Microsoft has unveiled the Surface Neo, a work in progress which it will launch in around a year’s time, at the end of 2020. It's the rumoured Project Centaurus which has been talked about for a while now.
It’s a dual-screen, foldable device which is reminiscent of the Lenovo YogaBook. Microsoft says there’s nothing else out there like it, and it’s certainly right.
The Surface Neo has two 9in screens, is 5.6mm thin and weighs 655g.
There’s also a magnetic keyboard which can be positioned in various ways, either on top of one screen so part of it is used, say, for a touch pad, or it can be removed entirely and used separately on the desk. If you put the keyboard at the bottom, you also get the ‘wonder bar’ which is a little like the touchscreen above the keyboard on a MacBook Pro.
Like the new Surface Pro X, you can use it with the slim Surface Pen which attaches magnetically to the back of the Neo and charges in that position.
The 360° hinges use a system of over 60 "micro gears" which create the "perfect amount of torque so it feels good when opening and closing".
It runs a new version of Windows called Windows 10X, built for dual-screen devices. The idea is to increase productivity by having two screens which can run different apps – it’s not simply a large screen which can fold in half. You can also drag apps between screens, or maximise them so a single app fills both screens.
Another use for the second screen is to open web links from emails on the other screen. The apps will also auto rotate if you turn the device from landscape to portrait mode.
Naturally, you can also use one screen to watch a video and the other to browse the web or check emails.
The Neo is powered by the Intel Lakefield processor, which is a ‘hybrid’ CPU, and has an 11th-gen graphics engine designed specifically for dual-screen devices. It’s also designed to be very thin so it can fit in such a slim device.
What about apps?
One of the reasons Microsoft showed off the Neo was because it needs app developers to optimise their apps, and create new ones, which will work on the Neo. Without apps that are aware of how the Neo’s screens work, they’ll probably be limited to full-screen use, since their interfaces could be too small to use otherwise.
Surface Neo price & release date
Undoubtedly we’ll see more progress updates before Neo goes on sale in roughly 12 months’ time.
Price, sadly, was not mentioned, but expect it to be expensive. We imagine it won’t manage to duck in under £999 / 999.