Straddling the tablet/ laptop divide; Time for Android and iOS laptops

Straddling the tablet/ laptop divide; Time for Android and iOS laptops

Summary: Some folks (myself included) are successfully using tablets with keyboards for work tasks. Is there a market for Android/ iOS laptops and if so, what do they need?


Some folks (myself included) have been able to shift a good portion of work tasks from conventional laptops to tablets. This usually involves pairing the tablet, Android or iPad, with a small external keyboard for handling lots of text entry. There are plenty of keyboard options for both Android tablets and the iPad, and even slick two-piece tablets like the ASUS Transformer Prime. Whatever the solution that folks are using, it is interesting how many folks are straddling the tablet/ laptop divide.

My coverage of using both the iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab with keyboards is extensive, and I am constantly amazed how much of my work can be accomplished with these combos. While not everyone's work is appropriate to be performed without a Windows or Mac laptop, the more I talk to folks the more of them I hear from who are able to leave the laptop behind and go the tablet/ keyboard route.


Even though I am using the tablet/ keyboard combo for more and more of my work, I still use the tablet without the keyboard at least half the time. That's not the case with quite a few folks with whom I have discussed this; I am hearing from many that they are mostly leaving the tablet docked in the keyboard almost all of the time. This has me wondering if there is a viable market for a Android and iOS laptops?

[poll id="12"]

If there is a significant enough interest for Android and iOS laptops, a few criteria would have to be met to be successful. Size is important, as a dedicated laptop shouldn't be larger than existing two-piece combos being used today. It would make no sense to trade existing solutions for a dedicated laptop if the size and weight increased. I personally wouldn't be interested in a laptop solution if the screen was bigger than 10 inches. The beauty of these two-piece systems are how small they are. Let's keep the same for the laptop solution.

A laptop with iOS or Android would also have to be cheaper than the two-piece varieties. That should be feasible given there's nothing new about the laptop form. Make these mobile laptops very thin and light, and cheaper than tablets plus external keyboards.

I used to think laptops with touch screens were a waste of money, but on an Android or iOS laptop I think they are required. Both of these OSes are optimized for touch operation, and it makes sense to take advantage of that on these little laptops.

One of the coolest features of the Transformer Prime is the second battery in the laptop dock. Together, the keyboard and tablet get about 20 hours of battery life. This could play into the dedicated laptop form, with a light second battery fitted inside that can generate over 12 hours of battery life combined with the main battery. Long battery life is a major reason these tablet/keyboard combos work so well, so do the same with the dedicated laptop form.

I am not sure that an Apple iOS laptop or an Android laptop would be widely accepted. It depends on the factors I have mentioned, plus how large the market is for those who would benefit from having a keyboard on the tablet form. Microsoft is betting a lot on Windows 8 on the ARM platform, both tablets and laptops, so perhaps the market exists. We'll soon find out.

Topics: Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Tablets

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  • RE: Straddling the tablet/ laptop divide; Time for Android and iOS laptops

    Or you could just get an Ultrabook!!
    • RE: Straddling the tablet/ laptop divide; Time for Android and iOS laptops

      @jatbains: Or an Asus Transormer Prime. It's the closest thing to an Android laptop yet.
    • Missing it....


      A tablet is designed to be "a consumptive device".
      We as users are trying to take this "consumptive device" and do real work with it.
      With some minor exceptions, these are extensions of a notebook or desktop for the "work" user.

      Will Win8 tablets change this?

  • iOS is basically OSX

    which, aside from the difference in target processor (ARM vs. Intel) have only a modest number of technical differences, some of which were papered over in Lion. Get a Macbook Air with Lion, and you've pretty much got the laptop you asked for.
    • RE: Straddling the tablet/ laptop divide; Time for Android and iOS laptops

      @rbethell: You really haven't. Mac OS X is vastly different from iOS.
      • Not entirely correct.

        @bradavon There are differences - in a way, iOS is to MacOS X as WindowsCE is to Windows - but in most ways, iOS is very similar to MacOS. The big change is CocoaTouch replacing Cocoa.
  • RE: Straddling the tablet/ laptop divide; Time for Android and iOS laptops

    To be honest, at the present time I find the iPad2 / Logitech fold-up keyboard combo to be quite sufficient.

  • Dumbest article ever

    Really??? Hey, get a bluetooth keyboard and pair it to your iPad..what do you have?


    Next stupid article.
  • RE: Straddling the tablet/ laptop divide; Time for Android and iOS laptops

    Suddenly, not so "Post-PC" afterall.
    • RE: Straddling the tablet/ laptop divide; Time for Android and iOS laptops

      @Samic Didn't you get the memo? This week, Apple is the largest PC manufacturer in the world (if you include Post PC devices...)

      Please keep up! :-)
      • Actually, if we're going to play 'reset the line'...

        @dazzlingd Nokia and Samsung make a TON of smartphones - Samsung makes a lot of Android phones. All of those are in the same power/capability of the iPad - heck, we should include the iPhone and iPod Touch too since they're basically small iPads.<br><br>A bunch of companies make WindowsCE based devices that aren't included in those counts too. Every Ford Focus made after 2010 comes with one. Shall we include all those too?
      • RE: Straddling the tablet/ laptop divide; Time for Android and iOS laptops

        I did got the memo. It's just sad to see people flip-floping the "Post-PC" definition to suit their statistics.
  • RE: Straddling the tablet/ laptop divide; Time for Android and iOS laptops

    A laptop is a lot more than a tablet with keyboard!<br><br>When it comes to laptops I expect multiple USB ports, a DVD Writer etc... I certainly don't want that on a tablet (except I do want one usb port and one sd card slot), it would just make it larger.<br><br>Something like the Asus Transformer already fits the bill perfectly. It's a very slim tablet but has an optional keyboard for when I need it. A keyboard is a must on a tablet, a dvd drive isn't.<br><br>I've considered an ultrabook to combine a tablet and laptop but in the end it doesn't work. When it comes to combine a tablet and latop I want great battery life (check ultrabook), ultra slim and light (check ultrabook) and a dvd drive (what do you mean they've not worked out how to combine a ultrabook with dvd drive?). <br><br>As soon as you add things like dvd drives an ultrabook is no longer as slim/light as a tablet. It already isn't to be frank but it really isn't by this point.<br><br>The closest thing I've seen to the perfect combination of ultrabook with DVD drive is the Dell XPS 14z but there's a clear reason why it's not being labelled an ultrabook, whilst it is slim, it's nowhere near ultrabook slimness. It's battery is rated less than 7 hours too.<br><br>It's also quite a lot larger than the average 10" tablet too. Which isn't ideal for full time use but is perfect fro secondary use.<br><br>Even the recently announced Series 5 Ultrabook 530U 14" which is an ultrabook with DVD drive is 14" compared with 10" of a tablet.

    If I could find a 13" ultrabook with DVD drive I'd seriously consider it. 13" is the perfect "happy medium" size for full time + mobile use (small is good for mobile, something a little larger is needed for full time use).
    • RE: Straddling the tablet/ laptop divide; Time for Android and iOS laptops

      @bradavon I actually have a Dell XPS 14z and its a great little machine. Highly recommended!
    • Pretty much yes....


      A laptop is a portable desktop with availableports, expandability and flexability.

      Now, find that in a tablet......
  • RE: Straddling the tablet/ laptop divide; Time for Android and iOS laptops

    So let me get this right - you've dismissed netbooks as junk toys, but putting a smartphone OS on the same hardware footprint with a touchscreen suddenly makes them the next big thing?

    I can understand the appeal of a detachable keyboard, but that's it. If you really need a hardware keyboard with your slate 60-100% of the time, you're using the wrong tool for the job!

    The answer to your proposition already exists - it's called the netbook. They cost less than a slate, and can do far more!
  • Errr....

    Last I heard, the Android version for a laptop was the Chrome OS - and that was a big huge waste of manpower [and talent and money] as it has died a very fast death. Acer and Samsung released "Chromebooks" last year. Already, Samsung is ditching them. How bad were sales? RIM's Playbook sold more [and that's before they stsrted with the heavy discounting].
    As for iOS? Why would Apple do anything. It cuts into their MacBook Air sales.
  • The amusing part is that we keep going around the same loop...

    When the first tablet PCs came out, they had keyboards (like the HP TC1000) that could attached. People tried using it without a keyboard, tapping on a displayed keyboard or writing.. and soon enough, they realised, the keyboard works better. Thus the 'convertable' tablet was created.

    Cellphones started being used for SMS and light computing - and we saw the growth of slider keyboards.

    Then we tried it again with UMPCs and by the second generation, they started growing thumbboards - and then mutated into netbook convertables like the Gigabyte T1028.

    Then the iPad came out and 'no stylus' was the law but soon enough, people started cranking out sausage pens and cases that were mostly a way to turn iPads in minilaptops... and now we have things like the Transformer Prime and ultrabooks with touchscreens that can be folded back into a slate mode.

    Round and round.
  • Android support Mouse, ipad No

    you could have a Logitech Android wireless mouse for a real tablet productivety
  • I say no....

    I prefer to carry both. They complement each other. I'd also like to harmonize the operating systems enough so that iOS apps could run on the Mac. I think the transformer prime with its battery dock is a nice idea whose time is just not here yet. I'd consider it for my next device if it were iOS/Mac OS X and the keyboard were a flat panel interaction surface.