Skip to main content

The Dell Ori is the Samsung Galaxy Fold of PCs, for better or worse

Dell launched two fascinating concepts at CES 2020. The Dell Duet is the more conventional of the two with its dual screens, 360 degree hinge, and familiar form factor.

Then there’s the Ori, short for origami.

It’s the more experimental of the two, for sure. Rather than two separate screens, it features one large, foldable display. Yep. The screen itself folds in half just like Samsung’s Galaxy Fold. Unfortunately, it might end up having the same problems that plagued that device.

A Windows tablet that folds

Image used with permission by copyright holder

There is, of course, one big difference between the Galaxy Fold and the Dell Ori. It’s a PC, not a phone. It runs Windows instead of Android, though Dell says it tested out an Android version as well. Either way, the Ori isn’t meant to replace the phone in your pocket.

Instead, the Ori is a new kind of device. It’s shaped like a notebook and meant to be held in portrait mode. It’s thin and light enough to use one-handed and then slip into a purse, bag, or even large coat pocket. While it’s similar in size to a typical laptop when unfurled, folding it in half makes it more portable.

Unfold it, and you’ll get a look at the 13.4-inch screen that folds in half like a piece of paper. If you’ve never seen a foldable display, it’s hard not to be impressed. The hinge is stiff enough that it can sit open like a laptop, but without requiring a two-handed pry.

The closest competitor it has right now is the ThinkPad X1 foldable device that Lenovo showed off in mid-2019. It had a 4K OLED display. Dell isn’t divulging details about the Ori’s display yet.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Like the ThinkPad, the Dell Ori does have large, plastic bezels. Compared to the Surface Duo, Galaxy Fold, or iPad Pro, it looks a bit cheap.

Outside the screen, there’s not much to the device besides a single USB-C port along the bottom. I don’t think it’s a surprise the Ori discards most ports, but it’s worth remembering. A device like the Ori is going to need a dock (or a lot of wireless accessories) if you plan to use it at a desk.

The software problem

What can you actually do with this device?

Anything you’d want to do with a laptop, in theory. There’s one important feature missing, however. The keyboard.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Duet, Dell’s other dual-screen PC, has a thin, magnetic keyboard that can rest on top of the bottom screen or attach to the back of the device. That means typing when you want it, and tons of screen real estate when you don’t.

The Ori doesn’t include that option. You’re stuck poking around in Windows 10 without a physical keyboard input. It’s excruciating.

The eventual release of Microsoft’s Windows 10X could improve the situation. It’s supposed to be designed with dual-screen devices in mind, making it the perfect fit for the Dell Ori. It’s not hard to imagine having two apps open on each side of the panel, holding it open like a book.

Unfortunately, Dell (and Microsoft) didn’t have Windows 10X running when I had my hands on the Ori. And Dell hasn’t confirmed that will happen in the future. That leaves Ori with the poorly-optimized Windows 10 tablet mode that most people forgot existed. The lack of apps and helpful touch interfaces has always been the primary problem with Windows tablets. A bendable screen won’t change that.

A prototype, through and through

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Ori is just a prototype. A concept. The lack of polish really shows. The version I played with didn’t close shut all the way, and the material along the spine looked like it was homemade. The fold along the screen is quite noticeable as well. There’s no crease you can feel, but there’s definitely a line of light along the fold.

If the Ori does hit store shelves, it might look and feel different than this. There’s no word yet on price or release for the Dell Ori. Microsoft has its own dual-screen devices scheduled for release in the holiday season of 2020, but we don’t yet know if Dell will be aiming for that same window.

In the meantime, Dell will either need to put its hopes in Windows 10X, or include some kind of keyboard attachment. If not, this concept 2-in-1 will suffer the same fate as the rest of the Windows tablets of the past decade.

Follow our live blog for more CES news and announcements. 

Editors' Recommendations

Luke Larsen
Luke Larsen is the Senior editor of computing, managing all content covering laptops, monitors, PC hardware, Macs, and more.
The best laptops of CES 2020: Dell, Lenovo, Samsung, and more
dell xps 13 9300 2020 features price photos release date 01

This story is part of our continuing coverage of CES 2020, including tech and gadgets from the showroom floor.

This year's CES has been a fantastic show for laptops. Our favorite conventional laptops got more refined, while others experimented with exciting new designs.

Read more
You can now buy Dell’s new slim-bezel, near-perfect 2020 XPS 13 laptop
dell xps 13 9300 2020 features price photos release date 01

Dell took the wraps off its improved 2020 XPS 13 laptop ahead of CES last week, but now that the annual tech extravaganza is officially underway, you can finally go out and purchase one for yourself. Prices on the laptop start at $1,000, and there's plenty of new and innovative design elements and big value for that price.

New features onboard the 2020 XPS 13 include its thinner bezels, improved keyboard, and the latest 10th-generation Intel processors under the hood. In fact, with the new XPS 13, Dell has managed to squeeze a 13.4-inch screen into the size of an 11-inch laptop. That's all thanks to what Dell calls a new "4-sided InfinityEdge display" that shrinks down the bottom bezel on the screen from 19.5mm to 4.6mm. The laptop sports a 91.5% screen to body ratio, and when we went hands-on with it, we found that the result was a laptop that looks like all-screen from the front.

Read more
Here’s how to watch Dell’s CES 2020 press conference today
Dell XPS 13

#DellExperience at #CES2020

CES 2020 is finally here and many companies will be holding press conferences to show off all of their latest innovations. Dell hosts its own press conference each year, showing off its latest laptops, gaming gear, and other products.

Read more