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New laptops and hybrids emerge as 'fatbooks' are kicked to the curb

Agam Shah | June 5, 2013
Old-school laptops are out of favor, as PC makers experiment with new form factors to compete with tablets.

Design and screen size matter, but functionality, portability and long battery life are more important, according to Kirk Schell, vice president of computing products at Dell.

It may take some time to find out what designs consumers really go for, Schell said. The market is changing fast and there are probably unexplored opportunities to tap into.

The PC industry won't stand still, either, and Intel is looking to add more features and functionality, such as facial-recognition log-in, voice controls and 3D cameras.

"Personal computing is alive and well, it's just morphing," said Kirk Skaugen, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's PC Client Group, in an interview. The market that was once comprised of generic desktops and laptops is now made up of all-in-one PCs and hybrid laptops that can double as tablets.

"You get all the greatness of the PC, but you are getting all the things people have been used to in the tablet," Skaugen said.

That's not to say people don't want pure tablets — and not ones running Intel chips, either. Perhaps the product that caused the greatest stir at Asus's press conference was its Memo Pad FHD7. It wasn't the tablet's Android OS or ARM-based processor that wooed the crowd, but the price tag, which starts at just $129. That's difficult for a Windows PC in any form factor to match.

Still, Intel believes tablets in their current form remain secondary devices, for content consumption rather than creation. And through its new Haswell chips, Intel says its partners will offer full-powered laptops — and tablets — that can be used for editing video and other demanding tasks.

Application requirements are not going to slow down in the years ahead, it believes.

"The next generation of experiences ... will drive up the performance needs," Skaugen said. "There's an inflection point that we're right in the middle of."

 

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