For the next four Tuesdays, Dieter Bohn will host a series of discussions diving deep into tech review season, each focusing on a specific product.
For this episode, Dieter and Dan Seifert talked with Engadget’s Cherlynn Low to compare notes on their respective reviews of Microsoft’s new foldable device, the Surface Duo.
I call it a “foldable device” because we don’t really know what else to call this gadget. It’s sort of a phone and sort of a tablet. (Let’s not get into the “is it a computer” discussion yet.) Dieter starts off the show citing a Vergecast interview from last year with Microsoft’s chief product officer Panos Panay addressing this very question:
“I feel like “phone” is such a limiting word. And then you say, “well, smartphone.” I don’t even know what that means. And then phablet. I’m not sure what that is. But everything has an identifying factor to it. Even when we started Surface, people are like, “So it’s a tablet.” I’m like, “It’s not a tablet. It’s just not a tablet. It’s a Surface.” I don’t know what to say. And you want to categorize it, and put it there.
I think if you’re going to create a new category, you’re going to try to change things, push things forward. The minute you put it in a box, I think you’re lost. So I’ve been pretty resistant to that. Not because it doesn’t act like a great phone.”
Nevertheless, it’s a dual-screen gadget made by Microsoft that runs Android, so there’s lots to talk about.
Dieter, Cherlynn, and Dan discuss how the process of reviewing the Duo differs from other phones and foldables in the past, both in the climate of working from home in 2020 and thinking about it in a new category of form factors.
And of course, they also talk about the bugs. In Cherlynn’s review video, she notes there are some pretty apparent design flaws with Android on the Duo — specifically, the narrow notification shade — that Microsoft left in, in order to not “fork” Android. How manageable is the Duo despite these bugs, and how likely is it that they are going to be fixed in future products? We’ll have to wait and see.