Hands on with Avocor's Surface Hub alternative

Microsoft first announced Windows Collaboration Displays back in June, calling them a new category of devices. The first ones were to come from Sharp and Avocor, and Avocor detailed the availability of its unit at Ignite, earlier this week.

You can think of Windows Collaboration Displays as Surface Hub alternatives. The big difference is that these aren't standalone PCs. They're external monitors, meaning you can plug them into any PC that you have.

Obviously, it's much more than just a big monitor though. The 65-inch 4K screen supports 20-point multitouch, pen input, and more. The webcam is built into the top of the display, and it has sensors on it that will wake up the screen when someone enters the room.

Avocor showed us Microsoft's Whiteboard app, and you can actually erase things that you wrote by wiping it with your hand.

One thing that's shown there is that Avocor also makes separate 65-, 75-, and 86-inch screens, and the only difference there is that they don't have the camera or the sensors. While the 65-inch Windows Collaboration Display will arrive in December, there's a 55-inch model coming in Q1 2019.

Along the bottom of the display, you'll find a series of buttons, and the speakers. The buttons can control speaker volume, the microphone, and there's a Start button. Personally, I love the Start button, because I don't remember the last time I saw a device with one.

The device has an array of ports on the side of it, which is impressive since it only requires a USB Type-C port to work. It doesn't even require Thunderbolt 3.

You'll also notice that it runs standard Windows 10; after all, it's mirroring your screen. Microsoft doesn't license Hub OS/Windows 10 Team, so even if Avocor wanted to make one of these as a standalone PC (it doesn't want to), it would run standard Windows 10. There are benefits to this model. For example, you can run any app on this, which you can't do on a Surface Hub, and you can also easily swap out devices.

Another thing you can do with these displays is that you can set up more than one, hooked up the same machine. It can mirror your PC's display, or you can extend it as a second monitor. All of the options for a second monitor apply. You can just do more with these monitors.

Avocor's Windows Collaboration Display arrives in December for $6,995.

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