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Computers With Foldable Screens Will Make Laptops and Tablets Obsolete

They’re a peek at a future where our devices adapt to us, rather than the other way around

Owen Williams
OneZero
Published in
4 min readJan 13, 2020

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Photos: Intel

AtAt CES last week, Intel revealed its Horseshoe Bend foldable-screen computer prototype. Lenovo demoed another foldable-screen X1 laptop that it co-engineered with Intel. When unfolded, both devices resemble large tablets, but as you bend the screen upward, they feel much more like laptops.

This isn’t the first time companies have attempted to merge tablets and laptops — Microsoft infamously tried with Windows 8 — but with Intel and Lenovo’s new computers, the hardware is adaptable, rather than only the software. And unlike foldable phones, which are great marketing tricks with few realistic benefits, this new segment of computers will change how we use both laptops and tablets: They’ll merge the two categories into one.

Tablets and laptops have remained separate categories largely because their physical design simply can’t do both jobs well — tablets are usually all screen, and a laptop typically has a keyboard glued to the lower half that can’t be changed.

While laptop sales have slowed since tablets arrived, devices like the iPad, which has dominated the category, still aren’t perfect replacements. It’s awkward to hold an iPad and type on it for long lengths of time, so people often buy the keyboard case to make it act more like a laptop or relegate the iPad to watching Netflix. There’s simply no middle ground without awkward cases, attachments, or stands that end up making tablets more like a laptop in the first place, defeating the point.

Owning a tablet and a laptop will feel ridiculous, because a single device will do the job of both devices.

Meanwhile, laptops lack the magic of a tablet. While Windows supports touch and pen input, it’s a tacked-on experience at best, with few apps truly taking advantage of touchscreens. Laptops are also generally much bulkier and have a shorter battery life.

But a foldable tablet’s display size and shape no longer restrict how the device can be used. Adding…

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Owen Williams
OneZero

Fascinated by how code and design is shaping the world. I write about the why behind tech news. Design Manager in Tech. https://twitter.com/ow