Description

Imagine a PC with clean lines, majestically enthroned on the desktop and combining both an ultra-powerful configuration and a very large 28-inch screen. A screen whose frame would be extremely thin and which would not only be tactile but would also display a titanic image of 4500 by 3000 pixels. Another screen which, icing on the cake, could at the touch of a finger be brought flush with the desk, and reproduce the tilt of a drawing table. Microsoft’s Surface Studio, the first all-in-one from the creator of Windows, is (all) that … and much more?

Presented last fall, Surface Studio is (finally) available in UK and its call price is in line with its ambitions: huge! From 3550 euros for the basic version, and up to 5000 euros for the model that we had the pleasure of receiving in review. Review that we conducted in a classic way for all the “technical and evaluation” part, but in a less conventional way for the specific uses it offers. In addition to our impressions, we collected those of a panel of creatives: Pierre and Guillaume, graphic designers, Aya, illustrator and costume designer … and our JRI Pierre, designer in his spare time! All were invited to come and try the machine in our lab. Impressions which served to decorate this article.

You have a good foot, you know, Surface Studio!

Remember, we were already able to get to know the beast extensively at the time when Studio (and other new features in the Windows ecosystem) were announced. However, we do not give up on our pleasure to take another tour of the owner of this final version.

Rectangular, the foot has both protruding edges on the front and pretty curves, well rounded at the back. Unlike Apple’s iMac, which hides both the components and the connection on the back of the screen, the Studio – accommodates it all in this 3.2 cm high base.

Microsoft Surface Studio

Housed in the back, all of the connectors consist of 4 USB 3.0 sockets, a mini DisplayPort video output to connect a second screen, a wired network socket or even an SD card reader, essential for photographers. Without forgetting the headphone output. The power supply is, of course, integrated into the assembly to prevent a large unsightly power supply unit from spoiling the picture.

Microsoft Surface Studio

Due to its location, the socket set is not very accessible for everyday use. For example, to connect a USB 3.0 key, you have to go around the machine or rotate its 10 good pounds to reach the port. ” It’s the same on the iMac You will tell us. Of course, but just because Apple makes specific ergonomic choices doesn’t mean they have to be copied.

A thin screen with very flexible hinges

Second unmissable element of Surface Studio, its screen. It weighs 5 kilos alone and is mounted on the hinge that Microsoft calls “Zero Gravity”. A nice marketing nomenclature to designate the two arms which, through a complex mechanism, allow the slab to be tilted to an angle close to that of a drawing table.

No mechanical noise, no resistance, the movements are fluid and everything is controlled with a finger, whether you want to move from the classic position of the all-in-one, with the screen vertically, to that of the table drawing, with the slab almost horizontal.

The opinion of the creatives:
“Not being able to lock the screen at a precise angle can sometimes cause surprises. If you lean a little too hard on the screen with the palm of your hand while there is still a little margin at the travel, the screen drops suddenly! It surprises! ”

Microsoft Surface Studio
Microsoft Surface Studio
Microsoft Surface Studio

We mentioned in the introduction, the panel measures 28 inches diagonally, is in 3: 2 format and displays the images in 4500 by 3000 pixels. Suffice to say that the Windows 10 interface, displayed at 100%, is almost unreadable. You must go to 200% minimum to no longer need a magnifying glass and correctly identify the icons placed on the desktop and not to miss the icons when piloting the craft with your finger.

Microsoft Surface Studio

Because, of course, who says “Surface” says “tactile”. When it comes to using apps that take advantage of the touchscreen or making some summary creations on Paint 3D, we naturally grabbed the pen rather than using our fingers.

In a creation, drawing or other scenario, it must be recognized that it is pleasant to be able to place the edge of the hand directly on the slab – as on a drawing table – without any “misunderstanding” on the part of the tactile overlay is not to be deplored. Thus, the pointer of our pen has never ended up anywhere other than where it should be. Once the work is completed, simply replace the Surface Pen on one side of the screen, where it is gently magnetized.

The opinion of the creatives:
“The body of the Surface Pen is quite small which is not necessarily suitable for large hands. In addition, the right click on the body of the pen is not easy to access and, depending on the apps, not always very reactive.”
“The 28-inch screen offers a beautiful work surface, it is undeniable. The precision and the quantity of pixels allow to make the cropping of precision, Surface Pen in hand.”
“When you go from a graphics tablet to Studio, you have to recognize that using software like Photoshop is a bit tiring. The slab is large, so is the work area as well. “is not always easy. We often navigate between the different menus, with great arm movement reinforcements.”

Microsoft Surface Studio

In classic apps, the Bluetooth keyboard / mouse pair does its job well. Note however that if the keyboard is really in harmony with the machine in terms of design materials, it is not the same for the field mouse. Much more basic, the mouse only puts on the color tone on tone with the coating of the Studio and on its small metal wheel to justify its “premium” side.

The opinion of the creatives:

“In fact, the biggest concern for us who use the keyboard shortcuts a lot in the different software that we practice on a daily basis is that once the Studio is placed in a horizontal position, with the screen close to the edge of the desk, we can’t keep the keyboard in front of us. There’s no room for it! So, unless you have a small tablet under the desk where you can put it, it is relegated to the side … no convenient to browse with your fingertips! “

“The fact remains that with the touchscreen helping, the hand which is usually used to activate the keyboard shortcuts comes gradually to position itself on the edge of the screen where the tool palettes appear which are then activated with the fingertip. C ‘ is a blow to take but difficult to do without the keyboard when it is necessary to call commands which are only available in the menus. “

Microsoft Surface Studio
Microsoft Surface Studio

Surface Dial, the fourth (and dispensable?) Wheel of the carriage

Before moving on to the rest of the review, it seemed important to us to make an aside on Surface Dial. As a reminder, the Dial, sold as an option (around 110 euros) is a Bluetooth device, cut for the Surface family, which has the ambition to transform itself into a super physical tool with multiple virtual talents. It looks like a big volume wheel and its favorite place is on the Studio touch screen.

Microsoft Surface Dial

Its operating principle is simple: to call the functions of the Dial, you press your head: a slight vibration is felt and, magic, a menu opens in a fan, all around the Dial. Small icons symbolize the shortcuts available. Just turn the Dial in one direction or another to navigate between the different options.

Once the choice has been made, press the upper part again to validate it and then implement it by turning the dial, right or left. When the Windows desktop is displayed on the screen, this allows you to adjust the volume level or the intensity of the backlight.

Microsoft Surface Studio

In Paint 3D, for example, you have access to the color palette, or you can change the thickness of the line while drawing with the stylus. In short, in the ecosystem of Windows apps, the Dial more or less finds its place … which is no longer quite the case (with rare exceptions listed on the Microsoft site) whenever we want use it in apps other than those signed by MS.

The opinion of the creatives:
“This device is, on paper, a very good idea. We can put it on the screen or on the desk and use it to change tools or color on the fly … in Paint! Not in the software used by web designers, illustrators … To use it with Photoshop or Illustrator, you have to take the time to configure the shortcuts in the Dial driver and make choices, because not all of them fit! , the interface (yet integrated into Windows) is not very intuitive and not all key combinations can be configured. “

Difficult to blame Microsoft entirely or on software publishers. From our point of view, the wrongs are shared. And the giant ensures working hand in hand with Adobe to offer the tools very soon ad hoc on the Dial. The fact remains that the global lack of optimizations carried out upstream by Redmond and the few plug-ins or add-ons from third-party publishers on the other hand risk not helping the democratization of the Dial, or failing that, make it popular from launch.

Aside, we have the Studio!

Mention “Very Good” narrowly missed for the screen

The first thing to sift through, the screen. In the preamble, we will mention that Microsoft has thought of integrating three color profiles, accessible in the menu relating to the display. Thus, it is possible to vary between ” bright “(The classic rendering),” Adobe sRGB “And” DCI-P3 “. The last two modes have been precisely calibrated at the factory for better fidelity of shades and colors which they manage differently.

The opinion of the creatives:
“As much for us (webmasters, illustrators, colorists) as for photographers or video editors, the fact that Microsoft has thought of including two color profiles is very significant.”

Microsoft Surface Studio

Passed under the inquisitive eye of our probe, in “Vivid” mode, the screen displays an average brightness of 380 cd / m2 which, for an all-in-one, is excellent. On the contrast side, the ratio of 1000: 1 (still average) is exceeded but, there, it is clear that we expected much better from the Studio. A result tarnished by the few backlight leaks on the entire top of the screen, effectively impacting the contrast ratio measurements. Pity !

Still, the great image definition, technical services, advanced color profiles and, finally, the wide viewing angles of the screen allow the Studio to achieve a very good overall rating of 8/10.

Surface Studio: powerful yes, cutting edge, no

Microsoft has garnished its high-end Studio model with a nice cocktail of components. It is composed as follows: a few deciliters of pure computing (Intel Core i7-6820HQ (2.7 GHz / 3.6 GHz in Turbo mode)), a generous memory measurement (32 GB of DDR4), a hint of swift storage (2 TB of hybrid hard drive) and a touch of graphics power (Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M).

The most attentive will have noticed that Microsoft is skipping the current Core processors, the Intel Kaby Lakes, preferring them to the chips of the previous generation, the Skylakes. In addition, the Redmond giant does not put the SSD pure and hard, preferring a hybrid solution may be slower in read / write speed but offering more storage space and a lower price at equal capacity.

Microsoft Surface Studio

Finally, the graphics card is not a last generation model either. While Nvidia now offers the Pascal generation GTX 10 Series, Microsoft prefers the Maxwell family 980M.

From our point of view, it is difficult to sell a machine at such a price without equipping it with the lareview guns in terms of components. A reproach that we already made against the “new” Surface Book from Microsoft.

However, just because the components aren’t all of the lareview generation doesn’t mean that the Surface Studio lags behind. All the chips present here embodied the high-end of the previous generation and do not demerit.

Intended to mainly run software like Photoshop, Premiere or even architecture or 3D modeling software, the Studio does not forget to deliver good performance in the most usual applications, more general public we will say. We even managed to turn it into a gaming machine! Of course, the GeForce GTX 980M cannot display polygons and other complex textures in the native definition of the panel while maintaining a bit rate of 60 images per second. However, in Full HD and with full details, it goes pretty well and the scores oscillate between 60 and 150 frames per second without too many problems depending on the games.

The opinion of the creatives:
“For us who are not all techies or always aware of what is hidden in our towers or behind the screen of our iMacs, it is difficult to appreciate the level of performance of the machine in such a short time (Use). However, all software launches quickly, there is no long recording time even on large projects. Opening different very high definition visuals or multiple programs at the same time doesn’t seem to slow the machine down either. “

A little noise and the mercury can panic

When a large application (or a game) mobilizes a good part or even all the resources of the machine, the Surface Studio quickly gives voice, with 37.4 dB measured by our usual sound level meter. By stressing the components (for example an opening of several large images in Photoshop while launching an encoding of a large 4K file, which mobilizes the processor and the graphics card) the temperature reaches 46 ° C on the top of the foot. And, inside, we almost double the bet!

The probes in our review software found a maximum of 87 ° C on the processor and 85 ° C on the graphics card on average, with peaks above 90 ° C for the first. Besides, to obtain its readings, we had to lift the security of our software: the processor cores having been very hot from the first seconds of our reviews, our programs stopped working to avoid damaging the machine. So it heats up, but it holds up: no effect of throttle to be declared. However, from our point of view, it might be good for Microsoft to rework its ventilation circuit a little, both in terms of efficiency and noise pollution.

Microsoft Surface Studio
Microsoft Surface Studio
Microsoft Surface Studio
Microsoft Surface Studio
Microsoft Surface Studio
Microsoft Surface Studio

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