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Microsoft Surface Event

By: Richard Mitchell

Microsoft visited the Technology Engagement Center (TEC) on Duke’s campus to showcase their Microsoft Surface line of touch devices. From its humble beginnings in 2012, the touch-focused Surface line of portable computers from Microsoft has matured and expanded to include five unique hardware variations. The Surface Pro, Surface Book, and Surface Laptop are meant to provide three flavors of mobile computing for Windows users. While rather similar, the core differences between the three devices are power consumption, weight, screen size, and keyboard flexibility. If you want an iPad-like tablet that runs the full version of Windows 10 and has a portable keyboard and pen option, you’ll want to look at the Surface Pro. On the other hand, if you simply want a traditional laptop with built-in touch capabilities, keep your eye on the Surface Laptop. The Surface Book falls somewhere in the middle of the three devices in terms of a detachable keyboard, power consumption, etc. From a classroom technology standpoint, these devices are ideal for annotating PowerPoint slides, graphing, and note taking, while connected to the local AV system.

The Microsoft Surface Studio is meant to replace a traditional desktop computer, but adds an articulating 28” touch-screen monitor that is simply a joy to use as both a traditional monitor and as a drawing surface. Sure, it’s still a desktop computer, but it’s clear Microsoft has considered many alternative ways that educators, artists, and designers could use the touch-driven device to convey information. With minimal latency and a top down approach to hardware/operating system/software integration, the drawing capabilities are the best I’ve seen, seeming very natural to use. This is the first device where I’ve thought, “I hardly notice the technology” when annotating on top of a PowerPoint. With a few Schools deploying Surface Studios for the fall semester, I’ll be curious to see how they are received.

The final Surface device, not showcased at the TEC due to size/weight limitations, was the Microsoft Surface Hub. With wall and cart mounting options, the Microsoft Surface Hub comes in two sizes (84” and 55”) and seems to be an even larger version of the Surface Studio, but with a focus on collaborative meeting spaces. The DDMC is planning to take a trip to Microsoft’s offices in Raleigh this summer to see one in action.

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