Pay More With Surface Duo

Are two screens better than one? Microsoft thinks so. You can now pre-order Microsoft’s new device called Surface Duo. It’s a phone. And a mini split-screen tablet. And it’s quite possibly the coolest new gadget this year. Unfortunately, it will cost all your dollars.

The Duo is an Android phone with dual-screens and an overt friendliness to Microsoft apps. What makes it special is how apps utilize the screens both separately and together in various ways. I’m super intrigued by it. My wallet, though, is laughing at me. Nope, not buyin’ it.

Do More. And Pay More.

Microsoft is pushing the idea of, “Do more with Duo.” Or, “Do to the power of two.” See and do more with wide screens and multiple modes. You really must watch the demos of the device to understand its versatility. The Duo is marketed as a new productivity device. I’m guessing this includes creativity as well.

Half-joking, one reaction I have to the “do more” push is my push-back, “Do I really need to do more?” Don’t I do enough already? My Android phablet and my Chromebook let me do a lot! And I’ve been working professionally for the last 17 years using Windows PCs with Microsoft Office, among other programs. What more do I need to do?

Maybe I could be more productive and less busy – efficiency! But production must be balanced with recreation. For you know, all work and no play…not cool!

Half-joking aside, the Duo does appear to enable more, or at least better, ways to do-all-the-things in a device that fits in your pocket. Again, it’s very intriguing. I’m looking forward to upcoming reviews after people get real-world hands-on daily usage of it.

But no matter how cool or productive the Surface Duo is, that $1399 price tag is an anvil around its neck! For that amount of currency you could instead buy:

  • iPhone SE $399
  • AirPods $159
  • iPad $329
  • Smart Keyboard $159
  • Apple Pencil $99

This totals just $1145, so you’d still have $254 left over! Could you be as productive with an iPhone and iPad as you could with just a Surface Duo? How much more could you really do with the Duo?

Or how about this set-up?

  • MacBook Air $999
  • iPhone SE $399

This is equivalent to the price of the Surface Duo by itself at $1399. Is a Duo more productive than a combo of iPhone and MacBook? I doubt it.

Microsoft has a hard sell here. Despite that, the Duo seems compelling to me. It’s likely my tech-nerd bias though.

I like productivity and gadgetry. But I also like frugality. And I know firsthand how well “budget” devices work and how much you can do with them. My current set-up is a fair-enough example:

  • Moto G Power Android smartphone $249
  • HP 14” Chromebook $299 (I actually got it on sale for $179!)

I can do plenty with 2 portable devices that set me back a mere $428! But if you’d like to step up your Google device game, you could buy:

  • Google Pixel 4a $349
  • Google Pixelbook Go $649

That totals $998, still $401 less than the Surface Duo! And all the combo options I’ve listed, even the iPad, include a physical keyboard to type on for basic productivity, unlike Duo.

The point of all this is to say no matter how swank the Duo gleams, whether you’re all-in with Apple tech or Google swag, you can buy productive gear for less money than the Surface Duo.

And let’s not forget that all the devices I listed above can run Microsoft Office mobile apps or web apps. Do they work as well on said devices as on the Duo? And if not, do the Duo versions of Office apps justify the high price tag? Time will tell.

Maybe by its 3rd generation, the Duo will lower in price and increase in value with even better features. But until such a time, I think the Duo will remain a niche gadget.

Do you think you could do more with Duo?