Microsoft Surface Studio Review: Putting Apple on notice

There's something very special about this device

The Microsoft Surface Studio – it’s a bold statement from Microsoft that they aren’t going anywhere.  A complete re-think of the PC that will have many designer types and trendsetters stuck with a quandary : is the iMac still the desirable desktop of choice?

Let’s not beat around the bush here, this thing is not cheap.  Not at all.  You won’t get into it for less than $4,699 and you could pay up to $6,599 for a 32GB Ram/i7 model.

To put that in perspective, to get an iMac with similar specs would cost you between $1,500 and $2,000 less.

 

What sort of parallel universe are we living in where Apple is the cheaper option?  Could it be that Microsoft have taken a leaf from Apple’s playbook and gone radical and appealing on design and high on price?  Come on!

Seems so.  And I reckon it’s the smartest thing they’ve ever done.

No, this won’t be the average family PC.  But tell me there aren’t CEOs and Design leads across the world asking to have one on their desk.

Reason being – it’s bloody attractive.  Like – next level stuff.

The large solid base is the brains of the operation, that’s the actual PC, while the screen is really just that apart from some buttons and USB connections.

This means the screen is thin, all over, not just on the edge, and what Microsoft have done is connect it to the base with two chrome metal arms which hold it gracefully in place wherever you position it.

And the screen moves with ease.  A gentle touch and it glides down to a 20 degree angle or anywhere in between there and upright.

That low angle makes it a workhorse for those wanting to get right into it – using the Surface Pen to sketch and draw.

Just using the build in Windows 10 Fresh Paint app I was mesmerized.  This touch surface just drew me in.

As a daily driver the screen offered a lot – being a more old-school 4:3 ratio (4.5:3 to be precise) you get a taller screen and can easily run multiple windows at the same time – actually removing the need for the common second screen these days.

4500×3000 pixel resolution makes for great design and photography editing, as well as for video editing.

 

The Surface Dial is a new approach to navigation, and while I “get” what they are trying to do here, it just isn’t supported by enough apps to make it useful for much other than undo and redo with a twist.  And as an extra cost accessory that’s a bridge too far in my book.

But I can see it working.  I used Adobe Premiere Pro to edit a video and while the screen made it a delight, the dial didn’t add any value.  Adobe need to get in and work some magic to really make it a solid jog dial for video and other functions.

Using the Surface Pen though was amazing. These two devices were made for each other – literally.  The accuracy and response rate was fantastic and I found myself sketching more than ever.

A whole new Keyboard and Mouse design gets top marks, but it’s the actual PC design that really makes this work.

While Microsoft were excited about their Vertical USB ports – that’s something Apple has had on the iMac for ages, their real innovation to me was the power cable which could not be pulled out without clamping two buttons on the side of it.  Simple stuff.

If money was no object, I’d buy one of these in a heartbeat.  My iMac is more than 4 years old and ready to be replaced – but as it stands, I’ll be getting a new one of those because for the price I can get a high spec unit and still have money left over.

Price is the only negative about the Surface Studio.  Other than that – it’s the most beautiful bit of tech I’ve seen in a long while, It’s responsive, ergonomic and the use of dial and pen, or dial and mouse makes for a whole new way of interfacing with your computer.

Top marks Microsoft – but can we talk about the price?

Microsoft Surface Studio
Date Published: 06/05/2017
Stunning design, a fresh approach to computing but it comes at a price
4.8 / 5 stars
Categories
Tech

Trev produces two of the most popular technology podcasts in Australia, Your Tech Life and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He hosts a nightly radio show on Talking Lifestyle, 8pm Monday to Friday in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, appears on over 50 radio stations across Australia weekly, and is the Tech Expert on Channel 9’s Today Show and A Current Affair. Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave.

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