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(Pocket-lint) - Microsoft is taking a page out of Apple's playbook by catering to creators.

People in illustrating, graphic design, and other related artsy fields have long used MacBooks and iMacs as their tools of choice when it comes to running software like Adobe Photoshop, but with Mac and PC sales slowing across the world, Microsoft seems keen to turn the tables around. It not only announced an upcoming Creator Update for Windows 10 that features an overhauled Paint app, but it added a new member to the Surface family: the Surface Studio. It's an all-in-one machine geared toward creative professionals.

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It has both hardware and software features designed to make creating artwork easier. This is essentially a touchscreen drafting table. The Surface Studio features an industrial design with a 28-inch LCD display and a "zero-gravity" hinge that allows the display to lay nearly flat. The slim base houses all the processing components, and there's only one cable coming out the back. Microsoft has created its version of the iMac, but it's much more versatile because it can transition from a standard desktop to a gigantic tablet. 

While in the standard desktop mode, the Surface Studio functions as a normal computer but looks absolutely stunning visually. The whole device is straight up sexy. The monitor is so thin. It's like someone took a 28-inch Surface tablet and mounted it. At first glance, it is difficult to believe it is an actual monitor and not some high-resolution photograph. You may think pics of the Studio make it look better than it actually is... no way. It really is that impressive to look at and play with in person.

The Surface Studio has a natural and smooth feel to it, so that every motion on the display is seamless and every stroke beautiful. It could be one of the best desktop computers I have ever used. It isn’t just a regular desktop; the ability to lay it down is extremely cool. It needs almost no effort to gently glide into a more flattened position. While lowered onto a table, it has an almost Star Trek-type of vibe, putting you behind this space station-like control center. Looks are not even close to the only thing it has going for it. Even though it is so thin, it still has enough power to hold up against any other AIO. It also has a lot of potential, especially for creative types.

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With one finger, you can begin drawing. And if you use Microsoft's Surface Pen and new Surface Dial, you can completely unleash your inner artist. The Dial is a puck-like input device you can use to rotate things and basically control things shown on the screen. It's contextual as well, so depending on where you place, it'll serve up specific options. Options for Adobe Photoshop, for instance, won't appear in Microsoft Word. Dial is also interesting when you consider Apple might soon announce a MacBook Pro with a contextual OLED touch panel.

The Surface Dial makes the Surface Studio amazing to work with. It was tough to figure out at first, because it has so many options, but watching a Microsoft PR with it, who has obviously used the device many times, was like poetry in motion. Changing colours and the size of the brush within seconds, and in small wrist turns, was like watching someone solve a Rubik’s cube in mere seconds.

The Dial sits on your desk or directly on the screen of your Surface Studio, and it can move both clockwise and counterclockwise. When pressed downward, it selects and can toggle between different parts of a feature. For example, when choosing RGB for colour options, if you twist it around, it moves around the color wheel. By clicking down, you'll see it change the type of colour wheel. Or, if you select a brush type (you may be on a brush size that you can spin to shrink or enlarge as you draw), you can press down on your Dial to turn the angle of your brush or change the opacity, among other features.  

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The Dial could be used on other devices since it can be connected via Bluetooth, but the ability to rest it on your screen is not available to other devices, as Microsoft and developers are building that functionality directly into their Windows apps. But, like on the Surface Studio, you can use it to scroll through pages and documents, change volume, and also brightness. It basically functions like a smart mouse for other laptops. The options for what you have visible on the Dial can also be customised. 

First Impressions

If you get the Surface Studio for your home, there is a good chance you won’t have any pens, paper, paint, or any other art supplies still around, because you won’t need them. The options for creating are endless, with the ability to change your brush size, type, colours, opacity, and just about anything else you would need to change. The ability to use it in a more natural angle for creating art is also a big plus. We personally don’t like to draw on a screen that is directly in front of us like a desktop, but it gives such a natural feel to working on projects, with the hinge that can go from nearly flat to even past the point of straight so that you can still see the screen when sitting from a lower angle if you wanted.

The Surface Studio is an all-in-one art studio for digital artists. If you fit that bill, you can pre-order one starting today for $2,999, with deliveries expected in December. Though it carries a high price-tag, it seems to be worth it if you’re any type of artist.

Writing by Christopher Picaro. Originally published on 26 October 2016.