WINDOWS 8 USHERS IN CONVERTIBLES AND HYBRIDS BUT ARE THEY REALLY WORTH THE MONEY?
We now have a new breed of devices to choose from, the Windows 8 convertibles and hybrids. With Microsoft’s new operating system being optimised for touch, these devices try and bring the touchscreen closer to the user. So there are hybrids, which are essentially tablets that have extra keyboards, or convertibles that can transform themselves from Ultrabooks to tablets.
With pricing being what it is, most of these devices will continue to be niche products for some months to come. The hybrids are cheaper, but they are also Intel Atom-based devices which might not be able to perform many high-end tasks. However, these are more portable and handy, making them the ideal device for those who will need a tablet that can do a bit more.
The Ultrabook convertibles, on the other hand, will be able to do most tasks that you assign to it. But they are costly and a bit too heavy and large to use as proper tablets. They should be preferred by people who essentially need an Ultrabook, but would like to have the ease- of-use of a tablet when required.
However, in the New Year you will see a lot of conversation revolving around the convertible and hybrids, which will be the showcase devices for Windows 8. At least for now, this form factor is also unique to this OS as you don’t have hybrids and convertibles in OS X or Android, except for maybe the Asus Transformer series.
But this is just the beginning, even as you see touch becoming an essential feature in computers in coming months you will also see these convertibles and hybrids evolving in design, and, hopefully, becoming cheaper. They are being projected as the ideal solution for individuals who are now dependant on two or more devices for their daily fix. So, the suggestion is to choose a convertible or hybrid over carting around both a laptop and tablet. No doubt, there will be takers for this concept.
We can see a lot of design innovation taking place in the segment – there are said to be around a hundred new designs in various stages of production. There are also attempts to bring the prices down by making touchscreens cheaper. Intel, meanwhile, is promising all- day power with its new fourth generation Core processors. They are also expected to make the hybrids more enterprisefriendly with added power and laptop-like security features.
The advent of the convertibles don’t mean the traditional tablet or laptop is dead on the Windows platform. In fact, the traditional devices will continue to be made and sold. They will co-exist with the new premium segment for some time. The older devices will need to bring in touch into their devices though. Thankfully, touchscreens have already become affordable with devices like the Asus Vivobook F202E. For the budget conscious, you will see trackpads and mouse becoming touch enabled so that Windows 8 commands can be executed even if you don’t have a touchscreen. This will be crucial, for using Windows 8 without any form of touch to exploit the full potential of the OS could be quite frustrating.
Sony claims its Vaio Duo 11 is the easiest Ultrabook convertible to use with a single motion to do the actual conversion. So we though this was the first thing we should test with the Duo 11. Yes, it is quite easy to pull the display up to reveal the keyboard in one simple motion. But, no, you cannot do it with one hand.
The Duo 11 is a screen-first kind of design and you can use it as a tablet if you are comfortable with the weight. But then all Ultrabook convertibles make heavy tablets. At the top of the display is a small groove, pulling on which makes the screen stand up, revealing a neat little keyboard below. But it is not a full-size keyboard and there is a no place to rest your wrists while typing. So you will have to adjust a bit while using it. However, you will get used to it in a few hours and this is a good keyboard to use, if you will need to use it.
This design also shows that trackpads are becoming redundant in a touchscreen world. In fact, even the trackpoint, which has been nestled between the keys, is unnecessary with an 11.6-inch touchscreen just in front of you. There are also three keys below that work like the keys on a mouse.
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D display. The sound quality is also very good, ally when you are using the tablet. That is bethe speakers are facing down and are placed the keyboard. Similarly, keep the orientation n when using the device as a Ultrabook, for mallest movement flips the screen over. all Ultrabooks, the Duo 11 too runs 3rd genn Intel Core i5 processor and won’t have any e munching through even heavy tasks. It also up in a jiffy, but we have come to expect that Ultrabooks. While other convertibles are for who will use the Ultrabook part more, the 1 is good in both modes and can be suggested ople who will have a substantial tablet use as Being a Vaio, there is an Assist button, but it is f hidden under the front edge near the volbuttons. y is pitching this as an enterprise-ready dend so there are two USB drives, a card reader, l as HDMI and VGA ports. We also loved the at the Ethernet port and power jacks are beand this will add to its usability as a desktop e. Overall, this a good buy for people who power in their convertible, which they se equally as a tablet and rabook.
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It is a Windows 8 convertible, but there is little doubt that the Dell XPS 12 is an Ultrabook in real life. But yes, this slim, sleek laptop can transforms into a tablet, though a bulky one for regular use.
As with other XPS devices, this one too is strongly built with a stylish aluminum and carbon finish. It is hard to miss the machined aluminum frame that runs around both sides of the device. Around the 12.5-inch FullHD WLED screen, it acts as a hinge for the display to rotate around. Do a 360-degree turn of the display and close the Ultrabook to find yourself staring at a tablet.
It would be a bit difficult to hold and use this tablet like you would an iPad or Android device, but you can definitely use it to work on a surface device or to collaborate on work over a coffee table. Still, the XPS 12 has a touchscreen that is really sprightly and responsive. Plus, being a FullHD screen it is much easier to flip through the Windows mosaic. And the Corning Gorilla Glass makes everything look real solid.
We guess most people would continue using the device as an Ultrabook, one with Windows 8 and touch. At that, there are few equals for this device. With a third generation Intel Core 15 processor inside, this device is up to most productivity tasks. It passed our regular processing tests with flying colours. We were a bit disappointed that our review unit had a 128GB SSD. There is another version with 256GB and a Core i7 processor.
The keyboard is impressive and has a good curved feel about it along with comfortable travel. The trackpad is good too, though you won’t have to use it much with the touchscreen. Don’t be surprised if you see touch devices like this drop the track in a year or so. The sound is really impressive thanks to the two strip-like speakers on the sides.
A major design change we noticed was the toggle power switch on the left edge, just above the volume controls. There are two USB 3.0 port on the left, plus a mini-display port. We think they should have put an HDMI there too.
Buy the XPS 12 if you need an Ultrabook that is versatile enough to be up to the demands of this era of convergence. We suspect it is among the first few of many powerful Ultrabooks that will bring you touch in innovative ways. Yes, it is a bit pricey, but then it is doesn’t sacrifice power at the altar of design.
Sony Vaio Duo 11
Windows 8, 11.6-inch FullHD touchscreen, Intel Core i53317U, 6GB RAM, 128GB SSD, Intel HD graphics 4000, 12.60” (W) .71” (H) 7.84" (D), 1.3kg
Samsung Ativ Smart PC
Windows 8, 11.6-inch touch display, Intel Atom Z2760, 2GB RAM, 64GB flash, Intel graphics, Wi-Fi, SD card, 8MP camera, 744g (1.45 kg with clamshell)