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What does the Microsoft Surface Studio mean for the future of creative technology?

Microsoft is heading in a new direction with the Surface Studio. It’s exciting to consider whether the development represents a shift in the wider computer world of interacting with devices via touch and pencils, rather than keyboards and mice, even if only for creative purposes.

Billed by Microsoft as an “entirely new device designed for the creative process” to facilitate endless possibilities, the Surface Studio is an impressive product for consumers but has the potential to change the lifestyle of creative professionals. It’s incredibly immersive and shows that Microsoft is taking the creative power user into account in a big way.

The 28-inch screen is big enough to enable group collaboration, but the design is so sleek you’ll want to keep it all to yourself. The Zero Gravity Hinge enables seamless transition between the traditional workstation and the creative collaboration space.

How does the Surface Studio compare to other collaborative devices on the market? Techly played around with the Studio for a few weeks in the office, so we put together everyone’s thoughts.

Collaboration is always encouraged at #fwip 👯‍♂️

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Hardware

The screen has a really premium feel, and the flat mode stands out as an exceptional experience. The keyboard feels high quality, solid, and very satisfying to use, but the mouse is very disappointing. It feels cheap, hollow, plastic-ey, and not like the same standard as the rest of the device. The Dial has a really reassuring weight, and is able to give a premium feeling.

Microsoft’s nice touch is the magnetisation throughout the hardware; battery covers clip right in without any protruding parts. The fact that the stylus tip acts as the eraser in apps like Photoshop is hugely welcome. Take note, Apple Pencil!

Small details like this – done well – are indicative of careful consideration.

Microsoft Surface Accessories (on desk)

Of course, it must be noted that the major downside of having a giant touch screen is the fingerprint problem, as well as the marks left by the Dial after use. The screen should be cleaned often or risk looking like a kindergarten art board.

The Dial seemed somewhat limited. In theory it’s an amazing idea, and being able to scroll through my undos and redos was very cool, but that seems to be where it ends. It’d be great to see more applications build in more support and features. In the Windows Ink Sketchpad program it’s pretty awesome – being able it change brush size while drawing a line is so so cool.

Have you checked out our hands-on first look at the Microsoft Surface Studio?

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Software

Browsing the web is a near-magical experience. That same feeling of magic when first using an iPhone or iPad, but magnified. The power of a full desktop browser combined with being able to interact directly with the content is incredibly immersive, it feels like you’re inside the browser itself.

An interesting point to be made is that because the screen is so big, buttons, links, and UI elements are large enough for fingers and the stylus to tap, with everything in the Adobe Suite feeling comfortable to use. The on-screen keyboard leaves a little to be desired – it’s not as responsive or friendly as the iPad on-screen keyboard, and typing was significantly slower. This could just be a result of needing to get used to a different system.

Windows 10 works quite naturally with the touch screen, with all buttons feeling nice and useable. The only problems came when interacting with files and folders – copying, pasting, dragging, or renaming. It’s a good thing the computer can still convert back to a standard desktop.

Unfortunately small errors popped up from time to time – the system is still at the mercy of any OS-level problems within Windows. Not every app is yet optimised for touch, so you may find yourself jumping between flat and vertical screen modes. It can feel pretty frustrating to jump between keyboard and mouse, and touch and flat screen as you move between different programs that may not have optimal touch support.

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