New Computers from Microsoft and Apple

    02 November, 2016

    Last week the future of computers came more clearly into view. Microsoft and Apple announced new machines that demonstrate where computer technology is headed.

    Both big companies are trying to innovate with these computers, offering new features. These features may become usual in future machines. Or they may prove unpopular and soon be forgotten.

    The new Microsoft and Apple computers are very different from each other. But they appear to be on the same path. Both computers use touch technology in unique ways, both have new log-in methods, and both are very thin.

    They are also similar in that they are priced high. Today  Bryan Lynn and I tell you about each.

    Microsoft Surface Studio

    Surface Studio is Microsoft's first desktop computer. It combines elements of the Microsoft Surface tablet line with the features of a traditional computer.

    What Is Unique About The Surface Studio

    The Studio comes with a 28" touch screen monitor that moves on hinges from vertical to nearly horizontal. You can type using the included Bluetooth keyboard. Or, move the screen to horizontal Studio mode and use it as you would a piece of paper.

    Microsoft Surface Studio
    Microsoft Surface Studio

    The Studio comes with a stylus called the Surface Pen, so you can draw on the screen, take handwritten notes, and sign documents.

    Logging into the Studio is easier with Windows Hello, that uses the camera to identify you.

    The Studio is designed to work especially well for those in the creative fields. They can use its flat, horizontal surface to design, draw, and write. The screen can also turn to be used as a traditional monitor for those who want to type and use a mouse.

    Surface Studio pricing begins at just under $3,000.


    Microsoft also announced last week an accessory called Dial. Rest the silver disc on the Studio Surface screen and turn it to choose colors, menu options and more.

    Dial also works to rotate images on the screen and as a back button to return to an earlier version of a document. You can use Dial to control volume, to scroll, to zoom and to adjust the brightness of the screen.

    MacBook Pro

    Apple introduced a new MacBook Pro last week. It is the first major update to this line of laptops in many years.

    What Is Unique About the MacBook Pro

    Touch Bar

    The biggest innovation of the new MacBook Pro is the Touch Bar that replaces the keyboard's function keys. The Touch Bar is a thin touch screen with function changes depending on what you are doing on the computer.

    Software can be programmed to make the Touch Bar have menu options, slider controls, emoji icons and more. In Safari, you can use Touch Bar to access open tabs or to quickly visit Favorite bookmarks.

    Touch Bar also brings Touch ID to the MacBook Pro. It lets users use their fingerprints to log into the computer, like the Touch ID on iPhones and iPads. Touch ID can also be used with Apple Pay on the computer to pay for items on websites. The app 1Password uses Touch Bar with Touch ID to let you use your fingerprint as a password for websites.


    Port changes are major in the MacBook Pro. It has 4 USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports that connect both device and power cords. This permits speedier data and power transfer, as fast as 40GB per second.

    But USB-C, a newer model, could require an adaptor to connect your devices. For example, the lightning cord that comes with iPhones and iPads needs an adaptor to plug into the new MacBook Pro.

    Gone is the MagSafe connector, a magnetic port that let the power cord disconnect easily from the computer. Instead, the power cord connects to any one of the four USB-C ports.

    The traditional headphone jack is the only other port on the MacBook Pro. This port is not found on iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. This means that Apple's Apple lightning earbuds that come with those phones are incompatible with the new MacBook Pro.

    The MacBook Pro is available in two sizes, beginning at just under $1,500. The Touch Bar runs about $200 more.

    I'm Bryan Lynn.

    And I'm Caty Weaver.

    Carolyn Nicander Mohr wrote this report for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

    Which new features of the Studio Surface and MacBook Pro do you like best? Are there any features that you wish they would have? Do you think these computers hold the keys to our computing future?

    Share your thoughts in the Comments Section below or on 51VOA.COM.


    Words in This Story

    innovate - v. to do something in a new way : to have new ideas about how something can be done

    feature - n. an interesting or important part, quality, ability, etc.

    unique - adj. very special or unusual

    vertical - adj. positioned up and down rather than from side to side

    horizontal - adj. positioned from side to side rather than up and down :parallel to the ground

    stylus - n. a small tool that is used to write or touch buttons on a computer

    rotate - v. to move or turn in a circle

    version - n. a form of something (such as a product) that is different in some way from other forms

    function key - n. any one of a set of keys on a computer keyboard that have special uses

    port - n. a place where you can connect a piece of equipment (such as a printer or mouse) to a computer

    transfer - v. to move (data, money, etc.) from one place to another electronically

    adaptor - n. a device that is used to connect two pieces of equipment that were not designed to be connected

    earbud - n. a small earphone that you insert into your ear

    incompatible - adj. not able to be used together