The great thing about Microsoft Windows 8 OS launch is the overwhelming volume of computing products that every manufacturers are pushing out these few months, and in my opinion, has leveled the playing field. Since the operating system is identical, each brand has to innovate with designs and features.
Last week, I went to the Samsung event named “Smart Home”, where they presented their products in a home setting, showcasing how easy it is to share content across multiple devices with different OSes using the AllShare platform. It gave me a chance to try out their Windows 8 hybrid PCs, the ATIV Smart PC. Essentially a tablet that docks onto a keyboard, Samsung posits all the necessary connectors on the tablet side while leaving the keyboard side relatively lightweight.
This week, I attended the HP event themed “A Life Connected”, and the organiser brought in Irene Ang to showcase the upcoming Windows 8 devices. Also driving at the same idea of connectivity, Irene demonstrates with her layperson way how HP products – from hybrid tablet PCs to printers – connects to one another wirelessly and across territories.
HP’s version of a hybrid PC is to place all the connectors on the keyboard side, while leaving the tablet side slim and clutter free. Then there is Lenovo’s “Yoga”, where the entire ultrabook is bent 360-degrees outwards. And Dell XPS 12 converts the laptop into a tablet by rotating the screen 180-degrees to face out before closing back the ultrabook lid. And Sony’s VAIO Duo 11 slides to reveal the keyboard. Asus takes another step further with TAICHI: instead of making the display monitor rotate or detach, it adds another display screen on the flip side.
Isn’t it splendid? Same Windows 8 OS, but totally different form factors, plenty to choose from. As of now, my vote goes to the HP design. I like how the Envy X2 leaves the tablet-side free from connectors when docked. I envision myself carrying the entire Envy X2 unit wherever I go since the combined weight is merely 1.41kg. The only time I would probably be undocking and using the tablet side alone is when I am doing light web-browsing on the couch, bed, and any other times when I prefer a clean slate (pun intended) computing experience, which means “no” to connecting any peripherals onto it. Those designs with attached keyboards are just as convenient, but I reckon its combined weight might be daunting for extended handheld tablet use. Your usage preference may vary, but basically, you will be spoilt for choice.
One wonders how the next reincarnation of Apple Macbooks would look like, and whether it will lead to another wave of design revolution.