A future Microsoft laptop could have a foldable touch screen

Microsoft

A recent patent application filed by Microsoft reveals that the company wants to make a laptop-style device consisting of an all-encompassing, touch-capable, flexible screen. This screen would be divided into three sections: the top to present content typically seen on a laptop screen, a “transition” section at the “bend” that renders a taskbar, and a third section rendering a virtual keyboard. Embedded sensors determine which screen you are using to display content. 

According to the diagrams, the device sports a hinge consisting of “wheel elements” and octagonal rods extending along the Y-axis. This design enables the device to bend in either direction, with the screens facing each other in a closed position or facing outward in a makeshift tablet-like configuration. Hexagonal or cylindrical rods could also work, the patent suggests. 

On a more technical level, the device would consist of a transparent cover, a touch-sensitive layer underneath, the flexible display unit, and a thin “shell” binding these ingredients to the hinge. This shell can consist of plastic, glass, ceramics, fiber composites, metals, or any combination of these materials as long as the hinge area remains flexible. 

What will be interesting to see is how Microsoft plans to cram the actual computing hardware inside its flexible device. The list includes a processor, a graphics chip (if it’s not integrated into the CPU), system memory, non-removable storage, wireless connectivity, and so on. That’s in addition to the actual screen, the touch-input sensor layer, and enough space inside to passively cool the inner hardware. 

Meanwhile, the diagrams show only two external components: one on the top-left side of Microsoft’s device and one planted on the left side of the hinge. These two areas can be used for a power button, a volume toggle, a docking port, a headphone jack, a USB port, HDMI output, and more. That said, the device will likely have more external components than shown in the patent. 

Microsoft believes this design is a more natural approach to computing than your standard laptop or 2-in-1 device. For instance, you could easily take hand-written notes using the bottom portion of the screen while viewing an online lecture in the top portion. Right now, customers must toggle between devices or screens to accomplish such “routine” tasks. But the company also notes difficulties in creating devices with flexible displays. 

“Flexible display devices may have problems with visual distortions appearing on the display screen after the display device has been bent one or more times,” the patent states. “The process of bending the display device may temporarily or permanently damage certain pixels within the display, locally altering the image by color and/or intensity. This provides challenges in the manufacturing design of a flexible display device.” 

Yet Microsoft’s design, as seen in the patent, may prevent bending-based pixel damage by relying on a protective cover and a protective foundation. The only visual flexible aspect, it seems, is the curvy 360-degree hinge and the full-body flexible display. 

Product Review

The new iPad Mini isn’t a beauty, but it performs like a beast

Apple’s new iPad Mini has beastly performance, fluid iOS 12 software, and good battery life. It also looks like it came straight out of 2015, because the design hasn’t been changed. Here's our review of Apple’s 7.9-inch tablet.
Mobile

The best Sony Xperia 10 Plus cases to keep your smartphone safe

It's always a smart play to safeguard your smartphone with a decent case or cover. We've identified the best Sony Xperia 10 Plus cases here, so take your pick from rugged protection to slim style.
Wearables

Tag Heuer’s Golf Edition smartwatch is a lot more than just a flash of new color

Tag Heuer's Golf Edition Connected Modular 45 smartwatch has a lot more going for it than just a flashy new color scheme. From the titanium body and black PVD coating to the new Golf app, this is a true special edition.
Buying Guides

Apple has powered up its iMac lineup, but which one should you opt for?

With new processors and graphics cards for both the 4K and 5K models, the iMac feels like a good option for creatives again. But which should you buy? Here's our guide to choosing the right Apple all-in-one for your needs.
Computing

Keep your laptop battery in tip-top condition with these handy tips

Learn how to care for your laptop's battery, how it works, and what you can do to make sure yours last for years and retains its charge. Check out our handy guide for valuable tips, no matter what type of laptop you have.
Computing

Is it worth spending more for the Surface Pro, or is the Surface Go good enough?

The Surface Go vs. Surface Pro — which is better? While the higher price tag of one might make you think it's an easy choice, a deeper dive into what each offers makes it a closer race than you might assume.
Computing

Hands-on with Microsoft Chromium Edge: A first look at the early release

We installed a preview of Edge Chromium, and there's now a lot that makes it feel Chrome, but there are also some similarities to the old Edge. So, is the new Chromium Edge the best browser ever? Here's a hands-on look.
Computing

Amazon sale knocks $200 off the price of 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

If you always wanted to buy a MacBook Pro but found it a bit too expensive, now is your chance to save. A base version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is currently on sale at Amazon for $1,600.
Computing

Apple’s 4K 21.5-inch iMac is now $200 off if you pre-order it

Apple's new iMacs are now available and if you pre-order one from B&H you can get the midrange version for $200. That's a near 20-percent saving on one of the most competitive configurations.
Emerging Tech

Microsoft’s latest breakthrough could make DNA-based data centers possible

Could tomorrow's data centers possibly store information in the form of synthetic DNA? Researchers from Microsoft have successfully encoded the word "hello" into DNA and then back again.
Computing

Own an Asus computer? Malware might be hiding in your system

If you own an Asus computer, your system might have been infected by malware distributed from the tool you typically use to update the BIOS and install other security patches, according to a new report by cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab.
Computing

The new Windows 10 File Explorer could look like this in 2020

Microsoft may update Windows 10's File Explorer to adopt Fluent Design principles in an upcoming 2020 update. A report suggests that we'll get our first glimpse at the new-look explorer in upcoming Windows Insider builds.
Computing

DisplayPort and HDMI both connect to screens, but here's how they're different

HDMI and DisplayPort are two of the most popular connectors for hooking up consoles, gaming PCs, TVs, and monitors, but which is best? To find out, we pitted HDMI vs. DisplayPort and compared their best and worst features.
Computing

Get a new 2018 Apple MacBook Air for $1,000 with Amazon’s latest sale

Online retailer Amazon is currently running a discount on select models of the MacBook Air 2018. You can bring one home starting at $1,000, a full $200 off the usual selling price.