The Laptop Company is a Surface Hub user and Surface Hub partner supplying to government, higher education, healthcare and business. We share our experiences with the Hub and talk about the new Surface Hub 2s.
In general we recommend your systems team work with us to set up the device. Some functions can be rendered unavailable in certain setups, which will cause teething issues for users. The aim to is enable all functionality, allow users to seamlessly log in, connect devices to display and interact with, and ensure your network and data remain locked-down.
Start with the Whiteboard
The easiest place to get users started with the Surface Hub is the Microsoft Whiteboard app. It's versatile, can understand your writing, and lets you place all types of content on the board. Everything can be saved in perpetuity and shared with teams. We're seeing a lot of problem-solving and strategy being conducted internally using this app.
Better with Teams
While the device does work with Skype for Business, this service is nearing end-of-life. Microsoft Teams replaces Skype for Business while providing improved collaboration tools and interfaces. Both applications can be installed on user devices and the Surface Hub. Users can create shared whiteboards that can be edited by Hub users at the same time as users of devices that are equipped with pens (on or off-site).
Working on and off-site
Teams meetings can be conducted seamlessly - video attendees can be tiled full-screen or on the side of the screen to allow for a shared whiteboard or projection space. User screen-sharing is also supported for projecting documents and apps to the team. The Surface Hub supports multiple users interacting with the Surface Hub screen using different Surface Hub Pens. We use this for meetings with staff in different cities, as well as clients and partners.
Video call quality is generally excellent. The new Surface Hub 2s has a 4K display and camera. Users based overseas on slow connections or rural users will have reduced call quality to manage lag. New Zealand's generally excellent internet connections make this a non-issue for us.
Signing in with their Office 365 account allows users to share files, whiteboards, access and edit documents on their OneDrive, and connect to Teams meetings with full video conferencing capabilities. The Surface Hub can be booked for users through Outlook to reserve for meetings and to enable staff to see when the Hub is available.
Connect and project
The Hub supports WiDi and Miracast for connecting and project from Windows 10 laptops and tablets and allows the option of the Hub controlling the laptop - essentially creating a giant Tablet. We recommend user devices have wireless projection capability enabled for this - they will need Miracast/WiDi support too (we haven't seen laptops in quite some time that can't do this). Extended desktop, screen mirroring and presentation modes are supported when projecting wirelessly.
For high security environments, Surface Hub uses additional precautions over the standard WiDi / Miracast standard to lock down the device https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/surface-hub/surface-hub-wifi-direct.
To connect wirelessly from devices including Apple, Android and Chromebook, we recommend installing an app like AirServer Surface Hub edition. The Windows App Store has a number of Apps that can be installed on the Hub.
Performance computers and workstations
For high-performance computers - for example 3D workstations and editing suites - a cable connection via USB-C or HDMI+USB-C provides the highest quality display with lowest potential lag when interacting. This allows extremely high-demand apps to be displayed and interacted with using the workstation's GPU and CPU at up to 4K quality
A well set up device will reduce the user-training requirements. We created internal heroes who provided guidance to new users, often as a part of joint meetings. We find the ideal group size is somewhere around 6 trainees when training.
We can provide and recommend initial and up-skill training at least twice yearly through the course of ownership. This allows new users to be inducted, updated software features to be used and helps ensure the device is properly utilised by teams. As a new piece of equipment, it might otherwise be a bit daunting to new users.
Do we need it?
It would be hard to go back to a whiteboard or laptop-only video conferencing after using the Surface Hub, and it has been a boon for strategy and communications. It fits our needs well, but we can also appreciate the step-change that Microsoft has made with the new second generation models.
Want to know more or arrange a demo unit? Contact us.