Dell's Canvas display is like a Surface Studio without the PC

It looks like Microsoft isn't the only player in town with a hot new product targeted at creative types.

Dell has introduced what it is calling simply Canvas, a 27-inch horizontal touch display that will inevitably draw comparisons to Microsoft's own Surface Studio. But there's one big difference between the two products: while Surface Studio is a full PC, Dell's Canvas is an interactive display meant for use with your current PC.

As far as base specs are concerned, Canvas' 27-inch IPS display features a 2560 x 1440 QHD resolution and 16:9 aspect ratio. More importantly for those doing creative work with the display, it also features 100% Adobe RGB color gamut and supports a "highly-precise pen" with 2048 pressure levels for drawing and sketching. Perhaps even cooler is that Canvas comes with what Dell is calling Totems — think Dell's take on the Surface Dial. Like Surface Dial, Totems will open up new interactions with apps you're working in, like scrubbing back and forth in a video editor or quickly selecting from different colors to use in a sketching app.

Other little touches include a dedicated magnetic pen holder, a myriad of ports and connectors for things like Mini-HDMI and USB-C, and an optional articulating stand to give you more range of motion beyond the display's built-in legs. Yet, what is likely most appealing about Canvas is that it is just a display. For anyone who was attracted to the Surface Studio's display, but didn't want to go all-in on a new PC, Canvas should be a compelling option.

That said, you'll be waiting a few months to get your hands on Canvas if you're interested. The display is set to launch on March 30 at a fairly hefty price tag of $1,799.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

62 Comments
  • It's the tabletop desktop screen I've been waiting for. Forever. Since I first saw tron 1!! I'm getting one.
  • So thinking the same thing. I'm in the process of building a desk with a PC built into it. Considering this just for the wow factor. If only I can get my Fiancee to sign off on it.
  • It's always easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission... ;)
  • Make an app for her to browse her favorite things (eg. clothes and shoes and that can match outfits and shoes) or perhaps a photo album of the kids.  Then tell her it only works with this display since all the images will be shot  and displayed in 4K resolution!!
  • You did notice the display isn't 4k right? Otherwise great idea!
  • Well... It is a lot cheaper than the Cintiq 27 QHD Touch that comes with same resolution. If it's good enough for most pros it's probably fine ;) Also you need a lot of scaling on a 27" monitor with UHD which some programs doesn't like.
  • Is there a Tron 2???
  • Well, the lead by example thing has been working with the surface line, but it is sad that these new companies really dont come up with anything out of the box unless Microsoft does first.
  • but this is basically "just" a graphic tablet and nothing like the Surface Studio at all. The only similarly is the "Surface dial"
  • The only difference I see is Dell doesn't force you to use underpowered hardware with its massively expensive display. Not that sales were Microsoft's aim for the Studio, but with Dell releasing this screen, the reasons for buying the Studio have been killed. Now you can have proper hardware powering such a beautiful display.
  • what are you talking about? You can't compare this Dell Canvas to the Surface Studio. One is an AiO the other is just another graphic tablet.
    The Dell Canvas is basically a Wacom Cintiq. And now tell me what makes this better than the business standard Wacom Cintiq? The "Surface Dial" clone?
  • If there are plenty of graphics tablets available, why is the Surface Studio special?
  • Its a desktop that lays flat. The quality of the Microsoft in house products is pretty damn high (minus the 950 line).
  • because it's not just a graphics tablet. It's an AiO. One with a pretty brilliant screen. Are you even using a graphic tablet? I mean the difference is pretty obvious.
    But I would like to buy the Surface Studio screen without the PC part.
  • Connecting underpowered mobile parts to a graphics tablet is innovative? You said yourself, you just want the screen.
  • The Surface Studio is definitely not underpowered. Yes it's not a high-end Workspace but it's more than enough for professional digital illustration and Photoshop. It's definitely not the best device for 3D rendering and a desktop class CPU would be better for 4k Video editing but calling it "underpowered" is way too much. I hope you know that there are many people around who use their Wacom Cintiq with a MacBook Pro or other laptops! And the Surface Studio is actually faster than the MacBook Pro. Actually the Surface Studio is good enough for most people and not even that expensive when you see that this Dell tablet without a PC at all coasts $1,799.
    Maybe the second generation Surface Studio will be more powerful.
  • I don't know. I'm assuming this is another misinformed poster that is looking into turning this into a gaming station.
  • Under powered? Maybe if your running NORAD. Where do some of you get your info?
  • Leo Laporte had to change the hard drive in his it was so slow. $3000 and you don't even get a proper SSD. Microsoft cut too many corners to sell that display. They didn't need to put last years mid range laptop parts in a $3000 desktop.
  • Reviews on the site for purchasers is at almost five stars with glowing reviews. Someone better tell all those owners that they bought an under powered unit, because apparently none of them got the memo.
  • The Dell display isn't nearly as beautiful as the Surface Studio's.  It's nice, but it falls short.
  • well it's not glossy.
  • Resolution???
  • "it is sad that these new companies really dont come up with anything out of the box unless Microsoft does first."
    You make a good point. I apologize for my tangent, but I don't believe in coincidences and I don't believe that NONE of these OEM companies that make Windows-based devices are innovative-less or have willingly and rapidly become so subservient and "me too" to Microsoft's Surface agenda. Is Microsoft suppressing OEM innovation somehow through Windows licensing "agreements" to artificially prop itself up as the supreme innovative leader in Windows-land?  It seems like there's more to this growing lack of significant third-party innovation for Windows-powered devices than we are privy to.  There are fewer and fewer third-party innovations being introduced that are being marketed to the masses that don't have some kind of "influence" from Microsoft's Surface agenda over the past 3 years. I've used all the Surface products - outside of the initial shock that Microsoft is participating somewhat capably in personal computing hardware production, the actual use results in nothing more than "something different" that does the exact same things as all the other devices out there and not always as well. Sorry for the rant.  
  • I think you will find Microsoft is truly innovating since the Surface team's sole job is to do just that. They also work very closely with OEMs to give them a lot of advance notice about what developments and features are coming in future updates, and since it's a two way street, OEMs can work with Microsoft and request support for new technology and features to enable new devices. You also forget that innovation is extremely expensive and if not done right has a huge risk of never making that money back, Microsoft is committed to innovating even if that comes at a loss, OEMs don't always have that luxury and need to have radical concepts proved in the market before they can make something similar. It took a few years for Microsoft to get it right and it has proved to be a very valuable investment not just for Microsoft but for all OEMs as well.
  • The sad thing is it was suppose to push the OEMs into being intuative and coming up with better ideas. Instead they really just copy what ever Microsoft leads with.
  • OEMs have very thin margins. nvm
  • I agree with you that the oems have the capacity to innovate I think it's just the whole thing that someone has to do it first and it be successful before others will do it. I think this is Microsoft's goal since they have the capital and its not a big deal for them if they fail since they aren't reliant on hardware sales since their core business is in software and services. Therefore they make the hardware to show oems that the stuff they're creating can be successful.
  • Because Dell threw this together since the Surface Studio was launched. Microsoft works closely with its partners.
  • Thank you. Some people just don't think their thoughts through. Yeah, dell made an entire new device in 2 months, over the holiday season, magical.
  • Microsoft kind of control it though through the OS; they have free reign to modify it as they wish to suit their new ideas. Other OEMs can't do that and getting key parts of Windows remade for them so they can follow their own new directions can't be an easy thing to ask and get done.
  • Can I "continuum" on it?
  • Why would you buy such a nice display and then connect it to the worst hardware possible?
  • He didn't mention connecting it to an Android or ChromeOS device.
  • No, but either one of those actually has apps so they would make more sense than using Windows Mobile. A $100 monitor would be just fine though, you certainly don't need an $1800 one to connect to a mobile device.
  • But none of those apps would scale or work properly in the case of Android, and ChromeOS actually has far fewer and less useful apps than Windows 10 Mobile. 
  • That's nice but it's more like a wacom cintique
  • As a pro video editor I can see the value in this if that as a workstation. Pair it with a powerful PC and playback monitor can really create an amazing workflow.
  • Ironically enough, the just basically made something close to the original concept for the Surface computer.  For reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_PixelSense
  • A 2k display for 1800 bucks? Seems like Microsoft is correct about the value for surface studio, and it has a better display than this expansive toy.
  • MIcrosoft told me just the display in the Studio is "well over $2K" so yeah, that's the cost. Getting a 100% Adobe RGB monitor with 2,048 points for pen at that size though is not trivial or cheap to mass produce. They throw in those three Totems too. Surface Dial is $99.
  • Daniel,  can you use this as a normal monitor as well?
  • This could be good for DAWs like Studio One and ProTools
  • Nice one. Wanted one. Ok let's go buy it! Wait.. Oh i can get a Surface Studio for that price, cool!
  • Isn't the Surface Studio nearly twice the price?
  • Let me know where you can get a Surface Studio for that price.
  • I've read elsewhere that the Surface Dial works on the screen as well, which is cool. Hopefully the dials become a standard input format soon.
  • I love it.  It's about time creativity got some help from technology.  And I really like the fact that you hook this up to your own PC, which means you can upgrade your PC down the road without having to buy a new canvas every time.
  • Looks pretty awesome, I visualize a lot of music producers, DJ's and artists in the music industry in general using this technology to create music much more efficiently than with a mouse and keyboard.
  • If I can use this as my monitor and then manipulate the monitor to flat with no much trouble,  I am in.  Pen support, touch support,  TOTEMS are cool....etc.   I can seriously use this for designing products, graphics etc for my business of custom built snowmobiles/ATV/UTV/motorcycles!  deadly addition...
  • Well I guess the answer is get yourself a Surface Studio add the Canvas and have yourself one of the best graphics studios around.
  • At that price I would rather just get a studio.
  • isn't the studio like $3000?
  • Yes but that's the point, you are already more than halfway towards a surface studio which has a way better screen and is an all in one which makes it perfect.
  • The studio is $3,000 to *start*, and has mediocre internals. I'd rather get an external like this and use my own PC, which is WAY more powerful than even the $4,199 version of Surface Studio. Microsoft should release the Surface Studio monitor all by itself for a lower price and skip the PC guts. Anyone can build a more powerful system for less money. The monitor, dial and stylus are literally the only significant selling points of Surface Studio.
  • But the dial and pen is apparently nowhere near as good and responsive on some hands on I've read so far. And companies and designers will always choose an all in one device over having to build themselves and attach different devices. I'd like to see Dell make a proper all on one with a better screen than this. And make it so it tilts. No artist draws flat to a table. Who's idea was that at Dell?
  • Microsoft leads the way, others follow
  • As a designer this is very tempting but oh my DAT PRICE.
  • It's apparently not great. As it depends on your current Hardware. Very unresponsive on most hardware. The downside when it's just a screen and not a PC built specifically for the task.
  • Pretty!
    Great to see more cintiq competition.
    It does need an elegant tilting mechanism though, the human neck can on stand to look straight down for so long before causing problems.
    On the related subject of AIO.....
    I'd still like to see a medium sized high powered ' mobile ' AIO from more manufacturers, like the Wacom mobile studio 16 ( yes that's inches) . Dell just came out with the xps 15 but left out the pen...... why????? :(
  • I read another hands on. Apparantly the dial isn't as responsive as the Studio. And the pen also. I don't think Dell anticipated the Studio announcement 2 months ago. Apparently its very intermitant and unresponsive, because it relies on your hardware you have as opposed to being designed with its own hardware.
  • Well... It shouldn't be less responsive because of that... Otherwise the Cintiqs should be unresponsive too and as a Cintiq user I can say they are not. So that doesn't make any sense at all... Also most work stations should have at least as powerful hardware as a Studio is. What it can be is the hardware and software Dell provides that makes it more sluggish. Also the Studio is not perfect according to some reviewers. Especially in PS ot gets a bit sluggish when you are working with a big canvas and larger brushes. It is by no means bleeding edge hardware in the Studio except for the monitor.