After a no-show this past fall, Microsoft may be readying a follow-up to its successful Surface Pro 4 tablet for early 2017.
In October, Microsoft's Windows 10 event came and went without mention of a successor to the Surface Pro 4, which debuted a year earlier. According to a report in Digitimes, the Redmond Wash. Microsoft is getting ready to launch the Surface Pro 5 sometime during the first quarter of 2017.
Details are scarce, but a few notable upgrades are rumored. Citing information from China's Economic Daily News, the report states that the new tablet will feature a 4K-capable Ultra HD screen. Typical 4K screens have a resolution of 3,840 pixels by 2,160 pixels compared to the 2,736 pixels by 1,824 pixels contained in the Surface Pro 4's 12.3-inch PixelSense display.
The Surface pen is also due for an upgrade, including a magnetic charging system that may dispense with the current disposable battery setup. Taiwan's Pegatron Technology has been tapped to produce the device and Quanta Computer, also from Taiwan, is reportedly in the running to add manufacturing capacity.
Meanwhile, the Surface Studio, an all-in-one PC for creative professionals, appears to be doing brisk business for Microsoft.
A separate Digitimes report indicates that shipments during the fourth quarter of 2016 may have reached 30,000 units, well above the 15,000 units the company had anticipated given its lofty price tag, which start at $2,999. Microsoft also reportedly ordered an additional 30,000 units for the first quarter of 2017.
Lenovo and Apple lead the market for all-in-one PCs, which is declining 3 to 5 percent each year, according to Digitimes Research. The buzz-worthy Surface Studio may also help Microsoft steal some customers away from Apple's aging iMac product line, the firm predicts.
For now, Surface Studio remains in short supply. Interested buyers can purchase one from Microsoft's online store today with an "early 2017" ship date.
Microsoft made waves when it unveiled the Surface Studio on October 26, treading into territory typically held by Apple.
With an expansive 28-inch display that tilts down to resemble a drafting table, Surface Studio allows users to sketch on the device as they would in an artist studio. When used with the new hockey puck-like Surface Dial, which can be placed directly on the Surface Studio screen, the PC provides an interactive canvas for designers, 3D modelers and other artists, complete with context-aware radial menus, on-screen tools and various other controls with a simple twist of the peripheral's dial.
A day after Surface Studio hit the scene, Apple finally introduced its long-awaited update to the MacBook Pro, used by many creative professionals that prize portability.
Apart from the innovative new Touch Bar that replaces the row of function keys on some models and improved specifications, analysts were largely underwhelmed by the changes that Apple made to its flagship laptop. "They could have really shaken it up, and they didn't. It's an improvement, but they didn't change the game," remarked Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst of Moor Insights & Strategy, in reaction to the Oct. 27 reveal.