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Surface Studio feels like 'generational leap forward,' says Penny Arcade artist

Surface Studio
Surface Studio (Image credit: Windows Central)

It looks like Microsoft's artist-focused Surface Studio is already getting high marks from at least one prominent digital artist. Following the reveal of Microsoft's new all-in-one, Mike 'Gabe' Krahulik, one of the minds behind the popular webcomic Penny Arcade, revealed in a blog post that he has already spent some time with the Surface Studio and the experience has been great, to say the least.

From Penny Arcade, Krahulik writes:

I recognize that not everyone needs or wants a computer they can draw on. Some people do though and I will tell you that the Surface Studio is without a doubt the best digital drawing experience I have ever tried. I was trying to help Tycho understand why the Studio was so exciting. I spend 6 to 10 hours a day drawing digitally and I have for more than a decade. The Cintiq and the Surface, these are like my tools or my instruments. I am intimately familiar with how it feels to create things on these sorts of devices and the Studio honestly feels like a generational leap forward.

Speaking on the Surface Dial, Krahulik was similarly positive, noting that the tool not only feels good to use, but adds plenty of unique new options for interacting with his work.

Hands-on with Microsoft's Surface Studio{.cta .large}

Krahulik's conclusion comes after not only spending a week of using the Surface Studio for his digital drawing work, but also after taking part in its design process by providing feedback to Microsoft during development. Given Krahulik's long history of using Surface products for his work, the whole blog post makes a great read. If you're a digital artist and are even the least bit interested in the Surface Studio, be sure to check out Krahulik's full thoughts for more.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the Editor in Chief for Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl. Got a hot tip? Send it to daniel.thorp-lancaster@futurenet.com.

66 Comments
  • Obviously he knows nothing he talks about. Apple fanboys told us that gorilla arm would kill touching devices like this, that you would get too tired reaching out for your monitor, touching the screen would leave horrible smudges, nobody wants to use a pen on the screen, blah, blah, blah. They know better than this guy who actually makes a living off it. So he has to stop now and use what Apple fanboys tell him to use.
  • I see you've been to appleinsider today. I never go there, and reading that comment section was a bit eye-opening. I didn't know such die-hard Apple fanboys still existed, to the point that they seemed to have detached themselves from any sense of objectivity. We should all encourage innovation from all of these companies, and appreciate it when it arrives. It's hard for me to articulate this clearly, but as a fan, judging your product's level of success in relation to its competitors is selfish and superficial. As a fan, you should hope to get the best possible product, not the one that's 20% better than the competitor's. If the product you support on some scale scores an 80%, and the competitor's scores a 60%, why are you more happy about that than if both products scored 90%?
  • Oh man, you weren't kidding! There are people over there calling the Surface Studio & Surface Book iPad Pro rip-offs. Stating that Microsoft intentionally held their event a day before Apple's (ignoring the fact that MS sent invites out 3 ~ 4 weeks ago, and Apple just sent invites out last week). Someone else going off that the Surface Studio is primitive, and that an iPad Pro with an external display can do more than the Surface Studio ever could. The list goes on like you wouldn't believe. 
  • It's always rich to hear Apple fans talk about other companies 'ripping them off', given that very few of Apples products are ever original themselves. In fact, the last five or so years they seem to have done nothing to take other peoples ideas. It's them that has become the me-too company. You point that out to Apple Lemmings and the usual response is 'Well...ah...everyone copies everyone these days!'. 
  • Simple. Fan is short for fanatical. That is, uncontrollable emotion that easily trumps logic and reason.
  • Aaaargh!  You used that trump word. Funny how that sentence fits though.
  • I'm scared to go look at apple insider lol. Like sure, Microsoft has its fanboys too, but i've seen some really fanatical apple fans on Youtube comments before and they're totally insane sometimes. Not even Microsoft or even Google fanboys are that bad. I remember 7-8 years ago during Apple's peak, they pretty much had a huge following that was borderline a religious cult by definition. I didn't think that Apple cult was still around and that they've been humbled a bit by now.
  • Apple Insider, Cult of Mac these are the worst fanboy sites out there. Even Daring Fireball(John Gruber) was postiive today. Sane Mac fans are postiive about this.
  • Don't feed the trolls, leave it to the pros and lay back. A friend of mine is a graphics designer using Cintiq + iMac for his work. He says, that those demonstrations where pretty high-grade and comparatively fast and concise; he guesses the productivity advantage for a experienced designer to be 20-30%, which is just plain massive, if true. He also tried iPad Pro a few months back, and he misses the tilt of the pencil; but also missed the rubber other pens are featuring. There is always room for improvement, I guess.
  • Exactly. Which is what healthy COMPETITION is supposed to do. I maybe a MS fanboy, but I don't bash the other platforms that I don't know the weaknesses of because I understand this. If there are no competitors, then my platform of choice will suffer too in the end.
  • Totally true. Preach it brother.
  • u better put '/sarcasm" on that before trolls like steve adams agrees with you.
  • Or whatever name he's going under now ;-)
  • Don't forget that Apple said it would never make smartphones bigger than 3.5" and smaller Tablets!!!
  • This is amazing, Microsoft have really surprised me in such a good way with this device. It keeps me positive about the future of not only surface, but mobile as well. I bet there are a few tricks up their sleeves yet! Can't wait to see more.
  • The feeling of those who didnt want to update to windows 10 for free
  • It's still possible, just use your product key. I did it for a friend today.
  • Breaking News: The Windows 10 haters, Mac and linux fans are now all in coma after this event, who saw and understood the potential.
  • That was a good read. Definitely helped someone like me understand who this device is intended for, and more power to those users. :)
  • This device looks wonderful, but I can't help to wonder why they left out other things like a thunderbolt type-c or back/forward buttons on the mouse. They could've included these in the price, regardless of how expensive that touchscreen probably is.
  • Probably not an issue of price, so much as space (for the ports). That thing is pretty cram-packed as is. As for the mouse, I'm guessing they found that the users this targets prefer using the dial for that kind of control (just a guess, though). 
  • I'm guessing that this device was done a few months back already. It would also explain the older GPU. This was probably a device where they wanted to see what the consumer and press response would be before they worried about things like the newest or best specs and ports. So while this device looks truly awesome, I expect next year's version to be more in line with whatever tech happens to be current at the time of its launch. Also... they probably didn't want to do a redesign with newer hardware due to the time and money. The parts themselves may not be expensive, but tweakong the design would have increased costs and pusbed back launch. I hope next year they offer a stand-alone monitor. I just think they didn't do that this time because right now this device is just about promoting Windows 10.
  • Just realized, the patent said the Studio was 'modular'. Where does the modular part come in?
  • I didn't see that. I did see the word "module", but I think it was just being used as a description of the base housing the computer parts.    
  • What if you can stack up the base? Like adding an external graphic card like the surface book? Thatcwoulr be amazing.
  • I would wait for Surface Studio 2 in 2017. Hopefully they put a Thunderbolt 3.0 port in there.
  • Very good design and built quality but, I really think they could have done much better with the gpu, cpu and storage. The 'm' on the gpu tells it all. They could have use the 7th generation cpu but maybe they have issues, and I really don't know why they didn't use pcie ssd drives. Way too pricey for those specs they're offering.
  • Yeah, a generation behind on the CPUs and GPUs. The real shame is that the NVidia 10xx series of GPU seemed to really focus on performance for this trend of VR and AR, and likely would have been a big difference maker in these systems. Clearly, this must have been in development for a while, and when you are working on such a tightly engineered machine, there's not a lot of room for just swapping out parts willy nilly.
  • "Clearly, this must have been in development for a while, and when you are working on such a tightly engineered machine, there's not a lot of room for just swapping out parts willy nilly." I agree. It's easy to say in retrospect that oh product x would've been better with internal y, but there is a lot of engineering and designing to fit everything into a small rectangular box.
  • Gen 7 core i cpu for desktop is not out yet my friend. They use the latest one as of today.
  • I believe the quad-core kaby lake chips aren't out yet and if I'm not mistaken, the differences in performance and power consumption between Skylake and Kabylake is pretty marginal and not really worth the upgrade anyways. You'd be better off waiting for Cannon Lake next year.
  • While it does seem pricey, I think the monitor alone could probably realistically go for $3000.
  • I don't get the pricey argument, at least $1K of the price goes straight to the screen if not almost $2k, then you can split the difference on the internal components and you really can't expect too much anymore (for a surface level profit margin device)
  • That little "popping" noise heard everywhere, is Applefans brains just before they start mashing there stubby little fingers in forums, telling how mac is better even though it cannot do something as basic as touch. Apple forums are hysterical ATM.
  • You would figure Applefans would be supremely confident with the way things are for Apple these days right? #1 in brand value, #1 in market cap, #1 in profits, #1 in PC Profit share, etc...  Such insecurity!
  • It is a Marvel of engineering: True. But what about the software, which will run this beautiful hardware? Is it going to perform at the same level as all Macs do? Optimization has been a big concern for Windows, that is why all Windows PCs need a bigger graphics card to perform like a Mac. If it continues, nothing going to change.
  • Wut. Where did you get that PCs need better graphics card to perform like a Mac?
  • He's right, for 3d design and video editing and the like Mac's perform better on lesser hardware. It's a simple case of marrying the OS to the system, because Windows needs to run on so many different systems it is almost impossible to ensure a perfectly optimised scenario. It's the same process inherent in the iPhones and iPads (the dual core processor in the iPhone 6s creams the octa core Snapdragon 820 in any benchmark thrown at it). This isn't a criticism of Windows, it simply cannot achieve it because it needs to be so versatile.
  • Dude, your ideas are seriously misplaced, windows 10 can run butter smooth on low end hardware as well, and at high end hardware such as i7's and 10 series cards, windows PC's run circles around the most expensive mac's available. If you don't believe me you can check youtube. You'll find video's of $2000 PC's smoking $4000 and above mac pro's
  • Let me guess... You're not a Windows user? :)
  • I am using a Dell Inspiron 5520 laptop and a Lumia 950XL. I am also a registered Windows Insider like you all. I just wanted to highlight those areas where Windows needs improvement.
  • Improvement yes, but saying mac is better is just plain false. Of course they can improve their touch lag (especially on non-surface devices, though some of that is probably on the OEMs) but it seems ink-lag is all but gone on the new studio.
  • Like I said above Mac OSX only needs to worry about a handful of configurations for optimisation. Windows has to cater to thousands, it's impossible for an equally specced Windows machine to perform as well as a Mac, this has been proven time and time again, but it isn't an easy fix (nor does it need fixing) because Windows is designed to be an open, versatile, system.
  • in most cases you will probably find that the windows machine will perform better than a similar spec' mac simply due to better drivers. but in most cases the same hardware really will perform very much the same regardless of it being macos or windows.
  • can you point to any evidence other than, "it seems faster", to support Mac being better on the same-level hardware? Otherwise, everything you said is meaningless. Except for the marvel of engineering of course.
  • When Surface Pro 4 came, many of us were too excited about it. But after using it for a week or two, people started to complain about the 'Severe Battery Drain' issue. Not just that, thousands of people complained that they are having 'Screen Flickering' issue. It was not the hardware, which was faulty. But it was the software (Windows 10), which was less optimized and poorly developed. It is not only the matter of speed, it is the matter of Overall Performance.
  • Actually it was a problem of drivers.
  • I think I just found my new studio pc. Awesome stuff and an amazing ad. Well done, Microsoft.
  • Then why most of the professionals do use of a Mac? Besides having only an integrated Intel graphics, Macs run smoother than most of the windows PCs equipped with integrated graphics. Windows PCs essentially need a dedicated graphics from NVIDIA or AMD for better performance.
  • It's very simple, at one point people thought that whether they were buying a pc for $300 or $2000, they were essentially buying the same thing ...only to later complain that their $300 pc isnt running smoothly and being told they needed better specs etc. Macs had a fixed model strategy which included powerful specs for professionals to use in a stable manner. Macs also looked more fancy and designer which made it a novelty to have for any professional as it also looked pretty on their desks. Since then, the general consumer has become slightly more educated and thanks to Microsofts initiation, we now have premium built products such as Surface as well as other premium devices from other OEMs, which is why users have been opting for surface products as of late.
  • Exactly... People learned and got frustrated on cheap PCs. Most Mac users are still ignorant users.. they just have Macs... I just about hate when mac users come to the office... They know very little after all their bragging and what not. This is more in the wild. Using a Mac, windows or even Linux does not mean you know a lot or can do a lot... Anyone can buy a computer... Then the idea that Mac is better at creating garbage... Marketing. People believed it. It was more software preference where apple did have logic and other software where some people loved it. But usual industry standards were either multiplatform or on pc only... Very little the other way around. The consumer is fun and never thinks... I hate windows... Yeah a $300 pc .. I love my Mac. . still making the same dumb mistakes and pecking on the keyboard... Posing and doing nothing at the same time.
  • Show me a Mac that can run VR, power my arse
  • Mac Pro.
  • not all integrated graphics are equal. Surface Pro 4 with an i7 vs a $200 budget PC. Both have integrated graphics, but they are clearly not the same. Comparing them in such a way exposes a lack of understanding of hardware.
  • I think Intel integrated graphics can't deliver that RAW power. In mac ecosystem engineers need to deal with only one hardware configuration. But where as in windows ecosystem 100+ hardware configurations. Excuse me, if I am wrong. External GPU will provide RAW power for seamless work flow
  • I want that wallpaper :D
  • Yeah, same
  • I have a question about this if anyone has actually seen or used this device. How much weight can you actually put on the screen. We know that we can rest on our drawing board or workbench. Can we actually rest our upper body or arms on this surface screen? Will it break or very hot to rest on? 
  • See if you can catch the demo from yesterday where he leant on the screen.
  • supposedly they'll be available as demo units at microsoft stores starting today. though, this is all based on one line Panos said in his speech, so not sure how true that really is.
  • How is this different than the HP Envy Recline series that has been out for years?
  • The screen itself, the form factor (similar, but *not* identical), the Surface Dial, the pen support, the hinge themselves. we're not saying that the form factor is 100% new and revolutionary, its just they are doing it better. There were tablets that had attachable keyboards before the Surface Pro. There were 2-in-1 tablet PCs before the Surface Book. It's just the attention to detail and quality that sets it apart and adding a few new features that make all the difference.
  • I want this, but waiting for a 2nd generation is too smart to ignore given price and fixed form factor.
  • the Surface brand is No Joke!
  • I really want that wallpaper! .. Where can I find it?
  • CrAPPLE copy this
    .. Hahahaha..