The Surface 2.0 From Microsoft And Samsung Ships At Last

If you’re wondering why we didn’t stop by to test out the Samsung SUR40 touch-table, AKA the Surface 2.0, during CES, there’s a good reason: we did that last year. The device, while impressive, isn’t exactly new. But as it has little in the way of competition — the Surface is the nonpareil of touch tables — they probably didn’t feel they needed to get it out in any kind of hurry.

The device, which costs $8400 and ships this month, must be quite a bit more attractive than the original to companies eager to spruce up their public spaces. The old Surface was kind of a chunk, and the limited resolution was no help, either. Oh, and the price. The new Surface beats it handily in every respect. It’s flatter, lighter, wall-mountable, and 1080p.

As we learned last year, the SUR40 also has what they call PixelSense, tiny sensors built in between the pixels of the image that can detect light. It’s through these, not capacitive or resistive sensors, that your touches are detected. This also means it can read things like QR codes, whole-hand gestures, and text.

Here’s our hands-on from last CES:

One problem I see is that companies aren’t always willing to do what it takes to make a Surface effective. When we were at CES, we passed countless touchscreens and displays showing menus, promotions, local info, and so on. They were all pretty terrible: no multitouch, buggy and unresponsive UIs, and kind of useless info. But doubtless they cost only a fraction of what a Surface cost. Are restaurants and hotels going to be satisfied with this level of quality? Many, I fear, will be. To truly take advantage of what the Surface 2.0 has to offer, it will take thousands of dollars in development and training. Imagine checking in to your hotel via Surface, or ordering food on it. Great! But not easy.

Fortunately the development community for Surface has been around for a long time and is serious about what they do. I got a chance to hang out with a few developers, and it seemed to me that the capabilities of the thing are huge, but only for those dedicated to it.

At all events, the device should ship soon, and it might be just the thing to make your lobby or waiting area more interesting. You can pre-order or find out more at Samsung’s Surface page.