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article imageWild rumour suggests Surface Pro 4 may have shape-shifting bezels

By James Walker     Oct 3, 2015 in Technology
Ultra-thin bezels are all the rage on premium laptops at the moment but such a design doesn't work so well for tablets with touch gestures at the sides of the display. That creates a predicament for convertibles which Microsoft may have uniquely solved.
A new rumour circulating online says Microsoft is planning to give its upcoming Surface Pro 4 tablet razor-thin bezels comparable to Dell's XPS 13 laptop. This will make the 13-inch display appear even larger as it won't visibly end but does present a headache when the user puts the Surface into tablet mode and tries, for example, to open the Windows 10 Action Center by swiping in from the right side. Without any bezel, even simple gestures become significantly harder to accurately trigger.
In typical Surface fashion, the rumour, from Arabic news site w4phub, suggests Microsoft's hardware team may have found a unique way to have the best of both worlds: introducing "shape-shifting" bezels. Apparently, the Surface Pro 4 will be able to artificially "grow" thicker sides around the display as required, keeping tablet mode usable while maintaining the spectacular looks of bezel-less screens when working as a laptop.
The technology is apparently called "Smart Frame" and not so far-fetched as it initially sounds. Instead of actually adding new material to the sides, the effect will be produced via the Windows software.
When docked as a laptop, the bezels will stay in ultra-thin eye-popping beauty mode. If the user disconnects the keyboard, Windows 10's Continuum feature will automatically put the interface into tablet mode and then additionally grow the bezels by darkening or turning off the pixels around the edges of the screen and disabling touch input on them.
Naturally, turning off pixels will reduce screen size but Microsoft apparently has that figured out too. The device's aspect ratio will be maintained and the usable screen size will just decrease from 13-inches as a laptop to 12-inches in tablet mode.
If the rumour is correct then Microsoft has come up with a relatively simple way to build a beautiful laptop and usable tablet in one device by thinking outside the box with software. On the other hand, there isn't currently much evidence to indicate this is actually happening as no mention of such a feature has been made in the various detailed Surface Pro 4 rumours to date.
As the feature seems to be software-based, it's possible that Microsoft could introduce it later on with an updated firmware or Windows version if it isn't ready for launch next week. It's certainly possible that "Smart Frame" will become a centrepiece of the Surface Pro 4 but this rumour, as interesting as it sounds, should probably be taken with a substantial piece of salt for now.
Microsoft is widely expected to officially unveil the Surface Pro 4 range on Tuesday, October 6, at its New York City event. The announcement will introduce multiple new Microsoft hardware products including its new Windows 10 Mobile flagship Lumia smartphones and the Microsoft Band 2 fitness tracker and smartwatch.
More about Microsoft, Surface, surface pro, surface pro 4, Tablet
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