Thursday, 22 January 2015

Microsoft announces the Surface Hub: an 84-inch 4K touchscreen whiteboard

The new Microsoft Surface Hub
At Microsoft’s even in January, the technology giant announced that they were entering a whole new product category which appears to be a blend of a television and an interactive whiteboard. It is called the Microsoft Surface Hub.

This is not a product aimed at consumers; Microsoft isn’t even attempting to market it that way. Instead, businesses and organisations are the target market of this unique device which features a 4K display, dual cameras, microphones, and inbuilt Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC.

Like many of the Surface products, the Surface Hub comes with a stylus which, once picked up, automatically turns the screen white so it can be drawn on. The notes are then automatically saved to OneNote.

Skype for business plus other useful business tools are built-in. During the unveiling event of the device, Microsoft employees staged a conference call where notes were made and a virtual 3D model was toyed with. Once the call had ended, all the information used during the call – including the notes and diagrams - were then sent to the people involved automatically and the apps closed down so the device was ready for the next meeting. The Surface Hub looks like the ultimate conferencing tool.

Users can cast to the Surface Hub from their Windows Phone or Windows 10 PC either wirelessly or with a wire. This is ideal for PowerPoint presentations, showing off charts in spreadsheets, and even simply watching videos.

The Surface Hub is running Windows 10 however the apps have been optimised for such a large screen. This means that you can multitask and run two apps side-by-side.

The Surface Hub comes in two sizes: 55-inch and 84-inch. And, although there is no price point yet – it is highly likely that this thing isn’t going to be cheap. Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, said at the January Microsoft event: “We want to move from people needing Windows, to choosing Windows and loving Windows”. He hopes this will be a step in the right direction for Microsoft instead of a repeat of the $8000 PixelSense (Surface) table they announced in 2008 everyone has forgotten about (apart from Hawaii Five-0).

A disastrous flop: the Microsoft PixelSense in Hawaii Five-0 - a TV program sponsored by Microsoft