A few years ago, Microsoft revealed the Surface Hub, an interactive electronic whiteboard with video conferencing capabilities targeted at businesses. The expensive device didn't exactly take off, but the company is hoping to find greater success with the second-generation model. The Surface Hub 2 is an impressive update that is more stylish and sophisticated in every way.
The Surface Hub 2 is essentially a 50.5-inch (128-cm) 4K touchscreen with a built-in 4K camera, far field microphone arrays and integrated speakers. The new model is smaller than the previous iteration that came in two sizes, a conventional 55-inch (140-cm) unit and a massive 84-inch (213-cm) unit.
One of the big ideas behind this smaller scaling of the new model is the system's ability to link up multiple screens to make larger displays. Microsoft calls this technique "tiling" and up to four separate displays can be connected to make large portrait or landscaped presentations. This modular aspect to the device makes its particularly useful to larger businesses thinking of investing in several of the screens and using them in a variety of different ways.
Another sleek design feature is the system's rotating mount that allow it to smoothly switch between portrait and landscape modes. This also means the device can easily be pivoted into a taller portrait mode for video conferencing with virtually life-size partners. Alongside this are a new series of rolling stands and mounts making the device portable.
At this stage the hardware specs of the device aren't clear, but collaboration seems a key priority in the product's development, with the Surface Hub 2 allowing multiple users to sign in simultaneously to create a compellingly versatile digital workspace. Microsoft suggests it will be available for purchase from 2019 but no price has been set yet.
One of the major hurdles holding back uptake of prior Surface Hub models were the prices, with its 55-inch unit going for over US$9,000 and the larger 84-inch model over $20,000. The company notes that this new iteration has been developed to be "more affordable" so it will be interesting to see where the price lands. Several similar, albeit less stylish, products currently on the market are sitting around the $5,000 mark, so Microsoft will need to compete with those devices.
Take a look at the video below for a glimpse at the Surface Hub 2 in action.
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