Earlier this year I got approached by Microsoft to become a “Surface Ambassador.” This basically means they send me new devices to try out and they invite me to different events. (My current setup for photography is an IMac 27″ with a Wacom tablet, but I am considering switching over to the Surface Studio).
Yesterday the Surface Studio was unveiled in Melbourne and I finally got to have a play with it. As you can see from the image above, the Surface Studio resembles a 27″ Imac, but features a touch screen that slides down to function like a drafting table. It’s also similar to the Wacom Cintiq, but has a computer built in. You’ll also notice there’s a round puck like device, which you rotate to change things like pen settings.
Here’s my first thoughts.
The screen is beautiful. Its a 28″ screen with 4500 x 3000 pixels. It has a 3:2 ratio compared to the 16:9 ratio found in many other monitors. That ratio is no accident as it matches 3:2 photos and has been used in all the Surface products.
Hinge / tilt movement
Moving the screen is surprising light. I was really surprised at first as I was expecting to have to use more force. At the same time the 12.5mm screen is quite sturdy.
Having the touch screen built in means no more Wacom tablet or cords and junk on my desk. I really like that. From my limited testing the pen and finger touch worked great, very much like the Surface Pro 4 (the smaller laptop/tablet). I’ve seen a few YouTube clips floating around showing some quirks with fine pen work, but I couldn’t reproduce it. There were a couple times where touch controls had some lag, but i’m not sure if this was the software or the device. My familiarity with both the touch controls and the new puck device was low, so I was a bit awkward at first, but the presenters moved around the device much faster.
The eco system
What stood out to me yesterday was how integrated touch screens are across the Microsoft products. From laptops, to desktops to the gigantic 2.2m wide Surface Hub which acts as a digital white board / skype meeting center (see image below). As a suite of tools it starts to look pretty impressive. I can imagine teams working across large distances on design problems where sketching is essential. I can also see Microsoft embedding themselves into universities, design studios and other businesses. Apple definitely has a lot of catching up to do on this front.