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The Morning After: Microsoft launches its 2021 fall collection

·Senior Editor
·5-min read

Microsoft has announced a small flotilla of new devices during its fall event, and there’s plenty of highlights to pick through. Most interesting, of course, is likely Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Studio, a notebook with a screen that pulls forward just like its desktop namesake. This replacement for the Surface Book 3 also turns into a tablet-esque PC, although its stacked design may divide users.

As we surmised a few days back, the Surface Pro 8 did get a fairly magnificent redesign with a new skinny-bezel, 13-inch 120Hz display, Thunderbolt 4 and new, faster internals. It’s been built with Windows 11 in mind and goes on sale when the new operating system arrives on October 5th. Thankfully, Microsoft allowed our chum Cherlynn Low behind the velvet rope to spend a little time with the Laptop Studio and Pro 8, so read this for all the juicy details.

Much as with the band U2, we also need to discuss the “other two” members of the lineup, the Surface Pro X and the Surface Go 3. For the former, the only real news is the new, cheaper WiFi-only model, which retails for $899, and the bundling of Windows 11. Similarly, the Surface Go 3 (arguably the Larry Mullen Jr. of Surface tablets) gets faster chip options but is, in most other regards, the same affordable but deeply underpowered device we already know and, uh, love.

Surface Duo 2
Surface Duo 2

On the mobile front, Microsoft announced the Surface Duo 2, its second-generation dual-screen Android smartphone. The most notable upgrade for this year is a triple camera system and a notification bar on the hinge, so you can see what’s going on without opening your phone. And yes, Cherlynn has already spent some time up close with the Surface Duo 2, and you can read all her impressions right here.

Microsoft also unveiled a bunch of other accessories, but the one that’s probably worth focusing on is the Adaptive Kit. It’s a set of add-ons that can help people with accessibility needs get around their Surface devices more easily. That includes raised port indicators, cable wraps and labels to help your fingers land on regularly used keys. Given Microsoft’s increasing focus on ensuring its devices are useful for everyone, products like this are always welcome.

If you’re interested in watching our edited highlights of the event, you can check out our supercut here, and if you’re already reaching for your wallet, here’s all the pre-order information you could possibly need or want.

— Dan Cooper

iPad mini review (2021): The best small tablet gets a facelift

Another Apple device loses its headphone jack.

Image of the iPad Mini (2021)
Image of the iPad Mini (2021)

The new iPad Mini is, more or less, a shrunken iPad Air, with USB-C, a TouchID-capable power button and an 8.3-inch display. What it packs in performance, style and support for the Apple Pencil 2, it lacks in ditching the 3.5mm headphone jack. Valentina Palladino has reviewed the new baby slate, finding that, despite all the changes, much of its basic utility has stayed the same. Sadly, that higher price might be a sticking point for all those folks who wanted an entry-level iPad that doesn’t cause your bank account to break into tears.

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'Guardians of the Galaxy' is already better than the 'Avengers' game

The new title has an emotional core that actually works.

Image from the new video game
Image from the new video game

Everyone deserves a second chance to make a first impression, and it looks as if the second Marvel game has atoned for the sins of its predecessor. Jess Conditt dived into the world of Square Enix’s Guardians of the Galaxy and has come away pretty pleased. The characters may look and sound different to their cinematic counterparts, but they feel much more fleshed-out, and there’s a better emphasis on relationship building over button mashing. Conditt says the game has an emotional core that bodes well for the finished title, saying it already feels “way better” than Marvel’s Avengers.

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Shareholders claim Facebook overpaid an FTC settlement to protect Zuckerberg

That’s generally considered something of a no-no.

Facebook shareholders believe the company overpaid its $5 billion FTC settlement in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, to personally protect Mark Zuckerberg. Reports say the FTC was originally going to levy a fine closer to $106 million (yes, million). The smaller fee, however, was conditional on Zuckerberg himself being named as a defendant in the case. Those shareholders are alleging in a lawsuit that Facebook offered $5 billion on the condition that Zuckerberg avoided any personal liability.

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Apple won't let 'Fortnite' back on the App Store until all court appeals are exhausted

Its lawyer says Tim Sweeney’s own public comments show the developer can’t be trusted.

Fortnite
Fortnite

It’s always a delight to see wall-to-wall shade buried in a pile of legalese, and this missive, purportedly from Apple’s lawyers, is a doozy. Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has published a letter he received saying Apple won’t restore Fortnite to the iOS and Mac App Stores just yet. The letter, put simply, says Apple cannot presently trust Epic to behave itself, especially after public comments made by Sweeney. Consequently, Fortnite will remain off the platforms until the lawsuit Epic brought against Apple reaches its conclusion. But the letter is well worth a read in its entirety, given all of the sass lurking between those lines.

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