Microsoft Readies Next-Gen Surface Hub for June Release
- By Kurt Mackie
- April 18, 2019
The Surface Hub 2S, the next iteration of Microsoft's large-screen conference room devices, will ship in June in the United States, Microsoft announced on Wednesday along with other coming product milestones.
A Surface Hub is a large mountable screen that that just runs Office and Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps. It includes a Whiteboard app for drawing using a pen stylus, and the whiteboard images can be saved for review. Skype for Business or the Microsoft Teams collaboration app can be used. The devices also include Bing search capability.
Surface Hub 2S with a 50-inch-width screen will be priced at $8,999.99 in U.S. markets, but market availability will broaden "shortly" after the June U.S. product launch. There also will be a Surface Hub 2S product with a new 85-inch-width screen option, but that product is expected to arrive sometime in "early 2020" for "select customers," and no pricing was described by Microsoft.
In addition, there will be a new "Surface Hub 2 Display" device at some point. It'll be offered sometime "later this year," according to Microsoft. Details about this new product were scant, but the Surface Hub 2 Display will be optimized with a pen and touch interface, and it will lack compute capabilities. Organizations will have the option to run the Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise edition operating systems on the Surface Hub 2 Display device to support "specialized app scenarios," the announcement added, without further explanation.
Surface Hub 2S Features
Microsoft is touting the Surface Hub 2S as being an improvement over the earlier model, the first Surface Hub. The display of the Surface Hub 2S is 60 percent thinner than the display of the original Surface Hub device, and the bezel around the screen is smaller at 15mm. Microsoft removed layers between the glass and the LCD portions of the device to improve the inking experience, according to Dave Kearney, director of program management for Surface Hub, in a Microsoft Mechanics video.
Kearney also said that the Surface Hub 2S was 40 percent lighter than its predecessor. The screen is a 50-inch 4K+ PixelSense display, meaning that its resolution supports more than 4,000 pixels per inch horizontally. The hardware specs include a quad-core Intel eighth-generation Core processor, plus a 128GB internal solid-state drive. The device has ports on the back, including a USB-C port. It has built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Miracast with wireless touch-back support.
Surface Hub 2S uses a Doppler presence sensor integrated into the bezel for ease of use. The 4K camera has a 90-degree field of view and mounts at the top of the screen horizontally, or can it can be mounted on the shorter side when the screen gets rotated. Audio clarity is enabled via two front-facing speakers and a beamforming microphone.
Organizations can use the Surface Hub 2S with an optional Steelcase Roam Mobile Stand, which lets them wheel it about. There's also an option to use an APC Charge Mobile lithium-ion battery, which frees the device from having to be plugged into an electrical outlet.
Management of the Surface Hub 2S device is the same as with its predecessor, except that the Surface Hub 2S device includes "Surface Enterprise Management Mode," which lets IT pros control some of the firmware settings. Kearney said it enables them to control the device's boot options, disable radios in the system (such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth) and lock down user access to the audio-visual menu.
Microsoft has validated Surface Hub management with System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) version 1602 and newer, Microsoft Intune "standalone," as well as with integrated SCCM and Intune, according to this Microsoft document. It also works with "any third-party MDM [mobile device manager] provider" that works with Windows 10.
Surface Hub 2X
Kearney also said that the Surface Hub 2S device will be "fully updatable to Surface Hub 2X."
Microsoft announced the coming Surface Hub 2X product back in September, saying that it would be the next-generation product and would be available sometime in 2020. Surface Hub 2X adds rotation and tile capabilities, as well as support for multiple user logins. In fact, to be able turn the display and have it orient properly, organizations will need to have the Surface Hub 2X product. Here's how a Microsoft spokesperson explained it via e-mail:
Surface Hub 2S does not have dynamic rotation. That is a feature of Surface Hub 2X.
It'll be possible to update a Surface Hub 2S device to Surface Hub 2X by simply swapping out a cartridge. Here's how the spokesperson described it:
Customers will have the opportunity to purchase a Surface Hub 2X Compute Cartridge which is physically swapped out on the back of the Surface Hub 2S device through a simple process. You may also choose to work with a reseller to do this work.
The spokesperson also clarified that the tile capability of the Surface Hub 2X device is associated with different screens.
"The ability to drag and swipe a window from one screen to another (tile) is a feature of Surface Hub 2X," the spokesperson explained.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.