Microsoft has at last given us our first look at the Surface Hub 2, its upcoming mega-tablet.
The device, which the company announced two months ago, represents the first major update to the $22,000 Surface Hub since it launched in 2016. The new version, which like the first was designed to be used in conference rooms, will go on sale next year.
Like its predecessor, the Surface Hub 2 is essentially a giant touchscreen Windows PC. It’s got a 50.5-inch screen and is designed to be mounted on a wall or rolled around like a blackboard. Like the first version, it comes with speakers high-resolution cameras, so you can use it as a teleconferencing system.
The single biggest change in the new model is with its design. The Surface Hub 2 will be thinner and lighter than the original. More intriguingly, unlike the first model, it will have a special hinge in the back that will allow users to switch its orientation from landscape to portrait. Additionally users will be able to combine several Surface Hub 2 devices into one giant display.
In this case, a video is worth a thousand words. Check out Microsoft’s big announcement trailer:
Microsoft is upgrading the components on the new model also. The Surface Hub 2 has faster processors than the original. Its screen resolution is higher than 4K, according to Microsoft. And its cameras now support 4K resolution.
The new design does seem to have some tradeoffs, though. The original Surface Hub came in 55-inch and 84-inch models; Microsoft will apparently only offer the new Surface Hub 2 with a 50.5-inch display.
The company has not yet said how much the new device will cost or when, exactly, it will launch.
The Surface Hub 2 will be comparable in cost with the competing digital whiteboard offerings from Google and Cisco, said Robin Seiler, the general manager of Surface Hub engineering. That could imply a price of about $5,000, which is the price of Google’s Jamboard and Cisco’s Spark Board.
The reason for all the secrecy: It takes many months for enterprises to decide to buy any new technology, especially a product as pricey as the Surface Hub 2, Seiler said. With demand from businesses still fairly strong for the first model of Surface Hub, Microsoft wanted to get the ball rolling on the new model as soon as possible, she said.
Ultimately, Seiler thinks the Surface Hub 2 is going to make some waves in business, thanks in large part to its flippy-floppy flexibility. Its ability to go from portrait to landscape mode is an “emotional experience,” she said.
“It’s unreal,” Seiler said. “Actually, I should say, it’s very real.”
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