Let’s get straight to the point: the Microsoft Surface Studio is one of the most desirable objects to have passed through the Stuff team’s hands in years. We love it, and if you’re a serious illustrator it should be near the top of your shopping list.

We love it not because it is perfect. It isn’t - not by a long shot. Fortunately for the human race, desirability rarely relies on technical perfection - think back to the original iPhone for proof of that.

No, we love the Studio because it is outlandish, beautiful, tactile and quietly unique. If Werner Herzog went into the PC business, he’d make something like this.

But before you rush off to the nearest John Lewis, let me put some flesh on the bones of that verdict. After all, I’d hate you to part with between £2999 and £4250, only to find that our love affair translates into your years of regret. 

The display: as beautiful to look at as it is to use

For those of you not already familiar with the Surface Studio, it's best described as a Surface Book that's been through some kind of comic-book radiation beam and emerged Bigger! Stronger! Better! It's technically a desktop PC, but its glorious 28in touchscreen can flip down on a clever hinge so you can use it flat, like an illustrator's tablet. Or indeed, like a Surface Pro. 

The screen is the first thing you'll see upon unpacking, and it dominates the entire Studio experience. Now I’ve seen a lot of screens, including the very best that Apple has to offer, but to describe this one as glorious is no mere hyperbole. It is truly stunning.

Having spent the wrong side of £4000, you have every right to expect the initial set-up to be impressive, and the Studio doesn’t disappoint. Log in for the first time, and I defy you not to feel a mini rush of glee and wonder at the 28in 3:2 screen’s size, colour depth and sharpness.

I could bang on about specs - the 4500 x 3000 native resolution, the 192 DPI, or the 10-bit colour depth. Also, I could mention that the rival 27in 5K iMac’s 218 DPI has the Studio licked, on paper at least - I didn’t have a 5K to hand for a real-world comparison.

Instead, let’s stick to what you’ll actually experience day on day. Own a Studio, and you’ll be staring at a big screen that’s crazy sharp. Text looks as though it has been intricately etched into the glass with a surgeon’s scalpel. It’s fantastic, and the novelty will never wear off. Promise.

Colours are well calibrated and attractive, without ever straying into gaudy. Besides, if you do find them a little saturated on the default ‘Vivid’ setting, you can always switch it to a more restrained sRGB mode, which I found more natural and much easier on the eyes.

As I unboxed the Studio, I briefly wondered how many of my favourite Windows apps would be thrown into an ugly mess by its ultra-high resolution. But I needn’t have worried - everything scales well and looks razor-sharp, from Adobe Creative Suite to Spotify to Steam. So be assured that your 28in PixelSense display will be a joy to look at, and will probably stay that way for years to come.

Value and practicality: when does confident pricing turn into foolhardy?

The Studio’s easy to live with, and generously equipped - you’ll find four USB3.0 ports, a mini display port, a 3.5mm headphone socket and a Gigabit Ethernet port. But although that’s a respectable line-up in terms of connectivity, your eventual verdict on the Studio’s utility may change based on your environment and expectations.

For example, we can imagine the Studio attracting people who want a second TV or media centre for the bedroom or study (the same market currently drawn to the 27in 5K iMac). Surprising, then, especially consider the Studio’s price, that a media remote isn’t bundled in with the package.

I was also a little surprised to find that the Surface Dial isn’t included in the Studio’s box. The Dial, if it’s the first you’ve heard of it, is Microsoft’s novel controller designed for Surface devices - it’ll sit either on your desk or on the Studio’s screen, and can be used to access a ton of shortcuts that change according to whichever app you’re using at the time.

For some, the Dial is a game changer. Personally, I struggled to acclimatise to it - in 90% of cases, I found it easier to use the mouse or a keyboard shortcut. But considering that the Dial is ‘only’ £90, surely it could have been included in the Studio’s £4250 price?

We’d also suggest that you spend a little time with the Studio in store before spending the cash, just to check that it doesn’t impose a workflow that you can’t work with. For example, Stuff’s art supremo struggled with the need to have the screen close to you on the desk, which meant moving the Studio keyboard to one side. In fact, he ended up putting the keyboard on his lap every time he wanted to switch to sketch mode, and while I doubt many people would find it an issue, it drove him to distraction.

And while I’m getting every last grumble out of my system, even the most pimped iMac 27in 5k - complete with 4.2 GHz i7, 32GB of RAM, 2TB Fusion Drive and Magic Mouse 2 and Trackpad - weighs in at £3098… a whole £1152 cheaper than our Studio. No, the iMac doesn’t have a touch screen - but then with the change you have left over, you can go raid the Wacom catalogue.

Make no mistake, we’ve already said that we love the Studio. If you’re an illustrator (the product’s aforementioned target market), the Studio comes with everything in the box you’ll need, and will fit perfectly in your design studio or a study desk (and look great while it goes about it). But as with a growing number of products in the Surface line up, the Studio’s cause is ever-so-slightly undermined by Microsoft’s ambitious pricing. Actually, let's just tell it like it is: it's downright stingy.

Stuff says... 

Microsoft Surface Studio review

The Surface Studio's stunning design and sheer audacity help it overcome its flaws to stand out as one of 2017's most exciting new products
from
£3,000
Good Stuff 
Glorious screen
Flexible design makes it easy to use
A true object of beauty
Bad Stuff 
Not enough power for high-end gaming
High price - and stingy approach to extras
Some Windows 10 glitches