Dell takes on Surface Studio with its dual-screen Smart Desk concept – it even has a dial

Update: Wow, this concept is from 2014. But Dell tells me it actually exists now and we’ll see it at CES in January. Stay tuned!

Microsoft impressed a lot of people last week with its announcement of the Surface Studio, a desktop-tablet hybrid with a clever and elegant dial interface. Apparently Dell has been thinking along the same lines, because they just teased something very, very similar — right down to the dial.

A video shown ahead of a keynote speech at Adobe’s Max conference (captured by MS Power User) showed the Smart Desk being used in similar situations as the Surface Studio: illustration, photo and video editing and multi-hand media manipulation.

“Our thoughts naturally transfer to paper. But there’s a gap between what comes naturally and how we create digitally,” the video explains. “Dell has changed that.”

That’s a bit premature, since Dell’s device is still a concept and Microsoft’s is already in the hands of early testers, but they probably didn’t have time to redo the voice-over, so we’ll give them a pass.

It’s not all the same, of course: While Microsoft’s solution is a desktop that converts to a high-definition touch and pen input slate, Dell has the two separated. It seems likely from the fact that the video only shows dual-screen setups that this touchscreen is an accessory, not a standalone computer.


The video above shows the Smart Desk working with a specific monitor, but a second video shows a different one, so clearly it’s intended as an accessory, not a complete system. Adobe, no doubt, is a partner, and the two have likely collaborated on workflows and layouts that take advantage of it.

Clearly this takes advantage of the new features found in the Windows 10 Creators Update, which Dell would have been privy to well ahead of release, but beyond that, we can’t be sure how much Dell knew about Microsoft’s Surface Studio and dial interface.

A Dell press release describes the Smart Desk as a “workplace of the future concept,” so unfortunately, there’s no hard details on things like specs, pricing, and all that. Perhaps they’re waiting to see if anyone bites at the bait Microsoft put out.