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Microsoft Bets Heavy on Tablet Hybrids, Apple Laughs in Response

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By , dealnews Senior Feature Writer

New data from Forrester Research and reported by CNET, shows that tablet sales are expected to surge in the next few years, quickly replacing PCs as the computing device of choice. The report indicates that by 2016, tablet sales will hit 375 million worldwide, with Apple's iPad taking one-third of the market.

Not surprisingly, the report pleased Apple CEO, Tim Cook, who sees no limit to Apple's tablet sales. During Apple's second quarter earnings conference this week, Cook also dismissed the idea of a MacBook-iPad hybrid saying, "You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those things are probably not going [to] be pleasing to the user."

However, while Apple may scoff at the idea of tablet hybrids, Microsoft is betting on them with its next generation touch-based operating system, Windows 8, which is expected to power everything from tablets to all-in-one PCs.

Earlier this month at Intel's 2012 Developer Forum in Beijing, Intel demoed the Letexo, a hyrbid tablet / ultrabook device that's rocking an Ivy Bridge processor and Microsoft's Windows 8 OS. The device can be used like a traditional tablet when browsing the web, and can also be propped up against its built-in stand to be used like a laptop, via its attached sliding keyboard.

Cook, however, dismisses the concept saying, "You wouldn't want to put these things together because you end up compromising [on] both and not pleasing either user."

What do you think, readers? Will the launch of Windows 8 lead to a new, successful laptop / tablet hybrid device, or do you prefer a more traditional tablet experience, like the one provided by Apple's iPad? Sound off in the comments below.

Photo credits: Wikispaces and The Verge



An avid gadget lover, Louis Ramirez has covered technology for Gizmodo, CNET, Laptop, and various other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @LouisRamirez.

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24 comments
mnealbarrett
"Lighter is better" when it comes to tablets. Tablets are meant to be held in the hand, and nobody wants to hold a 2-pound tablet. The example Letexo would weigh a lot with the keyboard tucked under the unit in "tablet mode". This would never fly. The ONLY way that this would work would be with a completely detachable keyboard.

The problem is that many people have "fat fingers" (my brother is one), and can't use a laptop smaller than 14" or so. A hybrid would make for a very small laptop, and a very big tablet. So the target audience would be very, very limited: people with small fingers who can use a small laptop, but strong enough to not mind a large, heavy tablet. This is why Tim Cook made his statement: it isn't that a toaster/fridge couldn't be joined, but it would make for a really tiny fridge and a really big toaster.
tahu300
Note I submitted to dealnews: One thing users who want the full hybrid experience can do is to purchase the iPad, and a desktop with great power. They can set up a remote desktop connection to that computer thus turning their iPad into an Ultraportable computer. This is at a minimum cost as well because desktop can be purchased at much lower prices than a laptop. If you were to purchase both the iPad and a powerful dekstop. You would probably be able to achieve better portability and better speeds. I haven't come across GREAT remote desktop applications on the App Store yet but there are some pretty good ones. My solution would be very helpful to some people who want the iPad's interface while still being able to handle the business side of purchasing an iPad.
YoungLifeCrist
I left Microsoft after Xp and have crossed over into the Mac zone... I can't validate getting an iPad when I have my MacBook Pro, but I want one!  My iPhone takes care of some of that desire, but I have fits of iPad jealousy... if the iPad was like this Microsoft concept... I'd be in, but I never want to return to Microsoft.  Maybe if Google would step it up and make an Android like this ... I could maybe be sold on that idea.
Wagan8r
Well, seeing as how I'm typing this on my Asus Transformer Pad 300, I'm going to agree with Microsoft on this. I'm loving the attached keyboard experience with Android. I can only imagine how much better it will be with an OS that fully supports a keyboard.
ninny1176
Lindsay - I wish dealnews would create a Windows Phone app.
dealnews-Lindsay
We wish MORE people would develop their theories on electronics via our message boards!
phissith
Eventually, fashion fades and give way to efficiency?  Oh boy I am making all this up!!
phissith
iPad is a fashion statement, Windows is....intuitive work horse?
phissith
Hybrid for sure, I am your average consumer and with USB,HDMI, DVD, keyboard and Ivy Bridge Hybrid will trump iPad any day.   I really need real application not apps.   Not sure about Window 8 however, been using CP and I am not sure I like it versus Widows 7.    I have dual screen Touch Tablet computer....
alpard78
I always chuckle when I see people carrying a tablet, a keyboard and a mouse... talk about bulky!
Tablets are not good for any real work, so the enterprise environment will be flooded with Hybrid Ultratablets. That's right, I named them first.If done right, Hybrid Windows 8 Ultratablets are the way of the future.
alpard78
I guess you haven't seen the already popular Ultrabooks, have you? they're as small as the Airbooks and more powerful. Add a touchscreen, Windows 8 and voila! you have a hybrid.
This is the way of the future.
dealnews-Louis
Naturally. And technology has also advanced and will continue to advance. But I still believe a hybrid will tank bc it'll be too big/bulky and too expensive. It'll go the way of the netbook (initially meant to be inexpensive, but quickly started getting into the $400+ range). Though from the sounds of it -- a lot of ppl seem excited about it, so I'll be first to admit if I'm wrong.
ninny1176
Likewise...I find my iPad usefull for screwing around, not for anything productive, especially at work. Having an iPad with a dock and keyboard is a PITA to carry around; I'll be the first in line for a Win8 tablet hybrid.
ninny1176
The hybrid approach is a better solution that having an tablet, tablet dock/stand, and a keyboard.
cococee
I own both an iPad and Windows tablet/Asus Slate. Love them both equally. The iPad for entertainment and games, and the Slate for entertainment and work. I work in a non-Mac environment. It's an easier intergration to get things done, without trying to find compatible apps from iTunes.
mnealbarrett
Microsoft has tried to do this already. I have one of their failed attempts. It is a Windows Tablet PC, and has TONS of problems. Chief is that it is WAY WAY too HUGE to use it easily as a tablet. I think that is where Microsoft will err, they will (again) make the combo tablets way too big.
celilo
I use an iPad at work along with several others. Most of them have added a keyboard, and most, including myself, have cussed the terrible integration with Exchange servers and Office apps. Like it or not, MS rules the corporate landscape and a real Office or Outlook client on a hybrid would be a welcome addition to the market.

It would take me about a blink of an eye to give up my iPad for such a device.
zeram1
You do realise that times (and needs and desires) have actually changed, since the start of this Millennium?
briantho
I personally do not like tablets in general be it apple or android, I find myself much more productive on a real computer and when I do stuff on a tablet, it always seems I can do it faster on a desktop. I personally would like to keep laptops and tablets separate, as for me I will always go with a laptop over a tablet. I just don't get tablets.
kurtjski
Well, a hybrid is just what I need- it will make it so I can have just one computer- one that will cover both work and personal uses, and can't wait to get one.
dealnews-Louis
As someone who's not a big tablet fan -- I like the idea of keeping tablets and laptops separate. (No hybrids for me). My worry is that the hybrids will be very pricey and deliver a mediocre laptop and mediocre tablet experience. I mean, the last major hybrids that MS backed (and that I can recall at the moment) are the Tablet PC (from ~2001) and the UMPC. We all know how those turned out!
jaspers
There is a reason the transformer prime is such a popular android tablet at the moment. Its a hybrid. The problem is the cost of the dock :- $150 retail (seen it as cheap as $80) is a deal killer for most.
MWFplus3
Absolutely agree...if I could get full Windows functionality on my tablet, I'd be the first in line to buy (depending on the price, of course).  I'm a resolute non-Apply guy and have been happy with my Toshiba Thrive, but a tablet that handles like a full laptop would be a great gadget to have.
robinteractive
Given that I was just looking at keyboard/stands for my iPad, I'd say, yes, I'd definitely look favorably on the hybrid approach of a Windows 8 tablet.

I like the iPad in many ways, but I'd love it even more if I could use it as a full-blown ultraportable for travel. I can add a keyboard, but can't add a mouse.

With Windows OS I'm guessing I could use the tablet without being locked down to the apps approved by an app store. Portability-heaven without the major sacrifices in productivity (i.e. the apps I want, a keyboard, and a mouse or at least a trackpad) via limitations that I encounter with the iPad.
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