Microsoft’s Surface Hub 2 is a Teams-powered giant tablet that creates its own video wall

Microsoft plans to ship a next-generation Surface Hub 2 in 2019, boasting a smaller, lighter, more modular design that will encourage workers to share the screen, as well as their notes and files.

Announced Tuesday, Microsoft said the new 50.5-inch Surface Hub 2 will boast a “4K plus” display in the traditional 3:2 ratio of Surface devices. It will weigh between 25 and 35 kilograms (55 and 77 pounds), making it smaller and lighter than the previous Surface Hub. Ryan Day, a spokesman for the company, described the adjustment in the design as “shipping a TV, not a piano.” 

Just as the original Surface Hub’s 82-inch, 4K display blew users away, two hardware elements on the Surface Hub 2 should do the same. One is a rolling easel-like stand for a single unit, and the other is the ability to mount four Surface Hub 2s next to one another, creating a massive wall of pixels.

Microsoft Surface Hub 2 hero 001 Microsoft

Up to four Surface Hub 2s can be mounted alongside one another, or a single hub can be placed on a rolling easel.

What this means to you: Like the original Surface Hub, don’t expect to pick up the Surface Hub 2 from your local electronics store. Remember how the Hub works: you organize a meeting, walk into the room, and present to your colleagues locally and remotely via dead-simple Skype video calls, whiteboarding, and other tools. It’s a solid, interesting concept, though as a wired device it can’t be as mobile as Millennials are. Nevertheless, the first Hub was impressive, and the Hub 2 looks sharp as well.

original microsoft surface hub Mark Hachman / IDG

What the Microsoft Surface Hub 2 evolved from: the original Surface Hub.

A Surface for the conference room

Microsoft debuted the first-generation Surface Hub in January, 2015, at the remarkable event that also introduced the world to the HoloLens. More than a year later, the company shipped the monstrous 82-inch display for $22,000, clearly pricing it for enterprise budgets. (A 55-inch version was about $9,000.) 

Microsoft surface hub 2 vid shot 1 Microsoft

The Surface Hub 2 interface, as shown in this Microsoft demonstration video.

Microsoft’s original Surface Hub was somewhat rudimentary, with Skype and whiteboarding as the go-to apps. But as Microsoft’s concept of the workplace has evolved, the Surface Hub 2 will be a key component of what Microsoft now calls the “intelligent edge,” a catch-all term for the PCs, phones, and other devices that will interface with the “intelligent cloud” of Microsoft’s apps and services, Day said. With the Surface Hub 2, Microsoft’s trying to enable what it calls “immersive collaboration,” allowing as many people access to the device as possible. 

Microsoft surface hub 2 vid button Microsoft

Although Microsoft didn’t talk about it, the new Surface Hub 2 will apparently include a new thumb-driven interface that can switch between various apps.

“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,” Panos Panay, Microsoft’s newly-appointed chief product officer, wrote in a blog post. “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.”

The Surface Hub 2 won’t be battery-powered, though Microsoft’s not saying exactly what technology will power it. It will have Wi-Fi. When mounted on a wall, up to four Surface Hub 2s can be daisy-chained, allowing them to function separately, or project a cohesive picture that straddles more than one Surface Hub 2. Day called this “tiling.”

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