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Microsoft Surface Duo, hands-on with an intriguing double-screened foldable

I got to spend some time with Microsoft's curious new phone-tablet. Here's how it works.

Scott_Stein.jpg
Scott_Stein.jpg

Scott Stein

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The Microsoft Surface Duo is Microsoft's return to phones... but it's a dual-screeened Android phone, not a Windows machine.

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The dual 5.6 inch displays combine to form an effective 8.1 inch tablet-like viewing area with a bar in between.

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The Surface Pen works with the Surface Duo, but isn't included. (It should be.)

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The Duo is a phone, but its phone specs aren't great. There's just a single 11-megapixel camera, and its shutter speed hasn't been good so far.

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The Duo's hinge lets it fold around 360 degrees to lie flat, be stood up at angles, held like a little laptop, or folded into a tent.

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Two apps can run at once, but Android apps don't handshake well when running in multitasking modes.

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The Kindle app used across both screens is one of the best killer apps for the Duo... but beware of glare.

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The Surface Pen sticks to the Duo via magnets. By accident or on purpose?

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You can run a game and work at the same time, but it's awkward.

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Only one screen at a time runs when folding into tent mode. This kills the novelty of having both screens running at once, but probably saves battery.

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The Surface Duo is about the size of a Moleskine notebook.

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Solitaire runs on both screens, as will any app if you stretch it across. But not all apps work well in this expanded mode.

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There are a lot of buggy issues with the software we've tried so far. Maybe the processor and RAM are holding it back, or maybe the software still needs work.

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The software keyboard orients in different ways depending on how the Duo is folded, but most of the time I found it hard to type on.

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The Surface Duo (left) running Minecraft, next to a Nintendo 3DS XL (right). If only the Duo had unique dual-screen games it could take advantage of.

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