Surface Studio is the iMac Apple wishes it made

The world’s thinnest LCD monitor houses 13.5 million pixels, is a touchscreen powerhouse and can be collapsed to 20-degrees.

Meryl D'Souza October 31, 2016

Personal computers are on the way down. According to research from Gartner, worldwide PC shipments totalled 64.8 million units in the first quarter of 2016. That’s a 9.6 per cent decline from the first quarter of 2015. It seems like we’re all too consumed by our smartphones.

Fair enough. Who really needs a PC anyway? Apart from calls, texts, e-mail and the internet, we’ve even started paying for things and watching TV shows on our smartphones. The only time we really use PCs is when we’re at work.

According to the same Gartner report, Apple only accounted for seven per cent of the total market share for the first quarter of 2016. The bulk of that seven per cent is creative folk – writers, designers and the like. Apple has had the monopoly on creative types for so long, they took it for granted.

Enter Microsoft’s Surface Studio that was unveiled last week. At first glance, it’s easy to pass this off as an iMac wannabe but as Business Insider notes: “The Studio isn't a computer. It's an entirely new computing category, a sort of desktop-tablet hybrid that already has people excited.” 

In essence, Microsoft – a company many thought was past its prime and not capable of innovating – undid Apple. You can see the Apple influence. The 28-inch LCD panel – that Microsoft claims is the thinnest LCD ever made – is held up by chrome arms that make the device look like it’s floating in thin air. 

The processing power comes neatly packaged in a box that serves as the base of the hybrid device. Under the hood, the Studio boasts a Core i5 or Core i7 quad-core processor, up to 32 gigabytes of RAM, and a 2.1 surround sound system. Like the iMac, the Studio’s keyboard and peripherals will all be wireless. Not much of a difference, is it? 

Here’s where the Surface Studio comes out on top: the chrome arms double up as hinges. Those hinges allow for the Studio’s screen to be tilted as the user sees fit. Although it won’t go completely flat, the Studio will go down to about a 20-degree angle.

The acrobatics are just the start. The Surface Studio is a touchscreen powerhouse. The ability to draw and work is something most designers have been pining for since iPads became a thing. With the help of the Surface Pen, designers can now draw and colour as they see fit.

And finally, there’s the Surface Dial. The Dial is a sleek, puck-like device that sits alongside your keyboard and works as a scroll wheel. Placing it on the Studio’s screen brings up a context-aware menu. In a drawing app, for example, it will bring up a colour picker or a wheel of brush options. A haptic engine inside the Surface Dial makes it feel like a real mechanical piece.

The touchscreen, the acrobatics and the Surface Dial are the Studio’s headlining features, but that's not all it has. There’s a feature called TrueColour that helps represent accurate colours and a feature called TrueScale that scales documents true to life. So documents appear to be the same size as if they were printed.

Lastly, the built-in microphone gives you the ability to call on Cortana – Microsoft’s Siri or Google Assistant – by simply saying, “Hey, Cortana”.

Microsoft has had the better PC launch, but that doesn’t mean people are going to jump ship just yet. Something is going horribly wrong at Apple though. After once being the darling of the tech world, the company has stalled. The iPhone 7, AirPods and now a lacklustre MacBook Pro hint at a bigger problem. In an alternate dimension, the Surface Studio is an Apple product.

We reached out to Windows about a release date for the Middle East region - watch this space for an update. What we do know is that the Surface Studio retails at $2,999.