Microsoft has announced initial details of Surface Hub 2 – the next generation of its collaboration devices. The ‘4K+’ resolution, 3:2 ratio multitouch display has been designed for open offices, huddle rooms, and team workspaces. Thinner and lighter than its predecessor, it can be used singly as a digital flipchart, or up to four devices can be tiled together to create a large working canvas. While the original Hub was available in 84in and 55in options, only a 50.5in model has been announced for the new product.
Surface Hub 2 can be used in landscape or portrait mode, and can be rotated dynamically; 4K cameras rotate with the device, and (according to a Microsoft video) the displayed content retains its orientation as the Hub turns.
The device is equipped with integrated speakers and far-field microphone arrays to enable everyone in the room to participate in the meeting. It also supports remote collaboration, using Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Whiteboard, Office 365, Windows 10 and the intelligent cloud.
The new device offers greater capabilities for the sharing of ideas. Panos Panay, Microsoft chief product officer, wrote in a blog: “Multiple people can authenticate in the same Surface Hub 2 workspace, allowing them to simultaneously access their documents and ideas, merging them with the ideas of their teammates – and making collaboration as natural as meeting at a whiteboard.”
Office furniture manufacturer Steelcase has created a series of mounts and rolling stands for Surface Hub 2, enabling it to be used in different orientations and locations.
Jon Sidwick, global VP at Maverick, a distributor of the original Surface Hub, saw the new product at a Microsoft partner event in Seattle last week. He told Installation: “Without exception the response from all was incredibly positive, and we all felt that Microsoft had again moved the whole market opportunity forward… We see the Surface Hub 2 opening up a massive opportunity for the whole channel – from resellers to vendors.”
He added: “The new Hub is not a large-format display at the front of the meeting room, like the 84in model – this provides an exceptional opportunity for many vendors who we are working closely with.”
Asked about the Hub 2’s software suite, he noted that the full configuration is still to be announced, but commented: “[The original] Hub was more restricted; however, we still sold over 10,000 units and it became a segment creator.”
Surface Hub 2 will go on sale in 2019; Microsoft will test it with selected key customers later this year.