Microsoft announced the fifth generation of Surface Pro tablet computer during its event in Shanghai. The numerical part of the name, 5, was not presented in any promotional material. Quite likely, that Microsoft deliberately chose not to emphasise this fact, as the new device is in a nutshell just an improved version of Surface Pro 4. Nevertheless, during the conference, they mentioned that the number of improvements reaches 800. Yet, we remember how presenter of Windows 10 S spent a minute talking about a new desktop picture that was barely different from the predecessor. We hope that improvements were more significant than that. Let’s take a closer look.

 

The body of the device was left nearly unchanged even ports are all the same. Hinge became more flexible bending up to 165-degree angle, which brings Surface Pro to almost into a horizontal position. Microsoft called it Studio Mode, as Studio desktop pulls the same trick. The insides deserve more attention. Now Surface Pro equipped with the latest Intel processor, Kaby Lake that improves its productivity and reduces power consumption. Power consumption is a painful topic for Microsoft, as the previous model was infamous for it. 2017 model should last for 13.5 hours on a single charge. Configurations with m3 and i5 have no active cooling system making them silent. Nevertheless, noise level produced by a fan in the i7 model does not exceed 18 DB.

 

Surface Pro 2017 can easily compete MacBook Pro of last year, and the price tag is somewhat modest in comparison. It is never too late to sell your Mac and get a PC.

Amazon officially announced about Echo family newcomer, Echo Show. Echo Show is a smart speaker with a built-in camera and touch-screen display. The announce of the device wasn’t a surprise. The photos of it leaked into the Net few days earlier.

 

Echo Show combines the functionality of a home assistant Alexa with 7-inch touch-screen. The screen can display weather forecasts, calendar dates, lyrics and much more relevant to your voice enquiry. The device is equipped with a video camera that is activated during video calls using technology similar to FaceTime or Skype.

 

Using the same command as with any other Echo speaker, a user may ask Alexa to play some music. Echo Show in this case show song lyrics on the screen using Amazon Music service. You can also ask Alexa to play a video and she will do so using YouTube app. There is no information available about alternative video playback options.

 

Video call option allows you to communicate with other owners of Echo Show or of Echo app on iOS or Android devices. Additionally, Alexa Calling service also allows you to make voice only calls connecting even those who have Echo or Echo Dot devices without a built-in camera.

Microsoft announced a portable computer Surface Laptop, that is aimed at the education sector. A strange choice, hence, the most popular laptop among students is Chromebook mainly due to its low price. Microsoft Surface Laptop with its £1000 price tag (for basic configuration) will have a hard time becoming a “killer” of Chromebooks. However, Bloomberg states, that Microsoft probably targets higher education students, who prefer Apple MacBooks at the moment.

 

Surface Laptop became the first “classic” notebook (without a detachable keyboard). The device carries Intel i5 or i7 processors (customisable). The maximum amount of memory is 16GB. Solid state hard drive space is up to 1TB.

 

The product looks very promising, however, we did notice some potential problems with it. Keyboard/palm rest area has synthetic fabric finish, the same that Surface tablets do. So if you are not the tidiest person, be aware that these things do accumulate dirt over time. But unlike with the tablet predecessor, replacement of the keyboard in Surface Laptop won’t be an easy task.

 

The device comes with Windows 10 S, which is a “lighter” version of Windows 10. The major drawback of which is that it cannot run any executable files. On one hand, it does improve safety of the device greatly. On the other hand, you won’t be able to install any third-party software such as Chrome or Firefox. Luckily, the upgrade to Windows 10 Pro is free during the first year.

 

Tired of Mac and want to switch to Windows laptop? Microsoft presents a nice alternative to a MacBook Pro. Sell your Mac here and go for it.

The row of cutting edge Asus production is joined by ASUSPRO B9440 (configuration B9440UA). The device is marketed as “the world’s lightest 14-inch business notebook”.

ASUSPRO B9440UA is incredibly thin, 321,3×216,2×15 mm. Its weight is 1,05kg. Top and side screen rim is only 5 mm thick. The notebook is built in accordance with US military standard MIL-STD-810G. The standard investigates the usability of equipment under broad environmental conditions, the including low and high temperature, humidity and pressure, sand, dust, vibrations, and shock. However, in company’s interpretation is means something different. The laptop in not completely water resistant, but only spill resistant. Screen panel may take 20% more pressure before it cracks (we know how easy it is to crack a screen, and, hence, believe that the improvement has little significance). Equally, avoiding any concrete figures Asus states that the laptop can endure a fall from “height of over double that of standard models”. Apparently, Asus perceives US military man as an average clumsy person. Nevertheless, sometimes clumsiness can damage the device more than bullets and explosions. London laptop repair service, Bits and PCs can testify.

The only major disappointment is that the notebook has no webcam. This was necessary to maintain the minimal thickness of screen borders. To silver line the issue, Asus claims that absence of webcam grants additional privacy.

It is not all bluff and military glamour. Inside B9440UA can fit an Intel vPro Core i7-7600U processor (minimal configuration is equipped with i3-7100U), 8 or 16 GB LPDDR3-1866 RAM, from 256MB to 1TB M.2 SSD.

The device is available on the market at £1,100 for minimal configuration.

 

AOC presented a new premium class screen Agon AG271UG. It designed for use in powerful gaming systems. It supports 4K and G-Sync.

The screen has 27-inch diagonal and resolution of 3840 by 2160 pixels, according to 4K standard.  IPS technology guarantees wide viewing angles and accurate colour reproduction. In its turn, NVIDIA G-Sync allows the screen to adapt its output to a video device and prevent screen tearing, reduce motion blur, and provide overall a better quality image. Agon screen’s response time is 4 ms, brightness is 300 cd/m2, and dynamic contrast is 20 000 000:1. Horizontal and vertical viewing angles reach 178 degrees.

The product is equipped with HDMI 1.4 and Display 1.2 ports, stereophonic speakers (2W each), and 4 USB 3.0 ports.Additionally, screen’s stand allows to change the position from horizontal to vertical, change the viewing angle, and adjust the height. AOC treated the device and its potential user with care and installed AOC Flicker Free and AOC Low Blue Light systems on the device.

The appearance of AOC Agon AG271UG on the market is expected any day from now with suggested price tag of £800.

Here at Bits and PCs, we provide reviews of the latest technologies and IT Support in Central London.