A new breed, with boons


Gadgets and Gizmos (India) - - CONTENTS - By Nidhi Sin­gal @nid­hisin­gal

Th­ese new-age hy­brid de­vices are lithe, chic and top per­form­ers

At a time when con­vert­ibles and hy­brids were novel con­cepts, there was al­ways a trade-off. If you wanted su­perb porta­bil­ity (and no, a beefy ph­ablet or a min­i­mal­ist tablet was not your idea of the of­fice work­horse), you had to com­pro­mise on per­for­mance for form fac­tor or vice versa. Then the cli­mate changed. With BYOD and busi­nesses-on-the-go mak­ing in­roads into our life, work has lost its well-de­fined bound­aries and the tra­di­tional lap­tops that IBM had churned out more than two decades ago, need to keep pace with our mil­len­nium life­style. The chunky clamshells, weigh­ing around four kg, are no longer suit­able for the new- found mo­bil­ity. But as per­for­mance be­comes the rai­son d’être of our sur­vival, new-age com­put­ing de­vices have evolved into great mas­ter­pieces – sleek, chic and ver­i­ta­ble pow­er­houses un­der the hood.

But how long did it take for this trans­for­ma­tion to hap­pen? With each pass­ing year, lap­tops had weighed less but were still on the heav­ier side. Then came the Ul­tra­books, a new line of mean ma­chines with a sleeker form fac­tor and top-of-the-line per­for­mance. At the time of the launch, they were pow­ered by then-lat­est In­tel pro­ces­sors, but in­stead of the tra­di­tional hard disk drive (HDD), they adopted the solid-state drive (SSD). The lat­ter was (and still is) an ex­pen­sive yet ad­vanced and re­li­able stor­age so­lu­tion, and of­fered man­u­fac­tures more flex­i­bil­ity in de­sign­ing a PC. Ul­ti­mately, th­ese gave way to con­vert­ibles and 2-in-1 hy­brids. Sim­ply put, con­vert­ibles are touch­screen-ca­pa­ble lap­tops that can be folded or flipped in dif­fer­ent ways but do not have de­tach­able key­boards. When the key­board can be at­tached to the main de­vice, it is clas­si­fied as a tablet-lap­top. Both touch-op­ti­mised con­vert­ible lap­tops and key­board-de­tach­able tablets fall un­der the new cat­e­gory – the 2-in-1 hy­brids.

Most of th­ese de­vices are ver­sa­tile won­ders, bring­ing in a par­a­digm shift. Take, for in­stance, Mi­crosoft Sur­face Pro (2017), a beau­ti­fully de­signed and pro­duc­tiv­ity-fo­cussed hy­brid. Pri­mar­ily a tablet run­ning a full-fledged Win­dows 10 op­er­at­ing sys­tem, the fifth-gen­er­a­tion Sur­face Pro is pow­ered by the lat­est In­tel Core pro­ces­sor, with stor­age ca­pac­ity up to 1 TB. The in­tu­itive touch­screen in­ter­face is smooth and vi­brant

while the at­tach­able key­board and a whole bunch of ac­ces­sories make things easy for cre­atives and pro­fes­sion­als. The re­cently launched Sur­face Go, a smaller and a more af­ford­able ver­sion of Sur­face Pro, may not be as ver­sa­tile, but could still be the de­vice of choice for ded­i­cated Win­dows users.

Len­ovo, on the other hand, has pop­u­larised the con­vert­ible form fac­tor where lap­tops have sev­eral ro­tat­ing hinges and can be used as tablets with stands. But one of the best-look­ing gad­gets in this space is the Spec­tre 360 HP, a slim, stylish note­book with an alu­minium body and a 360-de­gree hinge de­sign. Weigh­ing less than 1.3 kg, the 13-inch con­vert­ible is pow­ered by In­tel’s 8th gen­er­a­tion pro­ces­sor, with up to 16 GB of RAM.

Mi­crosoft might have led the way with Win­dows tablet-lap­tops (many feel they func­tion bet­ter as lap­tops but have not yet reached the ex­cel­lence of iPads), but those run­ning Ap­ple’s iOS and Google’s An­droid OS are equally good per­form­ers. Nev­er­the­less, Ap­ple’s iPad Pro does not seem to be shift­ing to­wards the tra­di­tional lap­top shape or func­tion­al­ity. It con­tin­ues to be an iPad run­ning iOS, with ac­cess to apps for man­ag­ing e-mail, brows­ing or even han­dling doc­u­ments on the move. The ad­di­tion of a de­tach­able key­board and a stand matches the lap­top-style in­ter­face, though, and en­sures ease of typ­ing.

Key­boards (de­tach­able or oth­er­wise) are bound to find favour with all and sundry for pro­duc­tiv­ity rea­sons. But the new breed has some­thing worth­while for the cre­atives as well – the artists, the de­sign­ers, the stylists, et al. – as dig­i­tal sty­luses make a foray, repli­cat­ing those wild strokes of imag­i­na­tion and elim­i­nat­ing the need to in­vest in a dig­i­tal sketch­pad. They are also use­ful for markups and an­no­ta­tions on doc­u­ments and PDFs. Ap­ple’s App Store has hun­dreds of paid and free ap­pli­ca­tions with Pen­cil sup­port, but the con­cept, much like the touch­screen tech­nol­ogy, has be­come a main­stay. The Mi­crosoft Sur­face Pro se­ries has it as well as HP Spec­tre, Len­ovo’s Yoga Book and even the re­cently launched Sam­sung Galaxy Tab S4. And all of them are work­ing hard to en­rich user ex­pe­ri­ence.

With en­hanced func­tion­al­ity comes the in­te­gra­tion of high-speed, ubiq­ui­tous cel­lu­lar con­nec­tiv­ity and the ca­pac­ity to switch net­works. As more and more hy­brids sup­port LTE, a 4G mo­bile com­mu­ni­ca­tions stan­dard, a new breed of ‘Al­ways Con­nected Per­sonal Com­put­ers’ or ACPCs could be emerg­ing in the near fu­ture. In fact, the ASUS No­vaGo, which comes with Qual­comm’s Snap­dragon 835 pro­ces­sor, a 360-de­gree flip hinge, and Gi­ga­bit speeds, says it is the first 2-in-1 hy­brid of­fer­ing an ‘al­ways on, al­ways con­nected’ ex­pe­ri­ence, much like the smart­phone. The com­pany is claim­ing up to 22 hours of bat­tery life, which un­der­lines how big per­for­mance will re­quire big power. Soon, we may see large, mul­ti­ple-day bat­ter­ies, and com­pact charg­ers.

Spec­tre 360 from Hp len­ovo yogA book mi­croSoft Sur­fAce pro

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