For years, Microsoft has been obsessed with huge touchscreens. From time to time, the company creates a video vision of the future in which everyone in the office is doing their job on huge screens on the walls. It looks really far away, but this future is now beginning to come with Surface Hub 2.
At the most basic level, it's a huge conference display that will be available in versions of 50 and 85 inches, but Microsoft really emphasizes this as much more. It's really designed for meeting rooms for the future, which are expected to co-operate on the screen, not just to sit and watch the presentation. It certainly does not look like your typical TV with a boring conference room that you will see today in the meeting room.
"The unique thing about the Hub, compared to the rest of the Surface line, is that it's not a personal computer," explains Microsoft's hardware designer Ralf Groen in an interview for The Verge. "It's really a computer that belongs to space."
Earlier this month I traveled to Microsoft's campus to look more closely at Surface Hub 2, all of its additional accessories and a special modular cassette for processors that Microsoft created to upgrade my hardware in the coming years. Surface Hub 2S (yes, 2S is the official model number) will be available in June for $ 8,999.99, and if you want any additional accessories then it will be almost $ 12,000.
The future is not cheap.
It can be said that Surface Hub 2 is a beautifully designed piece of hardware. Compared to the original Surface Hub, it now looks and looks like a real Surface hardware, and it's far more striking than competitors such as Google Jamboard.
Microsoft decided on a 50-inch screen (3840 to 2560 pixels) with a typical 3: 2 Surface, compared to the 55-inch 16: 9 panel that the company used on the original Surface Hub. A new ratio of width and height means that at the end of the power you will be able to rotate this screen in a portrait mode that is ideal for conference calls, and also gives you more vertical space for drawing, presenting or reviewing documents.
Compared to the original, the frames are much thinner – exactly 15.5 mm – and Microsoft has done some work to improve the binding of the pen input pane and to enhance the reflection that can be found on typical conference room displays.
I was most surprised how thin it was than the original Surface Hub, about 60% thinner. You will be able to mount it on the wall, or use a rack to transport it to conference rooms or open office spaces. Microsoft worked with Steelcase to design stand and wall mounts, both available separately at $ 1,449.99 for stand and $ 249 for wall mounting.
There is even a battery that can be inserted into the body of the stand that gives you about two hours of battery life on the go. Then you can easily unpack the surface as you would on a laptop, then transfer it to the meeting room or elsewhere. The expansion of batteries, as well as booths, is sold separately for $ 1,400.
Microsoft also created a dedicated 4K camera for Surface Hub 2. It is powered by USB-C, and can be separated from the top to fit with magnets on the side of the screen. Since Surface Hub 2 is designed to rotate around it, Microsoft has even created a special mechanism for shooting the camera, so if you break it on the door, the camera will not be removed.
Since this is actually a full PC, not just a big screen, Microsoft has a whole range of hardware. Intel's 8th Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, 128GB M2 SSD and Intel's UHD Graphics 620 integrated GPU. This means that there are a lot of PC ports: one standard USB-A port, USB-C port, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI video input and Mini DisplaiPort. You will be able to connect devices in this way to use it as a monitor, and Microsoft even plans to sell it separately as a monitor without complete PC hardware inside, but the company does not announce the price for that model yet.
The most interesting aspect of this PC hardware is how Microsoft plans that Surface Hub 2 owners upgrade their device over time. The Surface Hub 2Ks processor card will be available next year, which will include an upgraded GPU that will allow businesses to fill up to four screens together. This upgrade cartridge keeps the processor, RAM, and GPU inside – essentially saving the entire computer for storage – and you can insert it into the back of the Surface Hub 2.
This processor cartridge will also provide some of the more interesting changes Microsoft software makes for this device, including the ability to rotate the screen. We have seen that Microsoft demonstrates this rotation of the display and looks far smoother than what's currently in Windows 10. Microsoft still does not announce the price or exact availability of the upgrade cartridge, so we'll have to see later that it can be compared to the Hub 2 .
Most of the more interesting parts of the Surface Hub 2 software will not arrive by next year, so I have not yet been able to try any of them. Surface Hub 2 will be shipped in June with the same modified version of Windows 10 (Team) that is currently available on original Surface Hub machines. Microsoft says this is because companies want to buy new hardware and have budget plans for years, but it's probably because the software is still not ready.
However, all the typical applications you expect on Surface Hub are here, but are limited to the Microsoft Universal Vindovs Platform Application (UVP). There is an impressive whiteboard application that will automatically edit your handwriting that runs on Windows 10, iOS, Android, and the Web, so everyone can join the Vhiteboard session. Microsoft teams are also there for conference calls and common Office applications such as Word, PoverPoint and Excel. You can log in like any other Windows 10 PC, and access the OneDrive documents you just worked on and hold a meeting through Skipe for Business or Microsoft Teams.
If your business is all-in on Office 365, like many of them, then it seems like a natural companion. Surface Hub 2 feels like a fast PC, but it's optimized for touch input and stylus on a larger screen. Being able to drive it around the office can make some more interesting appointments than you probably used to. But the really impressive parts of Surface Hub 2 do not come later.
There is screen rotation, paving up to four versions of 50 inches apart, and some clever ways to use more people using Surface Hub 2. Microsoft has shown that two people will be able to enter Surface Hub 2 at the same time using the reader fingerprint and access their individual OneDrive documents to collaborate or participate in the meeting. Hardware certainly facilitates collaborative work, but these software changes will further transform it into a device for the future of meetings.
"It's very capable, the technology is incredible, but I think what makes people working much more exciting than industrial design," says Groene. It could be true, but now it is waiting and watching the game. Until the 2Ks upgrade arrives, it's really difficult to tell how much the Surface Hub 2 difference will be made in the meeting rooms.
Hardware is undeniably impressive: Microsoft has made Surface Hub 2 much more portable and mobile with its hardware choice, and this will itself improve meetings and co-operation in offices.
It's software that will define the real potential of this device, and much is now just a promise. Microsoft has been working on updating software on the hub for months, and is all part of Microsoft's Vinds's Core OS (VCOS) effort to modularize its operating system to work as a smart way to smart hardware.
Microsoft has been building a VCOS and a composite shell (C-Shell) for years, and both efforts will allow Windows to work on new hardware, such as Surface Hub 2. This should make Windows more flexible for different screen sizes and even hardware & # 39; & # 39; pocket & # 39; & # 39; A dual screen surface, or flexible and foldable displays appearing in the smartphone space.
Although the current modified version of Windows 10 for Hub 2 will not run traditional (vin32) desktop applications, Microsoft tells me that it allows these traditional desktop applications to work on Surface Hub 2Ks.
As long as the 2Ks cartridge does not appear in 2020, businesses are offered a look at the future with hardware that should be better over the years thanks to the more modular design and software improvements. This is an unusual proposal these days, but Microsoft expects companies to pay a steep price of $ 8,999.99 if they want to part of the company's future promises.