Microsoft DisplayCover Picks Up Where Alphasmart Left Off

microsoft displaycoverAlphasmart was a maker of word processing tools that featured a full-sized keyboard with a small screen. They were relatively cheap and featured a novel design.

Now Microsoft thinks that design would make a nifty keyboard to complement your tablet. Late last week the Microsoft Applied Sciences Group unveiled a prototype keyboard cover for the Surface tablet with a built-in secondary e-ink display.

The DisplayCover combines a laptop-style keyboard with a long and narrow E-ink display. That screen has a resolution of 1280 x 305, and a touchscreen, making it in some ways a trackpad or an extension of your tablet’s screen.

As you can see in the following video, MS researchers have found a couple smart uses for the second screen, including making it a taskbar so that users can quickly switch between apps. This saves user the bother of having to exit the current app just to bring up the menu and select a different app.

The researchers also developed an email client for that second screen:


That’s a nifty idea and would be incredibly useful if this product is ever released, but it doesn’t go far enough.

There isn’t a market for this keyboard as a stand alone product, but there could be a huge market for a wireless keyboard based on the DisplayCover prototype.

Many people who bring their laptops and tablets to conferences also bring a BT or other keyboard, and they would love the option of pulling this keyboard out of their bag so they could take notes. They wouldn’t have to worry about a hot and heavy laptop in their lap or a huge screen blocking their view of the presentation,

Alas, that is just a dream at this point. There’s no sign that MS plans to put it into production.


Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. fjtorres25 August, 2015

    This could easily be a third keyboard cover for the Surface tablet.

  2. alysdexia12 October, 2019

    so copied Apple


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