Microsoft unveils Surface Laptop Studio and Surface Duo 2 in buildup to Windows 11 launch

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Microsoft’s new Surface Laptop Studio uses a unique hinge to transition between laptop, presentation and studio modes. (Microsoft Photo)

Microsoft has developed a new style of laptop with a versatile screen that makes a unique transition into tablet mode, channeling the ethos of its high-end Surface Studio desktop computer for creative professionals.

The new Surface Laptop Studio was shown for the first time during Microsoft’s fall hardware event Wednesday morning.

It comes with a 14.4-inch display that shifts from a traditional laptop configuration into a “Stage” mode that covers the keyboard at a 45-degree angle, and then into a horizontal “Studio” mode, elevated slightly at the rear for ergonomic use with a Surface Slim Pen docked magnetically under the chassis of the device.

Surface Laptop Studio in “Studio” mode. (Microsoft Photo)

It uses what Microsoft calls a Dynamic Woven Hinge to transition smoothly between modes, continuing the company’s efforts to innovate in hinges to let devices adapt to different scenarios. Surface Laptop Studio will sell at a starting price of $1,600, with an Oct. 4 release date.

The event comes as Microsoft prepares to release Windows 11 on Oct. 5, refreshing the user interface of its PC operating system and adding new productivity features. Microsoft saw increased interest in desktop and laptop computers during the pandemic, and the company is hoping to sustain that momentum. Revenue from Microsoft’s Surface products fell 20% in the June quarter to $1.38 million.

Microsoft’s Surface computers, tablets and devices have traditionally been a way for the company to advance new form factors in the industry, providing a blueprint for other hardware makers to follow. Microsoft describes the Surface Laptop Studio as a new category, signaling that it hopes other computer makers will come up with similar devices.

The company also introduced Surface Duo 2, a new version of its dual-screen handheld Android device with 5G cellular connectivity and a “Glance Bar” that provides notifications on the outside hinge. Microsoft also upgraded the Surface Duo 2 camera, which was one of the criticisms of its predecessor.

Notifications on the exterior hinge of the new Surface Duo 2. (Microsoft Photo)

Surface Duo 2 will start at $1,499, with an Oct. 20 release date.

Other surprises from Microsoft’s fall hardware event Wednesday included an Ocean Plastic Mouse made from a resin produced with 20% recycled ocean plastic, part of a larger focus on sustainability; and a Surface Adaptive Kit that uses tactile and visually distinct labels to improve accessibility.

Microsoft’s new Ocean Plastic Mouse. (Microsoft Photo)

In addition, the company introduced upgraded versions of its Surface Pro, Surface Pro X and Surface Go tablets; and a new version of the Surface Slim Pen.