Microsoft today showed off the Surface Hub 2, doubling down on the massive conference room computer concept first introduced three years ago, amid what it calls a “new culture of work.”
Surface Hub 2 comes with a new signature feature: the ability to link up to four screens together. The device, Microsoft said, is emblematic of the modern workplace, where people are more mobile and spread out and companies need better ways to communicate and collaborate.
“There is a need for a device built for teams and designed for these new environments,” Microsoft’s Chief Product Officer Panos Panay wrote in a blog post. “To help people collaborate whether they are in the office, at home, or traveling the world. To move beyond just passing along information, to a world where they are collaborating real-time, in an efficient, and intuitive way.”
Microsoft said it sold more than 5,000 of the original Surface Hub devices to customers in 25 markets, including half of Fortune 100 companies. The original Surface, which came in 55 and 84-inch models, cost anywhere from $9,000 to $22,000. Robin Seiler, the general manager of Surface Hub engineering, told Business Insider the price of the new Surface Hub will be comparable in cost with the competing digital whiteboard offerings from Google and Cisco, which could mean a price of about $5,000.
Last year, Microsoft shut down the Wilsonville, Ore. plant 30 miles south of Portland, where it manufactured the device. Original Surface Hub devices aren’t available through Microsoft’s online store, although you can find them at resellers.
The screens will be 50.5 inches and Microsoft promises a resolution greater than 4K. In addition to the ability to combine multiple Surface Hub 2 devices together into one giant screen, the new device is also more flexible than its predecessor, with options for vertical and horizontal orientation. Microsoft is also teaming with Michigan-based office furniture company Steelcase to make rolling stands and wall mounts for the devices.
Microsoft says the device will be available for purchase next year. In the meantime the company will begin testing the device with select commercial customers.