Skip to main content

Dell's Canvas display lets you get a Surface Studio without buying a whole new computer

Dell has a new monitor at CES 2017. But it's no ordinary monitor. This is the Dell Canvas, which brings the low-profile touch-interactive concept of the Microsoft Surface Studio to any PC.

Let's talk specs. The Dell Canvas is a 27-inch IPS panel, with a more traditional 16:9 aspect ratio at a 2560x1440 QHD resolution. That's nowhere near as impressive as the Surface Studio's incredible display, but it's still fully functional, not to mention a lot less expensive. Dell's targeting the spring arrival of the Windows 10 Creators Update for release (expected arrival is March 30) with a hefty $1,799 price tag.

That price does get you more than just a touch display. It has full pen support (including a handy magnetic dock) and a pair of "Totems", essentially Dell's take on a Surface Dial. It works exactly the same way — you drop it onto the display and you get an array of tools depending on the app. The Canvas can also function something like a hub for your Windows 10 device, packing mini-HDMI, USB-C, and full-size USB ports.

While the Dell Canvas doesn't quite measure up to the high mark set by the Surface Studio, it's also potentially more versatile — since it doesn't have a computer attached to it, you can set it up with your existing computer (Dell's demo was running off an XPS 15 paired with a curved ultra-wide monitor). We really like the Surface Studio, but there's no denying it's not the most powerful computer you can get. With a Dell Canvas, you can have both.

Derek Kessler is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm, and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.

25 Comments
  • It's more like a Wacom Cintiq with a additional second screen.
  • Wacom Cintiq. And Dell's doesn't include the monitor above it, so yes, it is a direct competitor. Wacom hasn't improved their tech in the last 10 years (screen res, and buttons, sure, but the drawing experience is not much different from their early tablets--which are so old, they predate USB), with glass so thick it feels like you are drawing in a different time zone from your artwork. I really look forward to the N-Trig tech and more lifelike drawing. For the prices they charge, the experience really should be better.
  • I don't know why but your comment about drawing in a different time zone made me laugh a lot
  • so why buy this instead of the 24" Wacom?
  • Well... it's a 27" screen. So there's that.
  • Welcome has 27" as well, and they have all the built in controls that are equivalent to dial since a long time ago. Additionally their pen supports tilt and rotation detection on top of being battery free and having all the necessary senses that others offer in hit and miss fashion.
    Their software support and drivers are also mature, and all the professional applications already have the functional plugins and supports.
    Having an all-in-one offer something fun for the sake of marketing and public perception is one thing, but I wouldn't suggest my customers who need a professional solution to risk getting the Dell monitor that later proves to be nothing more than a toy or mockery.
  • The pen on the Dell also supports tilt and pressure. It actually doesn't look that different than a simple Wacom. I wouldn't be surprised to find that it is made with Wacom. Also, this is a stand-alone device. It is not an all-in-one. You seem to have some hostility for this product for some reason. It will still be a few months before it is released. We'll find out more about it's quality as the time draws near. At a projected $1799, a thousand dollars less than the equivelent Wacom, this may end up being a very practical alternative for many studios/artists. But we'll know more as it gets vloser to release. I remain optimistic.
  • Man those colors look mighty washed out to me. Hopefully it's just the ngle of the camera, but even the studio looked fantastic layed down.
  • Supposedly this is an IPS screen with full Adobe RGB color gamut.  The washed out look might be due to the environment it's being filmed in. I may also be because of the lower resolution. The Surface Studio's resolution is well over 4k.
  • I think it's due to the fact the Surface Studio has a custom Windows color configuration, pre adjusted Hue and brightness to make it look great, and this doesn't. May just need some fine tuning.
  • is that a surface dail i see next to the Canvas?
  • It's dells version of one. I can't remember the name of it.
  • Article says it comes with a pair of "totems", similar to the Suface dial in function.
  • Nice that it includes it in the box, and not just one, but two (though I don't know why you'd want two, still, nice touch). My wife really drools over the Studio (she's an illustrator) but the ****** behavior of the stylus when drawing slow, precise lines is a deal breaker at the price they're asking. Hopefully this will have a better stylus than Surface Studio.
  • That's why I wouldn't risk my customers and still suggest the Wacom. At least it has all the Photoshop plugins. Most of my customers (including myself) have been using Wacom for years now. I agree with you about the pen feeling for the new tables are not as good, as fast, or as accurate as my 7 yeats old Wacom pen tablet.
  • It does not look like the screen moves into an up position, one of the nicest things about the Surface Studio as a lot of time that is how you would be using it. 
  • My guess is that this is meant to be a second screen that you use when you need it, then put away when you don't, rather than the Studio's all-purpose screen.
  • It looks like this could be really cool for music recording, where the transport and mixer can be put on the lower screen while the timeline and track views on the upper. I just wish Cubase supported touch more/better.
  • I love it! Great for engineers who want to use their powerful hardware + an e-canvas!!!
  • Interesting... might be interested in something like this... provided the following:
    1) the magnetic dock works for the pen and dials
    2) the magnetic dock does some sort of wireless charging for the pen and dials
    3) It works with 3rd party pens, or uses a well known/respected pen tech (such as Wacom or MS's)
    4) It is calibratable and at least comes (at least) close to adobe RGB
    5) OS level control for things like brightness so I can control brightness levels on the fly like a laptop display (seriously... why don't all panels do this by now?) If it can't do all (or at least most) of that then they really need to lower the price to be a consumer model in the $650-1000 range.
  • Hmmmmm
  • The next generation of this might be just what everyone wanted when the Surface Studio was announced. The screen on its own by then who knows what gen 2 of the Surface Studio will have under the hood.
  • The Dell 8k screen would be the equivalent. It has similar color ratings and hdr. I don't think surface studio supports hdr.
  • This looks like a really good option. I just wish they had a version that pushed the resolution to 4k.
  • I'm not hostile towards the product. I have been really disappointed with all the recent "pen" and "tablet" claims that pretend to be good for drawing and painting in all their ads, yet they are just barely good enough for handwriting (even if that). Maybe they are good enough for some hobbyist or kids using Wet Paint, but I wouldn't sell them to professionals for graphics serious work.