Who wouldn’t be excited to get their hands on a Surface Hub 2S? This eagerly awaited successor to the very popular Surface Hub has had the tech world buzzing since it was announced just over a year ago. Lucky for me I got my hands on one of these amazing pieces of kit this week!
Arriving at the venue excitement was high, then the call comes in, ‘You need to build it when you get there’, panic ensued! For those of you that don’t know how the original Surface Hub was installed, it required a team of people, a crane and in some instances removing windows to install it. Luckily for me, the new Surface Hub 2 has changed a lot – I could even lift it on my own. The Hub 2S is visibly sleeker than its predecessor, in fact it is designed with the thinnest edge and bezel of any device in its class, very handy for moving easily from office to office.
Building it took me around 20 minutes from start to finish and only required 2 of us to lift the screen and mount it on its Roam Mobile Stand. The Steelcase Roam Mobile Stand is an optional extra for the Hub 2S, when using the stand the Hub can be easily rolled around the office. The stand has the battery housing on it halfway down and there is plenty of storage inside the battery case to store the pen and camera.
Watching the Hub 2S boot up for the first time was quick and painless, a few bits of information later and I was in and ready to roll. I was excited to finally use this device, and I must say I wasn’t disappointed.
The screen has a feel to it that is unlike anything I have used before. Your finger glides across it easily with no lag or drag, and even in the UK’s recent tropical temperatures complete with my hot sweaty hands it worked perfectly.
The supplied as standard pen feels very natural in the hand. I have been using Surface Pens for years on my devices, and yet this larger pen just felt comfortable to use, with no screen lag or dragging evident. Just like other Surface pens, flipping it over allows you to use the erase function, but the Hub 2S has a clever new feature the faster you move across the screen the lager the eraser becomes, meaning clearing large portions of work within the Whiteboard is a breeze. Another bonus is that the Hub 2S pen also works with all other Surface devices, however the standard pens don’t work on the Hub 2S, which is a shame.
I was happy to see that you don’t need to be signed in or connected to the internet to use the Hub 2S, I was able to access and use your usual office apps (Word, PowerPoint and Excel) as well as Microsoft Whiteboard without signing in.
I connected my Surface Laptop to the Hub using the project feature quickly and easily. After connecting I was able to use all the features on my laptop screen and have them working on the Hub. Working in this way allowed me to demonstrate the collaborative nature of the Hub 2S. Delegates were able to write and draw on the screen of the Hub whilst I edited the document on my Surface Laptop – this enabled a high degree of team collaboration which is exactly what the Surface Hub 2S is built for.
On the main welcome screen, you are greeted by a calendar that allows you to book the Hub 2S, for meetings or collaboration within your offices. If you need a group of colleagues to be on the same call you can launch Teams meetings from this screen or if you want to use the Hub as a whiteboard or flip chart, then a quick sign in allows you to have access to all your files and folders shared on OneDrive or SharePoint. Everything is launched with just a touch of the screen, allowing you to get to what you want quickly and easily.
On the day that I was demoing the Hub 2S I did not have a battery pack available and I can honestly say that this optional extra would be worth having. Moving between offices with only mains power and having to unplug the device and then power on again each time I moved offices meant that I was having to set everything up from scratch each time. With a battery pack the moving would have been simpler as my settings would have stayed available. If you are making the investment and purchasing a Hub 2S then for me the extra investment in a battery pack makes a lot of sense.
Here you can see the lights on the bottom of the battery pack, these allow you to see how much charge is left in the battery before it needs to be connected – the approximate usage time on battery is 2 hours.
The Steelcase Roam Stand is lightweight, easy to put together and moves easily across most floors. I didn’t get to try all floor types on my visit, but it moved around effortlessly and I wouldn’t see it having issues with most types of flooring.
As a trainer I have experienced many different presentation screens over the years, one of the most frequent issues I face is how am I going to connect to the screen? Connections are usually at the back of the screen which is often attached to a wall, usually this requires the contortion of my hand to plug in the necessary display cables. Not with Surface Hub 2S! Here the connection ports are easily accessible from the underside of the screen, still hidden from view but with plenty of room to allow hands to insert and remove cables. The connection points on the Surface Hub 2 are HDMI, Mini Display Port, USB-C and ethernet.
The Surface Hub 2 has so much going for it and I am already a big fan before I even get to the redesigned camera!
No longer is the camera stuck to the sides of the Hub in a bezel, it is now magnetized to one of 4 points (in the middle of each screen edge) so that you can move it around the screen, top, bottom, left or right to give you the best placement for the 4K wide angle lens. If privacy is a worry simply pull the camera from the device and the Hub 2 will not be able to send video footage.
To sum up the Surface Hub 2S is a wonderful piece of technology from Microsoft, they have listened to customer feedback and used it to improve the new Hub. It is something I cannot wait to use again, and in the days after, as I fought with cables, screen connectors and contorted my hand into odd positions, I found myself just wishing I had a Surface Hub 2S to make it all so much easier!