Dell Canvas vs Surface Studio – are they comparable?

With Microsoft having “better than expected” success with their Surface Studio, it is to be expected that someone will follow with clones.

Has Dell come up with such a model? After all, Dell Canvas does appear very similar, at least on paper.

Here are the key features:

  • Price: $1799 US
  • 27-inch touch enabled display
  • 2560×1440 resolution
  • Thunderbolt / USB / DisplayPort / HDMI connectivity
  • 100% Adobe RGB color gamut coverage

Surface Studio vs Dell Canvas – are they really competitors?

At a quick glance, that appears to be the case. Both the Surface Studio and the Dell Canvas features 27-inch touch screens with similar features. Both can be used with rotation devices like the Dial or the ‘Totem’ named by Dell.

But do they compete in the same segment? In reality, not quite.

Surface Studio is a stand alone computer. You don’t need any other PCs or monitors to use it to its full potential. Dell Canvas, on the other hand, requires a PC (or a laptop). In other words, Dell Canvas is a peripheral (with a display) that connects to computers.

Resolution is not exactly a state of the art either – 2560×1440 (compare this to Studio’s 4500×3000). Perhaps Dell did this to control the cost and also to reduce the CPU/GPU load from the main computer it is connected to.

And this is why there is a huge price discrepancy – Dell Canvas “only” costs $1799 US.

Dell Canvas is designed to be laid down in front of you, just like Wacom tablets. As mentioned before, it requires an external monitor. The built-in device was meant to be used to display controls, rather than the main editing area which belongs to the main display, although I don’t see why you would not be able to use CAD type of application directly on its display.

Still, it sure sounds like a huge Wacom tablet, doesn’t it?

Dell Canvas vs Other devices

Perhaps biggest threats will be felt by the tablet manufacturers. Wacom, as an example, produces a line-up of high-end devices called Cintiq and some of them are currently priced well beyond the cost of the Canvas. In fact, if you take the Cintiq model with the equivalent hardware (27QHD), it will cost you about $1000 more.

The biggest question high-end tablet users will be asking is the quality of the pen. Wacom has been building one of those for many years and they are the best in that segment. Microsoft’s own “N-TRIG” implementation is still considered much inferior to that of Wacom’s in several key areas such as:

  • Pen sensitivity, especially at the lower 30% range
  • Less accuracy in straight line tracking – capacitive screens offer less accuracy
  • Inability to detect more than one point at the same time – Wacom uses this to detect how much the pen has tilted

I’m not sure what Dell’s implementation uses, but I’m pretty sure Wacom would not have given away their best trade secret to Dell. Dell states they use Wacom’s technology, but even Wacom themselves posses several levels of technology, some good, some not so good.

(UPDATED: Apparently, Dell uses Wacom’s UD EMR – in other words, Wacom allowed Dell to create Dell’s own version of Cintiq 27QHD complete with tilt feature at a discounted price! Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that their EMR patent has expired two years ago…)

Also, to be fair, Microsoft is constantly improving N-TRIG, so this gap may narrow down the road.

Dell Totem vs Surface Dial

Oh yes. Dell “copied” Microsoft in other areas too. The Totem looks similar and functions similar too. When you place the Totem on the screen with the presence of a supported app, it too is capable of popping up context sensitive menus and controls as well.

One of the main difference is that the Totem only works when it is placed on the screen. If you recall, the Surface Dial continues to work even when it is placed off the screen.

The other difference is that Dell also ships Canvas with a second smaller knob. Currently, no software supports it, but you can imagine some usage for this smaller Totem-like device in some applications.

Here are both knobs for comparison:

Surface Studio + Dell Canvas?

This is definitely possible. The Surface Studio is a fully blown PC so it should be able to support devices like Dell Canvas. Perhaps some people may like to use the two devices side by side.

Has Dell copied Microsoft?

Not likely. Developing devices such as the Dell Canvas and the Surface Studio takes years. They may have known the existence of each other during the development phase, but it would have been incredibly challenging to copy ideas from each other.

Perhaps the natural evolution from today’s hardware was meant to go towards large touch based devices.

The Dell Canvas will become available in April 2017.

Oh, and the Dell Canvas does NOT work with Macs. Get a Windows 10 based device if you want this. 🙂

Surface Studio is doing better than expected..?

Hello everyone we have quite interesting news for you guys.

No one believe that the Surface Studio would be a big seller at first because of its relatively high price point.

Nevertheless Microsoft shipped out 15 000 units of the Surface Studio!

But if that’s not crazy Digitime reports that another 15 000 units need to be shipped out!

That is the whopping 30 000 units in the first Quarter of 2017!

Mind you the prices of the Microsoft Surface Studio are:

  • $2,999.00USD 1TB Intel core i5 with 8GB of ram and 2GB GPU
  • $3,499.00USD 1TB Intel core i7 with 16GB of ram and 2GB GPU
  • $4,199.00USD 1TB Intel core i7 with 32GB of ram and 4GB GPU

The hype might die down later this year but it is definitely making Apple nervous of having a competitor of their iMac series!

Can you upgrade/repair Surface Studio yourself?

Most desktop “clones” are designed so that you can swap out components such as CPUs, RAMs, video cards, storages, etc. Most of today’s laptops, to some degree, are upgradeable too.

But how about the Surface Studio? This is a “desktop” class PC after all, right?

Surface Studio Teardown

iFixIt has managed to completely strip the Surface Studio down to pieces. And there are 21 steps to get to this!

There’s detailed instructions on how to dissemble the Surface Studio, complete with pictures. At the end, they gave a “Repairability Score” of 5 out of 10 for the Surface Studio.

Not exactly a great score…


In a nutshell, as far as upgradeability goes:

  • Standard SATA hard drives and SSDs are relatively easy to upgrade. You will still need to open the case but a genius brain/hands are not required here.
  • RAM, CPU and GPU chips are soldered onto the board! You cannot replace, nor add more RAM to this setup. In other words, buy as much RAM as you think you will need during the lifetime of this PC!

Personally, I don’t see a point soldering RAM in a package such as this. I see a point on ultrabooks where the physical dimension could result in a make or a break situation but in AIO boxes? I’ll take upgradeability over an extra 1mm thickness!

Here’s the original iFixIt article for those who are interested in more details.

Microsoft Surface Studio out to Public this week?!

Hey guys, there have been reports of the Surface Studio will be shipped out this week!

The customers that have already pre-ordered the Surface Studio for December 15 will have a chance to receive it this week.

So for those who have pre-ordered your Microsoft Surface Studio, make sure you check you Email daily!

For those lucky few that received the confirmation Email from Microsoft will not only Surface Studio but also get a thank you letter.

They will also receive a personal hotline for technical problem with the device and also for feedbacks.

So cross your fingers guys! Lets hope one of us win this ‘raffle’!

Comment below if you have received it!

But for those who did not win, don’t worry you will get it in couple weeks in December 15th.

Also don’t forget, if you pre-order the Surface Studio now to December 1st you will receive the Surface Dial.

Click here for the information about the Surface Dial.

Microsoft Surface Teams up with Siemens NX for Engineers

As you guys know from previous articles, the Microsoft Surface Studio is emerging to the public.

The release date for it will be on December 15, 2016 to the US customers and new innovated features are introduced.

Siemens NX, a reputable engineering software company, has certified the Microsoft Surface devices with their program.

What does this mean?

The new Microsoft Surface Book and Surface Studio with Performance Base will include Siemens NX’s highly innovated engineering software.

This allows engineers to use this devices for their projects and engineer students can utilize the software for assignments.

Siemens NX also works hand in hand with the Surface Dial.

Check out this video for a more detailed look

Click here for more information in the Windows Blog.

My take on the Surface Studio – what is yours?

The physical form of the all-new Surface Studio is certainly gorgeous. IMO, Microsoft has beaten Apple in its own game as far as the design goes. It may have even defined a new product category.

But who is Microsoft targeting the Surface Studio to?

Surface Studio for Graphics Designers

It is obvious that the Surface Studio is going after the designers. The fact that it flattens out into a digital drafting tablet should be a huge draw for them. 3:2 aspect ratio works great for this group. Ability to adjust color settings based on use cases could be useful for them too. Adobe sRGB and DCI-P color settings, 10-point multi-touch are all cool. Supports HDR and TrueColor. Nice. Expanded color output (they probably mean 30bit instead of 24bit). Great.

You will see exactly what you see on a paper.

Just as a comparison, Apple’s own offerings don’t even offer a touch display! They are so far behind now. Some key apps from Adobe are still available only for Macs. But this situation won’t last forever. Heavy duty 3D rendering type of work already works better on Windows. When both platforms offer the same suite of apps, the usage experiences are very similar, even today.

As for the display, 28-inch might be small-ish as a main screen for this group. They tend to go for the largest displays available. But the ultra-high resolution (more than 60% higher than 4K) is welcome for them.

Although digital drafting tablet sounds nice, most of the current generation designers are used to Wacom tablets which are typically built as a solid sheet of plastic. Think of mouse vs pen on the touch screen. There will be a learning curve for them. On the other hand, if you were already eyeing on Wacom Cintiq, this offering could be very interesting.

The Surface Studio comes with some 3D apps, but I doubt any of the serious designers will use those. These are apps designed for enthusiasts, not professionals.

Surface Dial could be an interesting option for them. I look forward to see what app developers can do with this piece of hardware.

Surface Studio for Software Developers

These guys (not the bugs!) like big screens and high resolutions. Big on the processor specs too. So far, the Surface Studio ticks (no pun intended!) on all of them. Pen-based touch screen isn’t going to be all that important for them but it is a nice to have.

The fact that the processor is based on Skylake architecture (rather than Kaby Lake) will bother them, not because it actually makes a huge difference, but because they know its not the latest. Yes, I was one of them! 🙂

Physical form is not that important for this group however. They would rather spend money on the spec even if they end up with some additional bulk.

Surface Studio for Gamers

Gamers also tend to be spendy, especially for the display, processors, and especially on video display cards.

The Surface Studio comes with either NVidia GTX965M or NVidia GTX 980M ($4000+ model only) which are decent, but by gamer’s standard, very ordinary. ‘M’ basically means they were meant for mobile platform hence you trade some performance for better power consumption and consequently, more compact cooling solution. (Me thinks most gamers would trade some of this for a big a** external liquid cooled CPU heat sink on their overclocked CPU.)

Oh, and AMD (aka ATI) solution tends to scale better on higher resolution displays. A small thing to keep in mind.

The Surface Studio’s display most likely won’t support NVidia’s G-SYNC. The response time probably won’t approach 4ms or faster either. Refresh rate won’t approach 144Hz or faster. All of these attributes are important for gamers. Your friends with better refresh spec will own you in first-person shooting games.

3:2 ratio is an oddball ratio for gamers. Some games won’t support it well.

At the end of the day, the Surface Studio is powerful enough to drive most games at 1080p resolution. It is probably powerful enough to drive Oculus Rift as well. But it is a total waste of pixels if you are driving games at this resolution most of the time.

Unless you have other needs for other use as well, I don’t see this happening for the gamers.

Surface Studio for Photography Professionals / Enthusiasts

Now this is an interesting situation to be in if you are one of those. This group demands as high resolution as possible since most RAW shots they take feature far greater resolution than any monitor can handle today. 4500×3000 sounds a lot but that’s only just over 13MP. Still, that’s far closer than what a 4K display offers.

Adobe Lightroom works very well on high resolution displays. But, in its current form, it works better on a setup that uses a high resolution display and a mouse or even a Wacom tablet. Adobe needs to update this app.

Accurate colors will do wonders for this group. This monitor is meant for this group. Only if Microsoft sells this monitor separately…. Should be possible since most of the PC components are located within that little flat slab at the bottom, right…..?

Surface Studio for Normal Users with generous pocket

Ok, so not this kind of big pockets but you get the idea. 🙂

I’m sure some will buy the Surface Studio, just for the looks alone. They don’t push the hardware anywhere near the limit but looking cool is sufficient. They don’t understand what makes it tick, but it doesn’t matter. Having small footprint is a huge deal for them.

The most important factor by far is that fact that it looks expensive as it is.

Surface Studio for the Rest…

As for the rest of the group – it is too expensive!
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