Remember the Microsoft Courier? What was once fodder for the imagination seems to be taking hold of the PC market. While OEMs are not so hasty to jump on the foldable screen train pushed by Samsung, Huawei, and Lenovo, they are, instead seeing some merit in laptops that offer two screens. Or at least one and a half. While not a PC maker itself, Intel invests in building designs that manufacturers will be interested to make for Intel-powered computers. And, according to Intel, those manufacturers seem to very interested indeed, especially in the Honeycomb Glacier dual screen gaming laptop.
Let’ get the Twin River out of the way first. Of the two, this has the most semblance to the unicorn that is the Courier. It has two separate screens that can work together, not unlike the Tiger Rapids that eventually became the Lenovo Yoga Book C930. But unlike the LCD and e-paper display combo, the Twin River prototype has 12.3-inch 1920×1280 LCD touch screens on both sides, wrapped in polyester, polyamide, and lycra fabric.
More than the design, however, The Verge notes how the Twin River’s real centerpiece is the part that no one ever sees. Inside is a 15-watt quad-core Intel U-series processor crammed in a thin, fanless chassis. That’s thanks to some unconventional and super secret design and a thin vapor chamber cooling solution.
The real star of Intel’s Santa Clara lab, however, is the Honeycomb Glacier prototype. AT first glance, it might look like the newly announced ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo, with a second screen occupying the upper half of the keyboard space. But thanks to some, again super secret, mechanisms, the Honeycomb Glacier is able to lift its primary 15.6-inch 1080p screen to eye level and also raise the 12.3-inch 1820×720 secondary screen at an angle.
The primary purpose of this design is to save the user’s neck and back by not requiring them to hunch over the keyboard to see and use the second lower screen. It also has a neat special trick thanks to Tobii Eye Tracking where it can automatically switch between the two screens at a literal glance, no Alt=Tab necessary. In theory, you can have your game displayed on top and Twitch at the bottom and switch fluidly and seamless between the two just by looking at one or the other screen.
The odd design also brings another benefit. As a gaming laptop, it naturally needs to have big muscles to power the experience, in this case a 45-watt octa-core Intel CPU with an NVIDIA GeForce 1060. Most laptops will have to settle for two cooling fans but the Honeycomb Glacier can do with just one fan thanks to the custom cooling the extra space underneath the hinge.
Drool-worthy as these prototypes may be, they will not matter much if no manufacturer bites. Intel says it has never seen a prototype generate so much interest as the Honeycomb Glacier has. Whether that will also appeal to buyers, however, is a bigger question and the answer will depend on how much they will have to pay for a piece of the future.