Back in January, Dell unveiled its Canvas hardware, a giant display with multiple input sources, at CES. While it shared many striking similarities with Microsoft's Surface Studio PC -- including a puck-like input device that Microsoft calls a "dial" and Dell labels a "totem" -- the Canvas is not a clone and, as ZDNet's own Mary Jo Foley found out at the time of the launch, did not seem to ruffle Microsoft's feathers.
In part, that's because the Canvas 27, as the just-released product is known, is "merely" a massive touchscreen whereas the Surface Studio is a full-fledged computer. Of course, with a $1,799 starting price, the Canvas is more than just a big display. It not only allows touch input, but also includes a digital pen as well as the previously mentioned totem.
But it does require a Windows 10 PC to work, while the Surface Studio offers similar capabilities with a built-in processor and storage -- and a much higher price tag (starting at $2,999). You also get a slightly larger display (28 inches) with higher resolution (4,500x3,000) from Microsoft, whereas the 27-inch Dell features 2,560x1,440 resolution.
Both companies are appealing to digital creatives who can sketch, draw, and paint on a larger display than the graphics tablets from Wacom and others that artists previously had to rely on. These creative types have traditionally been Apple devotees, but PC manufacturers hope to entice them away from their Macs. Apple alienated a segment of long-time users with its latest MacBook Pro refresh, and its continued refusal to add a touchscreen option to any of its Macs could give the Dell Canvas and Studio Surface an opening.
That depends on if digital artists decide that using a gigantic screen for input is a better alternative than just working with an iPad Pro instead. If they need power more than input flexibility, they could be waiting for the forthcoming iMac Pro, though with its starting price of $4,999, they could buy both a Canvas 27 and Studio Surface.