More than four months after it was announced as a product, Microsoft is expanding the availability of it’s all-in-one desktop Surface Studio outside the United States.

Australians can now make pre-orders, with availability scheduled for the end of April (27th).

Three variants will be sold in Australia, a Core i5 version with 8GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive, and two Core i7 versions with 16 or 32GB of ram, the latter also featuring a 2TB hard drive and NVidia GTX 980M graphics processor with a 4GB GPU.

I’ve got to say, taking a hands-on look at this product recently at the Microsoft Sydney store, I was impressed.  Visually it is stunning.  The clean lines and squared edges which are clearly drawn from the Surface Pro design cues offer an all new look to the desktop all-in-one.

Without question the leader in this space is the Apple iMac, and as the owner of a 27 inch iMac I can tell you Microsoft are onto a winner here.

By separating the brains of the PC and the screen, the whole large monitor portion of the Surface Studio is thinner, there is no PC bulk.  The brains and guts are in what appears to be the stand and even that is quite small.

The entire screen hangs gently on two chrome metal arms, and it moves in a fluid motion with just a gentle nudge of a single finger.

Microsoft were at pains to point out to me the innovative upright USB slots (x4), which to me looked identical to the iMac, and the power cable aparently able to cope with more twists and bends than normal meaning it won’t fall out – not an issue I’ve ever had with an iMac.

That said, the beauty of the Surface Studio is in two primary parts.  Firstly the design, and I’d challenge anyone not to be impressed by the new look this device brings to the sector.

Secondly, and most importantly – the user experience.

Sitting down to the screen it seems enormous. Because it has a 3:2 aspect ratio – meaning it’s taller than you’d expect.

Then there are the controls. With four possible input methods you won’t be short of options.

The keyboard and mouse are obvious, but then add the pen and dial and something new opens up.

I sat for 15 minutes playing in paint and draw programs with the pen in my right hand and dial in the other.

Using my left hand to switch between colours and brushes, while using my right hand to apply the brush or draw.

It was explained to me that we are quite good at using two hands.  We wash the dishes with two hands, and wash the car with two hands.  Your brain CAN handle it.

And it does, quickly.

For graphic designers and artists, this will be a game changer.

For managers or spreadsheet warriors there’s still big advances in the large touch screen and dial controls.

As a constant user of Adobe Creative Suite products I cannot wait to see if and when Adobe implement new touch, dial and pen controls into Photoshop and Premiere Pro.

My first impressions were good. Very good.

I’ll give it a solid go in the office soon, until then the news is you’ll need to start saving because the Surface Studio ain’t cheap:

  • Surface Studio 8GB/i5 = AU$4,699 RRP
  • Surface Studio 16GB/i7 = AU$5,499 RRP
  • Surface Studio 32GB/i7 = AU$6,599 RRP