Way back in 2009 I wrote a spec for a design PC. It was inspired by the discovery of my 1980s design toolkit in the back of a wardrobe.
Long made obsolete by computers there are still some aspects of these tools I miss. Today Microsoft released a new Surface device which met or (far) exceeded most of those 2009 requirements:
So what is My Perfect PC (for now)?
Based on technology that's available today, or nearly here, I'd like:
- Powerful processor, memory, disk spec for CAD, BIM, Engineering Modelling. [Yes]
- High quality separate graphics [Yes]
- Touch, tablet like pen and voice interface. [Yes, with voice interaction via Cortana]
- Full size keyboard with number pad, touch pad and stick. [Yes, except even I cant think what stick referred to, maybe the IBM/Lenovo Trackpoint?]
- Power for decent mobile use (i.e 8 hours real work) [Yes]
- Not too compact - 17" screen minimum [not quite, but 13.5” is fine and more portable]
- Maybe even Windows 7 [Windows 10 even better!]
Except they'll likely struggle with this requirement, unless lots of people buy them:
- Not too expensive... [probably not this one]
Introducing the Surface Book, again!
Ok, so it isn’t a new form factor but the Surface Book i7 (with Performance Base) bumps up the specs quite a bit with i7 CPU, up to 1 terabyte of SSD, 16GB RAM and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M 2GB GPU and 30% more battery. It looks like enough grunt to run some reasonably big models and the claimed 16 hour battery should get through a real-world day!
At $4,399-5,999 in the NZ Store it doesn’t quite meet the ‘not too expensive’ requirement though…
But wait, they went one better for the desktop: The Surface Studio
This is rather interesting, take a similar hardware spec but make it an elegant 28” all in one PC that converts into a drawing board. The Surface Studio has up to 4GB NVIDIA GeForce GPU, 32GB RAM, 2 Terabytes of storage and i7 CPU. It is not portable, not intended to be, but is a rather elegant design desktop!
In addition to keyboard, mouse, pen, touch and voice (Cortana) there is another new input device. The Surface Dial combines (it is said) rotary input and haptic feedback. It doesn’t just sit by the device, but when placed onscreen it becomes part of the application UI. Interesting to see what developers dream up for this device.
There is no local pricing for Studio yet, but looking at the US prices I’d expect $4,000-8,000 by the time it lands in NZ. I didn’t think I’d ever buy another desktop computer. Microsoft may have changed my mind with this one!
* All photos from microsoft.com/surface website.
UPDATE: A couple of related tweets, a really early preview of Studio
Great breakthroughs like Surface Studio take persistence and research. Go back 6 years to this MIX10 keynote on NUI: https://t.co/34k89XtMlp— Tim Sneath (@timsneath) October 27, 2016
And a real user review from an artist with a preview unit:
This quote from Gabe stood out…
“At a distance the screen is beautiful but when you are on top of it drawing, it’s absolutely stunning. Tycho asked me to compare it to my Cintiq, and I told him that drawing on the Cintiq now felt like drawing on a piece of dirty plexiglass hovering over a CRT monitor from 1997.”