Twisty laptops, Bendy phones: Microsoft’s big bets on design

MC: We’ll talk about all of these options in today’s show.

LG: Okay.

[Gadget Lab intro theme music plays]

MC: Hello all. Welcome to Gadget Lab, I’m Michael Kalor, Senior Editor at WIRED.

LG: And I’m Lauren Judd, senior writer at WIRED. And this week I’m doing the podcast from Casey Newton’s Closet.

MC: Hi Casey.

LG: It’s not his wardrobe, it’s just his apartment. Thank you, Casey.

MC: Join us also remotely by our latest WIRED product and comment writer, Brenda Stoylar. Hi Brenda.

Brenda Stellar: Hello. Thank you for having me.

LG: Your introductory tool lab. It is very exciting to have you with us.

Bachelor’s: Thank you. Yes, I am so excited to do that.

MC: We’re getting deep into what we call here at WIRED hardware silly season. Last week Apple announced a bunch of new things, this week Microsoft took its turn. In a shocking live broadcast on Wednesday, the company detailed some upcoming device drops. We’ve seen new Surface computers, a weird laptop with a retractable screen, an update to the Surface Duo, a dual screen, a phone, a foldable thing, and a mobile device. Well, well, it’s definitely a phone, but we’ll get into the Duo later on in the show. First, we want to talk about all the new Surface hardware. Now, Brenda and Lauren, you both got a chance to report on new Microsoft stuff this week. So, let’s start with you, Brenda, for many of the surfaces you’ve seen, which were the most surprising?

Bachelor’s: Yes. So, I thought about this question for a while. Well, 24 hours I think at this point. And I know we’ll be talking about the Surface Duo 2 later, but I have to say, that’s the only thing that crossed my mind. I don’t know if I was in denial about it, because of how it happened last time. I know there were rumors, and I know we saw it coming, but I remember when I walked into the demo area, it was the first thing I saw and I was like, ‘Okay we’re doing this, it’s here and we’re all going to act like the first didn’t happen. We’re just going to move on.’ And so, yeah, I think just seeing it in person, in my mind, I was like, “They tried, Microsoft tried.”

But then the other thing I’ll say, is Service Laptop Studio, which I know Lauren, you’re going to talk about too, but I think it was nice to see something completely different, a whole new class, so to speak, I guess, in their lineup, because everything else We all knew there would be some upgrades to the existing models. Therefore, it was refreshing to see something new from the annual changes.

LGWhat exactly is new in the Surface Laptop Studio? Try to explain it to us. And I love this by the way, because Brenda, I saw this a few hours before you saw me in EST. And then, I saw, later in the day PST. And I’m back in the editing room, the virtual editing room, and I’ve been trying to explain this via Slack. And we were all like, “What does this thing do?” and you were-

MC: Wait, she has what? where is the-

LG: Wait, where does the screen go? Yes. So, tell us about this.

Bachelor’s: Yes. And I didn’t realize it was so hard to explain until I had to explain it. And I felt like, I was probably speaking another language, because I was like, “I see it in my mind, but I don’t know if the verbal explanation works.” Well, at first glance, it looks just like a regular laptop. You have your screen, your keys, your keyboard, and your touchpad. And then, behind the screen there are two hinges. And what it does is you can move the screen towards you. Therefore, the hinge roughly divides the screen and allows you to move it towards you. Therefore, you can put it in three different modes. So, you have the laptop mode, the touch keyboard, and you have the theater mode, which lets you position the screen, and move it forward towards you, so you can watch movies, and it makes it more comfortable, and it’s tilted.

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