A nice, satisfying “click” can be one of the most comforting sounds you’ll hear when using electronics. Whether dropping your laptop in its docking station, plugging in a new Ethernet cable, on tapping away on your mouse, the clicks you hear help indicate that something’s happening: things are being done, connections are being made, data’s being inputted. And over the years, these audio cues seem to have had a lasting effect on our expectations – more than their presence assuring us that something’s working as intended, their absence can leave us feeling a little anxious. Microsoft clearly had this in mind when designing the new Surface Book convertible laptop, as we learn of a little audio trickery that’s behind the computer’s screen-release mechanism.
By now you’ve probably heard a little about the interesting shape-memory alloy Microsoft employs in the mechanism that holds the Surface Book’s screen tightly in place, while also allowing it to be easily removed for tablet operation. And while the system looks quite robust, Microsoft noticed one little problem when engineering it: it was too quiet.
What Microsoft needed was a way to let users know, after pushing a keyboard button to detach the screen, that the display was actually ready to be lifted out. The trick to doing so, it turns out, is going out of its way to play a “click” sound – even if it’s not coming from the actual screen hardware.
We’d wager users would have gotten used to a click-less screen-release mechanism eventually, but this still comes off as a neat example of Microsoft going that extra mile to think about the user experience of its products, rather than just getting bogged down with specs and performance.