From The Editors Technology

Microsoft Surface Hub 2: Built for the Workspace of the Future

Last week, Microsoft announced its second-generation Surface Hub 2 and the feature that grabs your attention straightaway is the gigantic touchscreen, with the bezel around the edges looking like a pencil line on those gargantuan dimensions.

However, it has to be said that the previous generation Surface Hub was even bigger; as a matter of fact, it came with two screen-size options, both bigger than the Hub 2, one with a 1080p 55-inch display while the other boasted a 4K 84-inch screen.

Needless to say, the product is designed for a niche audience like business houses, organizations, and the likes, that have “team-based, collaborative culture and place an emphasis on enabling creativity and productivity,” wrote Microsoft chief product officer Panos Panay, in an article.

“It’s an exciting time to be in the devices business because the creation of new form factors and software experiences will not only lead us to work in new ways but also in new spaces designed for collaboration,” wrote Panay.

So, let’s just start from the big front where most of the fun talking points are, including that massive 50.5-inch touchscreen display, with more than 4K resolution and an aspect ratio of 3:22.

And, if the Hub’s size still does not meet the requirements of a company, no worries, because you can, actually, mount up to four Hub 2s alongside each other, on a wall, to give you one big screen, a feature which Microsoft likes to call “tiling.”

“Seeing four of the beautiful Surface Hub 2s lined up together has an undeniable visual effect and will have a profound impact on what groups can accomplish together, allowing users to display multiple pieces of content side-by-side,” Panay said.

“Imagine how much your team could get done being able to work simultaneously on Microsoft Whiteboard, PowerBI, PowerPoint, and a full view video call,” he added.

There’s a bit of a downside to tiling, though, because of those vertical black bars on the screen where bezel meets bezel, which gives a feeling of discontinuity, somewhat, but until the time seamless options in those form factors are made available, tiling is your best bet.

But, if you don’t have the wall space for a Surface Hub 2, or if you just don’t like mounting devices on your wall, you can always opt for the easel-like rolling stand, which Microsoft partnered with workplace solutions company, Steelcase, to bring to the Hub 2.

“We’ve teamed up with workplace expert Steelcase to create a system of rolling stands and easy-to-use mounts to help Surface Hub 2 customers be truly mobile, gain a new perspective and capture their ideas wherever they do their best work,” he said.

Another impressive feature about the screen that’s more than worthy of a mention – while we’re still looking at the front of the Surface Hub 2 – is that you can, actually, rotate it on the wall mount to your preferred orientation, be it portrait or landscape.

“Dynamic rotation allows you to use the best orientation for your content to help people work in the way that best suits them and the people they are collaborating with,” explains Panay.

Time to hit the Surface Hub 2 from the sides, now and the first thing that deserves a mention is the 4K webcam, which makes those awesome, near life-size video calls such a satisfying experience.

Just try comparing this in your mind with the video calls you make on your tiny phone screen and you’ll know what this whopping 50.5-inches is capable of offering, in that regard.

Of course, the USB-C connected webcam is very much removable, affording you the flexibility to stack up multiple Surface Hub 2-supported devices against each other, regardless of the orientation.

Another feature that you’ll spot on the side of this thing is the fingerprint reader and, apparently, the sides can also, magnetically, hold styluses, which we all know are such handy tools when it comes to touchscreens.

So, what’s not good about the Surface Hub 2?

Well, as far as the product itself is concerned, there’s hardly much that you can fault, barring a few teeny-weeny issues, but, then, it’s a bit too early to say for sure, as it has yet to go through the litmus test of the real world.

The two main drawbacks, as of now, are, one, there’s a long wait ahead before it releases sometime in 2019 and, two, it’s going to cost you a king’s ransom when you consider that its predecessor started at $9,000 and went all the way up to $22,000.

But, again, since we’re talking big businesses and corporate houses, money should not be a factor.

The company is, obviously, banking on the results it achieved with the first-generation Surface Hub, and with the upgrades, it’s bringing to the new Hub2, it’s definitely looking to improve on that.

“We started on the journey of empowering teams with the original Surface Hub and the value it provides has resonated with businesses worldwide,’ Panay wrote, adding that the company has managed to sell the original version to “more than 5000 customers across 25 markets.”

“Over half of Fortune 100 companies have purchased Surface Hubs to improve team’s efficiency and how they collaborate – breaking down barriers and creating real business value,” he added, going on to say that Microsoft believes its “customers will love Surface Hub 2 even more.”

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