Enterprises are hiring employees that have technical knowledge and a creative spark to develop communication techniques that work in a modern mobile and global enterprise. To help these employees create the best visuals, enterprises are investing in specialized technologies, tools, and hardware. One example of this new hardware is the Dell Canvas.

This smart person’s guide explains what the Dell Canvas is, who would use it, and why it matters. We’ll update this guide periodically as more details are released about the Dell Canvas.

SEE: All of TechRepublic’s smart person’s guides

Executive summary

  • What is the Dell Canvas? It’s a specialized touch display that lies on a desk or a table horizontally so it can be used as a drawing or a drafting board.
  • Why does the Dell Canvas matter? Successful communication in the modern enterprise often requires creativity. Tools like this make creative staff more productive.
  • Who does the Dell Canvas affect? Any enterprise with employees tasked with creating content will want to consider deploying specialized tools like the Dell Canvas.
  • When is the Dell Canvas available? According to a Dell representative at CES 2017, the Canvas will go on sale in late March 2017.
  • How do I get the Dell Canvas? The product will be available directly from Dell. Other retailers will likely offer the product, but that is not confirmed yet.

SEE: Photos of the Dell Canvas (CNET)

What is the Dell Canvas?

The Dell Canvas is a specialized touch display that lies on a desk or a table horizontally, or near horizontally, so it can be used as a drawing or a drafting board. It is not an all-in-one computer, but a separate display device that supplements a workstation and the more traditional vertical displays.

Similar to the Microsoft Surface Studio, the Dell Canvas ships with a circular input device that can be used on the touch surface to control color, line width, brush type, etc. This device, called a Totem by Dell, allows the user to control and configure functions right from the work area without requiring keyboard or mouse interaction.

Specifications for the Dell Canvas

Dell has not posted the full specifications for the Canvas yet, but there are some details to be gleaned from the CES 2017 demo.

Description Specification
Display 27 inch QHD display with native pixel resolution of 2560 X 1440
Interface Touch screen with Totem dial controller and digital pen
Ports Unspecified as of yet, but presumably HDMI and/or Display Port connections
Cost $1,799

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Why the Dell Canvas matters

Visualization has become a vital part of effective business communication. With the continuing development of big data and IoT, the ability for businesses to turn huge amounts of data into information that’s useful to decision makers often depends on visualization. This means enterprises need to provide specialized tools to their creative staff. Such tools will make development of this form of communication easier and their employees more productive.

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Competitors to the Dell Canvas

The market for specialized displays and workstations for creating visual communication is in its nascent stages right now, but it should continue to attract competitors for market share. The most prominent competitor to the Dell Canvas is the Microsoft Surface Studio and the companion Microsoft Surface Dial.

There are also numerous touchscreen monitors that support pen input, but they are smaller and most are not designed with horizontal or near horizontal orientation in mind. Consequently, they pale in comparison to both the Dell Canvas and the Microsoft Surface Studio for this type of hardware. Look for more competition in this space before the end of 2017.

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Who the Dell Canvas affects

Any employee tasked with creating content, communicating visually, designing products, or analyzing and disseminating data will be much more efficient and productive if they are working with the proper tools and hardware.

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When the Dell Canvas will be released

According to a Dell representative at CES 2017, Dell plans to start taking orders for the Dell Canvas in late March 2017 and begin shipping to customers in April 2017.

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How to purchase the Dell Canvas

The Dell Canvas should be available directly from Dell and be listed on the company’s website in time to take orders in late March 2017. Presumably, the product will be available from other retailers, but no information has been released about that just yet.

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