Laptops go up against tablets at Consumer Electronics Show
New generation of ‘convertible’ devices on display at major industry trade show
As far as Intel is concerned, these devices are the future of computing. The chip giant, which dominates desktop computing, has struggled to get momentum in mobile devices such as tablets and smart phones.
During a Jan. 7 news conference, Intel executives spoke in front of a big display of these new-age laptops. The Santa Clara, Calif., company said it was moving up the release of the next version of its chips.
“We fundamentally believe that there’s a convergence happening between tablets and notebooks,” said Kirk Skaugen, vice president and general manager of Intel’s Client Group.
The proliferation of designs reflects another uncomfortable truth: Laptop manufacturers don’t really know what consumers want when it comes to hybrids, or even if they want them. And so the manufacturers are taking a see-what-sticks-to-the-wall approach.
Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, said he believes that some versions of these multi-mode laptops could catch on with consumers. The ability to have one device that lets users do work that still requires a keyboard and then switch to a tablet might have some appeal. And businesses and schools might like these devices as a way to appease the growing number of users who are asking for tablets but worry that iPads pose a security risk.
Moorhead said a few things still need to happen for multi-mode laptops to gain ground on tablets. The displays and battery life need to improve, and cost needs to come down.
“If your convertible is just as good or nearly as good as that tablet, then you might see the tablet market start to take a hit,” he said. “But we’re still not at that point.”
Still, Skaugen of Intel projects that prices of some of these devices will drop to $599 in the coming year, putting them in the range of tablets. And as designers continue to play with the form, he’s optimistic that laptops could recapture the hearts of consumers.
“Last year, I said there would be more innovation in this next year than we had in the past decade in the notebook,” Skaugen said. “And I think that’s come to fruition.”
(c) 2013, Los Angeles Times, with additional reporting from eSchool Media. Visit the Los Angeles Times online at www.latimes.com. Distributed by MCT Information Services.