What's in Surface Hub That Makes It Worth $7,000 to $19,000?

 
 
By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2015-06-11
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    What's in Surface Hub That Makes It Worth $7,000 to $19,000?
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    What's in Surface Hub That Makes It Worth $7,000 to $19,000?

    By Don Reisinger
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    Two Sizes to Choose From
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    Two Sizes to Choose From

    Microsoft is offering two sizes of its Surface Hub: one, a 55-inch HD option, and the other, a 4K 84-inch display. Microsoft said the 84-inch option is best-suited for companies that need high-quality video and have many people in a meeting, while the smaller option may be ideal for companies that have smaller rooms and don't require the same fidelity. Either way, the device should work out well for most companies.
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    Big Screens Double as Touch-Screens
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    Big Screens Double as Touch-Screens

    Arguably the most important component in the Surface Hub is the large touch-screen. Presenters can draw on the screen to illustrate ideas. Meeting participants can collaboratively draw on the screen to share their thoughts. The touch-screen integration is critical to Surface Hub's success as a collaboration system.
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    It's All About Meetings
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    It's All About Meetings

    Microsoft has made it abundantly clear that its focus with Surface Hub is on meetings. The company has said that the technology works best as a conferencing and team collaboration system. Microsoft is smart to focus Surface Hub on a single activity and not try to be all things to all people, a move it has made on several occasions in the past.
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    Microsoft Apps Are Fully Integrated
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    Microsoft Apps Are Fully Integrated

    Microsoft's applications will find a suitable home on the Surface Hub. According to the company, the platform includes support for Skype for Video for teleconferencing, and OneNote will, of course, be available so users can take notes on the screen. Office will also come bundled with the device, which runs on Windows 10.
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    Windows 10 Sits at the Center
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    Windows 10 Sits at the Center

    Following that, it's important to point out that Windows 10 is the central focus in the Surface Hub. The device runs on Windows 10, which drives the systems many services. Microsoft is pitching Surface Hub as a Windows 10 all-in-one, and by the look of things, it might just be one of the best of its kind.
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    Bring Your Own Apps
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    Bring Your Own Apps

    Microsoft has said that customers will be able to develop applications for Surface Hub. That's an extremely important feature that cannot be overlooked. After all, some companies have unique needs and being able to develop proprietary software would be extremely desirable. Look for the application-development aspect of Surface Hub to win over some customers. In addition, the system will run all current Windows-compatible apps.
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    You Won't Need to Buy Office
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    You Won't Need to Buy Office

    As noted, Office comes bundled with Surface Hub. But even better, Microsoft said that the copy will be a full installation and will not require companies to buy another seat just to get it up and running. That may seem like a small bonus for such an expensive product, but historically, Microsoft has always marketed its flagship office productivity suite as a distinct product that was sold separately.
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    So, What's Inside?
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    So, What's Inside?

    The Surface Hub is no slouch when it comes to power. The smaller version comes with a fourth-generation Intel Core i5 processor, while the larger model has an Intel Core i7. In addition, the 84-inch Surface Hub has the Nvidia Quadro K2200 for graphics, compared to the Intel HD Graphics 4600 on the 55-inch model. Since the device doubles as a computer, customers can also expect 128GB of storage on a solid-state drive and 8GB of RAM.
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    There's Also a Video Experience
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    There's Also a Video Experience

    Let's not forget that the Surface Hub doubles as a video conferencing platform. On the front of the display, Microsoft has bundled two wide-angle HD cameras that facilitate conversations. Those cameras point not only at the room, but also at the person working on the Surface Hub for an up-close shot. No one is outside the range of the built-in Surface Hub cameras.
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    It's Not Cheap, and It's Launching Globally Later This Year
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    It's Not Cheap, and It's Launching Globally Later This Year

    For all this, a company shouldn't expect to get a deal on the Surface Hub. But whether it's priced right is up for debate. The 55-inch model will set customers back $7,000, while the 84-inch model will go for a whopping $19,000, thanks to its 4K display and better specs. Microsoft said it will start accepting pre-orders on the Surface Hub in July for an eventual launch in September.
 

With the Surface Hub digital whiteboard display, Microsoft is moving aggressively into the enterprise conferencing and collaboration market that Cisco, Citrix and Polycom have long dominated. Surface Hub was developed from technology Microsoft acquired in the 2012 buyout of Perceptive Pixel. While Microsoft outlined some Surface Hub features in January, the company kept quiet about pricing until June 10 when it announced that the 55-inch version will go for $7,000 and the 84-inch model for $19,000. Enterprises may balk at those prices that some might consider unduly high. But Microsoft said it's delivering a product that is not only groundbreaking, but also capable of delivering a superior collaboration experience to customers. Surface Hub, essentially a Windows 10 computer with a large display, will replace components, such as a speaker phone, video conference system and a projector, that usually were purchased and installed separately.  Microsoft said Surface Hub will transform collaboration in the enterprise. But will the technology actually achieve that goal? That remains to be seen. This slide show covers the features Microsoft hopes will convince enterprise customers to buy Surface Hub.

 
 
 
 
 
Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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