Microsoft today announced the successor to its high-end Surface Hub whiteboard, the Surface Hub 2.
While we don't know very much about it yet, Microsoft showed off the new model's sleek design and shared some information about key features, such as an improved display and portrait mode support. Microsoft will likely share more information before launch, which is expected sometime in 2019.
According to the company, the design inspiration for Surface Hub 2 was taking whiteboard-enabled collaboration beyond the conference room and enhancing productivity for different kinds of users.
When we think of a whiteboard, we usually think of a stationary device that lives in a conference room and never leaves. When the Surface Hub 2 launches, you will be able to attach it to a rolling cart (Microsoft partnered with Steelcase to design the cart) so you could, say, bring the whiteboard from a conference room to a smaller team huddle room and work on a project with your team there. People are working in all sorts of different spaces now, and the idea of having a mobile whiteboard could be highly useful to nontraditional offices.
"Whether the [Surface Hub 2] is on a cart or mounted on a wall, we believe that this flexibility will serve up to scale across all sorts of different use cases," Ryan Asdourian, the Windows and Surface Business Group Lead at Microsoft, told PCMag. "We really think this new flexibility will help teams work more productively and collaboratively."
Microsoft does not yet have much to say on Surface Hub 2 specs. It's still a work in progress, Asdourian said, and even things such as product weight are still yet to be determined. In the preview images for the Surface Hub 2, there is a camera attached to the device. The company couldn't even confirm if it will ship with a camera included.
We do know that it will be running a custom version of Windows 10 just like the previous model, but Redmond has yet to share many details beyond that. With this in mind, we did learn two specific things about the display that sets the Surface Hub 2 apart.
First, the display will have a resolution higher than 4K. This is a significant step up from the first-generation Surface Hub , which was available in either 1080p or 4K variants. Microsoft isn't specifying the exact resolution, but being a 4K display that's bigger than 50 inches should be impressive.
Speaking of size, one surprising bit of information we found was that the Surface Hub 2 will have just a 50.5-inch display. This is a downgrade from the 55-inch display of the low-end predecessor and quite a bit smaller than the 85-inch, higher-end model. We were told that this is to render the new Surface Hub into a more portable device that's easier to move.
Second, the Surface Hub 2 will work in either portrait or landscape orientations, which is an upgrade from the landscape-only, first-generation model. Better yet, you'll be able to rotate and quickly switch between the two in the same way you are used to doing on your smartphone or tablet. Depending on what you're working on, it's not hard to imagine scenarios in which a portrait display would be easier to work with. You'll even be able to put multiple Surface Hubs next to each other and create one large display with what the company calls its Tiling Mode, if you really want to.
Pricing and Release Date
When we spoke with Asdourian, he was not able to share pricing information for the Surface Hub 2. All he could confirm was that the pricing would be comparable with "other high-end whiteboards."
For reference, the first-generation Surface Hub starts at $8,999. Considering the new one will have a better display and (probably) more power, and will come with a more svelte design, you can expect to see the Surface Hub 2 cost just as much, if not more, than the first generation.
Concrete release date information is also nowhere to be found. Surface Hub 2 will be tested with select customers throughout the rest of 2018, and the company expects to formally release the product sometime in 2019. If you'd like to get your hands on a Surface Hub 2 before then, however, Microsoft will be showing off the new whiteboard at select, currently unannounced preview events later this year.