Intel is bringing dual monitors to laptops with Honeycomb Glacier
One of the key takeaways I’ve taken from Computex 2019 so far is that dual-screen laptops are definitely a thing now. Whether they’ll make it into future iterations of the best gaming laptops is another question. For now, we have to keep an open mind and embrace it as a possibility.
While not exactly for gaming, Asus announced the ZenBook Pro Duo earlier this week. Before that, HP showed off a liquid-metal-cooled dual-screen gaming laptop for “wealthy” gamers. Now it’s Intel’s turn. About a month ago, I visited the Blue Team headquarters in Santa Clara to check out its 9th generation mobile processors. There, I got my first look at the Honeycomb Glacier, a proof-of-concept notebook designed to simulate gameplay on two monitors.
Intel Honeycomb Glacier
With dual hinge support, the Honeycomb Glacier has a unique value proposition relative to competing dual screen options (i.e. ergonomics). Unlike most laptops, which are known to require a stand attachment to be used at eye level, the Honeycomb Glacier stand is built-in. Just lift the screen with your hand and it will stay firmly in place thanks to the mechanical one-way roller clutch. Like magic, adjusting the display is as easy as opening the lid of any other clamshell device.
Below the 15.6-inch 1080p primary screen is a 12.3-inch 1920×720 secondary display. When I spoke with Frederick Hamberger, head of the premium and gaming notebook division, in April, I went from ignoring the appeal of the bottom screen to being completely captivated by its presence. He quickly corrected me after I mistakenly thought the developer had to add support for a second screen.
Intel Honeycomb Glacier hands-on demo
“All content creation applications today, including Adobe, already support secondary displays,” he said, pointing to the bottom screen. “There’s also the benefit that if I’m doing film editing, then I can put my film clips here, and I can put the full content on it. On this, I can go in and see my whole”
Since this is useful for creative types, the Honeycomb Glacier is a gaming laptop prototype rather than a definitive creator machine. Fortunately, its concept doesn’t ignore this. With 30% to 40% of PC gamers currently connecting a second monitor to their PC, Intel is capitalizing on an already widely successful market, according to Hamberger.
“Most people look at this concept and say, ‘You’re never going to get any ecosystem support for this.’ We’re like, ‘Well, not for this.’ “But if you think about it, that system already exists.”
I’ve been told that streamers are often frustrated by having to use more than one monitor (or in some cases multiple systems) to manage their streams and chats while actually playing online games for viewers. To alleviate this common pain point, Honeycomb Glacier takes existing features of the Windows 10 environment and mobilizes them. Extended displays are nothing new.However, the way it is presented here Yes.
By consolidating a multi-monitor setup into a relatively compact device, Intel is instigating what amounts to a revolution in gaming laptop design.
Intel Honeycomb Glacier Secondary Display
As far as specs go, the Honeycomb Glacier configuration I got at Computex has a high thermal design power (TDP) of 175 watts, not that it needs it. Inside is a dated Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070, an unspecified 8-core processor, and a 32GB of RAM, all of which are overclockable.
There’s a webcam capable of Tobii eye-tracking in its solid top bezel, and a second Tobii camera in the center of the top hinge. In fact, this is the only worthwhile technical implementation I’ve seen since I was able to switch between apps using the companion software. If I want to switch from streaming to chatting with my audience, I can do that at a glance.
Another possible benefit of Tobii is battery life savings. When I look at the top screen, the bottom screen turns off and vice versa. Since monitors are one of the biggest threats to battery life, this helps make up for the high TDP and general overclocking ability.
While it’s unclear when we’ll see the first round of Honeycomb Glacier laptops, Intel has publicly acknowledged that the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo was inspired by its prototype design. The company also drew comparisons to the mainstream Ultrabook form factor, which debuted in 2011 after overwhelming commercial sales of the equally thin and light MacBook Air.
Before Hive Glacier itself becomes a household name, we can expect the arrival of Project Athena later this year.
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