Microsoft Surface Hub 2 – the Whiteboard of the Future

Several years ago, Microsoft introduced the Surface Hub, an interactive electronic whiteboard with video conferencing capabilities targeted at businesses. The pricey system did not really take off, nevertheless the Microsoft is hoping to find greater success with the second-generation model. They gave a first look at its next-generation Surface Hub 2 today and it looks like the future has arrived.

Contrary to the original Surface Hub, which was released in 2015, the new unit can be rotated, so users can work on the 50.5-inch 4K+ multi-touch PixelSense Display in either landscape or portrait mode. As the cameras, speakers and microphones are built into the device, they will pivot, too.

Businesses with deep pockets can splurge for two Surface Hub 2’s placed side by side in landscape, or up to four Surface Hub 2’s mounted adjacently in portrait mode. The PCs can then operate independently or together.

“Tiling is one of my favourite features on Surface Hub 2,” Panos Panay, Microsoft’s Chief Product Officer wrote. “Seeing four of the beautiful Surface Hub 2s lined up together not only makes an undeniable visual impact, it can also have a profound impact on what groups can accomplish together, allowing users to display multiple pieces of content side by side. Imagine how much your team could get done being able to work simultaneously across Microsoft Whiteboard, PowerBI, PowerPoint and a full-view video call.”

“Today’s most effective businesses have a team-based, collaborative culture and place an emphasis on enabling creativity and productivity. In fact, companies that promote collaborative working are five times as likely to be high performing,” Panay added.

“It’s not just that how we work is changing, where we work is changing too. The environment around us is shifting – towards open offices, huddle rooms and team work spaces – and in three years half the global workforce will be mobile. It’s an exciting time to be in the devices business, because the creation of new form factors and software experiences will not only lead us to work in new ways, but also in new spaces designed for collaboration.”

“There is a need for a device built for teams and designed for these new environments. To help people collaborate whether they are in the office, at home, or travelling the world. To move beyond just passing along information, to a world where they are collaborating real-time, in an efficient and intuitive way.”

One of the main obstacles keeping back the success of the previous Surface Hub models were the prices, with its 55-inch unit going for over US$9,000 and the larger 84-inch model over $20,000. Microsoft says that this new version has been made to be “more affordable”.