Watch out, Surface Hub: you just got undercut big time by the Smart Kapp iQ

A 4K smart display for less than half of what Microsoft wants

Smart Kapp iQ

The dry erase board's days are nearly over, but judging by Microsoft's five-digit asking price for the 4K Surface Hub, its replacement doesn't come cheap. Cue the inevitable, enterprising startup out to make the tech more accessible: Smart with its Smart Kapp iQ.

Making its debut at the 2015 CE Week show in New York City, the Kapp iQ is a 4K smart display-meets-whiteboard that comes in 55- and 65-inch varieties. Launching this month (as of this writing), the displays go for $3,999 (about £2,546, AU$5,187) and $4,999 (about £3,183, AU$6,485), respectively.

Considering that the 55-inch Microsoft Surface Hub goes for $6,999 (about £4,600, AU$5,350) and only pumps out 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, that's not a bad deal at all. Unfortunately, Smart was mum on availability outside of the US.

How does it all work?

Granted, Microsoft's 4K smart display comes in a whopping 84-inch model ($19,999, £13,000, AU$15,000), and both of its screens offer the deep Office functionality that only the Redmond campus can provide. That said, based on some brief time checking out Smart's alternative, the Kapp iQ has plenty of tricks up its sleeve.

Like the Surface Hub, the Kapp iQ is designed to expand the whiteboard's reach beyond those in the room. Using an included Pen iQ stylus, users can write on the Kapp iQ like they would any whiteboard, only it will naturally feel a bit different. This is a 4K LED panel, after all.

Smart Kapp iQ
A smart whiteboard that's smartly priced – who woulda thunk it?

The Kapp iQ is accessible by up to 250 remote meeting participants at a time through a URL that the device creates. (The display can broadcast to five folks by default via URL – the 250 figure is gated by a $1.99/month or $19.99/year subscription to the Smart Kapp Plus service.)

Once connected via a browser, remote viewers can see notes drawn on the Kapp iQ display in real time. Better yet, you can even draw on the display while watching in the browser with different-colored inks through in-browser tools.

The display is also Bluetooth enabled, able to wirelessly connect to a phone, tablet or laptop. From there, the connected user can easily email whatever is on screen to as many team or class members as he or she so chooses through the free Smart Kapp app on Android and iOS.

The devil is in the details

There's just one catch to the Smart Kapp iQ that I've found so far: while this is a 4K panel, the whiteboard mode brings the resolution down to 1080p full HD. It's only through an HDMI source that the display pumps out a 3,840 x 2,160, Ultra HD pixel count.

So, it's not that big of a catch – more than 8 million pixels is not necessary for a whiteboarding tool. Besides, during a demo of the device, I saw that any image displayed through HDMI can be scrawled over in 4K resolution, and it looked sharp.

Regardless of the details, the Smart Kapp iQ looks to be a worthy Surface Hub competitor in both the office and the classroom. If your office or class runs on Google apps or another productivity suite, then it's time to throw out the old whiteboard for one of these.

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