Hands-on with the Surface Studio

This week UNSW IT held some hands-on demonstration sessions with Microsoft’s new Surface Studio. The Surface Studio is a 28inch all-in-one desktop, with an incredible resolution and touch screen. It also supports the Surface Pen, and a new way of interacting with the computer, called the Dial.

UNSW IT invited stakeholders from across the faculties of Engineering, The Built Environment, Arts, and divisions to come along and test the Surface, using some of the apps they use most. We installed Adobe’s Creative Cloud, Solidworks, Autodesk software, and other high end programs to see how the new Surface Studio fared.

Krisjoe Fuertes of the Faculty of Arts summed up the initial impressions of all who came to demo the Surface Studio. “It’s a beautiful looking machine and won’t have any trouble in creating that desire of want in anyone’s heart. I’ve said this to my colleagues before, the Surface Studio design is what the new Macs should’ve been, just continuing to accentuate and improve on the minimalist design.”

Graham Hannah, IT manager of The Built Environment and Law was also impressed. “Straight away it is a pretty glorious experience, particularly for creative work of certain kinds – I would love to draw on it all day.”

  “the surface studio design is what the new macs should’ve been”

Stephen Leonard of Engineering was also excited by the potential. “Engineering schools do a wide range of highly specialised design work in our research and teaching – such as electrical circuits, buildings and waterways, and mechanical systems like engines and drivetrains. This particular system makes it a lot easier to build and prototype 3D systems in the kinds of tools we use than keyboard/mouse interfaces; the high resolution flexible multi-touch interfaces look like they have a genuine and practical application to the way we work, and we’ll now take steps to have a closer look at this kind of technology.”


Fuertes had some reservations though. “For me, as a 2d digital artist, I found the pen sensitivity to be a little lacking, I think coming from a Wacom intuos pro where sensitivity levels are at 2048+ of pressure sensitivity vs the surface’s 1024, I found it a little difficult to create the faintest of lines. I don’t think it’s a huge problem since a lot of 2d digital artists in the past have created great works with only 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity, however because of its price tag one would expect it to have higher sensitivity. It would be great to trial it on projects for example editing 4k video content or running multiple virtual instruments with multiple tracks for audio projects just to see how it fares.”

Hannah acknowledged there was not much support yet for the Dial and Pen on some of the applications he tested, such as Solidworks, but was optimistic we’ll begin to see new software developed for multi-input interfaces. “As our software starts to explore new ways of working with tech like this we will get a much better insight into what the surface experience can be. Basically, all of our apps have been designed for a mouse and keyboard and it will be fun to see where we go from here with touch, pen, dial and more at our disposal.”

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