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).
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|
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.
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.
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.
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.