Product Launches Accelerate as Holidays Approach

Recent product launches by Microsoft and Roku illustrate that appealing new consumer electronic devices are still being created by developers.  Microsoft on October 6 in New York City hosted a press event revealing a host of new hardware products.  Of most interest to me is the new Microsoft Surface Book (photo below), a Windows 10 notebook computer with a nice design and some very interesting features and capabilities.


Source: Microsoft

I have become very interested in this product category since I upgraded my main notebook computer to a Dell new XPS 13 at the beginning of the year.  I have been very happy with this Dell device and find it to be an interesting comparison to the new Apple MacBook.  While the internal construction of the MacBook is a fascinating design and fabrication exercise, the Dell XPS 13 has proven to be a very useful device with good performance, convenience and an improved operating system experience.  On the display side, the Dell possesses an outstanding touch screen IGZO metal oxide TFT IPS 13-inch display with 3200×1800 pixels (276 ppi) and an exceptionally narrow bezel.

For comparison, the Surface Book is fitted with a 13.5-inch 3000×2000 pixel (267 ppi) display.  A key feature of the Surface Book is that the display detaches from the keyboard assembly yielding an operating tablet with the battery capacity split 25%:75% between the tablet and keyboard portions, respectively.  Battery life of the tablet is 3 hours while total battery life of the combined notebook is a claimed 12 hours of video viewing.

Another feature of the Surface Book convertible device is a display that can be reattached in a reversed position to the base unit’s rather unusual hinge and folded over the keyboard section to provide a “Draw” mode for use with the Microsoft Surface Pen stylus.  The video below from TechCrunch gives a very quick summary of some of the features of the Surface Book.

Also, on Tuesday October 6, Roku rolled out the Roku 4 (photo below), the firm’s first Roku streaming video player offering streaming of 4K UHD content.  The Roku 4 includes the firm’s new Roku OS7 offering new content discovery features and an updated “Roku Feed” that provides users with a means to follow movies, directors, actors, and TV shows and to receive updates on streaming availability and pricing.  The Roku 4 includes a new remote finder feature to enable users to find a misplaced remote control.  The Roku 4 is priced at $129.99 and will be available in October.  Technical features of the Roku 4 are a quad-core processor, up to 60 fps 4K streaming, HDCP 2.2, optical audio out, 802.11ac MIMO WiFi connectivity and a 1080p home screen and user interface.

Source: Roku

The remote control that ships with the Roku 4 supports voice search, and includes a headphone jack for private listening and the new Remote Finder feature.  Roku is also releasing an update to the free Roku Mobile App for iOS and Android to simplify accessing key features including Roku Search, Roku Feed, Remote Control and Play on Roku.  The updated app enables access to voice-controlled content searching with the tap of the screen to view and add to Roku Feed, and launch play on Roku to display photos and videos on the large screen monitor.  With products like the Microsoft Surface Book, the Roku 4 and more coming to market before this year’s holiday season it would be a good time to update that gift wish list.  – Phil Wright