On the surface, a digital whiteboard and video conferencing display that aims to inspire workplace teamwork is not going to get many of you jazzed. And yet give Microsoft props for making the Surface Hub 2 smart display that was announced Tuesday actually look and sound exciting, accomplished through a promotional video backed by a dramatic soundtrack.
Some of you will recall the original Windows 10-based 4K Surface Hub, which was announced early in 2015 and shipped more than a year later. It cost north of twenty grand, and came in two sizes, 55-inches and 84-inches. Google soon followed that year with a rival 55-inch digital whiteboard on wheels called Jamboard, which cost around $5,000.
Microsoft has seen some success with the Surface Hub. It says it has sold the display to more than 5,000 customers across 25 markets, with over half of Fortune 100 companies having purchased one.
The company hasn't revealed a ton of information on the new models yet, and won't say what it will cost when it goes on sale next year. In 2018, Microsoft is testing Surface Hub 2 with select commercial partners.
Here's what we do know so far:
The new display will have a resolution of 4K+. What the + means in this context is unclear.
With a multi-touch display that measures at 50.5-inches, Surface Hub 2 will be smaller than its predecessors, though you can also line up four of them side by side, with each panel displaying different content (check out the video to see how that looks.) For that matter, more than one of you can sign in with your own Microsoft user accounts at once, even using a fingerprint reader.
You rotate the display so that it is in portrait or landscape mode; the 4K cameras rotate with the device.
Surface Hub 2 has integrated speakers and far field microphone arrays that will presumably let you issue voice commands from across a room. It has a standard Surface 3×2 aspect ratio.
As you would expect, you can tap into the cloud using Surface Hub 2, or employ it with various products and services: Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Whiteboard (freeform digital canvas), Office 365, and Windows 10. It also supports the use of a Surface Pen.
Microsoft is also teaming up with Steelcase on rolling stands and mounts to make Surface Hub 2 somewhat portable.
Surface Hub 2 looks very promising. How pumped up you may get with one in your workplace remains to be seen.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Follow USA TODAY Personal Tech Columnist @edbaig on Twitter
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