Surface Studio vs. iMac 5K: Can Microsoft Make a Dent Against Apple?

By Markets Fool.com

Surface Studio. Image source: Microsoft.

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As expected, todayMicrosoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) unveiled a new all-in-one (AIO) Surface PC that looks exactly like the drawings from a patent application that Microsoft scored earlier this year. Dubbed Surface Studio, the company is hoping to challenge Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) flagship iMac 5K in the AIO market, and the Surface Studio is very much positioned for creativity. The new Windows 10 update focuses heavily on new features intended for the creative market.

Let's see how Microsoft's new device stands up.

Calling all creative professionals

The big differentiator with Surface Studio is the built-in hinge that allows the display to articulate into different positions, primarily to allow users to draw on the display horizontally. That includes support for the Surface Pen stylus as well as a brand-new accessory that Microsoft is introducing called Surface Dial, which is a small puck-shaped knob that can be used either on the desk or directly on the display (compatible with other Surface devices as well).

Here are just a few basic specs.

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Spec

iMac 5K

Surface Studio

Display size (diagonal)

27-inch Retina Display

28-inch PixelSense Display

Resolution

5,120 x 2,880 (218 PPI)

4,500 x 3,000 (192 PPI)

Processor

Intel sixth-generation Core i5 or i7 (Skylake)

Intel sixth-generation Core i5 or i7 (Skylake)

Touchscreen

No

Yes

Operating system

macOS Sierra

Windows 10

Starting price

$1,799

$2,999

Data sources: Company websites. PPI = pixels per inch.

The biggest difference that stands out is the price point. Microsoft is asking quite a bit for Surface Studio at $2,999. So much that you could even say that Microsoft hopes to compete with Apple's Mac Pro professional desktop, which starts at the same price (except the Mac Pro doesn't come with a display or input devices).

iMac 5K. Image source: Apple.

This price difference is partially a function of time on the market. Apple first introduced the 5K version in 2014 and it started at $2,499. Like all tech gadgets, prices come down over time alongside costs, so Apple's price advantage is just because it moved first.

While Apple aggressively targets the creative professional market in many ways, Surface Studio is making a compelling pitch to win over creative pros. The iPad Pros are Apple's products that allow stylus input and drawing, but a full-blown PC offers greater productivity. Overall, Surface Studio looks like a strong AIO PC, and it will only get stronger over time once prices inevitably come down.

Microsoft continues to make progress with its Surface business. Revenue jumped 38% last quarter to nearly $920 million, which the company attributed largely to a higher mix of premium devices. Apple stopped breaking out Mac sales by laptops and desktops, but it did generate $5.7 billion in revenue last quarter in the overall Mac business. Even though Microsoft remains a small player in the global PC market in terms of units, it's definitely making a name for itself in quality hardware.

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Evan Niu, CFA owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft and has the following options: long January 2018 $90 calls on Apple and short January 2018 $95 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Intel. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.