Surface Neo first look: Microsoft’s dual-screen prototype


– Back in 2009, all of the hype was around Microsoft’s super
secret dual-screen device that was codenamed Courier. Now, Courier never came to be, but 10 years later, it looks like Courier might be coming back to life in the form of a new
device called Surface Neo. (electronic music) Surface Neo is a part of
a bunch of new dual-screen and even foldable devices that are gonna be coming
at the end of 2020. And essentially, it puts two
nine-inch displays together inside what looks like
a Moleskine Journal. So the original Surface concept that launched now seven
years ago, the Surface RT, was turning a tablet into a laptop. And these new dual-screen
devices take that way further, with a smaller-package
device that kinda morphs into all these different modes. We got an early look at a
pre-production prototype here but I wasn’t allowed to interact
with the software freely, and I could only really touch a device that wasn’t powered on. But I did get to see its many modes. There’s a reading mode which
is basically like a book where the screens are
side-by-side together. And then, there’s a laptop mode and, yeah, that feels like a laptop too. You can slot it down, put
a hardware keyboard on top, or use the software
keyboard that’s included. And then there’s like presentation mode, or you can just flip
the whole screen around and just use it as a regular tablet. We’ve seen devices that
have done this in the past. We’ve seen it a lot with Windows 8. We saw it in Lenovo’s Yoga Book as well. The real key element
here is that Microsoft has stepped up the software game. And it’s running Windows
10X on these devices. So 10X isn’t a completely
new version of Windows or anything like that. It’s not like Windows RT from the past that restricted everything down and didn’t run your favorite apps. 10X will run everything, and it’s running on an Intel Processor inside these devices as well, so that means your
traditional desktop apps, everything will work. But the ones that will really
shine are gonna be the ones that highly optimize
these dual-screen devices. Now, Microsoft is obviously
working with Office and that’s gonna be one of the first ones. So you’ll have your slide
on the left, perhaps. And a slide deck on the right. But really, it’s gonna
take software developers to create apps that are
really highly optimized for these dual-display devices, to kind of make it make sense. So one of the really interesting ways that Microsoft is sort of
separating this Windows 10X from standard regular Windows 10 is something called the Wonder Bar. Now this is like a small
sort of touch panel, basically like Apple’s Touch Bar that appears above the keyboard, whether that’s software or hardware. And it’ll basically give
you access to things like emojis and GIFs
when you reply to emails. And you’ll even be able to take things like YouTube videos or Netflix videos and just sort of like pin
them above your keyboard. Other than that, it kind
of looks like Windows 10. The Start menu has changed though, it sort of basically is an app launcher, and it shows you all
your recently used apps, rather than the Live Tiles. You can snap apps side-by-side. It will intelligently open apps, like say you’re in your
mail, you click link, it’ll open a browser, but
it’ll be on the other display, so it won’t take over
what you’re looking at. Unlike other Surface devices, there’s no trackpad on the Neo’s keyboard. But you’ll be able to find
a trackpad on the display, either below or above where
you placed this keyboard. The keyboard can be stowed magnetically to the back of the Neo,
and it will flip into place and attach with magnets to the display. It looks like a neat party trick. The Surface Neo also includes Microsoft’s new Surface Slim Pen
that will be available on the Surface Pro X2. It attaches to the back
of the Neo and charges, and it’s a lot flatter
than current Surface Pens. So that’s kind of everything we know about these devices so far. But there’s so much we don’t know. Like, we don’t know the
specs, we don’t know pricing, we don’t even really
know exact availability. Microsoft’s essentially saying that these devices will
launch in holiday 2020, so we’re still a year out
from these being real. And it makes you wonder
why are they even showing and talking about these devices right now? And personally, I think they
probably don’t want these to leak, so they’re gonna announce it now and have their own story around it. And then, there’s the key thing of they need other hardware
vendors to create these too, and they need software developers to create the apps that run on this. So there’s a bunch of stuff
that they need to get going and out there in the public before these are even available
in like a year’s time. And above all else,
competition is really high. We’ve see Huawei, Samsung, and others, create these foldable phones that turn into tablets, and all right, Microsoft is doing something
slightly different, it’s doing tablets into laptops. But it’s still a bunch
of Android competition, and we don’t really know
where these foldable and dual-screen devices are gonna land. I am super excited about
dual-screen and foldable devices. And the Surface Neo hardware
is probably the sleekest of the bunch of dual-screen
devices that we’ve seen so far. But there’s one thing, and
that is software is king. Microsoft still has a year
left to perfect the software, and they need to convince app developers to really create these apps
to make this device shine. So if you’re an app developer, or you’re just super hyped
about these dual-screen and foldable devices, I wanna
know which one you prefer. A smartphone that turns into a tablet or a tablet that turns into a laptop? Drop a comment below, and let me know why.