Microsoft has just revealed Surface Neo, the much-rumored dual-screen laptop, at its big October press event in New York.
As you may well be aware, Neo means ‘new’ (being derived from Greek), and this name is doubtless Microsoft’s way of showing us just how fresh and revolutionary this device is.
Although let’s face it, upon first hearing the name, nobody thinks of Greece, and everybody thinks of The Matrix. And of course that lends the device an immediate spoonful of ‘cool’, as it were.
The Neo is an entirely new Surface which is essentially two tablets hinged together like a book, featuring a new spin on Microsoft’s operating system, Windows 10X, that’s designed and optimized for dual-screen devices. And that tight integration of hardware and software allows for some nifty tricks…
Surface Neo is still a long way out, with a release expected to come when holiday 2020 rolls around, assuming there’s no slippage of course.
It’s still too early for Microsoft to be talking about the price, and we haven’t heard how much damage Surface Neo will do to your wallet just yet.
At the press event where Neo was first introduced, Microsoft described its vision to create something which is supremely versatile. A product which is the “next category” of device, and delivers the “ultimate in mobile productivity”, as Panos Panay enthused.
To sum it up very simply, it’s two 9-inch tablets hinged together into a dual-screen machine so it looks like a book (much like the Microsoft Courier concept the firm abandoned a decade ago). The Neo’s 360-degree hinge allows it to be flipped right back, or used in tent mode.
Driving this dual-screen device is an all-new Intel Lakefield processor, described as a hybrid CPU and incorporating an 11th Generation Intel graphics solution. The chip has a reduced silicon footprint, and is half the size of a regular PCB.
The tablets are fashioned with Gorilla Grass, being 5.6mm thin and weighing 655g. There is a pen which magnetically attaches to the device, and a small keyboard which magnetically seals to the Neo too, and can sit on top of the lower screen (being just over half the width of the display) to be typed on in a laptop-like fashion. The keyboard and pen charge up automatically, too.
When the keyboard is placed atop the display, the device recognises this, and brings up the ‘Wonder Bar’ on the section of the screen above the keyboard, giving you Touch Bar-like functionality with access to emoji, a trackpad, and the ability to ink.
The hardware is tied closely in with Microsoft’s new OS, Windows 10X, which as mentioned has been specifically designed for dual-screen devices like this new Surface. Neo lets the user benefit from tricks like flowing applications across both screens for a larger working area. Or if you have, say, Outlook open on one screen, and you click a link in an email, the linked website can open directly opposite on the other screen.
Versatility is the key here, for sure, with good and welcome dollops of user-friendliness and convenience apparently included into the bargain.
Microsoft clearly has high hopes for dual-screen hardware, because at the same time as introducing Surface Neo, the company also revealed its Surface Duo – yes, the Surface Phone by another name, a foldable dual-screen device with 5.6-inch displays which has been long awaited by many folks.