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Cutting-edge devices that no one talked about

Rajiv Makhni gives the lowdown on Apple’s new Macbook Pro and Microsoft’s Surface Studio

brunch Updated: Nov 05, 2016 19:32 IST
Rajiv Makhni
Rajiv Makhni
Hindustan Times
The new Apple Macbook Pro (left) and Microsoft’s Surface Studio (right)

We’ve had an amazing few days. Three of the biggest tech companies in the world had separate announcements with each trying to outdo the other. The companies were Google, Apple and Microsoft and the biggest announcements were the Google Pixel Phone, the Apple Macbook Pro and the Microsoft Surface Studio.

Microsoft’s products were easily the most innovative and cutting edge. They also easily got the least coverage by media! It’s a problem I’ve begun to notice in the last few years. It’s not about innovation, nor about pushing the envelope or showcasing devices that break conventional barriers. It is all about hype and PR gimmicks. And the world’s biggest software company doesn’t at all know how to get the world to notice its hardware innovation!

I’ve already taken you through the Google Pixel phone in a previous column. Time to indulge in some Microsoft-Apple exploration.

Microsoft Surface Studio

The Microsoft Surface Studio has a fantastic form factor and totally reinvents what you can do with a desktop PC

This is a reinvention of a reinvention. When the conventional PC started to die, the all-in-one PC was invented to stop that downward spiral. Microsoft has now reinvented the all-in-one itself. A stunning and sleek 12.5 mm 28-inch PixelSense touchscreen has it all within. A disforged aluminium enclosure that houses TrueColor technology screen (apparently it shows colour more accurately than any other display till date). The specs and hardware inside are heavy duty. Plus, Dolby Sound speakers are encased, an array of microphones give you voice control and dictation features and the ‘zero-gravity hinge’ that transforms the screen to a full-flat Tablet on your table. Thus you can use it to write on, design, draw and paint with the included stylus or the very innovative Surface Dial (standalone scroll wheel that can be placed on the screen and gives you incredible control over everything). The Surface Studio has a fantastic form factor, brutally powerful innards and completely reinvents what you can do with a desktop PC. I would rate this as one of the top innovative products of the year. I think a lot of other people would do that too, if they even knew it existed. Other announcements made were the all-new Surface Book (laptop with i7 processor and some new features), a Windows 10 Creator’s version, new VR headsets, a new 3D version of Paint and new way to communicate with your closest group called Windows People. Really cool stuff, but unfortunately ignored by almost all media, tech or otherwise.

The new Apple MacBook Pro

The new Apple Macbook Pro is smaller and thinner with a great battery life

An ageing line up of MacBook Pro and Macbook Air devices that needed a major breath of fresh innovative air. And Apple delivered. They made the Macbook Pro line-up of 13-inch and 15 inch devices smaller, thinner, more powerful, with brighter screens, great battery life and then added a double-knockout. The first is called Touch Bar. It’s really simple yet hugely powerful and very innovative. That strip of function keys right at the top of every laptop keyboard? Well, it’s gone! It’s been replaced instead by a touchscreen strip. And boy, is that an intelligent little line up of goodness in a strip. It is context and task aware. Thus, if you’re working with a piece of software, it’ll have the most important features available right there.Plus, it’ll change according to what you’re doing and it’ll give you more control than ever before. You can even custom configure it for whatever you want when you want. The next big one is TouchID built into the power button. Yes, obviously a finger print scanner but on steroids. Besides security and password control, this also will log in and log out shared computer accounts plus also help with Apple Pay transactions (when they become available in India).

The new touchbar on the MacBook Pro is placed above the number keys and allows touch commands

Oh yes, one more thing! One of the biggest features of the new Macbook Pro line up is that the 3.5mm headphone jack is still there. Apple also announced a new Macbook Air 13. They don’t really call it that, it’s like a Macbook Pro without the Touch Bar. Basically, it’s a little thinner and adds a Retina Display. Apple took about 10 seconds to announce it and treated it like an after-thought – and that was a mistake. It actually looks very good and even better than the thin Macbook device from last year. Very light, very thin and supremely portable.

With all these products slated to be released in India very soon, looks like it’s going to be a great start to the tech festival season.

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3

From HT Brunch,November 6

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First Published: Nov 05, 2016 19:32 IST