Microsoft just unveiled a very innovative dual-screen mobile computer that also makes room for a physical keyboard. The Surface Neo folds, but doesn’t use a folding screen, and combines features of a laptop and a tablet.
Most Surface products compete directly with Apple offerings. Apple is also exploring multi-display laptops and tablets, but Microsoft might get there first. Might, because the device unveiled today won‘t be out for a year.
“We wanted to make you a product that felt smaller. A product that fit your lifestyle, but also in a big way make you more productive and creative,” said Panos Panay, the chief product officer of the Microsoft Devices group.
What we know about the Microsoft Surface Neo
With the Surface Neo still so far from release, Microsoft is cagey with specifications. We do know each display is 9 inches, and the central hinge is flexible enough that one screen can be folded behind the other.
The computer will run Windows 10X, a version created specifically for it, on an Intel processor. Apps can run on separate screens, or can stretch across both.
A Surface Pen will magnetically clip to the back of the Surface Neo, alongside a keyboard that also attaches with magnets. This can be moved to cover part of one screen, with the remainder of the display being used for a trackpad.
It’s still a prototype, and Microsoft says this device won‘t be out before the 2020 holidays. There’s no word on pricing.
Panay unveiled the Surface Neo this morning at a Microsoft event. Watch the video:
— Microsoft Surface (@surface) October 2, 2019
There’s a Microsoft Surface Duo, too
Keeping with the dual-display theme, Microsoft also unveiled the Surface Duo, an Android-based device that’ll be sort of kid brother for the Neo. It will sport a pair 5.6-inch touchscreens and fold up like a book.
Like the larger model, it has two displays with a 180 degree hinge in between — no folding screen here. And the Duo also won‘t be out until late 2020.
Apple is in there swinging
Although Apple CEO Tim Cook certainly hasn’t pre-announced any dual-screen devices, the company’s engineers are looking into it.
Apple received a patent just this summer on a method to give a dual-display laptop or tablet an on-screen keyboard with raised keys, plus there are related patents awarded earlier. And a foldable 5G iPad is supposedly in development.