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The SUR40, as a wall hanging device  (Source: Samsung)
Surface is primarily targeted at education, business users for table, hanging, and kiosk installations

Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Surface multi-touch computer was first presented to the public in May 2007, more than a year before Apple, Inc. (AAPL) was rewarded a patent for multi-touch gestures. It launched in prototype form in April 2008, a full two years before the market launch of the iPad.

But the device is finally here (dubbed the "SUR40"), and you can buy one for the lowly price of $8,400 USD (roughly 17 10-inch iPads).  

I. SUR40 Hardware and Software

That's actually about what you'd expect if you considered the LCD the driving factor on price and assumed linear scaling in cost per square inch. You get roughly 685 in2 out of the 40-inch (diagonal) 1,920x1,080 (16:9) display, compared to 45 in2 for the iPad's 1024x768 (4:3) 9.7-inch display.  The display features an 8 ms response time and 300 cd/m2 brightness.

The packaging and device display are manufactured by South Korea's Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KS:005930).  The device without a stand measures 109.5x10.25x70.74 cm (43.11x4.04x27.85 in.) and weighs 39.5 kg (87.1 lb).

Surface, standing

Inside, it packs an AMD Athlon X2 Dual-Core 245e (2.9GHz), a 45 watt (low power) Phenom II processor which debuted in May 2010.   The GPU is also provided by AMD and is an AMD HD6750M, a low-power mobile GPU that in benchmarks performs roughly between an NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA) GeForce GT 540M and GT 550M.

The system draws 230 W (by Microsoft's estimate) when fully loaded and 2 watts when in standby.  There's 4 GB of DDR3 onboard; 320 GB of SATA2-connected storage; 1 HDMI port; 4 USB 2.0 ports (what no USB 3.0 love?); and the standard 100/1000 ethernet jack.

The operating system du jour is Windows 7, with the Surface 2.0 software built on top of it (Surface 1.0: Vista; Surface 2.0: Windows 7).  This is an identical configuration to the model showed off at CES 2011.  Microsoft offers a Surface SDK, allowing third party app makers to develop commercial solutions and businesses to develop internal touch-software.

II. Target Audience

Prices vary slightly outside the U.S.  A Microsoft spokeswoman explains, "The Samsung SUR40 will be distributed via the Samsung distribution channel and the estimated street price will be $8,400 in the U.S. for the base unit. Outside of the U.S., pricing will vary based on country-specific duties, taxes and fees."

At the price point Microsoft is clearly targeting the device primarily at business and educational users, though a few cash-endowed enthusiasts may jump at the novelty of owning the world's biggest multi-touch device.  Microsoft's press release suggest the device can be displayed as a table (perhaps in a lobby or meeting room); as a wall-hanging device; or even in an angle kiosk enclosure.

Surface Garage
Microsoft sees the Surface as the ideal collaborative business device. [Source: Microsoft]

The device is available for preorder in:

Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States

Microsoft suggests it already has received deployment promises from multiple interested business, writing:

Automotive, education, finance, healthcare, hospitality, and retail are just some of the industries that will soon be able to take advantage of Samsung SUR40’s PixelSense technology, new, sleeker form factor and horizontal and vertical orientation options. Many new and existing customers, such as Aéroports de Paris, Dassault Aviation, Fujifilm Corp. and Royal Bank of Canada, have big plans for the Samsung SUR40 and are preparing to deploy units in locations early next year.

The ship date was not announced by Microsoft.

Microsoft small-screen tablets will debut in earnest with Windows 8, which launches late next year.  They will pack the Metro UI, Microsoft's GUI of choice for small mobile devices.

Sources: Microsoft [blog], Samsung [specs]



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So disappointed.
By AE8994 on 11/17/2011 12:12:31 PM , Rating: 1
Ok, so my biggest question is upgradability. It is the same question I have with all of the touch computers. Why integrate the processor into the display. It seems much more upgradeable if you separate the processor and storage an provide a wired or wireless interface. When you spend over $8000 for a computer, you want to be sure upgrades are part of the strategy. This processor will be an antique long before the display gives out.




RE: So disappointed.
By Dr of crap on 11/17/2011 12:23:52 PM , Rating: 2
Because the ones that will buy this are not to know or think about such things. How can you sell more, if the consumer keeps your old model to long?
And how do you know the display won't carp out early and you'll need to get a new one - again more money to be made by having it not last too long!


RE: So disappointed.
By AE8994 on 11/17/2011 5:09:21 PM , Rating: 1
Ok, so this is supposed to be an "appliance" and you just replace rather than upgrade, correct? Let me see. I upgrade my CPU about 3 times for every monitor. I have a 6 year old monitor and a 2 year old CPU. Also, $8000 is a high end "appliance". The last refrigerator I bought was $1200, granted it was pretty plain. The last television I bought was about $600, also fairly generic. If I remember correctly, the display on this is basically a high end LED display with Gorilla glass. It should last a pretty long time, while the CPU and storage will be outdated in say 2-3 years. I don't see the disposiblity of a $8000 "appliance". The GPU is fairly high end now but will be antique in 4 years, so I'm stuck with that for 8-10 years? Still disappointed.


RE: So disappointed.
By Fritzr on 11/17/2011 10:00:08 PM , Rating: 2
As noted in the article, this version is not yet a household appliance. Businesses can & do consider things like this to be disposable. Those and early adopters with money to burn will be financing the next iteration of the Surface computer.

I too will wait until I can buy a 40" multi-touch monitor disguised as a coffee table that uses short range wireless for the video connection to a nearby computer containing my preference in hardware. Just need a little more patience.

Hopefully the price will drop as well. Given the hardware indicated, that monitor with it's coffee table case is $7500-$8000. Somewhere closer to $1000-$2000 mark (for just the monitor) will make it a lot more popular with ordinary consumers.


RE: So disappointed.
By mcnabney on 11/18/2011 10:37:31 AM , Rating: 1
Yeah, the price is way to high.

$400 monitor
$400 computer
$200 touchscreen layer on the monitor
$7400 profit, split between Samsung and MS

I also think the resolution is pathetically low for something people will be closely interacting with.

A 1080p 40" display has a DPI of about 42 and will be used at distances only slightly greater than an iPad which has a DPI of 132. It might be 'neat' to use a giant touchscreen, but the display is anything but sharp.

Now, if they had a 4k/QuadHD display in there it would make more sense and perhaps justify the high sales price for what is really just old technology put to a new use.


RE: So disappointed.
By GuinnessKMF on 11/18/2011 11:38:39 AM , Rating: 3
"Touchscreen layer on the monitor"? ...

Each pixel on the monitor is composed of four elements, the regular RGB, but also an infrared sensor, effectively a 1 pixel infrared camera in each pixel.

The idea behind this is collaborative multi-touch, working with multiple people on the same surface. These aren't aimed at home consumers (yet), these are high profile tech demonstration devices, for hotels, restaurants, doctors offices. MSNBC used Surface 1.0 during the 2008 elections.

These are not high volume products yet, so that extra cost is going into the R&D, which was huge. This "Old technology" has never been in another product, and it's not even trying to sell to regular consumers yet.


RE: So disappointed.
By Black1969ta on 11/17/2011 10:25:32 PM , Rating: 2
The CPU and GPU is pretty much already outdated, to get the power to track that many people in the demo I would bet that it will require more horsepower and graphics, of course upgrading would be insignificant compared to the initial price.


RE: So disappointed.
By TakinYourPoints on 11/17/2011 10:58:46 PM , Rating: 2
Not necessarily. If hardware/software is purpose build for that specific task then they can optimize it much better than a general use PC. There are many cases where limited horsepower can still go a long way if the device is made for that specific purpose. Look at turnkey editing or compositing systems from ten years ago, the hardware is ancient but they are still totally useful and viable today because the hardware and software were made for that purpose. Consoles are another obvious example, something like the PS2 cranked out visuals in 2007 that a 1999 PC would choke on. Again, optimized and targeted platform.

A general use platform like the PC where the OS isn't being optimized towards very specific hardware and is running all kinds of background processes that aren't necessarily in use benefits from more horsepower. The Surface is made specifically for what was in the demo, so you can bet that all the processing power is geared towards that.


RE: So disappointed.
By mcnabney on 11/18/2011 10:43:01 AM , Rating: 1
But it isn't.

They just took the guts out of a laptop, plugged in a big display, and loaded the Surface UI layer just like Metro will be sitting on top of Win8. I imagine the Win7 install is otherwise completely stock, meaning that all of the usual Windows overhead is going on behind Surface. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see the little popup notifiers interupting Surface when Windows updates are being offered.


RE: So disappointed.
By Silver2k7 on 11/23/2011 5:05:58 AM , Rating: 2
A Surface table may be $8000 right now just like a CD-burner (1x speed) was something like $10.000 at the beginning.

Im fairly sure that the first 1080p screens was also over $10.000 at first.. look at prices today.

It will take a few years, but im sure this tech will be in the home eventually.


RE: So disappointed.
By lelias2k on 11/17/2011 12:36:01 PM , Rating: 3
Unless you are loading it with new software, no reason why it won't perform the same in 4 years as it does now. I have older computers than that working fine with new software.

And by then there will be a 70in version to take its place anyway... ;)

And regarding upgradability, it's not only about selling new stuff, but the fact that the average consumer will rarely go into it, so it becomes pointless.

Most people are not techies. :)


RE: So disappointed.
By FaaR on 11/17/2011 12:38:38 PM , Rating: 5
This isn't a computer, it's an appliance. There's no need to upgrade the hardware in this device, just as there's no need to upgrade the hardware in your TV either.


RE: So disappointed.
By borismkv on 11/17/2011 12:43:37 PM , Rating: 2
There won't be a need to upgrade the hardware in these things until the next model comes out. These aren't high-end gaming machines. They're basically a very very large tablet computer. They're high end decorations for the most part, and high end presentation/collaboration devices for the rest of their use.

That said, upgradability is becoming more and more of a niche thing these days. Computers are cheap enough that they are starting to go the way of the VCR/DVD player. In other words, if it breaks, replace it rather than fix it, because it's usually cheaper to do so.


RE: So disappointed.
By RU482 on 11/17/2011 12:52:18 PM , Rating: 2
coming soon - "thin mini-ITX" will be the motherboard form factor of choice for the touch PCs (or so says intel)


RE: So disappointed.
By Reclaimer77 on 11/17/2011 5:05:07 PM , Rating: 2
Upgrade it for what? It can already display 1080p video and images. You aren't going to be playing games on this thing, EVER, that's not it's intention. You won't be compiling code or heavy editing work. So why would you need to upgrade it when it will be able to display whatever you throw at it throughout it's lifetime?

While this technically is a "computer" it's really just a large smart multi-touch display. I don't believe you're judging this product in the proper context.


RE: So disappointed.
By futrtrubl on 11/18/2011 1:13:17 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
You aren't going to be playing games on this thing, EVER,

Says who? Looks like a damn good interface to play a game on. Give it a pen and yes, you could definitely do some nice graphical editing on it. And who knows what other uses we can find for it, so yes, I do think $8000 is too much for something that could be easily upgraded otherwise.

Edward


"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher














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