Microsoft announces a new Surface Book and peripherals

It’s been about two years since Microsoft first debuted their Surface Book, and the infamous and extremely expensive convertible notebook has been in the news more because of its failures than its successes. Microsoft seems to have taken a lot of that to heart, and late last week debuted a new version of Surface Book, creatively titled “Surface Book 2”. It’s a better version than the original in a lot of ways, and it was revealed alongside two new mice from the company.

Surface Book 2 uses almost the same chassis as the original, but now also comes in a larger 15-inch version. It looks like someone’s taken the design of the 13.5-inch version in CAD and just stretched out the dimensions, and the displays are both the same 3:2 aspect ratio and the same resolution. Externally, very little appears to have changed, but there is a USB-C port on the right side now. It’s just standard USB 3.0, but that’s much more useful than the Surface Dock port alongside it.

Internally, there’s a spec bump for both the 13.5-inch model and the new 15-inch model. The default configuration starts with an Intel 8th-gen Kaby Lake Core i3 dual-core processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD. This moves up to quad-core Core i5 U-series processors, up to 16GB of RAM, and up to 512GB of storage space. There’s a Core i7 quad-core version planned as well. With the internal battery in the tablet portion and a second battery in the keyboard base, Microsoft promises up to 17 hours of battery life combined.

In addition, the models shipping with Core i5 and Core i7 processors also ship with a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB with MaxQ Design. That’s quite a change from the old GeForce 940MX-based chip in the previous models, though it is disappointing that the Core i3 model doesn’t use a GeForce GT 1030.

Pricing starts at a mind-boggling $1,499 for the base model. You could, in theory, spend up to $3,299 on the top-range model, but I don’t think anyone is that crazy.

Also announced is the Microsoft Intellimouse Classic. This is a re-imagining of the classic Intellimouse 3.0 that we all know and love for its impressive reliability, and people still use it today.

The Classic uses the same colour themes as the very last redesign of the old Intellimouse, but Microsoft has changed the LED on the underside to white instead of red. The mouse switches are rumoured to be made by Avago, and the sensor is a 3200 DPI optical unit that Microsoft didn’t talk much about. Let’s hope it lacks cursor acceleration just like the old Intellimouse did because that’s what made it so special. It won’t have the same MLT04 sensor because Microsoft has specified that this mouse uses their Bluetrack technology, but fans of the Intellimouse (like myself) might find something to like in the shape, even if the sensor is not fantastic.

The Intellimouse Classic starts selling this week for $39.99 overseas. I’ll try to find out from Microsoft locally if it’ll ever come to our shores.

Finally, Microsoft also announced the Surface Precision Mouse. This is a Bluetooth mouse with a 1,600 DPI sensor promising three months of battery life and connectivity with up to three devices, using custom software to switch between each one. Microsoft’s product page says that the switching is only possible on devices running Windows 10, Windows 8.1, or MacOS. Despite the software that controls this being a standard Win32 application, the Surface Precision Mouse isn’t supported on Windows 7, so you have to use the included USB cable.

The mouse also uses Bluetooth, so it can be paired up to other devices that support Bluetooth 4.0/4.1/4.2 radios, opening up the possibility of Linux support. It is powered by a sealed Lithium-Ion battery, and charges over the USB cable provided (which, oddly, isn’t a USB-C port on the mouse, but rather USB-B mini).

The Surface Precision Mouse will become open for pre-orders on 9 November 2017 for $99.99.