05 December, 2012

Netbook + Tablets Hybrids

Tablets are the sexy must-have device. Apple' iPad is creaming off profits in this sector - every other vendors is struggling to catch up .... unsuccessfully at the moment.

However, alternative sizes are starting to proliferate: iPad Mini, Google Nexus 7, for example. This will be an exciting sector for the next 18 months or so.

Netbooks, had a massive growth, but tablets have now cannibalised this growth, with shipments plummeting.


Source: GigaOm Nov 2010.

So the concept of slapping together yesterday's burnt out product with today's hottest consumer gadget might sound like a bizarre one.

However, I'm convinced of the merits.

I was very disappointed (after months of rumours) at the time of the iPad launch. It wasn't a form factor for me:
  1. Yes, it's great for consuming content.
  2. Yes, I value portability
  3. But in general, when I'm on the move, I'm also producing content. I find the keyboard on the iPad to be irritating: (a) you have to lean over it to type and to see the output (b) I haven't learnt to touch type on a virtual keypad.
Alternatives

The problem (a) might be solved by devices like Toshiba Libretto W105 (above), with its dual touchscreens (one of which could be used as a keyboard), but it doesn't solve (b) and I don't value the additional screen extension.

My want
So what I want is fundamentally a notebook. However, there are occasions (not that many I admit,) when I would value a tablet purely for consumption:
  • one handed operation eg when commuting
  • or watching BBC iPlayer in bed. (Actually a laptop is great for this, because I can put the laptop on my knees and the screen is at the correct angle. Dunno how to manage a iPad in these circumstances.)

So a netbook with a detachable tablet part would appear to be perfect. Another advantage is that a netbook with a touch sensitive screen is amazing - feature that I adored when I had an NEC MobilePro 780 twelve years ago. The MobilePro really was a device ahead of its time.....

Hybrids (Netbook + Tablets) Shopping List

Here's a list of the devices that have caught my eye:
1. eee Transformer TF101

  • This was the Stuff Magazine's Gadget of Year in November 2011.
  • Look at the video at the bottom of Asus's product page. Is the snap and disconnect really that instantaneous??
  • eee Transformer is Android based. This would most probably work as a second device - the primary device being a Windows laptop.
  • Retails around £400 new, but used seems to go down to £250.


2. HP Envy x2

  • This is Windows 8 device, just released for Christmas with price tag of £800 (ouch!)
  • All the reviews of Windows 8 indicate that Win8 is really designed for the tablet experience and is less good for the desktop experience. (I presume that this hybrid would have to flick between the two modes, based on whether it had a keyboard attached or not.) This sounds confusing, but I haven't had the experience.
  • HP Product Page


3. Dell Duo
  • The Duo has been around for a while, so it's Windows 7 based. 
  • It is a netbook whose screen can flip so that it is on the outside - ie you don't actually disconnect the keyboard. 
  • Having had a try of it, it feels much more like a netbook with a tablet screen, when you want it.
  • Retails about £400.
  • Dell's Product Page

Conclusion
  • I suppose that the Dell Duo looks like the best fit for my requirements, but the eee Transformer looks soo appealing.

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