Microsoft Surface Duo phone highlights big day of new product unveilings

In time for the holiday season, Microsoft announced some bells, whistles and hardware to several of their more popular offerings on Wednesday.

A dual-screen phone called the Surface Duo was one of the big moments of Microsoft’s unveil. Microsoft is partnering with Google for applications on the phone, which features side-by-side displays that can work in tandem with each other or separately.

According to Panos Panay, chief product officer at Microsoft, these capabilities blend function and form to create a more productive work experience.

Microsoft's Chief Product Officer Panos Panay holds a Surface Duo, left, and Surface Neo at an event, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

"You're going to talk about it as a phone, and I get that. You're going to talk about it as a communication device and it does both of those things incredibly well," Panay said during the event to unveil the new Microsoft products. "You can text, you can write, you can do what you want. Make no mistake, this product is a Surface."

Photo: Microsoft

The dual screens, which open and close, are the selling point, according to Panay.

“We absolutely know that, scientifically, you will be more productive on two screens. Much more than one screen can do,” Panay said.

Microsoft Program Manager Carmen Zlateff discusses the Surface Neo during a Microsoft event, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

The new Surface Laptop 3, one of the most popular products offered by Microsoft, is getting a makeover inside and outside. A 20% larger precision trackpad, an “Instant On” feature and faster charging capabilities all highlight upticks to the laptop. And in a twist for maintenance, the keyboard top can simply come off for easy repair and service.

Highlighting the capabilities is a QuadCore 10th Gen Intel processor that Panay boasts has impressive power and speed.

“This product is three times more powerful than a MacBook Air,” Panay said.

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Other products also created some buzz with their new looks but also in terms of increased productivity.

The new Surface Pro 7, starting at $749, has new capabilities to ease function and workability.

“Power, performance and better experiences,” said Robin Seiler, corporate vice president, program management, devices at Microsoft of the new Surface Pro.

“And oh, adding USB.”

That final pronouncement drew rapturous applause from the audience.

New studio mics, optimized for the user’s voice, is an enhancement to previous generations. Phone calls can now be integrated into the Surface product, as well, with greater interaction capabilities.

In addition, the popular pen feature is now available for use in Excel, allowing writing in the spreadsheet that is then converted to conventional font or text.

One of the newer products to come down the assembly line in recent times are the Microsoft Surface Headphones. Though just a year old, they already are getting a makeover with one-click pairing to devices and 24-hour battery life. There is even the ability to interact with PowerPoint with a touch to the ear and get language translation.

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There are touch sensors on the earbuds to handle calls and sift through audio options. No screen interaction is required. The earbuds will start at $249, clearly now in competition with Apple’s AirPods.

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