At the onset of 2012, two trends were foreseen to make huge impacts in laptop development. The first is the continuing popularity of ultrabooks (or ultra-thins if we are to be strict with nomenclature, since “ultra books” supposedly specifically refer to Intel-powered ultra thin only). Certainly, ultra thin have quickly become the laptops-of-choice despite their lack of power compared to their big brothers.
Whether this is largely due to a preference of aesthetics over functionality is up for debate; but the fact of the matter is more and more ultra thin are appearing in gadget lovers’ wish lists. As these things go, there are advances already made in bringing the ultra thin to at least within striking distance of laptops function-wise; but by and large they remain underpowered, yet uberstylish devices.
The second trend is an extension of the “convergence fad” of recent years in which gadgets are becoming more multipurpose; this time coming in the form of convertible hybrids. And what, pray tell, are convertible hybrids, you ask?
You would be forgiven to think of hybrid electric cars with collapsible tops upon first hearing the term; it definitely sounds that way. That said, convertible hybrids are actually laptops with detachable screens that double as tablets.
The Versatility of Keyboards
Despite sounding like a random mishmash of gadgets, convertible hybrids actually warrant deserved attention. With these devices, users can get the full functionality of laptops (essentially unanchored desktops) with the tremendous user-friendliness of tablets; essentially, the best of both worlds.
On the laptop side of the fence, there’s still something to be said of the tactile quality that keyboards bring. As opposed to the “slippery” feel of touchscreen typing (propensity for typos and all), physical keyboards give users a greater degree – and more importantly, a greater sense – of control.
Moreover, the reason why programs are more full-blown in traditional computers than they are in touch-based portable gadgets is that the type of tactile control afforded by keyboards (and mouse devices, of course) is much more conducive to the technical requirements of said programs. Imagine working through a 25-page essay, or a FPS game, using only touch controls. They can be done, yes, but with considerable difficulty; and they will prove to be less engaging and more tedious in the long run.
The Ease of Touch Controls
On the other hand, using touch controls (natural pointers, essentially), is more natural and easier; provided that the applications that go with it are equally simplistic and quick-results-focused. Touch controls are less technical by design and more visually intuitive. Consider the action of putting a file on your desktop into the recycle bin: Doing it with a keyboard feels like you have to go through a lengthy number of steps before you can accomplish it. With a pointer device though (and what better pointer device than your own fingers?), it can be done in two easy steps. Just drag, and drop.
However – and as a counterpoint to the specificity of keyboard controls – until such time that more developments can be made to broaden the control range of touchscreens, people will have to settle with simplified versions of programs for now, to go with the comparatively simplistic interface of touch controls. Hence, the “touch versions” of programs which you can’t help but notice are rather lacking in functionality in some areas.
We Still Have a Long Way to Go
Of course, the convergence of control and software types aren’t the only advantages of convertible hybrids. There are also portability choices, the possibility of upgradable laptop parts, and whatnot. However, the controls and the types of software that go with them are, to me, the biggest factors so far. Who knows? With the advent of AR, auto stereoscope, and other technologies, hybrids may just be the first step in the next evolution of portable computers.
Abie Anarna is a blogger who specializes in writing about computers and various other electronic gadgets. Her educational background is in Information and Technology. She is very interested in all things tech-related; and has a particular inclination towards e-recycling, which is a prominent topic in her articles. She writes for LaptopAid, a company that also contributes to the e-recycling effort. In her spare time, she loves to read books and watch sappy rom-coms.