Microsoft’s newest Surface Pro 2-in-1 portable gets almost everything right

Insert punny “below the Surface” headline here

Microsoft recently revealed their fifth generation of the Surface Pro, their nimble laptop/tablet PC that serves as one leg of their Surface line of computers along with the Surface Studio, Surface Book, Surface Laptop and Surface Hub. And the Surface Pro 4.  OK, we agree Microsoft needs to work on the naming thing, but at least they have a helpful guide to help you figure it all out.

Anyway, the Surface Pro starts at $800 for the bare bones model and tops out at $2,700 for the Core i7 version with all the bells and whistles. Our tester rang in at $2,200. Microsoft is marketing the device as a “laptop,” but it doesn’t come with the optional $160 “Type Cover” physical keyboard, so that’s a bit odd. The $100 Surface Pen also isn’t included, and the cool new Surface Dial is also a $99 option. There’s no mouse, either.

Performance-wise, however, the Surface Pro impressed. The square-ish 12.3-inch display is sharp, colorful and quick, CPU performance from the Core i7 CPU in our test unit was on point, and battery life was much improved, especially for video playback. Overall, it’s a solid machine with great build quality and a lot of versatility, but it’s not perfect, so hit this link to read our full review.

Alien UFO joyrides sold separately

E3 is winding down in LA and while games are always the highlight of the annual expo, the computers needed to play them are also making news. Outside of new console releases, PC makers are also showing off their wares, and dedicated PC gaming outfit Alienware rarely disappoints. We checked out their latest version of the Area 51 gaming rig, and it still looks about as alien as its name suggests.

But it’s the stuff on the inside that really counts, and the Area 51 is packing heat in the form of liquid-cooled Intel Core X i9 processors, or up and coming AMD Threadripper chips. (We love that name). Naturally, you can option any number of top-shelf GPUs and run them in SLI or Crossfire formations for maximum frame rate performance. The newest Area 51 rigs will be available later this summer, just remember to bring lots and lots of money.

Slackjawed

It’s been a fast ride for popular messaging app Slack, and now comes news that some big hitters are maneuvering to buy the service, which started up barely four years ago.

Among the interested parties? Amazon, for one. Slack’s CEO recently told Bloomberg that an IPO is still “years away,” but Amazon may try to snap it up ahead of any public offering to start competing with other messaging services, and perhaps augment its already popular cloud storage offerings.

Slack’s annual revenues are about $150 million, so what kind of price would Amazon have to pay to take up the Slack as it were? $9 billion according to Bloomberg. No joke. Even Slackbot was amazed.

We’ve got more news on our Facebook page and YouTube channel, and be sure to tune in to this week’s DT podcasts: Close to the Metal (computers and such) on Tuesday, Trends with Benefits (general tech shenanigans)  on Thursdays, and Between the Streams (movie and TV topics) every Friday.

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