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Microsoft Studio Surfaces (first look)

Microsoft’s Surface Studio, a 28” "tab-top" touch workspace, and Studio Dial are now in Australia. They are devices that combine a touch screen, high-precision digitiser and pen, with huge computing power.

MS Surface StudioiTWire was invited to a hands-on session with the Surface Studio and its Surface Dial.

Tina Flammer, Microsoft Australia Surface Product Marketing Lead, and Patrick Burgess, Microsoft Surface Product Specialist, provided a tour of the intricacies of the Surface Studio, including the reason that it does not fold flat onto a desk – no coffee spills are allowed.

Flammer said, “It is for people who bring ideas to life – artists, photographers, videographers, file editors, architects, draftsmen, engineers and perhaps one may sit on the CEO’s desk.

“A lot of thought and collaboration has gone into the design. While it replaces separate screens and digitisers it is also a huge canvas for creativity. While it computes, there is nothing else like it in the creative space.”

Burgess was chuffed with the Zero-gravity hinge (one finger can alter its angle) that goes down to a 20° tilt. During use it became evident why desktop touch screen monitors angled at 90° and 600mm away have not been popular – one needs to get closer to the workspace.

MS Studie hinge

The screen aspect ratio is 3:2, just like the Surface Pro and Book and it seems more useful than a 16:9 screen. The colours were good, courtesy of the 4500 x 3000, 192ppi, 1100:1 contrast, Pixel Sense display. Burgess said it had individually colour calibrated display adjustments for sRGB, DCI-P3 and vivid colour P3-D65 so it would reproduce Pantone colours to full-colour volume in movies. “It is better than 99% of colour calibrated displays out there,” Flammer claimed.

The Surface Dial is like a 145g hockey puck shape with a non-slip base that can be used on the screen or the desk. The best way to describe it is as a companion to the Surface Pen. For example, one can push down and it reveals a circular on-screen menu that can be rotated through. It can control pen, brush, eraser, colour selection, and many more context sensitive commands.

Flammer said that the Dial API was freely available and programs like Sketchable were taking full advantage of it.

MS Studio dial

Burgess pointed out that the computing power was in the 250 x 220 x 32.2 mm base. It houses an Intel Core i5 to i7, Intel and NVIDIA GeForce graphics processors, SSD and SATA HDD, up to 32GB RAM, Wi-Fi AC/Wi-Di/Bluetooth/Xbox wireless, 4 x USB 3.0, Mini-DisplayPort, 3.5mm audio, and gigabit Ethernet ports. And it comprises most of the 9.56kg product weight – the screen is 12.5mm.

 MS Studio lineup

The Microsoft officials said the Windows 10 Creators update was not a reference to the original designers, but to the creative aspects being incorporated into Windows this April. It will provide enhanced inking and drawing tools including an onscreen ruler that makes drawing a straight line easy, new 3D Paint, ink to text, math recognition, and more.

Finally, security. It has Windows Hello biometric login, a TPM chip and IT system administrators can bring it into the Windows management portfolio – or it can be a standalone computer at home.


The base unit with an Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce 965M (2GB), 1TB Hybrid drive is $4599. It comes with the Surface Pen, keyboard and mouse. The Studio Dial is $149.95.

The top of the range Intel Core i7, 32GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce 980M (4GB), 2TB Hybrid drive costs $6599.

Pre-orders start now and general availability is from 27 April.

iTWire has been asked to review one in mid-April.

Sketchable and other apps with the Surface Dial



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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!


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