Maybe in an alternate timeline, Android 3.0 was called Honeycomb Glacier instead of just Honeycomb, when it released in 2011. In this timeline, however, Honeycomb Glacier is the codename of a new dual-screen laptop form factor concept that Intel is showcasing at Computex 2019 this week, in hopes of encouraging its OEM partners to run with the idea.
Intel is not actually releasing a funky laptop that has learned to stand upright, as shown in the image above. Instead, the Santa Clara chipmaker is looking to drive form factor innovation into high-performance systems "to enable new experiences for gamers and creators." A key part of seeing that vision through is working with its hardware partners.
"Intel is collaborating with OEMs to bring to market companion display systems based on this visionary concept and powered by the latest 9th Gen Intel Core mobile processors, with the first being the ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo with ScreenPad Plus," Intel says.
So, what exactly do we have here? It's essentially a traditional laptop as you know it, with a non-traditional secondary display that sits above the keyboard and runs from side to side. We've seen laptops incorporate a second display before, though not quite to this extent.
Intel says this design lends itself to more immersive gaming experiences by making key information persistent on the secondary screen. Level maps, inventory items, health status, and other key information can all be plopped on the companion display without overlapping the main screen.
This could also come in handy for streamers—they could interact with their audience without having an overlay or switching out of the game they are playing. That is where the ability to stand upright could come into play, as it would give the user a better view of the bottom screen without having to look all the way down.
The folks at The Verge spent some hands-on time with the Honeycomb Glacier prototype, noting that the main screen is a 15.6-inch panel with a 1920x1080 resolution, flanked by a 12.3-inch screen with a 1920x720 resolution. As configured, the concept laptop sports a 45-watt 8-core Intel CPU paired with a GeForce GTX 1060 GPU, so not exactly bleeding edge hardware. Shipping products based on this form factor concept could (and likely would) be more powerful, though.
That is certainly the case for ASUS's ZenBook Pro Duo UX581. It rocks up to a 9th generation Intel Core i9-9980HK processor paired with a GeForce RTX 2060 GPU, along with up to 32GB of DDR4-2666 memory and up to 1TB of PCIe storage.
It's an interesting concept, albeit niche in the grand scheme of things. Still, it will be interesting to see what kind of gaming laptops follow Intel's lead with this form factor.