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Google’s Jamboard to begin competing with Microsoft’s Surface Hub in May

Why it matters to you

You'll have another option in enterprise collaborative whiteboards when Google ships its Jamboard in May 2017.

Microsoft’s Surface Hub collaborative whiteboard has been available for purchase since July 2015, with 55-inch and 80-inch models actually shipping in March 2016. The Surface Hub has sold more units than Microsoft expected, and Google decided to jump into that market with its own whimsically named Jamboard announced in October 2016.

The Jamboard was expected to cost $6,000 for a 55-inch model when it shipped sometime in 2017. Today, Google announced at its Google Cloud Next ’17 event that the Jamboard will arrive in May 2017, and will actually be priced at $5,000, as Engadget reports.

More: Google’s Jamboard is a connected, collaborative whiteboard for enterprise

Google’s whiteboard uses a 55-inch display at 4K (4,096 X 2,160) resolution, with a soft-touch plastic touchscreen panel capable of picking up 16 touch points at once with support for an optional Bluetooth rubber-tipped stylus. That’s a higher resolution than the 55-inch Surface Hub’s Full HD (1,920 x 1,080), but Microsoft’s product supports 100 touch point at a time.

The Jamboard connects via HDMI and sports a built-in camera, speakers, and wheeled custom stand for customers who don’t opt to mount the whiteboard. Google has also packed in Chromecast support, meaning the Jamboard can easily mirror a remote device’s screen or stream content from YouTube, Netflix, and other Chromecast-enabled apps and services.

Android is at the heart of the Jamboard, although it’s a highly customized version that’s been optimized for the whiteboard’s large display and collaborative features. Add-on functionality includes “jam session” whiteboard spaces allowing users to sketch, draw, type, and scribble with handwriting recognition on or off. Images can be imported, a miniature web browser is available, and Jamboards can connect and communicate to enable multiple users to sketch from multiple locations.

Of course, collaboration is at the heart of the Jamboard. Google Hangouts provides chat capabilities, and iOS and Android apps let coworkers view sessions as well as add photos, drawings, and sticky notes. The G Suite productivity apps area also integrated.

With cloud services growing by leaps and bounds, and organizations obviously attracted to digital whiteboard solutions that allow teams to work together across global distances, whiteboard solutions like the Jamboard and Microsoft’s Surface Hub are becoming popular. Now, Google will be able to take Microsoft on directly in this increasingly lucrative space.