Your next laptop could have two screens

I’m here to explain why you probably need one of them.


Samuele Dassatti

3 years ago | 3 min read

It’s been quite some time since a new form factor was introduced to the world of personal computing. In fact, one could argue the last relevant event in the market was the rise of tablets and 2-in-1s in the early 2010s. This started to change last October, when Microsoft announced a pair of dual-screen portable devices: The Surface Duo and Neo.

The two look very similar, both featuring two screens kept together by a 360-degree hinge and the elegant design we came to expect from the Surface line. This said, they serve very different purposes: the smaller Duo runs Android and can potentially replace your phone, while the tablet-sized Neo runs Windows 10X, a new distribution of Windows meant for this kind of devices.

Their announcement brought many to ask themselves whether they needed such strange yet interesting devices, so I’m here to explain why you probably need one of them.

The Surface Neo (on the left) and the Surface Duo (on the right) look very similar, yet they serve vastly different purposes.

True productivity on the go

It’s easy to see how one of the biggest trends in recent computer history has been a constant struggle to make everything more portable: with phones and tablets getting more capable and powerful laptops becoming thin and light. Unfortunately, this trend seems to have slowed down in recent years, as mobile OSes matured and we realized laptops can only get so small before they become unusable.

So, in the current landscape it seems like productivity is directly tied to the size of the screen you’re working on. After all, if you ever used a multi-monitor setup, you know more screen real estate always means more productivity.

The good news is that this wave of dual-screen computers looks set to finally bring the great experience of having multiple monitors to devices you can fit in your backpack or even in your pocket.

The Surface Neo even allows to attach a physical keyboard to its bottom screen

All the right technologies

So, if dual-screen mobile devices are this great, why are they popping up just now? Well, we just needed to wait for a few key technologies to get really good. Luckily, it seems like we are finally getting there.

For starters, the experience of using mobile internet has truly improved in the last few years and any decent 4G connection allows you to get productive on the go, not to mention the upcoming 5G networks.

Another fundamental requirement we just recently fulfilled is the need for laptop-grade mobile processors, as many power users require quite a lot of, well, power to be productive on the go, and Intel’s new Lakefield architecture promises to bring just that to dual-screen computers in a small form factor that can fit in extremely thin devices.

A missing piece

Windows 10X promises to be both productive and mobile-friendly by adapting the familiar Window interface to this new form factor

The only thing missing from the picture is an OS that allows this new form factor to reach its full potential. Fortunately, Microsoft introduced it alongside the Surface Neo and it’s called Windows 10X.

The new OS promises to make Windows friendlier towards touch devices, with a redesigned start-like menu and taskbar, without sacrificing productivity by ensuring compatibility with the apps you know and love, be they legacy applications, Windows universal apps or progressive web apps.

Plus, being Windows, it will be open to Microsoft’s partners, so expect other manufacturers to start selling their own Windows 10X-based computers.

It’s not just Microsoft: other PC makers are introducing their own dual-screen computers. (In the picture: Dell Project Duet)

Wrapping up

As you can probably tell from this article, I’m quite exited for this new form factor, being the kind of user that could truly benefit from such portable yet capable devices, and if you’re as excited as I am about having multiple screens in your pocket or backpack stay tuned for other articles on the topic!

This article was originally published by Samuele dassatti on medium.


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Samuele Dassatti







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