Convertible "Hybrid" Laptop and Tablet

It took me awhile to finally decide what to name this post.

Basically, I want to talk about the recent release by several manufacturers of a new device. It’s a laptop. It’s also a tablet. It’s a convertible device. It’s a hybrid device. Some have been calling it “netvertibles” – netbook / convertible. Whatever you choose to call it, it’s been hitting the market and garnering quite a lot of hype.

Let’s look at a few of these hybrid devices that has caught my eye lately, from only the top manufacturers – Dell, Lenovo, Acer and HP.

Dell Inspiron Duo

*Image Source : Geeky-Gadgets.com

The most prominent convertible laptop of note lately is the announcement of the Dell Inspiron Duo. The Duo is already available on sale on Dell USA’s site for USD$ 549.99. It’s a netbook that you can swivel the screen, close the lid and it turns into a (slightly heavy) tablet.

Honestly, when I first saw rumours and leaked pictures of this, it looked cool. When I saw that it came in black, blue and RED. I was hooked.

Then, I heard it was running on an Intel Atom processor. For those of you less savvy, Atom processors are used in netbooks. Which means, this machine will be good enough for light multi-tasking. If you do mainly light browsing and email checking, this would be good enough. For power-hungry business users, this would be … well, under-powered.

One of my trusted tech blogs, Engadget came out with their in-depth review of the Duo recently. In conclusion, they were somewhat disappointed. Not only was their review unit under-powered, the low quality LCD screen was just not up to the expected standard for a big manufacturer like Dell.


Lenovo U1

*Image Source : CrunchGear

This was the first convertible laptop that got me thinking that this new breed of device could be my next toy.

The Lenovo U1 is bascially a laptop with a detachable screen. The laptop runs on Windows 7, but once you remove the screen, it switches to a lightweight Linux OS.

Other than a few short hands-on previews here and here from CES 2010 in Jan 2010, I can’t seem to find out more information on this little cutie. I just hope it’s not one of those concept devices that never really gets into production.

I would really like to be able to see this 11.6″ device out and getting some more in-depth reviews. The form factor sure looks delicious. Dontcha think?

Acer Iconia

*Image Source : TechChee.com

A couple of weeks ago (end Nov 2010), Acer unveiled this new concept device along with several tablets. Now, I say that this is a concept, because it’s nowhere near announcement of availability yet.

In my honest opinion, the Acer Iconia is a weird device. It actually is not exactly a convertible laptop nor a full tablet. Well, it’s a dual screen tablet. You get a touchscreen, and instead of a full physical keyboard, it’s another touchscreen. Yeah, touchscreen keyboards.

Where the touchscreen keyboard is, it can also be a touchscreen control. Without having to read actual reviewer’s note, I would guess that a touchscreen full size keyboard would be kinda hard to do blind typing. You know – typing without actually looking at the keyboard, which most of us already do today.

So, if you’re still keen, check out some hands-on previews here and here from the Acer event. TechRadar’s review here is a good in-depth one of the unit, if you wish to read more.

HP Touchsmart tm2t

*Image Source : Geeky-Gadgets.com

If all these concept devices gets you excited but unsure if you would jump into “concept” devices, afraid of reliability and performance, then you would get into a less radical convertible laptop. Enter the HP Touchsmart series.

There’s no major ground-breaking concepts here. Just a touchscreen laptop that swivels and closes so you can use it as a tablet. Mind you, HP was one of the first manufacturer to come up with such a concept of using a laptop as a possible tablet.

This machine packs the latest Intel Core i series processor, which is built to give you longer battery life. Also, it’s spec-ed as a normal laptop would with all the ports, hard drive, memory and everything you would expect from a HP laptop. It has a good 12.1″ screen and fits perfectly into a portable (enough) category.

Check out some reviews here and here. Truly, this is one device that isn’t too revolutionary to scare off consumers. Basically, this is something you can pick up tomorrow with not too much to complain about. In fact, this is something that I might just buy out of impulse if I see it in a HP Store today. *grin*

It is said that these hybrid devices is the new hype to take over the dying breed of netbooks. That is probably why most of these “netvertibles” are running Atom low powered processors. But then again, you see mre powerful machines sporting a convertible tablet form factor, too. I guess, we’re at the stage where all the manufacturers are trying out all kinds of concept to see which one sticks.

What do you think? Would you buy yourself one of these “netvertibles”? Or would you rather stick to owning a laptop and having a dedicated tablet (like the iPad or the Galaxy Tab) for mobility? Or is a laptop and a smartphone good enough for you? And these manufacturers are wasting time, trying to sell consumers something we don’t need?

If you’re an early adopter like me, who don’t mind trying all things new, do you have these hybrid in your eyes? Are there other convertible laptop / tablet that you have your eyes on that I didn’t cover here?

Would love to hear what you think. Before I go out and buy something I regret.

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