New Microsoft Surface Books, Surface Dial Go on Sale

Microsoft's upgraded 2-in-1 laptop and input device for creatives, the new Surface Dial, ship today.

Surface Book 2

While it bears a striking resemblance to its predecessor on the outside, the redesigned Surface Book with Performance Base that hits store shelves Nov. 10 in the U.S. and Canada, is a different beast on the inside.

The updated 2-in-1 laptop, unveiled last month during Microsoft's Windows 10 media event in New York City, delivers twice the graphics processing power and up to 16 hours of battery life in the same form factor. Compared to Apple's latest 13-inch Macbook Pro, also unveiled late last month, the latest Surface book offers 60 percent more battery life, according to Panos Panay, corporate vice president of Microsoft Devices.

Most of the updates are tucked under the hood, Panay said in a Nov. 10 blog post.

"To push this kind of power through the device we overhauled the thermal system and added advanced cooling features to optimize the 6th Generation Intel Core i7 processors and an NVIDIA GeForce GPU [graphics processing unit]," he wrote. "No comparable laptop has this much computation power, this many pixels and this much battery life, in this light of a form factor."

Prices start at $2,399 for a Surface Book with Performance Base featuring a sixth-generation Intel Core i7 processor ("Skylake"), 256 GB of storage, 8GB of RAM and a discrete NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M GPU with 2GB of memory. The top-of-the line model with a terabyte of storage and 16 GB of RAM weighs in at $3,299.

Panay also revealed that his company is extending the Surface Trade-In Offer aimed at current Mac users. Under the terms of the promotion, which was set to expire Nov. 10, Microsoft was offering up to $650 toward the purchase of a Surface Book or Surface Pro to MacBook Pro or MacBook Air owners willing to part with their devices. The company has extended the deadline through Wednesday, Nov. 23.

Also shipping on Nov. 10 is Microsoft's Surface Dial peripheral. Debuting alongside the company's all-in-one desktop PC for creative professionals, the Surface Studio, the new puck-like accessory opens up new ways of interacting with design applications.

When placed on the Surface Studio's screen (also works with Surface Book and Surface Pro 4), users can tap and twist the device to zoom in, reorient a drawing application's canvas and call up app-specific menus, contextually aware toolbars and selectors.

Surface Dial is intended to help designers, photo editors and even rank-and-file office workers get the most out of their applications without digging through on-screen menus, keyboard shortcuts and other actions that can interrupt a user's workflow. Currently, Surface Dial-compatible apps include Bluebeam Revu, Drawboard PD, Mental Canvas Player, Moho 12, Siemans NX, Spotify, Sketchable, StaffPad, and of course, Microsoft's own Office software suite.

Panay added that Microsoft was working with some heavy-hitters in the design software world, namely Adobe and Corel Corporation, on solutions that work with Surface Dial and Surface Studio.

Although Surface Dial ($99.99) is officially available for sale, prospective buyers may have to wait a while to get their hands on one. Panay cautioned that the company's initial inventory had already sold out. As of this writing, the earliest ship date is Dec. 15 for those who place an order on Microsoft's official online store.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...