Back in 2006, the concept of Ultra-Mobile PCs (UMPC) became a reality with low-cost tiny laptops meant for the masses. UMPC was a collaboration between Intel and Microsoft to create a new market of devices. With touchscreens and support for a stylus, the UMPC was a precursor to modern smartphones but without the cellular connectivity.
While the concept died by 2010 could 2017 be the right time for such devices to return? GPD is testing the waters with its crowd-funded GPD Pocket – a true pocket computer that runs full Windows 10.
I've been using the GPD Pocket for a few weeks now, and I'm more impressed than I anticipated. While not everything is great with the GPD Pocket due to its size, it's also an amazing accomplishment with exceptional build quality.
About this review
The GPD Pocket used for this review was purchased through the Indiegogo campaign that ended in April 2017. The cost of the GPD Pocket was $399, which is the early backer price. Suggested retail price for the GPD Pocket is $599, but Aliexpress has it for $499. Due to the device having no US distribution it can be found on Amazon for $629. There are no configuration options for the GPD Pocket with only one model being available, but buyers can choose between a Windows 10 variant or one with Ubuntu for an OS.
Tiny but packing
GPD Pocket specifications and hardware
While GPD may not be a familiar name, the company has built a few pocket devices in the past, including the GPD Win – a little pocket gaming PC that we reviewed in March.
It should be of little surprise that the GPD Pocket only packs an Intel Atom processor. With a baselines speed of 1.6 GHz and burst up to 2.56 GHz it is not very fast compared to an Ultrabook laptop, but it handles Windows 10 just fine especially for this form factor. While Intel is not supporting older Atom CPUs (circa 2012) with Windows 10, the Intel Atom x7-Z8750 launched only in the first quarter of 2016 and is supported for Windows 10 updates going forward.
Impressively, GPD managed to get 8GB of RAM into the Pocket. Even Surface Pro and Surface Laptop have 4GB models, but GPD went with a higher configuration.
|Display||7-inch IPS multi-touch|
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
|Display resolution||1920 x 1200|
|Software||Windows 10 Home 64-bit|
|Processor||Intel Atom x7-Z8750 at 1.6 GHz (Turbo 2.56 GHz)|
|Storage||128 GB eMMC|
|Memory||8 GB LPDDR3-1600|
|Graphics||Intel HD Graphics 405|
200 MHz base; 600 MHz burst
|Ports||1x USB Type-C 3.0|
1x USB Type-A 3.0
HDMI D Type
3.5mm headset jack
|Sensors||Gravity Sensor, Hall Sensor|
Bluetooth Wireless 4.1 technology
|Battery size||7,000 mAh Li-Po|
|Battery life||12 hours of use (estimated)|
|Weight||0.48 kg (1.06 lbs)|
|Dimensions||180mm x 106mm x 18.5mm|
The rest of the specifications may appear to be unremarkable, but I'm very impressed with the hardware choices by GPD. Whether it the port selection, the display, or the overall build, the company is putting a lot of effort, thought, and good old elbow grease into the Pocket beating expectations.
Better than expected
GPD Pocket build and design
What is striking about the GPD Pocket is how good it feels to hold and use. Built from CNC magnesium alloy, the GPD Pocket is a solid, clean and exquisitely crafted portable PC.
GPD put no logos or labeling on the Pocket giving a clean look when closed. It's just a silver clam shell design echoing an old miniature Apple MacBook. To the front is a small notch for opening the display lid. While you can't open it one-handed, the hinge that supports the 7-inch display is smooth and sturdy.
On the bottom are some rubber feet and a small area for the speaker and intake vent. There are six hex screws to open the GPD Pocket though it has no upgradable parts.
There are no creaks, weak points, or anything cheap feeling about the GPD Pocket. It's a solid, precisely built magnesium device that is smooth and elegant. I can't say enough good GPD's manufacturing is for this PC.
GPD Pocket touch display
The 1900 x 1200 IPS touch display on the GPD Pocket is exceptional. Again, beating my expectations. With a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for protection, razor thin bezels at the top and bottom and an enjoyable 16:10 aspect the GPD Pocket's display is drop dead gorgeous.
IPS display technology is found in higher end laptops and PCs and ensures excellent viewing angles, sharp colors and no opaqueness. The color accuracy is high, and text is very sharp and easy to read – albeit you are still viewing a 7-inch display like a laptop, not held close like a smartphone.
Featuring 323 pixels-per-inch (PPI), the Pocket has "Retina level" display quality as GPD refers to it.
It's also surprising to find a touch display of this caliber in such a device. When I give it to people for the first time, they reach for the screen and are pleasantly surprised to find that it is touch – and it works well. Granted, touch targets in Windows 10 on a 7-inch screen are small, but for basic features like scrolling, closing apps, or hitting OK, it works.
Unfortunately, there is no support for an active pen, which would have been icing on the cake.
For watching movies, Sling for TV, or even playing some light video games from the Windows 10 the GPD Pocket's display is easily a crowning achievement.
Typing is tough
GPD Pocket keyboard and navigation
If you were expecting to pick up the GPD Pocket to bang out term papers or write long emails using the built-in keyboard, you would be disappointed.
To be fair, the GPD Pocket's keyboard is well done and given the size constraints GPD tried its best. At the end of the day, however, you're stuck with an excellent keyboard that is about a quarter the size of a standard laptop making typing hard.
Nonetheless, it's nice to have, and I'm sure some users can make it work. The keys are not backlit, but they have a surprising amount of travel, which I peg at around 1.3mm at least. Key response is even, and while the keyboard is cluttered, you do get a dedicated key for Windows Start, Alt, Ctrl, a power button, and function keys for display brightness, volume, and more. I'm not a fan of the smaller backspace key versus the larger one for delete, but typing on the GPD Pocket is already a challenge at this size.
For navigation, GPD uses a blue navigation nub instead of a trackpad. Below the nub are right and left click keys. While I don't like nubs on proper laptops, I confess I enjoyed how well it worked here – again, given the size constraints.
The good news is bad typing and navigation is technically solvable. After all, the GPD Pocket is a full PC with some expansion ports. Use a wired USB mouse, or just add a Bluetooth keyboard and suddenly the typing and navigation experiences change.
The right I/O
GPD Pocket ports
For a PC this small GPD packed quite a lot into for it input and output (I/O) ports. There are single ports for USB Type-C, USB Type-A, and even a micro HDMI display out.
The Type-C port is very welcomed as it allows several expansion prospects including a display (4K, 30 FPS; 1080P at 60) while simultaneously charging the device. That port can also be used for data. It should be noted, somewhat obviously, that the GPD Pocket does not support Thunderbolt 3 for 40 Gbps data transfer.
With USB Type-A users of legacy devices including mice or thumb drives will have no problem either.
Combined with support for Bluetooth 4.1 and this selection of ports make the GPD Pocket a potentially powerful full PC with external accessories.
GPD Pocket audio
While there are no front-facing dual stereo speakers on the GPD Pocket, it gets by with a single speaker.
It is not the most impressive sound from a device this small the audio is good enough for watching a movie, YouTube clip, or even listening to music.
Audio is crisp and it lacks richness, but it can get quite loud. The sound seems to resonate upwards through the keyboard deck, which is a smart design.
I did not have high hopes for sound with the GPD Pocket, but it is better than average for this price point.
Not a power PC
GPD Pocket performance and battery
GPD managed to jam a full-sized budget laptop into a seven-inch handheld device, which is neat. The Intel Atom processor is not exciting, but an Intel Core i5 or i7 would be out of the question. Those processors require additional space, much more power, have greater heat dissipation needs, and cost three times as much as Intel Atom making it unfeasible.
Windows 10 though does quite well with an Intel Atom if you are sticking with apps from the Windows Store and that are built into the OS. Launching Twitter or MSN News takes about six seconds to load including streaming data fully.
Playing a 1080p video on YouTube at 60 frames-per-second was not a problem at all with no stutters or glitches. Combined with that display and it looked fantastic too.
I could play Pinball FX2 for Windows 10 using a Bluetooth-connected Xbox controller with ease. In fact, it was downright enjoyable. For light gaming like Microsoft Ultimate Word Games and another arcade titles, the 8GB of RAM and Intel Atom processor are fine.
For storage, the GPD Pocket uses a quality Samsung DJNB4R eMMC instead of an SSD, which would take up too much space. Performance is decent with 146 MB/s for read and 88 MB/s for write.
Unexpectedly, the Intel Atom processor could get quite warm. Under heavy load e.g. a Windows OS update, or while playing a video came temperatures could peak at 104 degrees F (40 degrees C) from the exhaust vent. That is not hot at all compared to a full laptop, but it is warmer than your smartphone over a larger area. During normal usage, the temperature is more around 90 degrees F (32 degrees C).
GPD did include active cooling with the Pocket. That means that it does have a little fan for the exhaust port on the side. The fan is audible when the processor is stretched for gaming, but under normal operating conditions it is quiet.
Battery estimates are for 12 hours with the GPD Pocket, but that is on the high-end. I felt I could eek out six to eight hours depending on how hard I was pushing it. That's pretty good, however, for something that fits in your pocket. Charging is handled by the included teeny USB Type-C charger.
While Intel Atom leaves a lot to be desired for light computing – which is what the GPD Pocket is all about – it is a doable experience buoyed by the quality of the rest of the hardware.
Tiny power, niche idea
Conclusion: GPD Pocket may be novelty, but it's impressive
The GPD Pocket can be summarized as an expensive, unique, and surprisingly well-done PC that literally fits in your pocket.
Is it a fair value? The $500 price tag does not make it a throw away purchase for most people. You also really can't use it as a full PC without some compromise at this size. Typing is possible, but not enjoyable and staring at a seven-inch display that is two feet in front of you may strain your eyes.
Alternatively, many people could use the GPD Pocket in some clever ways. Using a pocket PC on a cramped airline flight could be better than taking out a full laptop. The ability to make the GPD Pocket a desktop PC by adding a full-sized keyboard, mouse and a display is also not only doable but a fun experience. Pairing the GPD Pocket with your smartphone to give it 4G data also makes it more useful for those moments when you just need more computing.
I also had no major bugs, issues, or weird experiences with Windows 10 either. Everything just worked as expected.
The GPD Pocket would be very easy to dismiss if the hardware wasn't so impressive. The 1900 x 1200 display is outstanding and easily the centerpiece. Audio and typing while not the best are better than you would expect and the 8GB of RAM makes this a more realistic replacement PC for many.
Despite all of that, it is hard to recommend the GPD Pocket unless you just have some disposable cash. It is a very niche solution to a problem not many have these days. Moreover, Microsoft and Qualcomm are on the cusp of bringing Windows 10 on ARM to the masses. I would love to see the GPD Pocket 2 make use of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, get a bit thinner, and add 4G LTE to the mix. That device begins to make more sense. It remains to be seen if GPD go ahead with such a design, but that is more intriguing than an Intel Atom in 2017.
While I can't recommend the GPD Pocket for regular people, power users and hobbyists who have some money to spare won't be disappointed. The GPD Pocket, while specialized, is a blast to use and it continually surprises in how many ways it can be utilized. Just don't expect it to replace your laptop.
Finally, keep an eye on GPD. The company is clearly branching into new territory, taking risks, but they also have the chops to make quality hardware. I can't wait to see what they do next.
- A truly pocketable PC.
- Outstanding build quality with a clean design.
- Gorgeous IPS touch display.
- USB Type-C and port selection is excellent.
- Typing is hard on a 7-inch PC.
- Still an expensive purchase despite the quality.
- Niche usage for most users.
- Windows 10 on ARM with Qualcomm processors are right around the corner.
Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.
This review sorely needs a video. Otherwise, good read.
Will be doing a video later; only so much time/resources to make it happen ;)
What camera do you use to take the photos for your articles?
This device looks nice. I think I would have wanted an 8" screen that supported stylus. And that may help with a slightly larger typing area. But it still is a cool device, and would like to see others. Can you imagine a 8" Surface with type cover.
There's actually quite a lot of 8" Windows tablets, so the market for that is pretty saturated. And really, this is a tablet computer with a keyboard chunked on. I can't wait to see the ARM version.
There aren't very many GOOD 8" windows tablets. And most have 2GB of RAM, which hampers the experience quite a bit. The 8GB on this device is a nice feature.
I think the best size for me would be 9.3 inch 16:10
not to squarish and not to big
the "Huawei matebook design would be ok. or like a oversize iphone 5s kinda like of design would be great. also chipset/processor makers needs to stepup their game because the chip on the ipad pro 10.5 is super fast. it can edit 4k smooth.
If this was a proper 2-in-1 (I'm thinking mini-Yoga), I'd be all over it. As it is, I am truly impressed; especially the 8GB of RAM and the 1200p screen. Would love to see a version 2.x this fall. Make these few changes, and my purchase would be assured - would even go so far as crowd fund it, if that it is what it took:
PROPER 2-IN-1 it's 2017 already, this one is the biggest nobrainer - especially if it is running Windows. When it is expected that even Surface Phone is going to be a 2-in-1 of some sort, a "laptop" not being one is a bit inexcusable at this point in time 8" SCREEN once again it's 2017, I think its been pretty much a proven thing at this point that 8" is the sweet spot on smaller portables - any smaller, and technically its a phone. Not to mention, the extra screen real estate = larger device footprint, which can also be leveraged into a better keyboard, or a larger battery, or an audio resonance chamber, or better thermal management. The extra space will just = more engineering options for the design team to make the next version even better in some manner. OPTION OF CPUs I don't think anyone gives two craps about the Atom any longer, but with both Windows on ARM, and Ryzen Mobile on the horizon, there are some really exciting, low cost hardware possibilities in the very near future for mobile devices - especially those running Windows. Give the consumer the final say on CPU config, and Bob's your uncle.
When I first heard of this device, I thought it was going to be terrible. I'm glad to see I was wrong.
The hardware quality is shockingly good and the display is almost better than it should be. Really surprising. I mean, it's still an Intel Atom, but just a really neat device.
I really hope an ARM version of this device comes some day, seems like this was custom made for Windows on ARM
Have you guys lost your grip on common sense?
I can respond to an argument, not a statement. Try harder.
The design could have been a lot better, and at that size and price they could have made a Miniture surface (Keyboard needs to detach even if its a solid piece of metal)
It looks though, like the majority of the guts are in the keyboard, like most clamshell laptops. A detachable keyboard would have required the guts to be behind the screen, making it signicicantly thicker in 'tablet' mode. You'd wind up with an (updated) HP Stream 7 with a thin keyboard. Not a bad thing, but a design decision.
If it had an keyboard-less option I might get it for xpa-on-the-go-gaming...
Think I'll just wait for win10.arm instead.
Dan, Can you plug in the external asus 15" screen?
That was mentioned in the article. Yes, i know he did not specifically mention the Asus 15" screen, but if it supports external monitors, then it supports the Asus. I'm sure he doesn't have time to test every single monitor combination out there! My $0.02! :)
Well, it's a good point though as the Asus one he's referring to is unique. It's both powered by and uses data from the PC it connects too; but the power draw from the Asus monitor appears to be too much for the GPD Pocket. Just display data is fine, but if it needs to power the display too, that's a tougher challenge. There's also the right hardware needed, so while the Elite x3 can do it, this PC cannot, which is surprising.
Huh, surprisingly that does not work even with the Type-A driver installed. Investigating. Wonder if it just doesn't have enough to power the display and data.
thanks for looking into this. I have a similar situation with a lenovo thinkvision 1423p(which supports ink). the 1423p use to be a pain to use, since it needed drivers, but after the latest windows update, its totally plug and play. also, it didn't initially work with the surface pro 4 without an auxilary source, but now, it does.
Reminds me of my old HP Journada!!!!
I was just about to say the same thing. So retro:
I still have mine. I also still have some old Palm Pilots (Zire 72s, another older one, and a T/X). I actually still use my T/X every night as an ebook reader in bed, and a game of yahtzee and some Bejeweled 2. :-)
I absolutely LOVED my HP Jornada 720! I ran a food cupboard/charity with it for years. Took it with me everywhere. I have a MS Surface Pro 3 now, but when I saw the photo for this article I was like YES! If I recall correctly, when they were new, they were about a grand. I could never get the pcmcia network card to work properly, so I eventually stopped using it. Smartphones weren't really on the scene yet, so I missed it.
I had the original Pocket PC (Casio Cassiopeia A-10). Used it a lot in college. I could type fairly well on the little keyboard too! Of course, when one of my instructors pulled out a Jornada 640 at the end of class one day, I wanted one of those! Never happened though.
CON: "Windows 10 on ARM with Qualcomm processors are right around the corner." Well ain't that the truth. Of course if you need 64-bit support, this beats Windows on ARM, as the first iteration will only support 32-bit applications.
It will only support 32-bit Win32 emulation, not just 32-bit applications. A lot of developers will be recompiling their apps for 64-bit ARM.
The Snapdragon 835 is a 64-bit ARM chip, so native code will be 64-bit.
I got one on the Indigogo campaign and love it. The battery life isn't great but that is usually one of the least important features for MY usage. Muscle memory serves well when typing but, considering the size, I feel it is a very good product. I'm looking forward to trying it with a dock. This is replacing an E8400 powered desktop so the CPU performance isn't an issue as the X8750 benchmarks very close to the E8400 and I've got twice the RAM.
Speaking of docks. I figure WC has a Lumia Display Dock sitting around. Have you plugged that into the USB-C to see what might work? How about a Dell USB-C dock? One designed for a Macbook? Just curious.
The battery life isn't great How long do you get?
If the keyboard folded around or detached and made phone calls.
Or just a phone app
It has a phone app. It's called Skype. ;)
And who uses Skype? No one, Microsoft should have stuck with message app Skype has such a bad history
And who uses Skype? No one, You are somewhat elitist. All MY friends use it, and I have a lot of friends
In southeast Asia, the LINE app is quite popular.
I've never got my head around skype. You have to ring or text someone to put it on to Skype call them. Whatsapp just works, shame the desktop app hasn't got video calls yet.
Does your PC have a phone app right now? This is not a phone. It's a PC ;-)
This takes me back to the Toshiba Libretto!
I am going to assume that the GPD Pocket 2 will have a Core M processor rather than a Snapdragon, not unlike the rumours of the GPD Win 2.
If they make the device fold over and include a pen. That way the size would make more sense, and it would be immediately more usable and appealing. The screen also does not need to be such a high resolution. 1280 x 800 or 1440 x 900 on a 7 inch screen would suffice. Using a lower res screen could help to reduce the price. The keyboard could do with some work. I'd take the power key and the mute key out and shave maybe 1mm off the length and width of the main keys and allocate it to the other small keys. See if I could get a more functional caps lock, tab, backspace and Escape keys. The power button and mute can be placed at the side or on the LCD. Since they have HDMI out, I'd change the USB C to data and charge only. That could maybe help lower the price as well. I would definitely not change the thickness. It's a PC after all not a tablet. But it's a decent machine, just priced too high.
This. If it had flipped around and had the ability to be written on w/ a stylus, I would've bought 2 already. These would be perfect for physicians because they're compact, run full windows so they're compatible with the servers and proprietary software, and also support the apps needed to do our jobs. Add in inking PDFs ? And it would've been a killer piece of kit. Still, it's a great first iteration. I'm looking forward to V2.
How many monitors and at what resolution can it push? I noticed in the article you mention 4k @ 30FPS and 1080 @ 60FPS. Does this only support one external monitor?
I have to look at the edge with USB-C, mini-HDMI, speaker jack and full size USB-A and say, yeah, no way MS could have fit all that on a Surface. /s
Daniel, I know you said you had no issues, but I'm curious. Given the issues Microsoft and others have had with the X7 chip. Did you have any times where the laptop went to sleep and could not wake up or problems getting it charged?
The opposite. Initially it never went to sleep and drained the battery. After a few Windows updates though, it's been working just fine. I have seen the Broadcom wifi fail once, but part of that may be my weird network here too.
I haven't had any real issues with the X7 chip in the Surface 3. The main issue the Surface 3 has is the crappy Intel video driver that keeps crashing out of hibernation.
I'm curious about how the device makes more sense with a Snapdragon and LTE. Slightly thinner, maybe runs cooler, battery lasts a little longer... Still the same functionality though. Add in LTE... Still seems like a niche product, maybe good for like a real estate agent or someone out & about all the time with no Wi-Fi & eliminates the kludge of tethering? I guess I'm just not seeing the potential of these kinds of devices beyond niche, vertical markets, despite all the hype surrounding them...
I don't see the potential of tower computers beyond niche, vertical markets. No one upgrades their computers anymore except the rapidly shrinking group of PC hobbyists and gamers. Yes they keep making them...
...you fail to see the advantages of a desktop PC? I'll assume that's just snark. Any actual thoughts on why devices like this are actually useful? Rubino's article says it's a solution in search of a problem, but add LTE & sub a Snapdragon for an Intel and.... it's just magically awesomer?
This particular device is clunky, has no cellular connection and sports a slow and battery draining Atom CPU. All showstoppers for such device category in my book. This type of device could be great if it was slimmer, had more performance and longer battery life and cellular connectivity.
The PC gaming market is not rapidly shrinking. Quite the opposite.
The battery life alone shows where Intel failed. The Atom lines (yes I know these are different than the SoC lines used in phones, but share the same cores) haven't been able to keep up with ARM in power to battery life ratios.
OMG........Its the new surface pho.....oh wait...no it's not!....ha ha...I look at this device thinking yeah...then.....NAH....
Hmmm. Take this, use W10 on ARM and CShell, give it a fold-over screen to turn it into a full 2-in-1 and add in Pen support, more storage, 4GLTE, and Phone functions and you have: The Surface Phone.
If thats a surface phone...the entire project is a useless waste. Its like carrying a brick in your pocket. NO THANKS.
Agreed. The Surface phone needs to be a pocketable phone, not a mini laptop. Otherwise it should be called the Surface mini-laptop
Wait so what you're saying is that this ultra portable pc, which markets itself as a really small laptop/tablet should not be used as a reference point for cellular pc which is looking to replace your phone? Wow you is a genius.
This review went better than I thought it would.
It's quite possible this would have better or equal performance than 835 on win32s, given win32s will be running "near native speeds" under emulation ie 70% or worse of native speeds. At least I wouldn't be expecting vastly better performance of apps running under emulation. The 8750 is not a bad chip, you can low demand games on it need for speed most wanted (original), tyranny, trine 2, gta san andreas etc. In fact you'd be surprised of what its capable of certainty not "UWP only apps", at all. I wouldn't be overestimating the performance of win32s under windows on arm - its UWP where those devices will have the shiny UX. Running win32s they will cope but won't win any awards.
Add a sim card and detachable keyboard and you have a Surface Phone.
This device is neat and can be used in some applications better that a Tablet. I think it's price will drop in 6 months. The rumored Surface smart phone Tablet hybrid device could be very sinular to this device except the Mechanical keyboard will be touch screen keyboard, it will Use an ARMS CPU, it's OS could be a combination of Windows 10 mobile and Windows 10 on ARMS. It will have a Cell phone capability. it will be thinner, lighter and cost more to buy. like this device it will be niche product but enough of them will be bought people on a world wide basis for Microsoft to make a profit selling them
I cannot understand why a native x64 Atom X7 is not as good as a SD835 if we are running Windows 10. Yes, battery life may be a bit shorter but this can be compensated with a slightly bigger battery. LTE is not something everyone need in a mini PC.
If it was also a phone, I would already have ordered one!
Please rewrite "Stereo speaker" to "Monaural speaker" about column of Speakers.
Neat but, how usable is a 7" display for a laptop ? About 5 years ago I had a OQO Model 2 http://cdn.slashgear.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/ces-2009-oqo_2plus_7469.jpg (in case you didn't know what it looked like), it had a 6" display, and although it worked pretty well (upgraded vista to Windows 7 on it), i found a 6" display too hard to use for day to day work. It was nice with a external monitor connected but, that defeted the point. I guess there is a reason why I have 2 24" monitors at work...
"Windows 10 on ARM with Qualcomm processors are right around the corner" all this Qualcomm based can run only win32 apps so they can not be compared with gpd pocket/win. also there are slower than the intel aton in x32 native applications.
When it comes to keyboards, I like the 60% HHKB format. Most interfaces of the GPD could fit under such a keyboard. Even some interfaces you currently need to buy an adapter to get. [I want ethernet, and serial for VT-100 terminal] That would leave a hefty amount of electronics to go behind the LCD screen, but you'd actually have more space [width] than on the old Nexus 7. If you make the keyboard detachable, you could eventually cater to the entire "mechanical keyboard" market with a custom screen. Make it a touch screen, and you could even emulate the touch bar feature of the latest Apple Macs [60% keyboards don't have a function key row anyway].
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