Here come the hybrids

Here come the hybrids

Summary: Asus kicked off the hybrid rebirth with its Android-based Transformer, and with Windows 8 poised for release one company after another is sharing plans to bring the form to market.

CNET HP Envy x2 hybrid
HP Envy x2 -- Image credit: CNET

Tablets are versatile and can be used in the pursuit of productive tasks, but they definitely need the benefit of a good keyboard occasionally. The hybrid form brings the best of both worlds to the tablet owner, the ability to use the tablet as designed with the option of plugging in a keyboard for text entry. The split personality of Windows 8 has several companies planning to bring hybrids to market.

What sets the hybrid apart from the convertible notebook of old is the ability to detach the tablet (screen) from the keyboard (laptop). This allows for a normal tablet user experience without the weight/bulk of the keyboard as is the case with convertible notebooks that swivel the screen down to hide the keyboard.

The Asus Transformer started the recent hybrid trend on the Android platform with its innovative laptop dock that transforms the iPad-like tablet into a full laptop. It adds a full keyboard, trackpad, and second battery that provides up to 20 hours away from a power outlet.

Microsoft is poised to release Windows 8 in just a few weeks. The ground-breaking next version of Windows is designed to handle both tablets and laptops equally well. The company shocked everyone with the announcement of its own hardware line, the Surface tablets. What sets the Surface apart from other tablets is the innovative keyboard case that turns the tablet into a laptop.

The Surface is a hybrid intended to allow users to gain the full benefit of Windows 8, a touch tablet to take advantage of the new Windows 8 apps and a laptop to run legacy Windows apps that need a mouse and keyboard. Microsoft set the bar for the hybrid, and other companies are lining up their own models for later this year.

Image credit: Ed Bott/ ZDNet

HP is showing off the Envy x2 (see image top of article), a 11.6-inch Windows 8 tablet that will ship with a laptop dock. The x2 in the dock looks like a laptop in every way while the tablet is a thin slate with a Clover Trail processor. The whole kit weighs approximately 3 pounds, with the tablet alone about 1.5 pounds. HP plans to have the x2 available in time for the holidays at a price to be announced later.

Dell is touting the XPS 10, a 10-inch tablet with laptop dock. It is more portable than the larger HP, and Dell is not yet sharing the detailed hardware specifications. It should be available later this year at an undisclosed price. (See the XPS 12 at the link above, an unusual convertible with a rotating screen).

CNET Dell XPS 10 hybrid
Dell XPS 10 -- Image credit: CNET

Lenovo has been active in the Android tablet space and continues that with the upcoming IdeaTab S2110. The 10.1-inch Android tablet will combine an IPS display with optional keyboard dock reminiscent of the Transformer model to make for a hybrid with a mobile OS. The S2110 with a keyboard dock will set you back $499.

Lenovo IdeaTab S2110
IdeaTab S2110 -- Image credit: Lenovo

Asus will be selling a Windows 8 line of hybrids similar to the Android Transformer line. The Vivo Tab will come in both an 11.6-inch and 10.1-inch models and feature the keyboard dock that has been perfected with the Transformer. Pricing is not known at this time.

Asus Vivo Tab 2
Asus Vivo Tab -- Image credit: Asustek

These are no doubt just the first of the rush of hybrids coming to market. The dual nature of Windows 8 lends itself to the hybrid device, capitalizing on both touch operation and keyboard/mouse input.

Topics: Windows, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Laptops, Microsoft, Tablets

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  • Split personality?

    No, Windows 8 is multi-dimensionals or multi-faceted, as in it supports multiple use cases perfectly, efficiently, fastly, and fluidly.
    • Perfectly?

      I think we still have to see how perfect it will work. I am still a bit doubtful that apps will be real pollished when adepted for a wide range of hardware and using touch, mouse and keyboard.

      The limited range of hardware fragmentation and the "touch first" experience on the iPad can win the day.
    • Your rabid Microsoft worship is showing.

      The foaming at your mouth is evident in your post. Fastly? Really. Time to take your meds. Fastly. Only you would dream to invent a word to support your god.
      • He's become even more hyper

        Ever since his mortal enemy won $1 billion dollars the other day. It's put a big dent into the FUD he's been spreading around here.
        Cylon Centurion
  • Nobody Wants Windows On A Tablet

    No matter how many billions Microsoft keeps throwing at the idea, an overweight, overpriced, underperforming tablet running an inflexible, antiquated, desktop-specialized OS is still not going to sell.
    • windows NT

      Is newer than any of it's competitors. Osx running the ageing mach kernel and based on open step and age old unix.

      Linux (which as a kernel is older than the NT kernel) and coupled with the also older gnu stack is alo more antiquated then the os we are talking about here.

      By the way which is it, some people whinge that Windows 8 with WinRT is a tablet os, yet you seem to think it is a desktop os, make up your mind for crying out loud.

      In any case, Windows is of course very flexible, exactly the reason why it does have this massive usage share, it runs on Servers, Desktops, Tablets, Hybrids and phones. And whenit runs, all major software developers make sure programs are available, from Photoshop to Office, from GTAIV to Angry Birds, and of course soon the develop once run anywhere WinRT apps.

      I for one would want to run Windows on a tablet, as Ios does not cut it and Android is from Google, so naturally that isn't going on any of my hardware, I keep spyware at a safe distance.
      • Jack of all trades

        .. and master of None. Windows, that is.

        But, it is always hard to argue with religion.
        • Master of one

          Marketshare. People demand Windows 10 times more often than they ask for any other OS. So sure, call it a jack of all trades since it is probably true: everyone finds Windows useful, that's why they buy it in such HUGE numbers.
          • Re: Marketshare

            Linux, in the form of Android, has probably already surpassed the one million copies per day that Windows ships.
          • What a surprise !

            Android is a phone os. Phones do ship in far greater numbers than desktops. The marketshare being discussed is the one on Desktops, where indeed Linux isn't in great demand. Incidentially in the Tablet space, Android does not have the same success as it has on phones, so once Win8 does ship, it might have a fair chance of outshipping Android on tablets.
          • Few actually buy it.

            Most people just end up getting because they want a cheap computer. Wipe that foam off your mouth.
          • Master of one through monopolized leverage

            And colluding to keep Linux off competing systems.

            Try not to confuse ignorance with love.
            Cylon Centurion
          • Sure

            Microsoft competes. But Linux keeps iteself off desktops. It has been my experience the vanilla installation works great, but a lot of the non default apps have gui issues, crash, or do not modify or correctly modify the right configuration files.
          • daves@... it's been my experience

            That you don't have a clue as to what you're talking about.
            Cylon Centurion
      • Re: windows NT

        Windows NT was born old. It was supposed to be portable across multiple architectures other than x86, but all that died very early on. It still perpetuates the antediluvian system of drive letters that was invented for CP/M back when 8-plus-3-character file names were considered perfectly adequate. And then there is that wonderful point-of-multiple-failures that is the Windows Registry...

        Why does Windows use the backward slash instead of the proper slash for its pathname separator? Because it didn't even have hierarchical directories to begin with. Even today, it lacks a Linux-style pluggable virtual filesystem layer that makes it easy to support multiple filesystems other than NTFS.

        By contrast, Linux runs across two dozen different major processor architectures, all the way from the world’s most powerful supercomputers down to a tiny phone that can fit in your pocket. No other OS has been able to manage that.
        • Some fact.

          NT design is based on VMS as the designer David Cutler joined MS to start off developing OS/2 3.0 which later became NT 3.1 after MS and IBM decided to split after conflicts when they were co-developing OS/2 1.0 to 2.0.
          NT inherited the DOS-style of path separator, initially, DOS supposed to use / for the path separator but due to conflict with the option with command e.g. dir /s , it opts for \ instead of /, you will also notice it is possible to switch /s to -s like Unix by setting switchchar=- in your config.sys in DOS if you remember DOS. Try open up cmd.exe , create a file e.g. c:\temp\mytext.txt , then in command prompt, notepad c:/temp/mytext.txt , the system will do a switchchar and open the file. Why use the drive-letter is because MS wanted backward compatibility, internally, the structure of devices , be it hard-drive, peripheral devices , they sit in a hierarchical tree. You can download WinObj from Microsoft site : to check it out. It is also possible to mount another volume onto a NTFS directory path with the command mountvol.
        • Of course

          NT supports multiple filesystems. It has been multi architecture from day one right until now, no surprise support for some architectures has been dropped over time.

          The registry, with it's ability to assign acl's per key, instead of flat config files all over the place is why NT is modern and Unix/Linux is not. The old Windows also had these flat config files, where security and group policies were not feasible.
  • Hybrids at what cost?

    I think this concept is great ... the question for me is what these devices cost. I believe the sweet spot is no higher than $300, in the range of netbooks and tablets (other than expensive iPads).
    • Not a 300 dollar device

      Watch the video
    • $300? You got to be kidding

      These are MORE than just tablets. They are two devices in one so they will be priced accordingly. With one of these you don't need a separate tablet and netbook. That's the whole point, but as such the price should be less than what it would cost to buy both items separately.

      A price point between $500 and $700 (including keyboard dock) would be a fair price.