Microsoft’s Surface Duo, A Split-Screen Folding Android Tablet, Arrives on September 10 for $1,400

Tom Warren, writing for The Verge two weeks ago (or yesterday, in coronatime):

While Microsoft had revealed the design of the Surface Duo back in October, the company has kept the specs relatively secret. The device includes two separate 5.6-inch OLED displays (1800 x 1350) with a 4:3 aspect ratio that connect together to form a 8.1-inch overall workspace (2700 x 1800) with a 3:2 aspect ratio. Unlike foldables like Samsung’s Galaxy Fold, the Surface Duo is using real Gorilla Glass, and the displays are designed to work in a similar way to multiple monitors on a Windows PC.

One big question over the Surface Duo has been the camera. Microsoft is using an 11-megapixel f/2.0 camera, which will include auto modes for low light, HDR multi-frame captures, and a “super zoom” up to 7x. Both 4K and 1080p video recording will be supported at 30fps and 60fps, with electronic image stabilization. There’s only a single camera on the Surface Duo, which can be used both for video calls and as a main camera.

So I’m deeply intrigued by the Surface Duo but at the same time incredibly dubious that anyone wants this. I don’t get the confusion over whether it’s a phone or not. It can make phone calls and act as a phone, but Microsoft never calls it one. My take is it’s a folding tablet that might as well act like a phone if you have a cellular plan, in case that’s what you really want. But I’d guess most people who do get one of these will still carry a dedicated phone — I’ve been skeptical about giant ass phones for a decade now and I’ve been proven largely wrong (no pun intended) about the size of phones many people want to carry, but this is preposterous as something you might want to pocket.

People are dinging it for the broad bezels at the top and bottom but that’s just superficial. My fundamental skepticism is whether Android is actually a good OS for this, and whether there are actual use cases for this form factor regardless of OS and application support for the split screen. At $1,400 it’s clearly a premium product — is there a premium use case?

Monday, 24 August 2020