Dell may have already announced its big laptop news with the upgraded XPS 13 last week, but the company brought two new prototype laptops to CES 2020: the foldable Concept Ori and the dual-screen Concept Duet. Together, Dell’s two prototypes encapsulate what the future of computers might look like, and it’s one where laptops offer a whole lot more screen space than they do now.
Neither of Dell’s devices is entirely new. The foldable Concept Ori looks extremely similar to Lenovo’s foldable PC prototype that the company showed off last year, while the dual-screen Concept Duet is similar to Microsoft’s upcoming Surface Neo (which, unlike the Concept Duet, has actually been announced as a real product).
Of the two, the more obviously futuristic one is the foldable Concept Ori — as in “origami.” Because it folds. You get it. Dell wouldn’t offer many details on any of the specs, save that the screen is approximately 13 inches, and it offers QHD+ resolution. Other specs — like what the processor, graphics, or even which supplier is creating the large folding displays — are being kept under the lid for now. The display looked good, although there was a visible crease on the screen, especially when it was partially folded.
The Concept Duet has more familiar grounding: it looks a lot like an XPS 13 2-in-1, except the lower keyboard and trackpad have been entirely replaced with a second display. Both screens on the Concept Duet are 13.4-inch FHD panels, which looked on par with any of Dell’s other displays.
The two screens can either be used side by side for multitasking or as a single massive display with content stretching across the two panels. In one example, Dell showed off an ebook with each panel displaying a single full page (just like a real book), while another had two documents side by side for planning a trip.
There’s also a keyboard accessory that can be placed down on top of one of the touchscreens with the rest of the screen acting as a trackpad for more “traditional” laptop work, too. Alternatively, the two screens can flip around to form a single-screened tablet device — something that Dell highlights as an advantage of the two separate displays compared to a single flexible folding one. The end result is a bit heavier than a regular laptop, given the extra screen but not so much that it’d be possible to carry around.
Since these are just prototypes, Dell isn’t talking about what software these devices could eventually run should they become real products. But it’s important to note that Microsoft is already pushing dual and foldable screen hardware in a big way with its upcoming Windows 10X software.
These concepts aren’t running Windows 10X (it’s not actually out yet), but the mere fact that there’s software coming from the maker of Windows that’s designed specifically for hardware like this could help elevate Concept Duet and Concept Ori from cool prototypes into actual mainstream products.
Dell obviously isn’t saying when to expect either Concept Ori or Concept Duet to hit stores — or even if they’ll be sold at all — but as it stands now, they’re fascinating looks at what the possible future of computers might be, one that could eschew traditional input methods to add even more screen space to our devices.
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