Microsoft's new big-screen computer is a creative professional's dream machine. The all-in-one desktop features a 28-inch touch-screen display with pen support and an effortlessly adjustable "zero gravity" hinge, so you can easily tilt it into easel mode. But starting at a steep $3,000, this is meant to be a professional tool that's targeted at engineers, artists and other workers who want a big digital canvas to work on.
The Surface Studio is available for preorder today (Oct. 26). Microsoft didn't say exactly when it will ship, except that it will be available sometime this holiday season.
What makes the Surface Studio special is that there's nothing else quite like it on the market. It looks a lot like Apple's iMac, but given its high price point and pen-enabled touch screen, its closest competitor is actually Wacom's Cintiq 27QHD touch ($2,800) drawing tablet. And even that comparison is a stretch, since the Cintiq is nothing more than a large pen display that must be connected to a separate computer to run. The Surface Studio, in comparison, is an all-in-one computer and touch display for around the same price point. Compared to the Cintiq 27QHD touch, the Surface Studio is kind of a steal.
And the Studio's impressive hardware helps justify its price tag. At 12.5 millimeters thick, the 28-inch display is the world's thinnest LCD monitor ever built, of any size. Its pixel density is about 63 percent higher than 4K, with 13.5 million pixels total. And while most displays have a wide-screen 16:9 aspect ratio, the Surface Studio has a 3:2 aspect ratio, which provides a taller canvas. Meanwhile, creative professionals will appreciate that the display supports both sRGB and DCI-P3 color profiles, and you can change back and forth between the two with one tap.
Like every Surface system, the Studio comes with the Surface Pen out of the box, which is an excellent tool for drawing right on the system's big screen. You get full pressure sensitivity (1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity), so you can vary your line width and taper you strokes, just like with a real pen or paintbrush. It's even got a working eraser.
You can also get a new accessory with the Studio: the Surface Dial. The Dial is a small, circular hub that's meant to provide tactile controls to the Studio's touch interface. You can spin the accessory around for undo and redo, or spin it to select tools or colors from a color wheel. Its use is totally optional, since you'll always be able to opt for a keyboard or touch-screen controls instead. Still, I'm very intrigued by the Surface Dial and can't wait to go hands-on with it.
Microsoft is set to offer the Surface Studio in a range of hardware configurations. The baseline model provides an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 965M GPU with 2GB of VRAM and 1TB of storage for $3,000. The top-end configuration, meanwhile, gives you really powerful performance with a 7th Generation Intel Core i7 Extreme processor, 32GB of RAM, Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M graphics with 4GB of VRAM and 2TB of storage for a steep $4,199.
All models also give you four USB 3.0 ports, a full-size SD card reader, an Ethernet jack and a Mini DisplayPort. Impressively, it all powers on with just a single cable that connects to the wall. Security-conscious users will appreciate the TPM support and the built-in facial-recognition Windows Hello technology. The Studio comes preloaded with Microsoft Windows 10 Pro and a 30-day free trial of Office 365.