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Microsoft's greatest hardware hits

Its Build conference gives us a peek at future products, but we're also looking back.

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James Martin
Microsoft
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Microsoft's Build developer conference, starting Tuesday, is online-only this year to help prevent the potential spread of the coronavirus. CEO Satya Nadella will deliver a keynote address, after which the company is expected to announce new features for its Windows PC software, HoloLens headset and Office productivity software. 

But we're not just looking at future products. Here are some of our favorite Microsoft gadgets revealed over the years.

Surface Laptop 3 15-inch
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Surface Laptops

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 looks and feels like a luxury laptop, even if it's nearly identical to last year's model. Read the full review here.

Xbox Series X
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XBox

The Xbox One X, released in 2017, is the most powerful version of the console so far. It's equipped with a 2.3GHz CPU and able to play true 4K games. And it's going to continue to be the best Xbox console until the Xbox Series X debuts later this year (hopefully -- assuming the pandemic doesn't slow its launch). You can read the full CNET review of the Xbox One X for all the details. 

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Kinect

Though it can broadly be called a "motion controller," Microsoft's Kinect, released in 2010, is a different beast. Unlike both Sony's Move and Nintendo's Wii MotionPlus controllers, which detect motion as you wave them around in your hands, Kinect turns your entire body into the "controller." The Kinect hardware is a motion detector/camera that you set up in front of or on top of your TV, converting your movements into gestures that the Xbox can understand.

Microsoft's HoloLens 2
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HoloLens 2

Microsoft's HoloLens 2 augmented reality headset, which was introduced at Mobile World Congress back in February of 2019, is now available to buy, the company announced Thursday. 

Earlier this year, Microsoft showed CNET the next-generation headset up-close. The self-contained, comfortable flip-up device has no controllers. It uses hand and eye tracking, and slides over glasses. 

Microsoft Accessibility Controller
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Xbox Adaptive Controller

The Xbox Adaptive Controller from Microsoft is a $100 device designed to help gamers of all types and abilities play games on either an Xbox One or a PC powered by Windows 10

It offers ports into which players can plug switches, buttons, pressure-sensitive tubes and other gear in order to control any function found in a standard controller. Microsoft unveiled it in May 2018 ahead of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, when the design and development communities focus their efforts on products serving the disabilities community

Surface Pro
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Surface Pro

The Surface Pro X falls into a small category of PC products. It's one of only a handful of new releases every year that prompt colleagues to proactively email me, asking where, when and how to get one. It's easy to see why it's got some serious buzz. The standard Surface Pro 7 is the dictionary definition of a Windows tablet-laptop hybrid, and has been that way for the past several generations, falling into a somewhat too-comfortable middle age. There have been some minor design, component and feature tweaks, but the last few versions have been almost painfully unadventurous, which is really saying something for a category that would have seemed sci-fi-like just a decade ago. 

Surface Duo phone
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Surface Duo

First announced last October, the Surface Duo features two 5.6-inch displays that can be used together or independently, runs Google's Android and is set to be released this holiday season. While there is still plenty we don't know, the fact that it is starting to pop up on trains by Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, Washington, seems like an encouraging sign that things are moving along.  

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