If there was any doubt that Microsoft's Surface Hub computers were strictly for deep-pocketed businesses, the asking price should clear things up.
Microsoft will charge US$19,999 for the 84-inch, 4K version of the Surface Hub. For businesses on a tighter budget, a 55-inch version with a 1080p display will cost US$6,999. Pre-orders will begin on July 1, and of course, both models will have Windows 10 on board when they ship in September.
What good is a giant, wall-mounted, touchscreen PC? Aside from running all the usual Windows applications, Microsoft has designed the device around office collaboration. It comes with two pressure-sensitive pens, and lights up a whiteboard in OneNote when someone takes a pen from its magnetic holster. The touchscreen supports 100 touch points, so several people can interact with the display at once.
The Surface Hub also has some slick tools for teleconferencing. It has two wide-angle 1080p cameras inside for picking up an entire room of attendees, and depth sensors for figuring out who's in the room and where to direct the microphones. Anything drawn on the whiteboard can show up in real time on employees' computer screens, and they can also beam their screen content back to the Surface Hub using Miracast.
As for tech specs, the Surface Hub has fourth-generation Intel Core processors (i5 for the smaller model, i7 for the larger), Intel HD 4600 or NVIDIA Quadro K2200 graphics, 128GB of solid state storage, 8GB of RAM, four USB ports (USB 3.0 for two of them), Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and gigabit Ethernet. The smaller model weighs 105 pounds, while the larger weighs a whopping 280 pounds.
Microsoft will sell the Hub exclusively through major enterprise hardware distributors in 24 markets. But you may not need a well-endowed business to check it out yourself; Engadget reports that it'll eventually be on display in Microsoft Stores.
Why this matters: Microsoft isn't the only one making jumbo touch PCs for enterprises. InFocus, for instance, has been producing similar devices in its MondoPad and BigTouch lines for years, and in many cases for less money. The difference with the Surface Hub is its focus on collaboration, with a marriage of hardware and software that other companies won't be able to pull off. It could be worth a little extra cash if it lives up to the promise of less excruciating meetings.
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