Intel pitches netbook-cum-tablet 'hybrids'
Best of both worlds - or neither fish nor fowl?
IDF 2011 Can't decide whether you want a tablet or a netbook? Have both, says Intel.
The chip giant today pitched the notion of a hybrid device, skinnier than a netbook but thicker than a tablet by bringing the latter a built-in keyboard.
It's not a new notion, of course. Dell launched the Inspiron Duo last year, and during 2011 the likes of Samsung, Acer and Asus have demo'd tablets with slide-out keyboards.
But Intel reckons the time is right to start doing such devices with proper tablet functionality.
So the hybrid has the touch capabilities of a tablet, yet is designed to be 16mm thick or less, so it's not as chunky as a netbook. Why buy a netbook at all, then?
According to Intel, because it's cheap. It expects hybrids to sit above tablets, pushing into the low-end notebook space, though well below pricey Ultrabooks.
Interestingly, Intel sees Ultrabook versions of hybrids too, though since Ultrabooks are specified with 13in screens, that's going to make for a big tablet.
Between netbooks, tablets and Ultrabooks, you'd have thought all the mobility bases had been covered, but why deny someone a netbook-cum-tablet just because other devices offer similar features?
Hybrids will typically have Atom CPUs - specifically 'Cedar Trail', Intel's next-gen platform due Q4 2011 - and 10in or 11in touch-sensitive displays. They may even come with a stylus, and certainly USB and networking ports at the very least. They'll also sport all the usual sensors familiar to tablet users: accelerometers, gyros, GPS, user proximity and such. ®
Give me strength...
The perfect example of a manufacturer bringing something to market where there is no demand. (And people wonder why we are in a recession right now?) Users like tabs because of their lightness and portability. The fact they can check email without squinting at a 2" screen. Start adding crap like keyboards, mice, and the rest and it will get left at home resting on top of the notebook.
Intel, stick with manufacturing your chips and let the folks who know the market build the devices everyone wants.
Why stop there?
There's a market for tablets and a market for notebooks, so the logic is, "let's put it all in one box and everyone will like it!" Lets carry on with that logic... I like coffee while I'm using a tablet or notebook, so lets add a drinks tray. And the coffee might get cold - and people generally like microwaves - so let's add that too. If convergence is where it's add, let's just add the whole kitchen sink!!
Only problem is, this strategy doesn't take a single step forward from the MS tablet PCs of a decade ago. Are these people insane? Hybrids - by definition - are not particularly good at anything. They make compromises in order to support different modes of use. If you're more of a power user and need the flexibility of a netbook, why would you want the additional expense of a touch interface bolted on? And if you're after something light and easy to use, why would you want all the extra hassle of a keyboard and 'full Windows' lurking under the surface?
This new 'strategy' looks more like a headless chicken impression - let's throw all the buzz-words into the box and hope something good pops out.
Sitting above tablets
So a device that does the same as the transformer for more money because it has an Atom chip and better storage (maybe). Sound like if I wanted one of these (i.e. something more powerful) then I really want a netbook with an SSD that won't have my greasy paw-prints on the screen. If I don't want more powerful then the transformer or an iPad with keyboard in case probably cover my needs.
This just seems like a really poor attempt at an up-sell.
It's a Transformer but without the convenience of something that actually transforms.
So Intel are going to invent the Asus Transformer series of netbook/tablets - some day soon.