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Surface Sleight of Hand: Microsoft’s big touch distraction

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made sure to mention quite how well the company did in keeping Surface off the radar before launch, and it seems the firm’s next tablet sleight of hand is already underway. The Windows tablet team “did a good job of keeping [Surface] secret” Ballmer boasted on-stage at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference today, going on to subsequently name-check new acquisition Perceptive Pixel. Make no mistake, though; while Ballmer may have shown the most enthusiasm about that company’s vast multitouch screens, it’s Perceptive Pixel’s potential in Surface-style hardware that could give Microsoft its tablet edge against the iPad.

Perceptive Pixel’s huge-screen multitouch products are certainly the company’s most eye-catching offerings. Scaling up to the 82-inch point, the wall-mounted panels allow for a practically infinite number of fingers touching, swiping and gesturing on them. It’s a crowd-pleaser, for sure, and Microsoft was keen to point out that the technology had been used by CNN for the 2008 US presidential election, among other things.

However, while Perceptive Pixel’s “expertise in both software and hardware will contribute to success in broad scenarios such as collaboration, meetings and presentations” according to Microsoft’s press release, it’s the potential in smaller screens that holds the most promise. The company calls it “Active Stylus”, a system where fingers and digital pens work together simultaneously, and it’s something that could transform future Surface models.

Currently, the widest-implemented pen and touch system for tablets uses Wacom technology. Now, we’re talking active stylus here – where the pen communicates with the digitizer layer built into the display, rather than just mimicking a squishy fingertip as with the numerous capacitive styluses we’ve seen released for the iPad – where there’s a far greater degree of accuracy in how much the tablet knows about the position of the nib. Wacom’s digitizer knows if the stylus nib is near to the screen, and so it can turn off a regular, capacitive touchscreen layer so as not to get confused between touches. That also means users can lean on the display while using the stylus, without their hands being mistakenly picked up as touch points.

Perceptive Pixel’s system, however, is even more comprehensive. It can not only track the nib up to a half-inch above the display (and even figure out exactly how far it is, the angle it’s being held at, and more) but allow the user to simultaneously use their fingers too. Extra technology differentiates between wrists and palms being rested on the display, too.

[aquote]Dual pen and touch comes into its own on a tablet-scale device[/aquote]

Those abilities may look great on a touchscreen bigger than most peoples’ TVs, but they really come into their own on a tablet-scale device. Apple has been happy to leave the stylus market to others, and it looks like Microsoft is keep to pick up that baton and run with it as best it can; if it can prove there’s a valid use-case for accurate, agile pen input that legitimately delivers something above and beyond fingers alone, that could be a real differentiator for Windows-based models.

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Microsoft Surface Goes On Sale To Cheering Crowds

Microsoft’s Surface debuted to crowds of early adopters across the U.S. Friday, as the Windows RT-powered tablet went on sale.

About 100 people waited outside Boston’s Microsoft Store to buy the Surface tablet, which runs a new version of Windows.

Unlike previous versions of the operating system, Windows RT runs on an ARM processor, typically found in mobile devices, instead of an x86 processor, which is used in traditional desktops and laptops. One of the major drawbacks of Windows RT is that it won’t run any old software. All applications will need to be downloaded from the Windows Store, but that didn’t deter some Boston customers.

“It has Microsoft Office, which is the most important reason I’m upgrading from my iPad,” said Joshua Jasper, a veterinary hospital manager who was waiting to buy the tablet. “My biggest concern is app selection, but I know that will grow over time.”

Martyn Williams/IDGNSCustomers try out the Surface at a Microsoft store in Palo Alto, Calif.

IDC analyst Bob O’Donnell shared Jasper’s concerns. “When I looked in the Windows Store I thought, ‘Wow, there’s not much there,’” said O’Donnell. “There were a lot of cheesy phone-like games in the store, but of course Office is huge,” he said.

“My biggest concern is that people are going to get these tablets, realize their limitations and then return them in droves,” he said. He said that the biggest challenge for Microsoft is explaining the difference between Windows 8 and Windows RT to consumers “because they are very different.”

O’Donnell predicts about 10 percent of buyers in the PC and tablet markets want a PC-tablet hybrid.

Martyn Williams/IDGNSA sign in the window lets Palo Alto customers know that the Surface has landed.

Across the country in Palo Alto, Calif., the surface attracted a line of about 100 people outside the Microsoft Store in the Stanford Shopping Center, the closest Microsoft-run full-time retail outlet to San Francisco. The line began forming about six hours before the store’s opening.

First in line was Matthew Dien, who said he made a two-hour journey from Sacramento to be among the first on the U.S. West Coast to buy the tablet computer.

“I’m very excited about it,” he said. “It’s Microsoft’s very first hardware and they are coming up against Apple. I’ve always liked Windows products and so I was very excited when I heard they were coming out with hardware.”

Dien left the store about 30 minutes after it opened with a new Surface in his hands.

Most of those in line appeared to be waiting for the Surface and not Windows 8, which also went on sale Friday. There’s less buzz for the new operating system, likely because many would-be users can download copies from Microsoft.

Microsoft offered a sweetener to those willing to queue: a yearlong subscription to the Xbox Music Pass worth $100 for the first 100 customers who made a purchase.

Back at the Microsoft Store in Boston, about two dozen Surface tablets were available to try out. The interface was fluid and responsive for the most part. The screen was bright and vibrant and text was very easy to read. Some of the apps took longer to launch than expected, though. For example, it took the Xbox Games app about 10 seconds to fully load.

One of the accessories available for Surface is a keyboard that doubles as a cover. It costs $100 when purchased along with the tablet. It will likely take some getting used to as there’s no tactile feedback when a key is pressed. The cover is surprisingly thin and clips securely onto the tablet. There were no wires or pairing needed for the keyboard to work.

The first customer in line at the Boston store wanted to buy the Surface because he thinks Microsoft’s ecosystem is broader than Apple’s.

“I had a MacBook Pro for a while, but I switched back to Microsoft,” said Mounir Koussa. “I can have a desktop, a laptop, a phone, a tablet and [the Zune] music service all in one.”

O’Donnell said that there will be “huge sales and lots of confusion” in the tablet market in the coming months. He thinks that Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD and Google’s Nexus 7 have good chances at capturing some of the market, but he believes that Apple will continue to dominate.

The Surface has a 10.6-inch display and weighs 1.5 pounds (680 grams). It starts at $499 with 32GB of storage.

Microsoft Surface Duo 2 Review: Better, But Still Buggy

Pros

Dual-screen experience is exemplary

Surprisingly good daytime shots

Very good battery life

Great performance

Cons

Incredibly expensive

Thick when folded back, surprisingly heavy when opened

Dual-screen design makes it awkward to shoot photos

Camera suffers in low light, portrait shots

Still buggy

Our Verdict

Microsoft still believes in its dual-screen phone/tablet hybrid. Its vision is coming closer, but isn’t quite there. Hold out for the Surface Duo 3.

Best Prices Today: Microsoft Surface Duo 2

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Microsoft’s new Surface Duo 2 smartphone poses a problem.

I think it’s important to acknowledge that skepticism, and apply it with a fresh eye towards some key questions: Does the Surface Duo 2 succeed as part of the Windows ecosystem? How does it compare to other Android phones? Does it solve the issues that plagued the first Surface Duo? And can it work as both a traditional phone, as well as some new breed of productivity device? Customers certainly never saw the original Surface Duo as anything special, and it tanked. Microsoft saw dual screens and the way it integrated into the app ecosystem as the selling points. Customers expected a quality camera, NFC, 5G, and wireless recharging.

The Surface Duo 2 represents Microsoft’s attempt to reach a middle ground. Yes, it checks some of the boxes people asked for, but little more. The camera is just okay, there are still bugs, and the price tag is outrageous. But under certain conditions, it shines.

Camera bumps aren’t that unusual with modern smartphones, and Microsoft’s Surface Duo 2 joins the club.

Mark Hachman / IDG

Surface Duo 2 configurations and pricing

The Surface Duo 2 costs an astounding $1,499.99, minimum, for the base model with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Two other versions are available: a 256GB SSD model ($1,599.99) and the top-of-the-line Surface Duo 2 with 512GB of storage, for $1,799.99. If you buy into the Microsoft ecosystem, you’ll be saving most storage-chewing photos and videos to the OneDrive cloud anyway, which means that anything above the base model is superfluous.

Microsoft also sells a Surface Do 2 bumper ($39.99), which we didn’t test, which surrounds the Duo 2’s edge and provides some basic protection. It appears that most third-party cases are going the same route, with the Microsoft Surface Duo 2 Riveter case ($89.95) from Otterbox adopting the same approach. If you’d like to ink on the Surface Duo 2, you can buy the Surface Slim Pen 2 ($129.99) and the Surface Duo 2 Pen Cover (price not disclosed yet) which will grip and charge the Slim Pen 2. The real thumb in your eye is the $40 Surface Duo 2 charger. No, Microsoft does not ship a charger alongside the Surface Duo 2 (thanks, Apple) and you’ll pay extra for the plug. There is no wireless charging. A USB-C cable is thankfully included, though, and for free.

The Surface Duo 2 is a dual-SIM phone, but with one eSIM and one physical SIM slot.

Surface Duo 2 basic features

Display: 5.8-inch AMOLED (1344×1892, 401 PPI, HDR, 90Hz, 800 nits max) (single screen); 8.3-inch AMOLED equivalent (2688×1892) (dual-screen equivalent); Corning Gorilla Glass Victus

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G

Memory: 8GB LPDDR5 DRAM

Storage: 128/256/512GB (256GB as tested)

Camera, rear-facing: Wide: 12MPixel, f/1.7 aperture, 27 mm, 1.4µm, dual pixel phase-detection autofocus (PDAF) and optical image stabilization (OIS); Telephoto: 12MP, f/2.4 aperture, 51 mm, 1.0µm, PDAF, OIS, 2X optical zoom/10X digital zoom; Ultra-Wide: 16MP, f/2.2 aperture, 13 mm, 1.0µm, 110o diagonal field of view with distortion correction

Camera, user-facing: 12MP, f/2.0, 24 mm,1.0µm

Network: WiFi 6 (802.ax), Bluetooth 5.1

Wireless: 5G (mmWave, sub-6); LTE Bands: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 46, 48, 66, 71

Battery: 4449mAh (rated)

Dimensions: 5.72 x 7.26 x 0.21in. (5.5mm) (open); 5.72 x 3.63 x 0.43 in. (11.0mm) (closed)

Weight: 284g / 0.63lb

Operating system: Android 11

Optional accessories: Surface Duo 2 Bumper ($39.99); Surface Duo 23W USB-C Charger ($39.99); Surface Slim Pen 2 ($129.99); Surface Duo 2 Pen Cover

The Surface Duo 2’s book-like pair of screens is the phone’s selling point, and it’s the obvious place to begin. Unlike, say, Samsung’s Galaxy Fold devices, there’s a distinct gap between the two displays — these are two separate screens, which can fold closed like a book or else fold back along itself. With the original Duo, this was the only way to take a photo, as there was just a single camera. With the Surface Duo 2, Microsoft invested in a rear-facing three camera array. Unfortunately, that creates a fairly thick camera bump that prevents the Duo 2 from flattening out when folded back on itself. It doesn’t seem to have any negative effect on either the camera or phone, however.

Microsoft loves to tout the engineering behind its Surface hinges, and yes, the Surface Duo 2 lives up to its reputation. The Duo 2 can sit, cocked at a 90 degree angle, so that one screen can display an email app (Outlook appends a “Sent on Surface Duo” signature by default) and the other can project Microsoft’s SwiftKey keyboard. (SwiftKey seems to be the only keyboard option instead of Gboard.) This is a fantastic orientation for content consumption, as I found while streaming the MLB playoffs while cooking dinner. The 5.8-inch AMOLED screen is also excellent for playing streamed cloud games from Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass.

This landscape orientation is quite useful for streaming video and games, but a persistent gyroscope glitch means that the screens often get stuck in a portrait orientation in multiple scenarios. It also can be a bit top-heavy, too, with the camera bump.

Mark Hachman / IDG

Quite a bit of the Surface Duo 2’s utility boils down to one contradiction: The Surface Duo 2 is most effective when used with two screens. Ergonomically, however, it’s most comfortable when only using one. It simply isn’t that comfortable to hold the Duo 2 in the “book” orientation for a prolonged period, while navigating and interacting with content. Part of that is due to the edge. While the Surface Duo 2 isn’t that thin, there’s a sort of “palmability” aspect to it where the Duo 2 leans into your hands like the Surface Pro 8’s kickstand digs into your thighs. (The bumper may solve this.) You’ll notice the size and weight almost immediately. The camera bump tends to overbalance it in some scenarios, too. This is a relatively massive phone.

Physically, I suspect most people prefer to use a phone either one-handed (nearly impossible across both screens) or two-handed, with one hand holding the phone and the other swiping and touching. You can certainly fold the phone back along itself, though you’ll only be able to use the right-hand screen, as the left shuts off.

Of course, that also means that the only way to take a photo is with the Surface Duo 2 unfolded, making you look like one of those weirdos who take photos with their iPad. Yes, you can kind of cheat by holding the phone in landscape mode, so that it looks (well, sort of) that you’re taking a photo with an ordinary phone. There’s really no cool way to take a portrait photo with the Surface Duo 2.

While it’s awkward to shoot photos with the Surface Duo 2, the ability to review your recent shots is undoubtedly useful.

Mark Hachman / IDG

The 90Hz displays on the Surface Duo 2 feel like a nice compromise between battery-sucking high-refresh-rate displays and slower, laggier screens. Scrolling was generally smooth and lag-free.

Is the Surface Duo 2 a successful productivity phone? Largely, yes

Those are the negatives. If the Surface Duo 2 does one thing right, it’s that working on dual screens — with certain apps, under certain conditions — is revelatory. The Duo 2 allows you to drag one app over another, “grouping” them. When the group is launched — say, an email app alongside your calendar — the arrangement makes perfect sense. Chatting with a friend on one screen while a playoff game streams on another? Fantastic…until you get carried away and rotate the phone into landscape mode. Then the Surface Duo 2 will put your chat app on the top screen and the keyboard on the other, hiding your stream until you compete your message.

Microsoft probably expects reviewers to gush a bit here about how well it all works. Let’s put it this way: If you can grok why a second monitor adds to your productivity, you intrinsically understand the Surface Duo 2’s core appeal. The Duo 2 is less effective when an app spans both screens: held like a book, the small gap between the displays is still a bit distracting. One app that Microsoft specifically included as a dual-screen demo — Asphalt 9: Legends — was supposed to span both screens, Nintendo DS-style, with controls on the lower screen and the main action taking place on the top screen while in landscape mode. Try as I might, I couldn’t get the app to span both screens. Otherwise, there was nothing that forced me to use spanned apps, so I didn’t.

The keyboard seems a little awkwardly crammed near the top for my tastes, and I prefer to still use my thumbs to type. Still, this is a PC-like phone.

Mark Hachman / IDG

I’m torn on the new Glance Bar, an edge-mounted notification bar vaguely like the 2014 Galaxy Note Edge. When closed, a sliver of the curved glass peeks out. Tap the power button (or just wait for a call) and a little icon will light up, showing you have a missed call. There’s really no discreet way to see who called or left a message, though, so you’ll still be forced to open your Duo 2 regardless.

The Surface Duo 2 glance bar offers minimal information.

Mark Hachman / IDG

Inking is surprisingly good. While the only ink-centric preloaded app on the Surface Duo 2 is OneNote, pairing with a Surface Slim Pen 2 was simple, palm rejection just worked without the need for any setup, and the ink jitter was minimal.

There’s also one other thing I really like about the Surface Duo 2: its surprisingly amazing fingerprint reader. The reader is built right into the tiny sliver that is the power button, and it consistently recognized me right away. Opening the Duo 2, brushing my finger across the power button and unlocking the phone/hiding notifications felt unexpectedly powerful for someone used to the “will it or won’t it” fingerprint reader on a Galaxy S20+.

Deadlines meant that I didn’t have too much time to play games on the Surface Duo 2, but the big screens certainly appeal to game players to that regard. Unfortunately, Microsoft claimed that games like Asphalt 9: Legends could be spanned across both screens; I simply couldn’t get that function to work, and Microsoft couldn’t offer any help.

Mark Hachman / IDG

There’s just one thing I’d like to see, and that’s for something to happen when I plugged the Surface Duo 2 into a Thunderbolt dock. For a company that tried and failed with Windows Phone’s Continuum five years ago, that’s a little disappointing. It leaves Samsung’s Dex as arguably the king of “your phone as your PC” implementations.

Is the Surface Duo 2 the next Windows phone?

No, not really. Besides the multitude of preloaded Microsoft-authored Android apps — from Bing to OneNote to Outlook to To-Do to “Start” news, all of which can be downloaded on other Android phones — there’s little that explicitly screams “Windows.” Some apps (like the Surface app and Surface Audio, which connects to the Surface Headphones) are specific to the Surface Duo 2, however.

Supposedly Your Phone Companion works with the Surface Duo 2, but apparently not. What it should be showing here is the Duo 2’s screen, allowing remote access from a PC.

Mark Hachman / IDG

Honestly, you’d expect more from Microsoft in this regard.

Does the Surface Duo 2 solve the problems of the first Surface Duo?

One of the problems reviewers and customers had with the first-generation Surface Duo was with the numerous bugs that cropped up. And yes, they’re still here. I experienced more than a few instances where the phone refused to switch from portrait to landscape mode. A camera app shot an image upside down because it refused to reorient itself. The SwiftKey keyboard lagged, and didn’t fill the screen in landscape mode. (The latter was probably a design choice.) The Surface Duo 2 kept popping up a message that I could switch an app from one screen to another by double-tapping, and then didn’t switch when I double-tapped. In the ESPN app, the app’s navigation buttons (“Scores,” “Watch,”, etc.) overlapped with the Duo 2’s navigation buttons, preventing me from interacting with the app’s navigation. (Locking and unlocking the Duo 2 solved that issue.) We mentioned the Your Phone Companion bug above.

To be fair, some of the phone’s problems can be fixed by simply understanding it better. The Surface Duo 2 runs Android 11, and I found gesture navigation — swiping up in various places to access either the app drawer or the running apps — to be astonishingly difficult. Switching the phone to use Android’s “soft buttons” at the bottom of the screen made a world of difference. You know how Android 11’s button navigation includes a “switch apps” button? Each screen has its own list of apps to switch between, which feels a bit odd.

A surprisingly useful tip is that swiping toward the center of the screen from the left or right edge is the equivalent of the “back” button, and allows you to navigate without readjusting your hands. It’s also fair to say that the dual screen can be also be understood as a “modality,” or simply another way to interact with data. It’s perfectly okay to use the Surface Duo 2 folded backwards on itself, then open it when necessary.

Yes, the Surface Duo now includes NFC, which worked with the Google GPay app. Weirdly, the Surface Duo seems to “lean” toward the right-hand screen, which houses the camera and tends to open apps by default. When using NFC, though, you tap the left-hand screen to the reader.

How does the Surface Pro Duo 2 compare?

The lack of a decent camera probably sounded the death knell for the original Surface Duo. Without a decent camera, consumers simply won’t bother buying a new phone. With the first Surface Duo, there was just one camera, and the device had to be oriented appropriately to take selfies as well as normal photos. With the Duo 2, there’s finally a proper rear-facing camera.

Is it up to snuff? Yes and no. In daylight, the Surface Duo 2 surprised me with the quality of its pictures. Color balance tended towards cool (or blue), but the main camera and the wide-angle lens delivered results that satisfied me. Selfies looked fine, too. Portrait mode seemed really iffy, though, with the camera struggling to lock on to the subject with the camera oriented vertically. A 2X optical-zoom telephoto also doesn’t quite measure up to the 3X optical zoom on an iPhone 13 Pro (which also costs $500 less than the Surface Duo 2, by the way).

At night, though, the Surface Duo 2 falls way behind the competition — by years, probably. Microsoft told us that they had largely designed the image sensor itself, tapping its Finnish engineering corps that had helped design the Lumia line. It doesn’t really measure up.

In the photos below, you’ll see that the Surface Duo 2 takes perfectly fine photos outside, in broad daylight, as nearly all cameras do. It’s when you start asking more of it — in portrait mode and in low-light situations — where it simply falls short. In most cases, we shot the same scene as closely as we could with a Samsung Galaxy S20+, Samsung’s 2023 flagship (either $1,200 or $1,350, depending on the storage options) for the people who couldn’t afford a $1,400 S20 Ultra.

A daylight photo from the Samsung Galaxy S20+ (left) and the Surface Duo 2 (right) with no zoom. The Duo 2 tends to run a little cooler (bluer) in terms of its images.

The Samsung Galaxy S20+ (left) compared to the Surface Duo 2 (right), cropped in at 259 percent zoom. The Duo 2 looks a little grainier, but otherwise both images look quite good.

Mark Hachman / IDG

The Samsung Galaxy S20+ (left) compared to the Surface Duo 2 (right). Image edited to obscure the car’s license plate.

Using the image above as a reference, this is the Samsung Galaxy S20+ and its 30X “space” (digital) zoom (left) compared to the Surface Duo 2 (right) and its own 10X digital zoom. The Surface Duo 2’s zoom is a mishmash at extremes, losing a ton of detail.

Closeup (not macro) photo from the Samsung Galaxy S20+ (left) and the Surface Duo 2 (right). The Surface Duo 2’s photo is dimmer, but it’s sharper.

Portrait mode on the Samsung Galaxy S20+ (left) and on the Microsoft Surface Duo 2 (right). Infuriatingly, the Surface Duo 2 decides to invoke portrait mode about a third partway up the image. There are some weird, jaggy artifacts near the top of the pelican’s beak, too. Interestingly, these problems largely went away if portrait mode was used with the phone held horizontally in its landscape orientation.

Night mode on the Samsung Galaxy S20+ (left) and on the Microsoft Surface Duo 2 (right). The Galaxy clearly lets in more light, while the Surface Duo 2 blows out its light sources to try and compensate.

Night mode with flash on the Samsung Galaxy S20+ (left) and on the Microsoft Surface Duo 2 (right). What you don’t see here is that the Surface Duo 2 requires several seconds to take the photo, too.

Performance is superb

With a phone that’s probably being used for productivity, web surfing, and streaming video first and foremost, it’s hard to argue that performance benchmarks will matter. Inside the Surface Duo 2 is a Snapdragon 888 5G, a processor that’s used in the Samsung Galaxy S21 series, among others. Compared to the Samsung Galaxy S20+, my daily driver with a Snapdragon 865 processor inside, the Duo 2 still felt a bit laggier when navigating through the interface.

Battery life seems more than sufficient as well. I charged the Surface Duo 2 up the night before, let it idle all night, then used it for a day of photos and working out and about and in the office. It had about 20 percent left at the end of the day. Using the PCMark battery rundown test that constantly asks a phone to perform various tasks with the screen on, it lasted 9 hours 59 minutes before giving up the ghost. That’s very good. Quick charging, is only officially supported via the Surface Charger, sold separately.

Conclusion: Cynicism is still justified

The old chestnut is that Microsoft is governed by the “rule of threes.” Like Windows 3.0, the third time’s the charm. We’d say the second time certainly isn’t, at least in the case of the Surface Duo 2.

Let’s face it: Some really, really big companies (Apple, Huawei, Samsung, Xiaomi) have spent very large amounts of money designing top-of-the-line cameras for their smartphones. Microsoft might hope that the Surface Duo 2’s camera is good enough, but it falls short in my book. In other areas — NFC and 5G — they’ve checked the boxes customers demanded.

Some of Microsoft’s old Lumia Windows Phones were good, and even great, but those were phones that few bought as Android and iOS took hold. The Surface Duo 2 accomplishes what Microsoft set out to achieve: Develop a productive dual-screen phablet-y device that absolutely works unlike anything else under certain scenarios. But it’s somewhat awkward, nerdy, and hugely expensive. And the bugs, still! I just can’t see Microsoft convincing smartphone buyers the way it can convince someone buying, say, a Surface Laptop Studio. On balance, the Surface Duo 2 still falls short.

Updated at 9:51 AM to clarify some details on how the Surface Duo 2 spans apps. Updated on Oct. 22 to note additional details about Your Phone and the “Phone Screen” feature.

Microsoft Surface Duo Rumors: What We Know About The Dual

Microsoft

Update, July 23 2023 (2:40AM ET): We’ve updated the Surface Duo rumor hub with new details of a Microsoft “phablet” that recently passed through the FCC. Check it out below.

Original article, May 18 2023 (8:53AM ET): Microsoft took everyone by surprise last October when it announced the Surface Duo: a dual-screen device that runs Android. While the Surface Duo certainly resembles a phone in its folded state and can achieve all smartphone-like tasks such as making call and sending text messages, Microsoft does not want to label it a “phone.”

It’s the Redmond-based software giant’s version of a foldable, only that it’s not a traditional foldable if you compare it to devices like the Galaxy Fold or even the Galaxy Z Flip. It indeed folds in the center, but does so using a hinge that holds its two very separate screens together (rather than having a foldable screen).

The best foldable phones you can get in 2023

The best

It’s been a while since we heard something official from Microsoft about the Surface Duo, but of late, we’ve ourselves received some insider info about its release window. We’ve also recently come across some leaked specs for the Android hybrid, including information about its chipset, battery, and camera. In this rumor hub, we’ll detail all that we know about the Surface Duo until now. Take a look.

Specs and features

Microsoft

Microsoft has done a pretty decent job of keeping the specs of the Surface Duo under wraps. When it first showed off the device at its Surface event, it was running a Snapdragon 855 processor. Thanks to information sourced by Windows Central, we now hear that Microsoft will stick to the older generation Snapdragon flagship for the final Surface Duo release.

The outlet reports that the specs of the Surface Duo are pretty much cemented and that it’s in a “take-home” status at Microsoft internally. This means that company employees from outside the Surface division can request to test the device, so we presume its specs won’t change now.

An FCC listing spotted by Droid Life on July 22 describes a dual-screen Microsoft “phablet” that folds. While not referred to as the Duo by name, it’s likely that the device is the forthcoming foldable. According to the listing, the phone will feature support for major LTE bands in the US, NFC, Wi-Fi 5, and no 5G connectivity.

According to Window Central, the Surface Duo will ship with 6GB RAM and 64GB or 256GB storage. There’s no 128GB middle ground here and even if there is, the report fails to mention it.

The camera above the right display is said to be an 11MP sensor, for both front and rear facing photos. That’s likely because the displays can be rotated around for front and rear photos. The two 5.6-inch screens reportedly have AMOLED panels with a pixel density of 401 pixels per inch.

Does anybody know what the Surface Duo is supposed to be?

Opinions

Sadly, the battery size is reportedly capped at 3,460mAh which might not nearly be enough to support two displays and all the multitasking you’re expected to do on the device. Also, there won’t be any wireless charging as per Windows Central.

In terms of connectivity, the Surface Duo is said to feature a single USB-C port and a nanoSIM slot. It’ll also be compatible with a Surface Pen.

On the software front, the Surface Duo is expected to run Android 10 at launch, and later get an upgrade to Android 11. The device is also expected to get the redesigned Microsoft Launcher, which comes with new rotation modes, a new dock, and other UI tweaks.

Microsoft Surface Duo: Price and release date

YouTube

There’s no word on how much the Surface Duo will cost, but we do know some things about its availability.

According to information obtained by Android Authority from a source with knowledge of Microsoft’s plans, the Surface Duo will launch some time in 2023. This should be good news since Microsoft has apparently delayed the launch of its other dual-screen device, the Surface Neo.

Got A Stuka On My Hand

Illustration by Ross MacDonald

I built and for nine years flew an airplane called a Falco, which is Italian for hawk. But it wasn’t until May that I flew a real hawk-a cold-eyed, scimitar-beaked, red-brown Harris’s hawk that perched on my gloved left hand, flapped off into the Vermont air, dove at mice and voles like an F/A-18 with bin Laden in the crosshairs, and eventually returned softly to my hand. OK, it didn’t return to my hand, it returned to the small cube of raw beef placed between my thumb and forefinger.

Yes, this column is called Man & Machine, but hang on, a hunting hawk is nothing more than a killing machine with the aerodynamics of a Reno racer. It is also hard, fast, and shiny.

How fast? Well, how’s 242 mph, a peregrine falcon’s dive speed recorded in a recent edition of National Geographic Explorer? There is a piece of film shot in the 1940s, analyzed by the British Royal Navy, which concluded that a hawk was diving at 273 mph, but skepticism abounds. Still, I can’t think of a faster animal on the planet.

A diving hawk looks like a very angry top-gun Tomcat at full-aft wing sweep. The truly fast ones take only birds in midair, since they’d crater if they dove on a ground animal. The Harris’s with which I practiced was better adapted to surface targets. Like feathered Stukas, hawks have tiny tabs called alulas at about the midpoint of their wings that form little leading-edge slots with which they can vary the direction and speed of a dive. Hawks even have tiny bony protrusions in their nostrils that act a bit like the splitters inside a supersonic jet’s intake, to prevent the airflow in a dive from rupturing air sacs.

Hawks don’t sing, soar for fun, or socialize at birdfeeders. Their only vocalizations are a squawking “pick me, pick me” when you enter the mews where a bunch of hunting hawks are waiting to be taken out, and something that sounds like Yoda ruminating when they’re on your fist and sense meat somewhere nearby. In the wild, a small raptor needs to eat 20 to 25 percent of its body weight per day-the equivalent of a 200-pound running back putting away 40 to 50 pounds of Big Macs and fries. All that hawks think about is food. They spend about 90 percent of their life standing motionless on a perch, digesting what they’ve eaten or looking for more.

The key to using hawks for sport hunting is not that the birds kill-they do that for a living-but that you can retrieve them after they do so. It’s not that they form a bond with their handler, for you have as much chance of turning a hawk into a pet as you do of having a shark fetch your slippers. The trick is fuel management. No free-flight modeler would launch an airplane fat with gas, for that would let the thing fly so far he’d never get it back. Similarly, hawks are flown by falconers only when their “tanks” are a quarter full or perhaps even on reserve.

A falconer knows to a fraction of an ounce the empty weight, as a pilot would say, of his or her bird. If a Harris’s hawk is just an ounce or two heavier than that, it’s good to go: It’ll run out of gas before flying too far and will be forced to refuel-to return for the easy chunk of meat on your fist.

As a new falconer with a bird on the fist, the first surprise is that the vicious-looking beak a foot from your face isn’t a danger. A hawk’s main weapons are its talons, and it would no more think of biting than a pit bull would consider kicking you in the shins. The second surprise is the bird’s weight: It feels as heavy as you imagine a robin might, for its bones are quite hollow-a tube-frame fuselage, in effect.

When you “cast” the bird by stepping off with your right foot and urging it into flight with your left hand, it’s like launching a balsa-and-Mylar model. You want to be smooth, not wrist-snappingly harsh, and your heart flies with the bird just as it would with the model. To fly a hawk is to be a hawk.

Even better is when the hawk returns. A cowboy whistle usually brings it back, and the bird wastes not an erg of effort on its nicely stabilized descent. On final, it goes right down into ground effect, less than half a wingspan off the ground, and adjusts its outer feathers like outspread fingers: quintuple-slotted flaps and ailerons combined, in effect. Coming over the fence, again as a pilot would imagine it, the bird brakes delicately, feeds in some aft stick and flares, gear down and locked, bleeding off speed by climbing the 5 feet from ground level to fist.

The sport of falconry is 4,000 years old, and along with the occasional use by African nobles of cheetahs to chase down game, and the use of cormorants by Chinese fishermen, is a rare example of wild creatures being used by humans for hunting. Falconry equipment-leather jesses to hold the hawk’s legs, an intricately sewn hood to cover its eyes while traveling, a swung lure that mimics the hawk’s prey, the thick glove-is much the same as it was when Kublai Khan rode forth with a staff of falconers on horseback tending his 500 raptors.

Except for one thing: the tracking beacon. Today, valuable hawks aren’t flown until a tiny radio transmitter trailing a thin antenna wire is strapped to one leg, so the bird can be found if it gobbles up enough mouse meat to undergo a change of mind about the need to go home. What in the Middle Ages was the nobility’s equivalent of r/c model airplanes has today become, if not radio-controlled, at least radio-located.

To Determine Radius Of Curvature Of A Given Spherical Surface By A Spherometer

Radius is the particular moving point of a normal circle which alters the position by itself with the moving curve. The curvature’s radius is the curve that makes the positioning depending on the curve location. The radius of curvature is the formation of the curved part of a particular lens where the radius is formed by the movement of the circle. In this tutorial, the calculation of the radius of curvature is highlighted by using a Spherometer which helps measure the triangular frame.

Description of Spherometer

An instrument that helps to measure the three legs which are making the triangle with the formula is the ultimate process of estimating the radius of curvature. The spikes of the three portions create an equilateral triangle and lie radius of the circle.

The most exciting feature of a Spherometer is, that the central portion can move in the perpendicular direction that can help in the appropriate calculation of the radius of curvature. A desk in a circular shape is fixed on the head and includes a scale that marks the outer portion of the edges. All the different portions (legs of the Spherometer) are adjustable and the height is readable (Definitions, 2023). Additionally, one turn performed by a Spherometer is equivalent to 1mn.

Figure 1: A Spherometer

The Radius of Curvature Formula

Figure 2: Radius of curvature

The radius of curvature of the curve is the radius of a circle at a particular position given. The movement of a circle can make the transformation in the curvature due to the changes brought in the moving circle’s radius (Lodder, 2023).

The character ‘R’ represents the formula to estimate the value of the radius of curvature. The curve derivates amount is flat to a curve and it can make a curve line at back with the scalar quantity (Sciencing, 2023).

Additionally, the curvature’s radius is an imaginary circle instead of the actual shape or image. The radius of curvature is the length from the vertex to the centre of curvature. ‘Y’ or the curve is equal to the f(x), where, ‘x’ represents the radius.

Principle Focus and Focal Length

Figure 3: Principle Focus and Focal Length in Radius of curvature

In the situation when the light is passing from the axis of the principle and parallel to a convex lens, makes consolidates to meet the axis principle. The meeting point of the lights from the different directions due to the consolidation of the lens is the principal focus and the area where the light travels after the consolidation to the meeting is the focal length (f) (Chen et al. 2023).

Further, the space between the Principle focus and the optical centre is the focal length which is equal to the half of R or radius of curvature.

Calculation Procedure

The following steps are the actual procedure to estimate the calculation of the radius of curvature with the help of utilising a Spherometer.

In order to get the speedometer’s three holes, students need to push the Spherometer on the practical exercise book by raising the screw presented in the central part and drawing the presented holes correspondingly as A, B, and C.

In the next step, students need to connect the three points drawn on the exercise book and form a triangle which helps measure the distance among these three holes more accurately.

In the next stage, students can note down the three mean values with the help of the distance between the points, AB, BC, and CA. After this step, recording the least count and pitch of the used Spherometer is vital (Khakimzyanov & Rashidov, 2023). Gently lifting the screws upward is the next step in the calculation process.

At the next stage, students need to place the Spherometer on the surface of the convex to make the three legs of the instrument lie on it.

After lifting, the student needs to rotate the screw downwards till it connects to the surface of the convex lens. Anyone can easily make the notes of the reading taken from the circular scale.

In the next stage, the Spherometer needs to be removed and placed on the mirror. Students should note the number of rotations with the mark n1.

Additionally, reading the values through scale is vital in the next step with the use of the vertical scaling (Bergman, 2023). Students need to repeat this procedure to get the appropriate observation until the rotation get completes.

Sl. no Circular (disc) scale reading No. of complete rotation on a plane mirror (n1) No. of disc scale divisions in incomplete rotation x = (a-B) Total reading h=n1xp+x(L.C) (mn) 1 h1= 2 h2= 3 h3=

Conclusion

This tutorial aims to calculate the curvature’s radius with the help of metallic triangular. The Spherometer operates on the principle of a micrometre screw to calculate the radius of curvature. Students who are processing the Spherometer device to calculate the radius of the curvature need to take some extra precautions to avoid unwanted errors. The convex surface is the most useful material used for the calculation of the curvature’s radius. Students need to take precautions like moving the screw in the same direction repeatedly to avoid any errors or backlogs.

FAQs

Q1. What is the formula for Radius of the Curvature?

The common equation used to calculate the curvature’s radius is the y=f(x). The parameter the radius of curvature can help in the measurement of the length of the vector.

Q2. What are the significances of P and R in a plane surface?

Both ‘P’ and ‘R’ are employed to calculate the curvature’s radius with the help of a convex lens. P = 0 and R = infinite with the context of calculating the radius.

Q3. What does the speedometer’s pitch mean?

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