On April 17, 2019, the Microsoft Surface Engineering team released a video unveiling Microsoft’s new Surface Hub 2 family of products—starting with the Surface Hub 2S. Some readers may be wondering, “What is the Surface Hub 2?” and/or, “Why should I care about Microsoft’s latest team collaboration gadget?”
Here is a quick explainer of the Surface Hub 2 product, and why it has the potential to be a major collaborative work tool for modern offices.
What is Microsoft’s Surface Hub 2?
As Jeremy Chapman, Director of Microsoft 365, states in Microsoft’s unveiling video, the Surface Hub 2 is designed to be an “all-in-one collaboration device that’s built for teamwork delivering a digital whiteboard, a meetings platform, and a Windows 10 computing experience.” It is a successor to the previous Hub devices that uses a lighter design with less obtrusive form factor to make it more visually appealing (and user-friendly). The Surface Hub 2 family of products will be designed to use Microsoft Teams and Office 365 to empower employee collaboration.
Microsoft Surface Hub 2 Collaboration Tools
The Screen to Replace Your Whiteboards:
The first member of the Surface Hub 2 family, the Surface Hub 2S, is designed with a large, 50” screen with a 4K+ resolution to give users an enormous surface area to work with where they can display designs, notes, and presentation materials in real time. Future Microsoft Surface Hub 2 products will incorporate even larger screens, with one model slated for a 2020 release having an 85” screen. These screens maintain the same 3:2 aspect ratio of other Surface family devices, making it easy to share displays or to create an image on one Surface device and know that it will maintain its proportions on the Surface Hub 2’s display.
These big screens help turn the Surface Hub 2S into a superior conference-room whiteboard with the ability to display computer-generated images on a moment’s notice—without the mess of dry-erase markers. Additionally, whiteboard images on the Surface Hub display can be saved, so there’s no need to worry about erasing whiteboard drawings to make room for new ones.
Best of all, the Surface Hub 2 family of products can be mounted on the wall, or placed on a specially-designed Steelcase stand. Being 40% lighter than previous Surface Hub devices and mounted on a frame with four free-rolling caster wheels, the Surface Hub 2 is incredibly easy to move, as Dave Kearney, a member of the Microsoft Surface Hub engineering team, demonstrates in the unveiling video. To keep the Surface Hub 2 fully-powered during moves, the Steelcase stand incorporates a backup battery designed by APC—allowing the Surface Hub 2 to be rolled from room to room just like a regular whiteboard.
Making Videoconferences Better:
Beyond being a digital whiteboard, the Surface Hub 2 sports a wide variety of built-in tools to enhance videoconferences, such as:
- 4K Resolution Digital Camera. The Surface Hub 2S’ built-in 4K camera allows for extremely high-fidelity videoconferencing—helping to make remote meetings more personal than ever before.
- Up to four Active Incoming Video Feeds. The Surface Hub 2S can simultaneously display up to four different live video feeds.
- Wideband Stereo Speakers. Many conference speakerphone systems have grainy, low-quality audio that makes it harder to understand what people are saying. The Surface Hub 2S uses two wideband stereo speakers (and a discretely-installed bass speaker module) to deliver clear audio across a wide range of frequencies.
- Eight Microphone Array. The Surface Hub 2S has eight microphones loaded in an array to ensure that it captures speech as clearly as possible. These microphones then use “beam-forming” to focus on people speaking in front of the device rather than background noise from behind or to the sides of it.
These design features are all meant to make video conferencing easier and more impactful.
New Inputs to Meet Modern Demands:
The Surface Hub 2S is one of the first Microsoft Surface devices to feature a USB-C port. That’s right — Microsoft has listened to user requests and added the USB-C port to their new Surface Hub 2 family of devices. This will make connecting additional drives and accessories easier than ever.
The Surface Hub 2S also features USB-A, Mini-DisplayPort Video Output, RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet, and HDMI video input ports for more traditional connection methods. These ports are all mounted on a removable module, so users will be able to update their 2S model devices to the 2X model, which will be available in 2020.
The modular design of the Surface Hub 2S’ components will help to future-proof it so users can update individual components as needed rather than having to replace the entire device as soon as a new model comes out.
Your New Hub for Microsoft Teams and Office 365 Work
Because the Surface Hub 2 family of devices is built from the ground up to work with Microsoft’s Teams and Office 365 services, it’s a natural hub for coordinating work across these platforms. Teams will be able to coordinate and modify their Office files on the Surface Hub, sharing notes and thoughts in live meetings as the file is updated for each member viewing it on Microsoft Teams.
Are you excited for the new Surface Hub 2 family of devices from Microsoft? We sure are! If you want, you can check out the features of the new Surface Hub 2S on Microsoft’s site, and check out the announcement video on YouTube below.
If you have any questions, please feel free to schedule a meeting with one of our Solutions experts.