Now that Microsoft has come full circle with the Surface Laptop, I’m ready to get back on the mobile merry-go-round once again with what I like to call the ‘surface laptop tablet’. Truth is, no one knows for certain what version of laptop-tablet-phone Microsoft has in store for us next, but speculation abounds today following the surfacing of yet another tantalizing patent application.
Filed last October, but only published today, the patent shows a folding mobile device with interesting looking ‘self-regulating hinges’. The two sides of the tablet-laptop-phone each feature their own separate screens, but the hinges appear to allow the two sides to slide past one another (when folded) with no significant gap between them. So not quite a seamless, foldable screen, but pretty darn close. I would expect the inward fold to cause some distortion, so my instinct about this at the moment is “meh.”
The patent is actually for the hinges; not the device itself. This explains why the patent features a number of similar, but clearly different devices, including one that is all screen like a tablet or smartphone, and another that looks more like a laptop with a miniature keyboard. And everything, well, hinges on the hinges I suppose. If done correctly, they would allow the device to remain open at any given angle, so that it can seamlessly transition from a laptop to a tablet, etc. without the need for an awkward kickstand.
Given the delay between patent filing and publishing, who knows if this design is even still viable. I can see a device like this filling the gap between current laptop-surface designs and fully bendable tablet-phones, which may yet be a few years away. I’m still waiting for a singular device that can reasonably replace my smartphone-tablet-laptop trifecta, but I suspect I’ve got a bit longer to wait.