Microsoft Surface Studio Preview: Hands On the Big & Innovative Windows 10 All-in-One

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It’s hard to look away from the new Microsoft Surface Studio all-in-one. Specifically, its 28-inch PixelSense display with a whopping 4500 x 3000 resolution, which wows with its sRGB, DCI-P3, and P3-D65 color profiles, as well as its thin bezel.

In fact, that’s what Microsoft’s Surface head Panos Panay wanted in Microsoft’s first Windows 10 all-in-one, in hopes content creators get lost in their Surface Studio work.

Microsoft Surface Studio

Microsoft Surface Studio

Weightless Hinge

He wants Surface Studio users to figuratively (and maybe literally) bury their faces in their work. To further this, the Surface Studio display rests on what Panay called a “weightless hinge,” during the Surface Studio unveiling. This enables users to effortlessly prop 13-pound Surface Studio display at angles ranging from the typical 100-120 degrees down to approximately 160 – similar to a traditional drafting table.

Microsoft Surface Studio drafting mode

Microsoft Surface Studio drafting mode

And this is the Surface Studio’s most impressive engineering feat. The hinge honest-to-goodness feels weightless. It’s smooth, stable, and easy.

It helps that the display is insanely thin — the thinnest LCD ever made, according to Microsoft, tucked into an overall display that measures just .49 inches thick.

Microsoft Surface Studio weightless hinge

Microsoft Surface Studio weightless hinge

At 28 inches with a 3:2 aspect ratio (similar to the Surface Pro 3, Pro 4, and Surface Book), the new Surface all-in-one offers true-to-life document sizing. Looking at a Word Doc on the Surface Studio reveals 1:1 with printed paper. As Panay claimed at the unveiling, print preview is a thing of the past with the Surface Studio

The entire display measures 25 x 17.3 x .49 inches, while its small base measures 9.8 x 8.7 x 1.2 inches, with the combo weighing 21 pounds. It’s hefty. But you wouldn’t know it until you try to pick it up.

Surface Studio Base Inputs

The relatively small base provides a sturdy foundation, with four contact points on its bottom. These make it easy to slide around and show off the screen, as does the single power cord coming out of the back center. Ports include four USB 3.0, full-sized SD card slot, Mini DisplayPort, Gigabit Ethernet, and 3.5mm audio combo.

Microsoft Surface Studio inputs

Microsoft Surface Studio inputs

And here’s where we complain that for such an advanced device, it’s missing USB Type-C. That’s likely due to the tight engineering constraints of packing so much into a small body, but it’s still disappointing that a high-end device doesn’t have a future-proof input.

Surface Studio Specs

Inside, the Surface Studio has a 6th-gen Intel Core processor, with either i5-6440HQ or i7-6820HQ. The i5 units include Nvidia GTX965M graphics, while the i7 has either Nvidia GTX965M or Nvidia GTX980M. The units range with 8GB, 16GB, or 32GB DDR4 RAM, and rapid hybrid drive storage ranging from 1TB (64GB SSD), 1TB (128GB SSD), and 2TB (128GB SSD).

That all makes the Surface Studio a powerful PC. But again, it’s disappointing that such advanced hardware doesn’t have 7th-gen Intel chips inside when 2-in-1s are already shipping with the new processors.

In the Box, Surface Dial

The Surface Studio includes a Surface Pen, Surface Keyboard, and Surface Mouse. The Pen is similar to the same N-trig stick that pairs with the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book (perhaps even the same), with 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity and magnetic strip for docking on the display. It feels great on the Surface Studio screen, with the kind of friction we like in a pennable device.

They keyboard and mouse both connect via Bluetooth, and are powered by AAA batteries. The keys have decent snap and travel, up to 2mm, but neither have any special tricks.

Those special tricks are reserved for the Surface Dial. This AAA-powered puck also connects to any Windows 10 Anniversary Update device via Bluetooth, and is sold separate from the Studio for $99.

Microsoft Surface Dial

Microsoft Surface Dial

As its name implies, it twists with haptic feedback and clicks, providing contextualized controls and navigation for Windows 10 and its apps. It reserves a special trick for the Surface Studio, though. When placed on the display, it offers additional controls. For example, twisting the Dial may zoom in on an art app while the Dial is resting on a desk, but placed on the display and turned, it opens a color palette. This enables artists to change colors on the fly without ever removing the Surface Pen from the Surface Studio display. Padding on the Dial bottom helps it stick, particularly with the Surface Studio open 160 degrees.

It measures 2.3 x 1.2 inches, and weighs .31 pounds, with two AAA batteries inserted.

In hand, it feels like a quality accessory. It twists with little resistance, but provides plenty of control for precision movement. We’re looking forward to see what third-party app developers do with it (scrubbing video footage while editing perhaps?), while Microsoft’s own apps already have plenty of neat Dial features. Examples include time lapsing ink input on a marked-up Word Doc and controlling Windows 10 volume.

Microsoft Surface Studio Price & Availability

The Surface Studio will ship in time for the holidays, starting at $2999 for the base Core i5 unit, ranging up to $4200 for the Core i7 unit with Nvidia GTX980M, 32GB RAM, and 2TB hard drive. Those prices do not include the $99 Surface Dial.

Windows 10 Creators Update

As the name implies, the Surface Studio is built for content creation, particularly art-based content. And the newest Windows update, coming this spring, is also geared at the same users.

Windows 10 Creators Update, which arrives as a free Windows 10 update, includes new 3D modeling and editing capabilities. The revered Paint app finally sees and update in the form of Paint 3D, with the ability to manage and edit 3D images. Those images can be imported from a 3D Capture camera app, demoed at the event using a Windows Phone device (though hopefully coming soon to Android and iOS), and a Community pane where users can share 3D images. Think of it like a more social clip art.

Going beyond Paint, 3D objects can be imported into Office apps, like PowerPoint, and viewed through Microsoft HoloLens and Microsoft’s new VR headset. Minecraft also factors heavily here, with the ability to pull objects from the game into the Remix3D online studio for editing in Paint or 3D printing.

Windows 10 VR headsets

Windows 10 VR headsets

Microsoft didn’t reveal much about the VR headsets, other than it’s partnered with Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer, and Asus in creating them, and they’ll start at $299 when they launch in the spring, alongside the Creators Update.

Windows 10 Creators Update also includes the Twitch-like Beam for broadcasting Xbox Live gaming sessions to friends, and it brings friends and frequent contacts up front (like the taskbar) for easier and improved content sharing.

New Surface Book

And that’s not all. While Microsoft did not launch a new Surface Pro, it did add a new and supped-up Surface Book to its lineup.

The high-end Surface Book i7 with Performance Base offers increased performance, with up to 16 hours of battery, according to Microsoft. It also sports a 6th-gen Core i7 processor (hence the name), and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 965M (2GB GDDR5 memory) GPU.

Surface Book i7 with Performance Base

Surface Book i7 with Performance Base

It launches November 10, with 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD for $2399, or with 16GB RAM and 1TB SSD for $3299.


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  1. sooomitin

    why mini display port like in imac? HDMI 2.0 could be so better!