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Microsoft Surface Studio: Has the Apple iMac finally met its match?

For those of you who aren’t aware, Microsoft recently launched a brand new product, the Surface Studio. It’s as fantastic as you’d expect it to be – especially with a starting price of $2,999. It’s currently only available in the USA, but it’s due to be released in the UK in 2017.

I’ve been in Seattle as part of the Microsoft Global Advisory Council that I sit on, and I managed to get my hands on a Surface Studio to test out myself (after waiting in a never-ending queue – it’s already very popular). A lot of my colleagues at TSG were very jealous!

The Surface Studio is a larger version of the Microsoft Surface, with a 28” PixelSense Display. It has all of the functions of a normal desktop PC, and more, with a super sleek design and an interface for designers with the Surface Dial. It comes with a Surface Ergonomics keyboard and a choice of hard drive (up to 2TB) and processors (up to i7). Microsoft is giving Apple a run for its money not only in the specification stakes, but in the hardware stakes too. The keyboard is very Mac-like – the Mac keyboard is a style that developers have been trying to emulate for years. It not only looks cool – it’s very high quality and easy to use. 

So what’s the verdict? In short, it’s as awesome as it looks.

It’s incredibly fast, with a beautiful screen display as you’d expect. The sound quality is superb – it’s better than the Surface Pro, which is saying something! Similar to the Surface Pro, the touch is very accurate, and it feels like a scaled-up version of Microsoft’s popular Surface Pro 4 (I own one of these myself) or Surface Book.

Video playback is stunning on this device, with the high-quality speakers and crystal clear display. But it’s not just a flashy machine to watch Netflix on (*cough*). I played around with a number of different apps, including OneNote and the Edge web browser. It’s fluid and fast, which is what you’d expect from a machine at this price.

The Surface Dial is a must-have for creatives, allowing much greater control over design works. But it’s not just designers that can use the Surface Dial – it can be used with a range of apps like Groove Music, PowerPoint, Edge and Maps. As you’d expect, it can be used to control your Studio’s volume, but it can also be used for scrolling, zooming, adjusting the brightness and undoing actions. It might not sound like much, but this is a huge leap in terms of user experience. It can be used on or off screen, allows for customisation of any of your button features, and makes accessing menu options slick and fast – no more fiddling about with your Control Panel. Although I was using the Dial for the first time, it felt very intuitive and natural.

If you’re not doing much typing, it makes sense to have both of your hands working on the screen rather than using the mouse or track pad. Immerse yourself in the experience! The build is extremely high quality, without feeling fragile. The tilt option – whereby the screen flattens on the four-point hinge – feels natural to work on. It’s not completely flat on your worktop; rather, it tilts at a 20-degree angle which feels natural and ergonomic. The Surface Studio works with existing Surface devices, and we expect it to work with other Windows 10 PCs. It doesn’t work with the Surface Hub yet, but we can expect that at a later date.

You heard it here first – this is a must-have accessory and I expect it to be in high demand when it hits the UK; remember, it took us months just to get our own Surface Hub!

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