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Microsoft was right all along

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More companies are embracing the form factor that the Surface Pro is famous for

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A user types on the Surface Pro 8.

Could this be the future?

Photo by Becca Farsace / The Verge

If you’ve been following the laptop space over the past two or so years, you’ve probably noticed that the detachable laptop is on the rise. Several high-profile models that were previously traditional 2-in-1s (that is, an old-school-looking laptop that can also bend backward) have slowly but surely been converted to detachable keyboard form factors.

This is in no way a new idea — the Surface Pro has been a thing for years on end. But as more and more companies add the form factor to their premium lines, it seems like the space in general is warming up to the idea that Microsoft was right all along.

Recent examples include:

  • Dell’s XPS 13 2-in-1, once one of the best traditional convertibles you could buy, has become a folio-style detachable this year.
  • Lenovo has pulled back on the convertible option in some ThinkPad lines in recent years. The new Z Series, for example, doesn’t have a convertible option — the company told me it considered adding one early in the planning process but felt that convertibles were a much smaller market than clamshells. But there are detachable ThinkPads now (and the keyboards still have the TrackPoint).
  • Asus’ ExpertBook line just received its first Arm-powered detachable, the ExpertBook B3 Detachable.
  • Speaking of Dell — the Latitude line, known for having some of the best business convertibles out there, now has a few detachables as well.

The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 on a stone table in laptop mode with the stylus fixed to the top. The screen displays a Windows desktop background.

This is the new XPS 13 2-in-1.

Image: Dell

I’ve asked a couple companies about this decision over the past year, and the answers have all been variations of what you might expect: customers just aren’t really interested in traditional 2-in-1s. And as someone who’s used a ton of them, it’s not hard to see why.

There are traits inherent to the laptop form factor — especially with the direction it’s going these days — that run contrary to what you’d want from a good tablet. One example: weight. In general, laptops that are over three pounds or so are just too heavy to comfortably hold and carry around as a tablet. (I suspect this is part of the reason that 15-inch convertibles, which some companies were pushing in the late 2010s, have largely petered out.) There’s also the fact that holding a convertible as a tablet often means holding the keyboard (which feels a bit weird) or pressing the keyboard into the ground (which can lead to scratches and dirt in general).

Bezels are becoming more of an issue as well. Premium laptops have been moving toward higher screen-to-body ratios, and smaller bezels have long been a prominent element in what many reviewers are willing to credit as a “modern” look. But good tablets need to retain some degree of bezel because people need something to hold, and holding (and smudging up and potentially accidentally clicking on) a usable part of a tablet’s screen is suboptimal.

For a long time, the 2-in-1 was a compromise: it was hard to fit laptop-grade internals in a tablet, and a full-sized keyboard deck gave them a place to live. But as processors get more power-efficient and more companies embrace hybrid architecture, that’s becoming less and less true. (I mean, come on, the M1 now powers the iPad.) And it’s allowing companies to zero in on the reason that customers have liked convertible laptops all along. It’s not just a touchable screen, and it’s not just tent mode. It’s portability — and detachables offer that in a way convertibles couldn’t.

“Obviously Peacock sucks.”

Kim Masters has a good piece on Warner Brothers Discovery looking for a new DC studio chief, with rampant speculation that the endgame is Comcast buying the whole thing in 2024 to beef up Peacock.

Many top industry execs are so convinced a deal will happen that some are pre-mourning an event that may never happen. “People feel like it’s Comcast for sure,” says the head of one company. “It’s going to be so depressing to lose another major studio [after Disney bought Fox]. And Warners was the Tiffany studio.”


How’s that eSIM-only iPhone working out for you?

In my article about Apple dropping the physical SIM on the iPhone 14, I said it was “probably fine” for people on major US carriers. I also mentioned that my iPhone 11 had a physical Verizon SIM and an eSIM from a carrier in the Netherlands. This weekend I upgraded to an iPhone 14 Pro. The Verizon SIM transferred without a hitch. The other one? Not so much. Guess it’s time to admit to myself that I’m never moving back to Amsterdam.


Side view of the iPhone 14, showing mmWave 5G cutout but no SIM slot

More testimony on how working at Tesla is a nightmare for women.

Rolling Stone interviewed five women involved in the several sexual harassment lawsuits against the automaker.

Hearing them describe how they were treated, and how Tesla failed to defend them (and sometimes actively punished them) is difficult.


Amazon says streaming Thursday Night Football was a huge success.

The official Nielsen numbers aren’t in, but a memo from Amazon’s Jay Marine says the game was “the most watched night of primetime in the U.S. in the history of Prime Video” and he expects the company exceeded the 12.5 million viewers it promised advertisers.

Amazon can’t go five minutes without pushing an unverifiable and unquantifiable statistic, so Marine also claimed the game was “the biggest three hours for U.S. Prime sign ups ever in the history of Amazon — including Prime Day, Cyber Monday and Black Friday.” Truly the emptiest of data points from the people who run Next Gen Stats Powered By AWS.


It sounds like the DOJ isn’t happy with the Apple v. Epic ruling

According to TechCrunch, the Department of Justice will be allowed to argue its concerns about the original ruling during the appeal trial.

The DOJ is worried the decision as it stands could make future antitrust cases more difficult — which is especially important considering reports that it’s working on its own antitrust action against Apple.


Is the iPhone 13 Pro a sneaky good upgrade deal?

Carriers are all doing huge deals on iPhone 14 models, but if you just want to buy a phone outright, a discounted iPhone 13 Pro might be the best bang-for-the-buck around.


I don’t think this AI-generated game actually counts as AI-generated.

This Girl Does Not Exist promises “everything you will see in this game” is created by an AI. Except… based on everything I’ve read, that includes none of the game mechanics or interface design! It’s an interesting experiment in artificially generated images and audio, but AI-generated gameplay is a uniquely weird and difficult problem. That said, I’m fascinated by the growing move toward an aesthetics of AI — and this project sits square in that zone.


This is an awesome guide to iOS 16 lock screen widgets.

I continue to think they’re the best thing about the new iOS, and the MacStories folks rounded up a huge number of widgets you can try now. They range from pointless and delightful to totally instantly essential — Link Hub, which just opens any link you want, is particularly great.


Music labels are incorporating old songs into new songs to trigger your nostalgia.

The Vergecast is doing a special miniseries for the next three Mondays on the future of music. This week I spoke with music reporter and podcaster Charlie Harding about how the future of music could sound very familiar.


Rick and Morty and the high-wire act of writing antiheroes.

Countless people have discussed the travails of Rick and Morty fandom. But Corbin Smith goes beyond the simple claims that obnoxious fans are just watching the show wrong, delving into the inherent difficulty of writing a character with terrible qualities who’s still undeniably cool to watch. A bonus: he lays out the precise take on Rorschach from Watchmen that I’ve always wanted to read.


The 2010s were about lifestyle brands. What’s next?

Loved this meaty essay about trends in consumerism, what we mean by “culture,” and how DTC brands led to a new understanding of community and identity. “In the 2010s, supply chain innovation opened up lifestyle brands. In the 2020s, financial mechanism innovation is opening up the space for incentivized ideologies, networked publics, and co-owned faiths,” writes Toby Shorin. “The authenticity-driven culture of ironic detachment, so present in the early 2000s, has given way to a moment where people are genuinely open to being influenced, open to sincerely participating, even if it’s cringe.”


“I still stand by that tweet.”

–Figma CEO Dylan Field, in the unenviable position of having to reflect on an old tweet.

Field tweeted last year that Figma’s goal “is to be Figma not Adobe.” Fast forward to today and… Figma is going to be part of Adobe! My colleague Jay Peters spoke with the two companies’ leaders about what the merger means for designers everywhere.


An illustration containing black Adobe logos in front of white Figma logos on a red background.

Steam Deck display docks, and Deck deliveries.

Steam Deck prototypes aren’t the only thing to see at the Tokyo Game Show, as one Redditor noticed (via PC Gamer) that the still-unreleased official dock is holding up display units.

That’s also relevant because Steam Decks are being delivered more rapidly than expected. Valve just announced it’s cleared the reservations in the Q3 bucket a couple of weeks ahead of schedule and is starting in on reservations slated for Q4.


Logitech might have just confirmed Apple’s next new iPads.

A product page for Logitech’s Crayon stylus, which is compatible with the iPad, lists two unreleased devices: a 12.9-inch iPad Pro and an 11-inch iPad Pro. It also notes that the devices are “coming soon.”

Apple’s rumored to release those two iPads at an event this October, in addition to an entry-level iPad that the website didn’t mention.


The United Arab Emirates is shooting for the Moon with plans for a lunar rover.

The country just announced that its first lunar rover is ready to go and will launch sometime in November — the exact date is still TBD. The “Rashid” rover will ride to space on a SpaceX rocket and will be carried to the Moon’s surface by a lander from Japanese company ispace, which has been working toward a Moon mission for years.


Even Slack thinks the green “online” status was a bad idea.

Ali Rayl, the SVP of product at Slack, thinks away messages and status indicators are a good idea. But the green circle that screams “I AM ONLINE!” isn’t the right way to do it:

I never wanted to add the green dot. I think the green dot is very harmful… If your green dot is on and you get a DM and don’t [respond] it’s like, what’s the matter?


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