When I think about the future evolution of my job — in that sliver of time between now and the inevitable AI automation of all writing and reporting — I’m most curious about what will end up replacing my laptop. The Google Pixel 2 XL has, for most intents and purposes, taken over as my professional camera, but a smartphone isn’t quite versatile or comfortable enough to pen notes or longer articles on. This is where Intel’s Tiger Rapids concept device, shown off for the first time at Computex 2018, comes in.
This Windows 10 PC has a 7.9-inch LCD on one side and a matching E Ink panel on the other. Intel has engineered not just the hardware but also the software, creating the middleware required to connect the operating system to the second screen, which Windows sees as a USB peripheral. The purpose of this device is self-evident: it lets you take notes on one side and make immediate use of them on the other. You can use either the provided stylus for handwritten notes or a virtual keyboard on the electronic paper display. The whole thing is rather like taking the familiar paper notepad and saying “what if this could run Windows?”
I got my hands on the Tiger Rapids device this week, and it just wowed me with how small, thin, and light it was. Much like Lenovo’s Yoga Book, which similarly charmed me a couple of years ago, Intel’s prototype is basically as thin as technology can get in our modern age. What’s more, Intel claims you can get up to 6 or 7 hours of battery life out of this in prototype form, and the company anticipates its hardware partners could implement further optimizations — should they wish to turn this into a retail product — that could extend the endurance further.
Intel doesn’t have any announcements to make about this Tiger Rapids machine turning into a real product we can buy, but representatives of the company told me that talks are ongoing. Looking at the high quality of the industrial design of this concept PC — the hinge is particularly satisfying to use — a part of me is tempted to just see Intel release its own device. Certainly, the local partners that Intel is trying to charm at Computex — Taiwan’s Asus, Acer, MSI, and Gigabyte, among others — should give this close consideration. There’s a lot of appeal to a lean, truly ultraportable note-taking machine.
The Tiger Rapids prototype is not without its foibles, of course. As impressive as its exterior design might have been, the software on board was super buggy and unstable. I can’t even tell you much about the responsiveness of the E Ink display, because I can’t be sure if the delays I saw were caused by the software or the panel itself.
In my time writing on the Tiger Rapids with its bundled stylus, latency was commendably low and the screen had just the right amount of traction to make it a pleasurable experience. Also good: Intel put an anti-glare coating and a matte finish on the LCD, which makes for really nice synergy with the E Ink display for outdoor use. Both screens retain their readability and usability in bright sunlight outdoors, again underlining the versatility of this prototype as a do-it-all note-taking device.
As a final teaser, Intel told me to look forward to IFA in Berlin at the beginning of September. We’re all but assured to see the Yoga Book 2 make its debut there, and if we’re fortunate maybe we’ll see some more dual-screen ultraportable PCs being unveiled alongside it.
Photography by Vlad Savov / The Verge