At first glance, innovation is not always obvious. To make its Surface Neo and Duo foldable, Microsoft has not opted for the revolutionary screen technology.
The company uses an old-fashioned hinge that connects the two tiles and allows them to rotate 360°. But in 2019, with ever thinner screen edges, Microsoft’s choice makes sense. And when you see the devices in action, you quickly realize that at least one of them, the Surface Neo, is radically changing the situation. Comprising two 9-inch displays, it comes with Windows 10X, a version of Windows 10 specially designed for dual display devices.
The Surface Neo also comes with a new type of keyboard that can be positioned in different places. Placed on the outer part of one of the screens (the furthest from the hinge), it triggers the appearance of a “Wonder Bar,” a kind of larger Touch Bar that can display useful tools (e.g., emojis when sending a message) but also windows (e.g., a YouTube video). And when the keyboard is placed closer to the hinge, the visible part of the screen can be used as a touchpad. During the short demo, it all seemed to work very well with windows that quickly adapted to the chosen configurations and an easy-to-move keyboard. And when it is folded down (on the back of the screen), it takes up very little space.
CHOICE OF SIZE (2 X 9 INCHES)
When placed in the computer position, the Neo Surface offers a correct working surface. It is even more than comfortable when the device is placed in the notebook position (open flat, with a document on the left screen and a window for pencil note-taking on the right) or the “book standing” position with the keyboard detached since in these cases a diagonal equivalent to 13 inches is obtained.
When folded, however, the device seems unbeatable in terms of portability with its 9-inch diagonal and its lightweight of 655 grams. Of course, a host of parameters is likely to improve or spoil the experience offered by the Surface Neo. How developers grab these opportunities will be central to everything. A 9-inch screen itself remains a small surface area for production, even if it is sufficient for consultation. Making the most of the Wonder Bar by moving menus away from it will, therefore, be crucial if the user is to have a minimum of comfort when placing his device in the “laptop” position.
The small size of the camera makes us think that it will not be very suitable for office automation. However, it will not be possible to enjoy film-like multimedia content on the unfolded Surface since the hinge will spoil the viewing experience. Although Microsoft indicated at the conference that they were not interested in the folding screens used by Samsung or Huawei any more than that, this type of panel seems to us to have much more potential for smartphone format devices. However, it should be noted that Surface Duo, like Neo, are far from being finished products. It will probably be a little longer before we have more details about their possibilities.