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Outside the Box: Microsoft Surface Studio Unboxing, Teardown, Impressions

Ron from OWC and Mike from unbox, provide first impressions, and take a peek at the inside of the Microsoft Surface Studio with a detailed teardown to see what’s upgradable and what’s not. 

Featuring a giant screen that swivels down in “studio mode” paired with multiple user input methods via mouse, pen, dial, and Multi-Touch, the Microsoft Surface Studio is a sight to behold, and possibly the most “Apple-esque” foray into computing that Microsoft has achieved. 

The Rocket Yard had some time to sit down with Mike to get some expanded thoughts and ideas about the Microsoft Surface Studio. You can see the video below and read on for the rest of the discussion.

Rocket Yard: Why did you look at the Surface?
Mike: As a company, well… we love tech… and that means all tech. So, when something cool like the Microsoft Surface Studio comes along, of course we want to look at it, learn from it, take it apart, see what’s upgradeable, and provide any possible guidance to our fellow tech enthusiasts. 

The Microsoft Surface Studio was sort of a surprise as it was under the radar. Ron had ordered one, but we actually got it much earlier than expected in late December. So, when it came in, we immediately set aside time to shoot the video (see below) to ensure we captured those all-important authentic first time viewing impressions as you simply can’t replace that honest first reaction, and we can’t fake it later because we’re not actors. We then scheduled finishing the video at a later date to fit into our production schedule.

RY: Would you consider one for yourself?
Mike: I truly didn’t think I’d like it as much as I did, but then again, I’m a huge fan of Multi-Touch technology going all the way back to Jeff Han’s Multi-Touch TED Demo back in 2006. I greatly enjoy trying out most anything that utilizes Multi-Touch computing in new ways.

The directions Microsoft and Apple have taken Multi-Touch technology have always intrigued me. Microsoft has actually held more true to Han’s vision, but Apple has achieved so much with its iDevices – and now the Touch Bar – that it’s too easy to take Apple’s way for granted because it’s so natural.

Would I get one? It’s price-prohibitive for what it offers to me personally, but I absolutely loved learning and playing with the tech. I can totally see why others would view this as the perfect computer for them. 

However, I’d love to see Microsoft come up with their own design language as I think the Surface is great design wise, but it’s emulating Apple just too darned much. I love Apple design, but I think the Surface Studio product would be better served by having its own design voice. Sadly, I believe it diminishes the Microsoft Surface Studio a bit, and there’s a lot to like about the Microsoft Surface Studio and the direction that they’re trying to go. You could literally tell people Apple made this, and many would believe you.

RY: How do Apple and Microsoft do Multi-Touch differently? 
Mike: Apple only utilizes Multi-Touch screens on iDevices and disagrees with the argument that non-iDevice computers should feature a Multi-Touch screen. Instead Apple adopts Multi-Touch tech to enhance their non-touch computer screens via trackpads, mice, and now the Touch Bar. Whereas Microsoft brings the Multi-Touch UX to the actual computer display. 

While Microsoft and Apple travel their own paths on Multi-Touch they occasionally choose the same path. It’s really interesting to “walk a mile” with the tech to understand where Microsoft is taking the technology, and to learn their approach to human/computer interaction.

Sometimes you can see where Microsoft is sort of copying Apple’s way because, let’s face it, Apple has shown an interaction path that can seem so perfect at times there almost doesn’t seem to be another way. But it’s the “other ways” in which you can experience an innovation, idea, or paradigm in another direction they think the technology could work. 

As an example, Microsoft has this innovation of taking the large display and putting horizontally on the desk surface versus vertically. When you use the computer that way it’s just a much more natural eye position, and it makes you take notice and think. It’s not there 100% yet as there’s some issues, but there’s also a huge nugget of an idea that feels like they’re definitely onto something special. This paradigm presents a different social sharing aspect and an inviting warmth to the computer. It can also get the computer out of the way. This is not a big leap for Microsoft to take, as they’ve been exploring this social aspect since the original Microsoft Surface Pac-Man style table since 2007.

RY: It sounds like you had fun creating this video.
Mike: Oh yeah. Again, we love tech, and we hope others enjoy viewing the video as well.

About the Video
The unboxing video was shot in 4K using Panasonic LUMIX G7 mirrorless cameras at OWC’s Design and Engineering Studios in beautiful downtown Austin, TX, and edited in Adobe Premiere Pro on a Mac Pro upgraded with 64GB of OWC memory and OWC drives.

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