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Everything you need to know before pre-ordering the Surface Studio

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The Surface Studio is here, thanks to a major near-holiday announcement by Microsoft. If you’re interested in this brand new Surface product, you’re definitely not alone, so let’s jump in and find out all there is to know!

Yes! While the Surface brand has been associated with tablets and ultrabooks in past years, the Studio is Microsoft’s big jump to a desktop Surface model.

The display is big, and pixel-dense

The Surface Studio features a 28-inch PixelSense touchscreen that support 10-point multitouch. The pixels are easily at ultra HD levels with 4,500 × 3,000 resolution, which works out to 192 pixels per inch. That’s a bit less than Apple’s Retina iMac, which packs in 220 pixels per inch. But it’s more than most 4K monitors, which usually offer around 160 pixels per inch.

If the resolution seems strange, that’s because it is. Microsoft has opted for a 3:2 aspect ration, rather than the more common 16:9. This means the display is taller relative to its width than what you’d normally see. Put another way, it’s closer to a square than a rectangle. This more closely mimics the size of a canvas.

Microsoft has been touting the display’s color. Color settings include sRGB, DCI-P3, and Vivid Color Profiles. Users can switch using a setting in the Windows 10 Notification Center. This will make it a lot easier for creative professionals to see how images look in different color gamuts.

That display panel also includes a Windows Hello compatible sign-in camera, a 5-megapixel streaming camera, dual microphones, stereo speakers, and a headphone jack.

What’s with the tilting screen?

As the name and features sort of imply, the Studio is aimed in the direction of designers, artists, architects, and similar professions. One of these features is a “zero-gravity hinge” that can be used to push the touchscreen down against the table into a style very similar to a draft board.

The hinge is called “zero-gravity” because it’s built to require minimal effort to move. Though the display weighs about 18 pounds, it can be lifted with a single fingertip. Yet, thanks to how its tuned, the display stays in place when not touch. In fact, it stays in place better than many traditional monitors.

While the display may recline, it does have limits. It can sit up nearly straight, up at an aggressive angle, but it can’t be laid entirely flat. It also doesn’t support any adjustment for height.

Surface Studio

And it uses a… Dial?

Yep, the Surface Dial. This round puck is designed to be placed on the screen and pressed or twisted, providing a physical interface for on-screen menus. It’s a novel concept, so it’s difficult to say how it will fare out in the real world, but the Dial appears to be a tool-oriented device designed to spread out a radial menu of the current tools for your app. We’ve seen it spread radials of color, too. Microsoft has confirmed that it will work with the Adobe Creative Cloud, Bluebeam, and other applications.

We’ll talk more about this in our review, but your mileage on this accessory may vary based on the apps you prefer to use, and how developers capitalize on the Dial in the future.

6th-Gen Intel Processors, Nvidia GTX Graphics

For processing power, you can choose either a 6th generation Intel Core i5 or i7 chip. Memory provides three choices: 8GB, 16GB, or 32GB. Storage is what Microsoft is calling a Rapid Hybrid Drive (a combination of SATA and SSD), which is available in either 1TB or 2TB sizes. A pure solid state drive isn’t offered, which is one of the Surface Studio’s few disappointments.

When it comes to graphics, you’ve got two options. If you choose the i5 processor, your only choice is a Nvidia GeForce GTX 965M 2GB GDDR5 GPU. For the i7 processor, you get two choices — either the same Nvidia GeForce GTX 965M 2GB GDDR5 option, or the Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M 4GB GDDR5.

Unfortuantely, Nvidia’s GTX 1080 isn’t available. That’s probably not a big deal for professionals, as the GTX 980M is already quite fast, and handily outperforms what you’d normally see in an all-in-one computer. However, anyone hoping to go double-duty and play games on the Studio may feel let down.

Surface Studio

What kind of ports does it have?

The Studio comes with 4 USB 3.0 ports, and one of them is a high-power port for various charging purposes. There’s also a mini DisplayPort connection, and a full size SD card reader. For online connections, you have a Gigabit Ethernet Port.

If you’re curious about wireless connections, the Studio offers Wi-Fi (802.11ac) and Bluetooth 4.0, as well as the interesting addition of built-in Xbox Wireless. That means the Surface Studio will work your Xbox One wireless controller, no adapter needed.

Does it still use Windows 10 and Office?

Yes, absolutely. All your Windows 10 and Office data should work on the Studio. If you do your work in a professional space, note that the Surface Studio also includes a TPM chip for enterprise security solutions.

You can pre-order now, but you’ll have to wait

Currently, the word from Microsoft is “early 2017” for all models. Originally, Microsoft announced that shipping would happen in mid-December, well in time for the holidays. But only the first batch of early pre-orders managed to snag a December ship date. If you buy one now, you won’t see it until next year.

Are there any accessories included?

Surface Studio

Yes, actually. Microsoft includes a number of accessories with the Studio. Buy the PC, and you also get Surface Pen, the Surface Keyboard, and the Surface Mouse. You do not get the Surface Dial right out of the box, although there is a deal for a free Dial if you pre-order (obviously a limited time offer). There’s also an option for a Surface Ergonomic Keyboard if you don’t like the regular keyboard design.

How much is it?

Microsoft is only offering three different models for the Studio. The base model, with 1 TB of storage, 8GB of RAM, and the Intel Core i5 processor, sells for $2,999. The most expensive model, with 2TB of storage, 32GB of RAM, and the Intel Core i7, sells for $4199. Microsoft is offering both free shipping and free returns.

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