Microsoft on Wednesday released pricing details for Surface Hub, a wall-sized version of its Surface tablets that’s meant to make conferences and meetings more collaborative and efficient.
The 55-inch version is priced at $6,999, while the supersized 84-inch model comes in at $19,999. That’s pricey, considering it’s a lot cheaper to simply project a laptop’s contents onto a standard HD TV screen. But there’s a lot more to Surface Hub than its 4K, 120Hz display.
Surface Hub, for all intents and purposes, is a Brobdingnagian version of the Surface tablet -- with a few enhancements designed to make life easier for presenters and their audience. Users don’t need to connect to a host device, a potentially tricky process that has scuttled many a meeting. “We worked to build a collaborative computer,” Mike Angiulo, Microsoft’s corporate VP for devices, told International Business Times. “Technology in the conference room hasn’t changed much in years. They haven’t done anything for the group.”
Microsoft is looking to change that. Like its smaller cousin, Surface Hub supports pen and touch input, so presenters can mark up, say, a whiteboarding app and drag text and images around. Much of the technology behind Surface Hub’s display came to Microsoft through its 2012 acquisition of Perceptive Pixel, a startup whose initial backers included the Central Intelligence Agency.
The device also supports a pair of eye-level, 1080p cameras that put the presenter in a better light when viewed through an app like Skype for Business. Surface Hub, which is independently powered by Intel Core i7 processors and Nvidia GPUs, supports One Note, Office and virtually any other business application that runs on Windows 10. Surface Hub also has built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC connectivity.
For security reasons, Surface Hub does not by default save the contents of presentations. That’s key for companies in regulated industries like healthcare, finance and law. (Chicago-based law firm Bartlit Beck is among the early adopters).
Of note, Surface Hub will be manufactured at a Microsoft-owned and -operated plant spanning four acres in Wilsonville, Oregon. Angiulo said the company weighed outsourcing the product’s making to an offshore contractor like Foxconn but ultimately determined that the Surface Hub’s unique glass required brand-new manufacturing processes not available anywhere. Angiulo noted that the 84-inch version of Surface sports “the biggest piece of optically bonded glass” in the market.
Surface Hub is available for preorder starting July 1 and starts shipping worldwide in September.