Microsoft's Surface Duo is a clamshell device about the size of a pocket notebook. Open it up and there are two facing touchscreens. Is it any good? The Verge's Dieter Bohn says the hardware design is excellent, but it's buggy and far too expensive at $1400.
The feel of opening this device like a book — and shutting it like one — is fundamentally different than unlocking a smartphone. It puts you in a different mindset in both cases. The intentionality of the design encourages you to be intentional with your use of the device and to be intentional in not using it. …
Microsoft may have bitten off more than it can chew with the software on the Surface Duo. The original version it sent out to reviewers was riddled with show-stopping bugs and crashes. A little less than a week ago, the company pushed out a software update — the same one that will land on retail devices today — that solved an appreciable percentage of those bugs.
But some bugs persist.
At the Wall Street Journal, Joanna Stern agrees: "Two Screens, Too Many Problems: A new $1,400 dual-screen smartphone-tablet thingy from Microsoft makes a good case for double displays, but it also shows you where they fall short compared to our humble single-screen devices."
And here's Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet:
Why does it exist? What does it offer that a single screen mobile phone or tablet doesn't.
Two weeks later, I have to say that I'm not sure that the Duo scratches any itch for me. It's an interesting concept, but it definitely feels like a Generation 1 solution that's in search of a problem more than a solution to a problem I have with mobile devices.
Sounds like a better bet would be to get a standard wallet case and one of those little notepads that tuck into the top credit card pocket. [Amazon]
I'm surprised there isn't a more refined item like that to be found: a booklike case with a notepad on one side and a phone case/clasp on the other. There are a few such things for tablets, but the smartphone-size ones all want to be wallets.
UPDATE: Moleskine made one for the iPhone 3 [Amazon], but they obviously bungled it. This, but not so crude: