"Today's announcement accelerates a new category of 2-in-1 computing devices delivering the best of a notebook and a tablet in amazing new form factors. This year is the perfect time for consumers to refresh their old tablet or PC with these new 2-in-1 devices." — Intel PC Client Group general manager Kirk Skaugen
Skaugen's quote, delivered at Computex as Intel launched its 4th generation Core processors, highlights what may turn out to be profitable persistence of the PC industry, or pure folly. For good measure, Intel also touted 2-in-1 devices as it outlined its latest Atom chips.
Let's face it: The first round of PC/tablet hybrid devices didn't turn out so well. If Windows 8 didn't get you down, the battery life did. And if the battery life didn't do it perhaps, the barrage of 1.0 designs did. In the end, most hybrid notebook/tablet designs gave you the mediocrity of both worlds at best.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly said hybrids don't quite work. Sure, Cook has been talking Apple's game, but so far he's right.
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What's notable about Intel's take is that it is convinced that 2-in-1 devices will ultimately sell. Battery life is better, Windows 8.1 will be an improvement and ultimately 140 million aging laptops or so will have to be replaced.
Indeed, these new laptops will have 9 hours of active use battery life or 10 to 13 days of standby on a single charge. That improvement is important, but it's table stakes.
Ultimately, hardware makers need to figure out how to make these hybrids light enough to be a reputable tablet. These ultrabooks are nice and light for laptops and most check in under 3 pounds. When a tablet is detached, however, it often feels like the slate Moses had to lug up the mountain.
In the end, software makers and Intel can do a lot, but the hardware designs have to be there. The 2-in-1 market is unproven to say the least.