Microsoft Has Redefined the Creative’s Studio… or Have They?

At the Windows 10 Event in October of last year, Microsoft introduced a new product that they promised would change the way creative professionals work. Microsoft unveiled the Surface Studio, the latest product in their Surface line of all-in-one PCs. One look at Surface Studio’s sleek, modern profile will have your inner creative drooling.


[Image Credit: Microsoft]

Surface Studio is an all-in-one PC that features a 28-inch, pen-input enabled display that can stand upright like a traditional monitor or fold down to function as a drawing surface. It runs Windows 10 Pro out of the box and comes with a Surface Pen, Surface mouse, and keyboard.

I’ve been a faithful Apple customer for a long time now. I believe that Apple products feature reliable operating systems, meticulously crafted user experiences, and inspired designs that are just hard to beat. But even being a diehard Apple fan that I am, I must admit that the Surface Studio warranted a second look from me.


Such a revolutionary product is almost certain to come with a big price tag, and Surface Studio is no exception to that rule. With three distinct sets of specifications, a new Surface Studio setup can cost you between $3,000 for the low-end model or $4,200 for the most expensive option.


Along with Surface Studio, Microsoft introduced the Surface Dial accessory, a completely new way to interact with technology. The Surface Dial allows on-screen access to tools, settings, and interactions for a wide variety of apps. Surface Dial doesn’t come bundled with your Surface Studio setup, though, and will set you back another $100.


Microsoft’s Surface Studio with bundled Surface Pen (center) and optional Surface Dial (right) [Image Credit: Microsoft]


Okay, it looks great and sounds great, but does it work great? It turns out, that might be where the wheels fall off. Matt Smith at @DigitalTrends completed a pretty thorough review of the higher-end model of the Surface Studio, and the results are a bit varied.

Digital Trends says that Surface Studio has “the best display [they’ve] seen yet,” but concedes that it takes a critical eye to spot the difference from an Apple iMac with Retina. In the contrast and color tests, though, Surface Studio takes the cake.

The Surface Studio fell a little bit short in the areas of processor speed and speaker quality (but who buys an expensive, specialized pen-input machine for speakers, anyway?). Digital Trends exposed a real hiccup, however, when it came to hard drive speed. Surface Studio performed significantly worse than the three other drives tested. DT staffers also reported poor load times on a few applications known to be resource hogs (I’m looking at you, Adobe).


Results from hard drive tests with Surface Studio firmly planted as the worst performer [Image Credit: Digital Trends]


Overall, I can’t deny that the Surface Studio is an intriguing new option for creative professionals like myself. It’s sleek; it’s developed with productivity in mind; and it seems that the display and pen-input capabilities are unparalleled. The hard drive drawbacks, however, and the expense are huge negatives in my opinion. I would need to test drive the Surface Studio for awhile before I could be sure it would meet my expectations.

For now, I don’t think I’ve yet been convinced to put my Apple days behind me and jump ship over to Microsoft. It seems that, at least for the foreseeable future, my Macbook Pro will be doing most of the heavy lifting with my Surface 3 on deck for when I need pen-input capabilities.


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