Invoice Roberson/Digital Developments
Microsoft’s Floor E-book line noticed immense enhancements with the E-book 2 mannequin, however some flaws remained. Now it’s time to start out enthusiastic about the Floor E-book three, and what Microsoft has deliberate. It hasn’t been formally introduced, however that hasn’t stopped us from studying between the strains of patents and rumors.
Right here’s all the pieces we all know, and all the pieces we hope Microsoft declares with the Floor E-book three.
Value and launch date
Dan Baker/Digital Developments
We anticipate Microsoft to depart the pricing of the Floor E-book line largely the identical. Proper now, the 13.5-inch E-book 2 mannequin begins at round $1,200 and the 15-inch mannequin at round $2,500, scaling as much as greater costs based mostly in your spec selections. That is already a reasonably excessive baseline, and one Microsoft most likely doesn’t wish to change if attainable. Actually, there are indicators that Microsoft needs to make pricing extra versatile if attainable: The corporate lately provided new choices to purchase a 15-inch mannequin with out discrete Nvidia graphics, at solely $2,000, an acknowledgment that there’s demand for the bigger display at a lower cost.
As for a launch date, we haven’t heard a lot of something to get a good suggestion. Nonetheless, the Floor E-book 2 got here out in late 2017, so it’s not precisely early to anticipate a E-book three announcement. Microsoft normally holds a Floor-specific occasion within the fall, which means the soonest we may get a Floor E-book three can be round October.
The E-book 2 has a USB-C three.1 port, which was good, but it surely wasn’t sufficient. Upgrading to a Thunderbolt three port would permit for a lot quicker information speeds, and extra compatibility with a wide range of equipment, particularly displays and exterior graphics playing cards. It’s one thing that’s been lacking from the Floor lineup for years now that just about all of its opponents embody. The Floor Professional 6 and Floor Laptop computer 2, for instance, each didn’t even embody a USB-C port, regardless of being launched in 2018.
Nonetheless, Microsoft could have an excellent higher cause to improve to Thunderbolt three: Microsoft continues to encourage curiosity within the upcoming HoloLens 2 and is working exhausting to be AR/VR pleasant. Probably the greatest methods to try this can be to make its subsequent massive laptop computer mannequin appropriate with AR and VR headsets, together with the HoloLens, a particularly seemingly transfer based mostly on Microsoft’s present curiosity. Nonetheless, that requires loads of energy, a powerful GPU (extra on this later), and a connection as highly effective as Thunderbolt three.
Extra highly effective graphics
Upgrading to a extra highly effective Nvidia GPU makes a complete lot of sense for Microsoft’s adjoining objectives. The Floor E-book 2 included a number of nods to Xbox gamers, together with simple wi-fi controller assist and an elevated give attention to Play Anyplace titles. However to actually make the Floor E-book three a gaming system, an improve to quicker Nvidia graphics can be the best change. If Microsoft actually does need individuals to play AR/VR content material from the Floor E-book, then upgrading the GPU is important to assist the headsets individuals shall be utilizing.
The problem right here is that shifting to a full Nvidia GPU is among the issues that’s prone to enhance the already-steep value of the Floor E-book line, one thing that Microsoft could also be loath to do. The opposite subject is the thermals. Microsoft must take a severe step ahead in cooling if it hopes to make the Floor E-book three a severe choice for artistic professionals.
Extra storage and RAM, Ice Lake processors
The Floor E-book 2 provided as much as 1TB of SSD storage and as much as 16GB of RAM. That is high-quality! Actually, it’s nice for many duties that you simply’d wish to use the laptop computer for, from work to play. Nonetheless, that is one space Microsoft could wish to push for the E-book three. RAM may particularly use a higher-tier choice if Microsoft needs to promote it as a VR-ready system. Whereas 1TB of knowledge is all persons are prone to want, we’re seeing some skilled laptops — reminiscent of a few of HP’s Spectre fashions—transcend this to supply much more storage. Microsoft could also be all for imitating this transfer.
Intel’s Ice Lake processors are arriving 2019, they usually’re particularly made with tomorrow’s 2-in-1 computer systems in thoughts. If Microsoft is planning on a 2020 launch for the Floor E-book three, it makes a complete lot of sense to undertake Intel’s Ice Lake chips to extend processor energy for the high-end Floor E-book specs.
If the E-book three goes to be launched earlier than that is an choice, then Microsoft will seemingly use the older Whiskey Lake processors, which isn’t as thrilling, though they’re completely high-quality CPUs for the job. Microsoft has typically chosen the safer route with its processor updates, so we’d be stunned to see the corporate be one of many first to implement these 10nm processors.
An improved Floor Pen
The Floor Pen makes a wonderful companion to the Floor E-book collection when you plan on drawing or doodling — and that is one other system that Microsoft is working to enhance.
Patent studies present a few totally different enhancements that Microsoft may make. One in every of them would truly let the touchscreen sense the place the Pen was about to the touch and improve sensitivity to that space. Different, older patents point out that Microsoft has even labored on an OLED touchbar on the Pen to shortly shift settings and management apps that you’re interacting with.