Laptop-tablet hybrids are the future of computing, but not the present

Feb 04 2014, 09:59 IST
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These hybrids run full-fledged Windows just like you would on any notebook PC These hybrids run full-fledged Windows just like you would on any notebook PC
SummaryHybrid PCs now have large tablets and thick keyboard bases.

Windows 8 brought with it a focus on a new type of device: the laptop-tablet hybrid. These convertibles could loosely be described as tablets with a keyboard dock. Unlike an iPad though, these hybrids run full-fledged Windows just like you would on any notebook PC.

The concept itself is quite cool and one that I believe will be the future of computing. A single operating system for your computer, which can switch back and forth between being a proper desktop OS when used with a keyboard/trackpad combo and a touch-friendly mobile OS when used as a standalone tablet.

In the recent past, Ive tested hybrids running Android, Windows 8, as well as dual-booting between Windows and Android. The HP Pavilion 11 x2 is the latest on the block and while its a cool device, I cant help but feel that the current crop of these hybrids falls short of the mark.

As I have previously noted, Windows 8 isnt yet ready for a touchscreen interface, so the tablet functionality of a hybrid is limited. Android isnt yet ready to be as robust a desktop operating system as Windows, so the notebook functionality of the hybrid is limited. And dual-booting between Windows and Android is the proverbial Jack of all trades, master of none. The problem isnt just software though.

To make a great hybrid, it should work perfectly as a tablet and as a notebook. However, hybrid PCs at the moment usually have chunky and large tablets (over 11 inches screen size, minimum) and thick keyboard bases. So the notebook unit feels heavy, while the tablet is a bit thicker than one would like. The combination isnt bad, but its nowhere near as good as having a great tablet or a great notebook. Plus, Intels mobile processors for these tablets have not yet struck the right balance between good battery life and good performanceyou only get one of the two. Its a middling compromise.

Usually there is nothing wrong with a compromise, but here, there is one factor: price. At the moment, decent hybrid computers dont come for less than Rs 40,000. For that price, you could pick up a decent laptop and a decent tablet separately, which will both do a better job as individual devices than the hybrids convertible promise.

That 2 for the price of 1 promise, though, makes a lot of sense and is the direction both hardware and software companies seem

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