Microsoft Surface Studio Is Neither a Tablet Nor A Laptop: So What Is It?
Andrew Wheeler posted on November 10, 2016 |
The new Surface Studio from Microsoft looks slender and weighs about 13 lbs. There’s also a Surface dial, a pen, keyboard and mouse to augment the many fingers that will touch, swipe and poke at the giant 28-in PixelSense display touchscreen. (Image courtesy of Microsoft.)
The new Surface Studio from Microsoft looks slender and weighs about 13 lbs. There’s also a Surface dial, a pen, keyboard and mouse to augment the many fingers that will touch, swipe and poke at the giant 28-in PixelSense display touchscreen. (Image courtesy of Microsoft.)

I’m sure that by now you’ve caught wind of the trove of announcements from Microsoft’s big Windows 10 event last month in New York City. If you’ve seen that slick ad that harnesses cultural nostalgia for Gene Wilder’s performance of “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka, you’ve been introduced to the Surface Studio. Borrowing a bit from Apple’s design aesthetic, the Surface Studio is the culmination of years of design and engineering work from Microsoft—but it’s what’s inside that really counts.


The “tabtop” (combination tablet and desktop) starts with options of up to 32 GB of RAM, Core i5 and i7 CPUs, a 2.1 surround sound system, wireless keyboard, pen, dial and mouse with just one power port plug coming out of the back. There’s also 4 USB 3.0 (one high power port) ports, a full-size SD card reader, a Mini DisplayPort, and a 3.5 mm headset jack. It also comes with 1 TB or 2 TB of storage capacity in the hard drive, which is huge when you think about how much data that holds and how swollen the minimum standards of hard drive storage have become in recent years.

Surface Dial and Pen

At first glance, the haptic dial seems like a cool little wireless gadget that is compatible with both the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book as well as the larger Surface Studio. The dial connects via Bluetooth and communicates with the Surface via BT LE. If you buy a Surface Studio through December, the dial comes with it. Come January, it’ll cost you $99.

The Surface Dial allows you to transition seamlessly through tasks via a radial menu of tools, simplify actions such as scrolling and volume without the use of your keyboard or mouse, as well as give you the ability to “feel your work” with haptic feedback such as vibration. You can press down on it when it’s on the touch screen, and a little dropdown menu of options pops up around the periphery of the device on your touchscreen along the edge of the silver circle. The demo shows a drawing app where you can change color mid-drawing or post-drawing. There are already a few dedicated apps for the the Surface Dial, but developers will surely create new apps that are more dial-centric in the future.

Will the Dial and Pen Work for CAD Workflows?

I’m not quite sure how this will help with CAD workflows on the Surface Studio, so that remains to be seen, but the wireless keyboard, mouse and dial are nicely designed to go with this new mobile computer (I still think “tabtop” works).

So, Microsoft Surface Studio is neither a tablet nor a laptop. Or is it both? I’m getting verklempt. Discuss amongst yourselves.



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