Dell isn’t ready to commit to mass producing dual-screen or foldable PCs just yet. But the company does have a couple of working prototypes that it’s showing off at CES this week.
The Dell Concept Ori device is a tablet with a flexible OLED display that allows you to fold the computer in half like a book,, while the company’s Concept Duet is a dual screen that looks like what you’d get if you ripped the keyboard out of a laptop and replaced it with a display.
The Duet also looks an awful lot like Microsoft’s upcoming Surface Neo — right down to the detachable keyboard that you can place on top of the tablet or magnetically attach to the back of the PC when you’re not using it.
Microsoft doesn’t plan to launch its dual-screen computer until closer to the 2020 holiday season, so if Dell’s waiting to see how it sells, the company will have to wait a while.
But by taking the unusual step of revealing concepts and working prototypes, Dell is hoping to gauge the level of interest in this new category of computing devices and solicit feedback before deciding whether to bring anything resembling Duet or Ori to market.
Right now, the Dell’s Duet device feels more like a finished product than Ori. Dell won’t talk about the hardware inside either device just yet, but the Duet is running some custom software on top of Windows 10 that make it easy to view multiple apps running in the side-by-side screens, expand apps to fill both displays.
Eventually you may not need any special software to do those things. Microsoft is developing a special version of Windows 10 designed specifically for dual-screen and foldable devices. But like the Surface Neo, Windows 10X won’t be available until later this year.
The Duet may have a display where you’d normally find a keyboard, but it supports multiple forms of input. You can use your fingers, a digital pen, or attach the magnetic keyboard for touch typing.
Dell’s Concept Ori device, meanwhile, is envisioned less as a full-fledged PC and more of a tablet-style device for reading, watching videos, and other tasks that don’t necessarily require a physical keyboard… because Ori doesn’t have one.
Theoretically you should be able to connect a Bluetooth or wired keyboard, but the device is really designed to work more like a book than a laptop. And the prototype is a rather chunky book at the moment, with fairly thick bezels and a body that you have to sort of hold tight if you want it to stay shut.
That said, it’s still interesting to see a real, working Windows 10 PC with a foldable OLED display from Dell… even if it’s unclear if or when the company will actually offer one for sale.
Meanwhile rival PC maker Lenovo has committed to bringing a foldable computer to market this year — and Lenovo’s not waiting for Windows 10X to arrive first. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold is set to ship in the second half of the year and sell for $2500 and up.