Dual-screen laptops haven’t really taken off… but maybe that’s just because device makers haven’t found the right way to put a second screen on a portable computer just yet.
The Asus Taichi line of notebooks feature screens on both sides of the lid — so when the lid is closed you find yourself holding a tablet. When it’s open, you have a laptop with a screen facing you and a second screen facing away.
Now Intel is showing off a prototype of a laptop with a similar layout. There’s a screen on either side of the lid. The difference is the one that’s on top of the lid is a small, low power E Ink display.
E Ink screens are typically used in eReaders, but they occasionally show up in smartwatches, phones, and other devices. Since the display only uses power when the screen is refreshed, you can show static text or images for a long time without draining the battery.
This means a laptop like the one Intel is showing off could display notes, eBooks, or other content even when the notebook is in sleep or hibernate mode… or turned off altogether.
Thanks to Intel’s connected standby feature, a notebook could also receive periodic updates from the internet even when it’s in hibernation, so you could use the screen to display weather, email messages, or other content.
Or you could just use it to customize the lid of your laptop with grayscale photos or other imagery.
It’s not clear if any PC makers actually plan to launch laptops with a secondary E Ink display, but Intel will could offer reference designs and software developer kits for the platform next year if any device makers are interested.