I spent some time recently in a Microsoft Store and I really took my time looking at the state of Windows hardware. There are still a lot of really rickety laptops being sold and computers built as gaming machines seem nearly universally ugly, but there is also some interesting innovation. If you are keeping up with Windows hardware, this is all old news to you but if you spent most of your time in the Apple Store, there is definitely some innovation happening on the other side of the fence. Two that particularly stood out to me were the Surface Studio and the 2-in-1’s.
The Surface Studio
Microsoft makes a computer that looks real similar to the iMac but instead of being on a fixed stand, it is on a hinged arm so it can go from a stand up computer to a drafting table style giganto-tablet. It’s a delightful idea and the hinge is well executed. I’d be curious to hear how often people actually transition their Surface Studio computers but I’d love it. If Apple made such an iMac, I’d be sorely tempted to own a computer where I can pivot between traditional and drafting table.
Although I liked the hinge, the display wasn’t particularly good and the computer seems underpowered. I hope Microsoft continues to work on this design.
2-in-1 computers are meant to give you the best of both worlds, a laptop and a tablet. A few years ago I played with some of the initial 2-in-1 computers and they felt a lot more like the worst of both worlds than the best at the time. The 2-in-1s I saw on my recent visit were much improved. The devices were lighter, the screens were brighter, and some of them had plenty of power to get most computing done. Moreover, the Microsoft and Lenovo machines had a nice design and build quality.
These computers don’t feel like Apple ripoffs but something different, and I quite liked that. Most of these computers use a keyboard that can pivot all the way behind the screen. The quality of the hinges on these computers felt up to Apple standards and the weight on these 2-in-1’s is much more manageable than they were just a few years ago.
Don’t Get Too Excited
This post doesn’t mean I’m going to be using a Windows computer anytime soon. It’s still Windows. However, I am pleased to see companies succeeding with innovative ways to make computer hardware. I was envious, particularly of that tilting Surface Studio and I hope some of these ideas are inspiring innovation in the halls of Cupertino.