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Samsung plans dual-screen folding tablet

A new patent shows Samsung is considering a dual-screen folding tablet similar to the Sony Tablet P or Nintendo DS.

Samsung's next generation of Galaxy Tab tablet could have not one screen but two. A new patent shows Samsung is considering a dual-screen folding tablet similar to the Sony Tablet P or Nintendo DS.

The dual-screen concept folds in the middle. The screens display either one picture, divided by the hinge in the middle, or show something different on each screen.

The tablet also replicates features of the Galaxy Note, which comes with a stylus for tapping and doodling. The patent reveals a controller pointer thingy that lives in the hinge between the two screens.

Samsung has become the world's biggest manufacturer of smart phones -- and one of the strongest contenders to the market-conquering iPad -- by offering a range of phones and tablets in all shapes and sizes. But even Samsung's magic touch may not be enough to make this design work.

The Sony Tablet P was a worthy attempt to do something different, but suffered from paltry battery life and storage. And of course, very few apps support the unusual twin-screen setup.

Samsung's brainchild isn't the first time a company has attempted to do something different with the shape of the tablet. The Sony Tablet P had the whole folding thing going on, while the Asus Eee Pad Slider also shifted shape.

The most successful shape-changer is the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime, which doesn't depart from the classic tablet design but slots into a keyboard dock, becoming a laptop.

Of course, the fact that Samsung has patented the dual-screen idea doesn't mean it will ever arrive on shop shelves, but it does show that Samsung is thinking beyond the traditional tablet design. But can that traditional design be bettered? Do we really want small devices that expand into bigger devices when required, or do we just want thin flat devices that slide easily into a bag or pocket? After all, the slider and clamshell phones have both all but died out, to be replaced almost entirely by thin flat phones with big bold touchscreens.

Is a folding dual-screen Samsung tablet a bad idea, or should Samsung continue down the road of offering every shape and size of tablet imaginable? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.