Microsoft’s new Surface Studio wants to kill both the iMac and Wacom Cintiq

Oct 27, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Microsoft’s new Surface Studio wants to kill both the iMac and Wacom Cintiq

Oct 27, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Looking at the advert for Microsoft’s new Surface Studio they’re taking a square aim at two very distinct products. Obviously they want to take a big chunk out of the Apple iMac’s share of the designer desktop computer market. It also seems, though, that they want to try and replace the Wacom Cintiq, too. As desktop PCs go, the new Surface Studio has an extremely elegant design, and is probably one of the most versatile units to hit the market.

Of course, it still runs Windows, which will put many users off right away. The vast majority of Windows issues I’ve seen over the years seem to be down to the hardware choices made by OEMs and PC builders, though. That Microsoft are able to specify exactly what hardware goes into the unit should result a much smoother and more stable system (in theory).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzMLA8YIgG0

Even without knowing the specs, the introduction advert sure makes me want one. The specs however are very impressive, as is the price tag.

It comes in three different models. The differences basically boil down to the processor, graphics, RAM and storage options available.

Quad Core 6th Gen Core i5 CPU Quad Core 6th Gen Core i7 CPU Quad Core 6th Gen Core i7 CPU
8GB DDR5 RAM 16GB DDR5 RAM 32GB DDR5 RAM
2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX965M 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX965M 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX980M
1TB Hybrid Drive 1TB Hybrid Drive 2TB Hybrid Drive
$2,999 $3,499 $4,199

The rest of the specs are basically the same. The “world’s thinnest” 28″ PixelSense touchscreen LCD offerss a resolution of 4500×3000 (192DPI) and utilises “TrueColor” technology for accurate colour representation. It even offers the ability to flick between colour spaces at will while editing to see how other profiles would interpret your image. Very handy for editing in one colour space intended for sRGB or sending out to your local lab with a custom profile.

It’s interesting to stray from the more standard 16:9 or 16:10 displays of desktop PCs to move over to the 3:2 format of most DSLR images.

As for taking aim at the Wacom Cintiq, the screen supports full 10 point multi-touch for using both hands on the screen at the same time, and obviously also comes with a stylus; the Surface Pen. It has a “Zero Gravity Hinge” which allows you to easily tilt the monitor back from a standard vertical position to a more horizontal format, letting you draw just as you would with a graphics tablet.

As well as this, Microsoft are releasing another new toy, the Surface Dial. Expected to be released sometime during 2017, the Surface Dial is, another way of interacting with your applications.

surface_dial

Having a tactile way to control the various dials and doohickies that show up in Photoshop and other applications is a great idea. Being able to place it down on the screen and have your display interact with it is just amazing. Best of all, Microsoft say that the Surface Dial will even work for existing Surface Pro 4 owners. It will be available for $99, but if you pre-order a Surface Studio before December 1st, they’ll throw one in for free.

The Surface Studio has the usual array of built in connectivity including 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, 4x USB3.0 sockets, full sized SD card reader, Mini Displayport, Gigabit ethernet, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. It also features built-in Xbox Wireless capability. On the front there’s a built in 5.0MP camera 1080p HD capable camera, handy for those Skype calls and Google Hangouts.

It certainly has the specs to compete with the highest end iMac, and when it comes to the graphics I’d say it even exceeds it. One of the biggest complains I hear from Mac users is about the AMD graphics chipsets. While support for AMD is catching up, Nvidia’s chipsets are still generally ahead for most software software developers. This should give the Surface Studio the edge for 3D, video editing or any other GPU intensive applications.

At $4,199 for the Surface Pro, it’s a little more expensive than the top of the line iMac. However, once you throw a Wacom Cintiq into the mix to get this sort of graphics tablet functionality, the Apple route does become far more expensive. Of course, in a few years when time comes to replace your iMac, you still get to use the Cintiq you already own with the new computer. With Microsoft, you’d need to replace everything.

You can find out more about the Microsoft Surface Studio on the Microsoft website, or you can the full announcement coverage below, courtesy of The Verge.

And as a complete random aside, many of the YouTube commentators seem more interested in the music used for the launch video than the Surface Studio itself. So, here’s a hint for the younger generation. Johnny Depp was not the first Willy Wonka. The song was originally written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley specifically for Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, and sung by Gene Wilder.

YouTube video

Who performed the version used in Microsoft’s advert is unclear, although looking at the YouTube comments, it would be a huge hit if it turned up on iTunes. Several have suggested that it might be Fiona Apple, or at least inspired by a version of the song she performed for Chipotle Mexican Grill.

So, what do we think? is this an iMac killer? A Wacom Cintiq killer? Or does the fact that it runs Windows immediately make it a flop? Will you be getting one? How about that dial? Are you a Surface Pro 4 owner who’ll be picking one of those up? Let us know in the comments.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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20 responses to “Microsoft’s new Surface Studio wants to kill both the iMac and Wacom Cintiq”

  1. Roberto Miranda Avatar
    Roberto Miranda

    por fin !

  2. Jaime Martin Avatar
    Jaime Martin

    Can you lend me 3000$?

  3. Batman Avatar
    Batman

    Hahaha Microsoft can only kill itself, with that outdated video card!!! It’s 2016 almost 2017, and they have put a GTX 980M :))))) hahahah .. and also good luck with cleaning fingerprints form that 28″ display, where on Cintiq you would never see that … unless you ate some buritto with your bare hands and then start working on the Cintiq :))))

    1. The JennCast Avatar
      The JennCast

      As a Surface Pro user, I can assure you fingerprints are not a huge issue. It’s the classic Apple fanboy response to something Apple can’t seem to pull off.

      1. JaxVenture Avatar
        JaxVenture

        Ditto on that, SP4 user…

        1. Frederick Murre Avatar
          Frederick Murre

          Double ditto ( SP3/S3 ) user.

          1. 'smee Avatar
            ‘smee

            ditto (original Surface Pro and SP2 — waiting for SP5 or 6 to spend more moolah)

            I would LOVE to have one of these on my desk, but need mobility more than sexy. (damn this adulting!)

  4. Garrick Morgenweck Avatar
    Garrick Morgenweck

    never kill anything with a $5000 price tag for the really usable version.

  5. Mike Musto Avatar
    Mike Musto

    Esteban, you right

  6. Stefan Kohler Avatar
    Stefan Kohler

    “Wants”.

  7. Rex Deaver Avatar
    Rex Deaver

    Surface is already killing Apple laptops and tablets in the creative market. Not surprised they would take aim at the place where Apple has always been so dominant. Whether they will succeed or not is to be seen

  8. The JennCast Avatar
    The JennCast

    Honestly, it’s hard to imagine anyone who doesn’t think working on this machine would be a dream, might be lying to themselves. I love being able to look down on my Surface Pro 3 and working with the pen in LR & PS.

  9. Tim Cleary Avatar
    Tim Cleary

    Huge Apple fan here. This desktop is killer. I want one so bad! Microsoft has been out Apple’ing Apple as of late. I still love macOS and I’ll only ever have iPhones, but if the need arises, I would purchase one of these in a heartbeat. This is the desktop that I’ve dreamt of Apple releasing for a long time now. Apple seems to be stuck in incremental update hell with their laptops and desktops. Nothing really new within the last several years…that’s not the Apple I fell for in the past.

  10. Anthony Mehlhaff Avatar
    Anthony Mehlhaff

    This thing looks awesome!

  11. Nhu-Hoai Robert Vo Avatar
    Nhu-Hoai Robert Vo

    Yvan Gavillet prochaine tablette à l’UTLI?

    1. Yvan Gavillet Avatar
      Yvan Gavillet

      Yess 2017 ????

  12. John Smith Avatar
    John Smith

    35 years and counting…started working on PCs using Harvard Graphics…Do the most amazing work you can on what you can afford to do without because sometimes the beading edge is not
    backward compatable with reality…

  13. Vince Antonelli Avatar
    Vince Antonelli

    Easy to counter Microsoft. All we need is something like a Panasonic 20inch UHD Toughed, but running Android (or ChromeOS) tablet OS which is Wacom enabled (1024 or 2056 pressure levels) and can be be used both as a PC workstation display, via displayport locally on a mount that supports portrait mode as well. The display can be used around the office operating using Ethernet (some lag) or wireless AC (a lot more lag) but means your not tied to the office desk.
    It can have a switch to go fully Android and free from desk workstation, and can be upgraded in memory, LTE connectivity and storage using M.2 slots.
    This would make a multiple use display device which is future proof and mean you can configure to any Windows or mac workstation, and use cheap Android processing power to operate completely remotely or using a remote desktop app on top of Android to connect back to base apps.
    The Android manufacturers would love a hold of this concept, as people are ‘hungry’ to adopt a UHD standard display, and the DSLR 4:3 ratio is ideal. And they get a Android workstation in the deal. The world’s first upgradeable Android or Chrome OS portable digitizer tablet.

  14. WG Flexx Avatar
    WG Flexx

    It’s not a Cintiq killer yet, and that’s only because they chose not to.

    If MS ever makes this available as a stand-alone monitor then Wacom will have some serious things to worry about.

    Wacom’s 27″ Cintique touch screen is $2700.

    Considering MS’s Surface Studio starts at $3000 with a computer built-in, I have no doubt MS could have made the monitor available for $2700. They just chose not to.

  15. missmoss Avatar
    missmoss

    this thing is sexy as hell.