PC manufacturers are planning to introduce "transforming" Ultrabooks with multi-touch screens in order to exploit the capabilities of Microsoft Windows 8, according to Taiwan's Digitimes. Asus already sells a Transformer that runs the Android operating system, but Digitimes' sources "noted that most of the transforming designs are rotatable screen models". These have been sold for at least a decade as "convertibles", where the screen rotates and folds over the keyboard to convert a laptop into a tablet. However, they have not been a commercial success.
In its brief report, Notebook vendors to offer transforming ultrabooks with touch screens, Digitimes says that "notebook brand vendors including Lenovo, Asustek Computer and Acer, all plan to launch transforming ultrabooks," and that they could appear "as early as July-August 2012, according to sources from the notebook supply chain".
Since Digitimes does not mention the processor, it's assumed these will be standard Intel x86-compatible machines rather than ARM-based models.
As with the Asus Transformer TF-101, vendors may move the Ultrabook's motherboard so that it is behind the LCD display screen (as in a tablet) instead of underneath the keyboard (as in a laptop). However, convertible versions will face a problem: "it could easily flip up the bottom part of the notebook".
The Transformer has a second battery in the doclable keyboard that adds stability and also gives the transformed device up to 16 hours of battery life.
Digitimes notes that "the addition of touch functions will result in 0.7-1.5cm increase in thickness and higher production cost".
The higher cost was a factor in the failure of touch-screen notebooks produced a decade ago to run Microsoft Windows XP Tablet Edition. In late 2011, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates was so enthusiastic, he said: "within five years I predict it will be the most popular form of PC sold in America.".
Today's Lenovo X220 convertible tablet PC