ish about its remaining ARCore platform. Surprisingly, these are the very same companies that Samsung will be working with for its XR wearable, bringing the who’s who of Big Tech together with a single mission.
Details about the device itself are scant, but Samsung did let it out that it will be powered by a Qualcomm chipset and run an unannounced version of Android made specifically for headsets. More important than the hardware, though, Samsung’s name-dropping is meant to suggest that it is establishing a more stable ecosystem before it actually launches the product. The reason why many attempts at this niche market failed was that they were too focused on the product without an ecosystem giving it a reason to exist in the first place.
Apple isn’t going to have that problem when it launches its own MR device this spring, given how all its products pretty much live within Apple’s universe. Its rivals, however, don’t have something like it and will have to join forces to deliver something worthwhile. Of course, these companies, Apple included, still need to make a convincing argument about why you would want to wear a screen on your face. And as these same companies experienced, that’s not a particularly easy proposition to sell.
They may be technological marvels, but foldable and rollable screens remain just that in consumers’ eyes. Foldable phones have been on the market for almost five years now, but they’re still considered to be expensive eccentricities and luxuries that only a few can really afford. Even if they were more affordable, most people would probably still not be able to justify such a purchase, especially considering some concerns regarding durability. The Microsoft Surface Duo and its successor tried to offer a less risky yet still expensive interpretation of the foldable design, offering two distinct screens rather than folding a single one. At first, it seemed that it would actually be a new mobile device category to stand beside typical foldables, but the rumor now is that Microsoft seems to have thrown in the towel. Although it did have its fair share of fans, the Surface Duo 2 just didn’t seem to click with the masses, even less than the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold, and these are five reasons why.
To some extent, the Microsoft Surface Duo is in a class of its own. You can’t really call it a smartphone, even though it does make calls since it’s rather awkward to actually use it as a phone unless you’re always wearing earbuds. You can’t even fold the Surface Duo 2 back completely now that it has a camera bump. You can easily call it a tablet, either, even though content can span both screens to form one single display that has a very noticeable cut in the middle. Even Microsoft itself avoids calling the Surface Duo by either name, preferring to just refer to it as a “dual-screen mobile device.”
The Surface Duo’s unconventional design does warrant a different classification, though it’s not exactly original in the basic concept. LG tried to take a stab at a dual-screen phone with a case that you can attach and remove as needed. The experience, of course, was very different, more similar to how you’d connect a second monitor to a computer. The Surface Duo had that capability built-in, saving users from having to juggle accessories. It didn’t, however, solve the fundamental problem of exhibiting an identity that people can understand and relate to, which would have gone a long way in making the device more appealing beyond mere curiosity.
The device’s ambiguity meant that it was actually difficult, if not awkward, to use it like you would a familiar mobile device. It’s too wide to use as a phone when folded, and it’s unusable as a “full” tablet when spread out. Admittedly, it’s unfair to judge the Surface Duo by these standards because it’s neither a phone nor a tablet but a completely different device. Unfortunately, people will approach it from either direction because they’re more familiar with smartphones and tablets and might not be able to adequately wrap their heads around a new creature such as this, especially when they might not even understand what it is for. Unfortunately, Microsoft’s target audience makes it clear that it’s not for everyone in the first place.
The Surface Duo 2 can do almost anything a smartphone or tablet can do, especially if you use only a single screen. Those won’t take full advantage of the device’s capabilities, though, and you’ll have to make use of both screens at the same time. And therein lies the biggest question of the Surface Duo’s design purpose. While most people will probably want a bigger screen, how many will actually need two somewhat small screens instead? Why, those who use two apps at the same time, of course!
The School of Jobs and the smartphones that followed have conditioned our minds to use one app at a time, deftly switching back and forth between apps and screens as needed. This is admittedly very limiting, especially if you’re used to the multi-window world of desktops and laptops. There might be some who wish they could do things at the same time or see two apps simultaneously, and it’s exactly for that use case that the Surface Duo was designed. To be more specific, the dual-screen device is made for highly productive people who find themselves always switching between two or three apps.
The subset of mobile users that regularly do this, however, might be very small. Microsoft is clearly focusing its marketing on business users who’d have different documents or apps running at the same time to compare or even share data. There is also the case of some more social users who might be chatting away while watching a video together or browsing the Web. These are definitely legitimate use cases, but not common enough to make the idea of the Surface Duo to be so popular that it would drive sales. Because while the device does enable using two apps side-by-side, the unfortunate truth is that these apps and the Android platform, in general, were designed for single-screen use and remain stubbornly so.
Growing Software Pains
Whether it’s iOS or Android or anything in between, mobile operating systems have been designed from the start with a single screen in mind. And while Android did actually have the foundations for multi-window support, few outside of the likes of Samsung ever took advantage of that and evolved it. Now iOS, particularly iPadOS, has left Android in its dust, and devices like the Surface Duo or even the Galaxy Z Fold are having trouble shoehorning a different paradigm into the platform.
The first release of the modified Android system for the Surface Duo was pretty much disastrous, with plenty of instabilities and bugs marring the otherwise beautiful first-gen device. To its credit, Microsoft has been addressing those issues slowly but surely, yet the fact remains that Android apps always behave as if they’re the only show on stage. It doesn’t help that that stage doesn’t seem to push those actors to play well with others, even when all the facilities are there. It will take a Google foldable device for Android to really adopt all these features it already has, but that’s a story for another day.
To be fair, even Samsung’s foldables have this kind of problem, only that the phone maker giant has been working on its solution for years. Those flaws are more pronounced on a younger device like the Surface Duo. Despite being primarily a software company, Microsoft still has trouble adapting Android to its needs. And, unfortunately, it doesn’t exactly have a track record in that aspect, either.
Software is Hard
Just because Microsoft is adept at making software doesn’t mean it’s an expert at everything. Some might even refute how good it is at software development in the first place due to innumerable issues with Windows and Office. That’s even truer with platforms that aren’t its own, particularly Android, which it has been using ever since it ditched the idea of any form of Windows on mobile. It hasn’t had much success then, and it doesn’t seem to be having better luck now.
To be fair, Microsoft has shown better performance with the Surface Duo 2, at least as far as pushing fixes is concerned. Unfortunately, even those fixes leave some things to be desired, and the software still shows some of the problems exhibited in the first Surface Duo. Given the fast pace of Android updates, Microsoft is clearly lagging behind on that front as well. Confidence in Microsoft’s ability to fix those software issues isn’t exactly that high, and the latest rumors only serve to validate those doubts.
Microsoft switching to a single foldable screen for the Surface Duo 3 doesn’t make all those problems go away. It could, however, alleviate or even fix some of the problems, particularly when it comes to having to support two screens, something that Android at its core still doesn’t do well in the first place. Unfortunately, it does pretty much throw away all the rhetoric around the first Surface Duo devices, validating once again that Samsung’s design might have been right all along.
An Answer in Search of a Problem
The biggest problem with the Surface Duo design is that there was probably no problem, to begin with. While some will say that this applies to foldable devices as well, it’s even more poignant with a dual-screen mobile device. The Surface Duo 2 is slick, beautiful, and innovative. Unfortunately, it is also incomprehensible for the majority of consumers, even those that can actually afford one. Microsoft tried to offer a device that seemed less fragile than a Galaxy Z Fold but unfortunately slapped a price that is just as inaccessible anyway.
Microsoft did have a clear audience in mind, but it might have overestimated its own clout in that industry. It might have envisioned a large army of mobile users who depend exclusively on Microsoft apps and services, but that ship has long sailed. Without support for other “normal” apps, the overall experience was clunky, awkward, and sometimes even unusable. The Surface Duo 2 definitely has fans that are now disillusioned at the path that Microsoft is rumored to take, but those fans won’t be able to help turn the device into a profit.
While the Surface Duo 2 is admittedly an interesting innovation, at the end of the day, it’s still a product that has to bring Microsoft money. By turning away from the dual-screen design, the company is effectively admitting that it failed to accomplish that. The “innie” foldable screen first used by Samsung is by no means perfect, but it’s also more usable for both regular and power users. It remains to be seen how much of the Surface Duo user experience will remain in such a different device and whether or not it will even be worth investing in a Microsoft mobile device that could suffer the same fate as other Microsoft mobile devices.
The perfect hybrid machine that’s just as good a tablet as it is a laptop still doesn’t exist. But throughout last year, companies like Microsoft, Apple and Google continued to improve their operating systems for machines that do double duty. Windows 11 has features that make it friendlier for multi-screen devices, while Android has been better optimized for larger displays. Plus, with the rise of ARM-based chips for laptops, especially Apple’s impressive M series, prospects for a powerful 2-in-1 with a vast touch-friendly app ecosystem is at an all-time high.
Even the best 2-in-1 laptops still have their limits, of course. Since they’re smaller than proper laptops, they tend to have less-powerful processors. Keyboards are often less sturdy, with condensed layouts and shallower travel. Plus, they’re almost always tablets first, leaving you to buy a keyboard case separately. (And those ain’t cheap!) So, you can’t always assume the advertised price is what you’ll actually spend on the 2-in-1 you want.
Sometimes, getting a third-party keyboard might be just as good, and they’re often cheaper than first-party offerings. If you’re looking to save some money, Logitech’s Slim Folio is an affordable option, and if you don’t need your keyboard to attach to your tablet, Logitech’s K780 Multi-Device wireless keyboard is also a good pick.
While we’ve typically made sure to include a budget 2-in-1 laptop in previous years, this time there isn’t a great choice. We would usually pick a Surface Go, but the latest model is still too expensive. Other alternatives, like cheaper Android tablets, are underpowered and don’t offer a great multitasking interface. If you want something around $500 that’s thin, lightweight and long-lasting, you’re better off this year looking at a conventional laptop (like those on our best budget PCs list).
When you’re shopping for a 2-in-1, there are some basic criteria to keep in mind. First, look at the spec sheet to see how heavy the tablet is (alone, and with the keyboard). Most modern hybrids weigh less than 2 pounds, with the 1.94-pound Surface Pro 9 being one of the heaviest around. The iPad Pro 12.9 (2022) and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S8+ are both slightly lighter. If the overall weight of the tablet and its keyboard come close to 3 pounds, you’ll be better off just getting an ultraportable laptop.
You’ll also want to opt for an 11-inch or 12-inch screen instead of a smaller 10-inch model. The bigger displays will make multitasking easier, plus their companion keyboards will be much better spaced. Also, try to get 6GB of RAM if you can for better performance — you’ll find this in the base model of the Galaxy Tab S7+, while this year’s iPad Pro and the Surface Pro 8 start with 8GB of RAM.
Finally, while some 2-in-1s offer built-in LTE or 5G connectivity, not everyone will want to pay the premium for it. An integrated cellular radio makes checking emails or replying to messages on the go far more convenient. But it also often costs more, and that’s not counting what you’ll pay for data. And, as for 5G — you can hold off on it unless you live within range of a mmWave beacon. Coverage is still spotty and existing nationwide networks use the slower sub-6 technology that’s barely faster than LTE.
Best overall: Surface Pro 9 (Intel)
There’s no beating the Surface series when it comes to 2-in-1s. They’re powerful, sleek tablets running an OS that’s actually designed for productivity. The Surface Pro 9 is Microsoft’s latest and great tablet, and it builds upon the already excellent Pro 8. It features speedy 12th-gen Intel CPUs and all of the major upgrades from last year, including a 120Hz display and a more modern design. It’s the best implementation of Microsoft’s tablet PC vision yet.
Don’t confuse this with the similarly named Surface Pro 9 with 5G, though, which has a slower ARM processor and inferior software compatibility. Built-in cellular is nice and all, but the Intel Pro 9 is a far better PC.
Like most of the other 2-in-1s on this list, the Pro 9 doesn’t come with a keyboard cover — you’ll have to pay extra for that. That’s a shame, considering it starts at $1,000. Microsoft offers a variety of Type Covers for its Surface Pros ranging from $100 to $180, depending on whether you want a slot for a stylus. But at least they’re comfortable and well-spaced. You can also get the Surface Slim Pen 2 ($130) for sketching out your diagrams or artwork, which features haptic feedback for a more responsive experience.
Best for Apple users: 12.9-inch iPad Pro
If you’re already in the Apple ecosystem, the best option for you is obviously an iPad. The 12-inch Pro is our pick. Like older models, this iPad Pro has a stunning 12.9-inch screen with a speedy 120Hz refresh rate, as well as mini-LED backlighting. This year, it includes Apple’s incredibly fast M2 chip and more battery life than ever before.
Apple’s Magic Keyboard provides a satisfying typing experience, and its trackpad means you won’t have to reach for the screen to launch apps. But it’ll also cost you an extra $300, making it the most expensive case on this list by a lot. The iPad also lacks a headphone jack and its webcam is awkwardly positioned along the left bezel when you prop it up horizontally, so be aware that it’s still far from a perfect laptop replacement. Still, with its sleek design and respectable battery life, the iPad Pro 12.9 is a good 2-in-1 for Apple users.
Best for Android users: Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+
While Windows is better than iPadOS and Android for productivity, it lags the other two when it comes to apps specifically designed for touchscreens. If you want a tablet that has all the apps you want, and only need it to occasionally double as a laptop, the Galaxy Tab S8+ is a solid option. You’ll enjoy watching movies and playing games on its gorgeous 12.4-inch 120Hz AMOLED screen, and Samsung includes the S Pen, which is great for sketching and taking notes. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip and 8GB of RAM keep things running smoothly, too.
Last year, Samsung dramatically improved its keyboard case, making the Tab an even better laptop replacement. You could type for hours on this thing and not hate yourself (or Samsung). The battery life is also excellent, so you won’t need to worry about staying close to an outlet. The main caveat is that Android isn’t great as a desktop OS, even with the benefits of Android 12L. And while Samsung’s DeX mode offers a somewhat workable solution, it has plenty of quirks.
Because things stopped making sense a long time ago, Microsoft is selling official Xbox Mini Controller Hoodies, so your gaming controllers don’t get cold when they’re not in your sweaty palms. They’re making them in black and white, but the first pre-order already sold out, so clearly, people want these. Why people want them is what I really want to know.
So decorative hoodies for your Xbox controllers are a real product that exists now. Did we need them? Of course not. Am I jealous Sony isn’t selling these for Playstation controllers? With all my heart. Get it together, Sony; my controllers are gonna catch a cold!
It’s only a matter of time before there are entire clothing lines for gaming controllers: novelty t-shirts, hats, flip-flops — you name it. Can you sew? Because we need to start an Etsy store pronto to cash in on this craze. People are crazy, and we have to monopolize. I’ll start sketching some controller fatigues for all the Call Of Duty players. We’re gonna be rich!
The first Microsoft Surface tablets started a new trend in computing. Although there were already tablet PCs back then, they were really just laptops that could bend or twist to become slates you could draw on with a pen. The 2-in-1 form factor with a detachable keyboard liberated people from being weighed down by what they didn’t need or use at that time, while the kickstand mechanism, though not exactly perfect, started a new trend in mobile devices and accessories. The Surface is celebrating its tenth birthday this year, and its iconic design has grown over time like a blooming flower. As if the mark that occasion perfectly, the company is launching a Special Edition of the device with engravings and patterns that turn the Surface Pro 9 into a beautiful centerpiece when not in use.
Although many still look the part of hardened workstations and geeky powerhouses, a few laptops today have started paying as much attention to their looks as to their specs. For all the criticisms it received for its early performance, the Surface line of devices brought some of that design focus to tablets, something that is admittedly surprising for a tech company such as Microsoft, especially after its failure with Zune and Lumia. The basic design hasn’t changed drastically in its ten years, but Microsoft has, to its credit, continued to refine and perfect it every year.
The Surface’s tenth anniversary almost coincides with another major turning point in Microsoft’s history. Windows 11 was technically launched last year, but it only came into full swing starting this year. The new Windows release also brought with it a new visual metaphor, one of a blooming flower that symbolizes the collaboration of engineering and design, the merging of natural and digital elements, and the attention to aesthetics that Windows isn’t really famous for. What better way, then, to celebrate the convergence of these milestones than with a Surface Pro 9 that fills its surface with flowers, pun intended.
Made in collaboration with London-based studio Liberty, popular for its flora designs, this Special Edition isn’t just some skin slapped on the back of a Surface Pro 9. The repeating patterns of rhododendron flowers, the official flower of Washington State that Microsoft calls home, are laser engraved to give it a longer-lasting effect. It is akin to engraving fine jewelry, which is what this tablet wants to be. A specially-printed Liberty Keyboard brings those same patterns to your fingertips, almost literally, which also acts as a beautiful cover for the device when folded.
Whichever side it’s lying on, this Surface Pro 9 Liberty Special Edition is designed to look stylish and pretty, almost good enough to be a decorative piece on your coffee table or desk. It is an attempt to humanize these otherwise cold devices, but one that will cost you $1,800. Of course, there are plenty of skins available for the Surface Pro 9, but those might fade and will definitely peel over time like a wilting flower way past its prime.