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back to article Intel bets the farm on touch-enabled 'convertible and detachable' Ultrabooks

To hear Intel tell it, the days of the good ol' laptop are numbered, and the future belongs to touch-enabled convertibles – laptops that lead a double life as both clamshells and tablets. "We fundamentally believe that there's a convergence happening between what traditionally have been notebook computing and tablet computing, …

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Winning the battle...

Intel is absolutely right about this. Convertibles are the future and if the more they can stick their silicon into, the better for them. There's just one problem with their whole plan. Long-term, the future of Intel on tablets is tied with Windows and x86 platform. Both are on the decline and its not likely that this trend will reverse. If it wasn't for legacy x86 applications, who in their right mind would choose Intel-based tablet over Tegra 4, with its superior graphics and power consumption?

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Re: Winning the battle...

Actually, you can run Android on x86 and I've heard linux on x86 is fine too. ;)

The main issue is price. I had a look at the Asus zenbook and its really lovely. However, its costs a lot and there's no camera for skype. Which means a mac air is both cheaper and more functional even if the specs aren't quite as high.

The main problem for ARM will come with people doing computing rather than consuming. Intel wins on power consumption when you're doing lots - ARM wins when you don't do much, so if you're porting power-hungry apps straight across, intel is probably a better choice - though not as good as writing the apps properly from scratch..

I think Intel is right that a "convertible" is where the market will go, though for my money, I'd like an ARM based tablet/screen which docks to an x86 base.

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Re: Winning the battle...

Intel may well have got the juice down to 7 Watts, but that's still not enough. Quite a lot of the ARM platforms out there top out at 5 Watts for the whole thing (CPU, memory, graphics, peripherals). Intel's vagueness on 'performance' and 'power' seems to suggest that they're not that confident.

Convertibles may indeed be the future, but really its just a mild warm up to the Intel/ARM fight in the server world.

"There's just one problem with their whole plan. Long-term, the future of Intel on tablets is tied with Windows and x86 platform. Both are on the decline and its not likely that this trend will reverse"

I mostly agree with that. Win8 is not appealling to a lot of people. However MS can easily address its problems, and Win9 could be a really good thing. For Intel's sake it will have to be.

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JDX
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Re: Winning the battle...

Maybe but an extra 5W doesn't sound like too much in a tablet which has much more battery capacity than a phone, and where the screen is even more the dominant power drain.

I'm not convinced by these convertibles, but it seems to me hating Intel is just what one subset of geeks like to do, just as others hate MS - it doesn't matter how much they improve or even transform areas of historical weakness, haters will still hate. MS write insecure software, Java is slow because it's interpreted, yada yada.

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Meh

Re: Winning the battle...

You cannot be everything to everybody, there is always some compromise in a product.

Light portable, long battery life, work station, power user, desktop, handbag size....

No one product will take over.

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Re: Winning the battle...

ARM chips aren't slouches performance wise - the instruction set is very neat and efficient compared to x86. However Intel have more performance enhancement tricks and techniques in place in their chips and these do make a difference but again, this depends on the actual processor usage and the compiler that was used to generate the code. While later ARM chips have some of these chip based enhancements in place there are various patent and power issues that are involved that slow the implementation of these.

Optimising compiler generated code for the abhorrent mess of the x86 instruction set is quite different to ARM optimisation and the x86 compilers, through more requirements for it both time and deployment wise, are generally better optimised compared to ARM compilers. This should even out in time though.

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Go

Re: Winning the battle...

zenbook does have an integrated camera, works well with skype too.

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Windows

Re: Winning the battle...

"Win8 is not appealling (sic) to a lot of people. However MS can easily address its problems, and Win9 could be a really good thing....."

Sorry, you are making me feel old:

"98 crashes a lot but ME will be better"

"XP has security issues, vista will fix these" (well, OK things did get a bit better)

I haven't tried win8 (I'm important enough now that if someone sends me a doc that doesn't display on libre I can send it back and tell them to get a proper computer) but I'm sure that further sarcastic comments are there to be made by people with first hand experience.

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Pint

I wouldn't mind a nice 14" Intel tablet

Make mine with Ubuntu though. And I'm going to want at least that 2560 x 1600 resolution.

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JDX
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Re: I wouldn't mind a nice 14" Intel tablet

Is there any reason you want such a high resolution on such a small display other than because you're jealous of Apple?

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Re: I wouldn't mind a nice 14" Intel tablet

The component cost on the high def displays isn't that much more. And the quality difference for photography is amazing. Then there's the multiple-windows thing with a real OS.

1080p on a cellphone - that's ridiculous. 400+dpi? I would need an ocular upgrade. But this rez on a 14" tablet is not uncalled for.

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Stuff the touch-enabled Ultrabooks

Just give me a netbook with one of them 10 watt core chips.

Lots of luck trying to jack up the price people will pay.

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Anyone else considered the 'physical' keyboard has only a certain amount of life left - with soft keyboards, laser projected keyboards, voice recognition etc. - i'm not saying it will happen in the next 2-3 years but do you not think in 5-10-15 years from now?

Of course that's not so much a problem for a device you are buying today but think the future is more likely to be just tablets (screens) with soft keyboards / voice recognition and (for a time) optional keyboards at your desk or think ones like the Surface or Asus Transformer.

For now think people are likely to want to pick either a tablet OR a laptop / ultra notebook as these convertible designs are going to add bulk / weight / cost to either.

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I don't know, but think the tactile feedback of a real keyboard is nice and not likely to be easily replaced. Same goes for a mouse versus touchscreen - mouse wins for precision any day.

Having said that, the masses for whom the main players target their sales may have other ideas, and thus lead us all to a crappy solution.

Can I use this post as another opportunity to complain about 1920×1080 as being crap? Sadly the market for HD TVs seems to have squeezed out better screens, with Apple offering better but not in my OS/price range.

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Facepalm

Have you ever tried 'alternative' keyboards?

At least for more than a tweet or e-mail? I love my iPad but I wouldn't want to use that touch keyboard as my only way of typing. Laser projected keyboards are even worse, they are so hit and miss and provide no feedback.

Voice recognition has always been 5/10 years away and I'd say on the basis of things like Dragon and Kinect, usable day to day voice is at least 30 years away if not more. Most people underestimate just how complicated it is.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Have you ever tried 'alternative' keyboards?

and of course the obvious beauty of a keyboard over voice recognition is that you can do it privately and without annoying everyone else in the train, plane, office etc.

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Anonymous Coward

Do not think the mouse and keyboard are history quite yet - but think they will be more for desk use. I agree tactile feedback on keys is nice but unless your job involves entering a lot of data via keyboard pretty sure most people could live with it.

I could see you getting to work - docking your iPad and using a wireless keyboard as your input device.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Have you ever tried 'alternative' keyboards?

We need mind control - think about a word in your head and it appears on the screen - in fact why not have a small port at the back of your head and you just plug in... oh too much Matrix ;)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Have you ever tried 'alternative' keyboards?

"Voice recognition has always been 5/10 years away and I'd say on the basis of things like Dragon and Kinect, usable day to day voice is at least 30 years away if not more. Most people underestimate just how complicated it is."

But... that does not mean it will not happen - think we are getting a lot nearer and think 30 years is extremely pessimistic - think 5 years seems more realistic.

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Unhappy

Re: Have you ever tried 'alternative' keyboards?

If i cuold jst get ths fukcng keybrd to tlpe more thean tywo words correctly in a row then thst wold be a grte mp[rvoemnt

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Re: Have you ever tried 'alternative' keyboards?

"If i cuold jst get ths fukcng keybrd to tlpe more thean tywo words correctly in a row then thst wold be a grte mp[rvoemnt"

Voice recognition to the rescue!

"MOTHER DUCKLING PIZZA CHIP!" said Tom Distinctly.

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WTF?

Re: Have you ever tried 'alternative' keyboards?

Even human beings have trouble with voice recognition! (Try going somewhere where people speak your language with a different accent. I'm totally baffled by Glaswegian and find Brummies hard going. Others have told me they can't understand folks in Devon, though I have no trouble with that one. That's just in the UK. Regional variation within Italy, say, or even that tiny country the Nederlands are much greater. Or so I'm told ... I'm no linguist.

Can you imagine what an office full of people talking to their PCs would be like? (A call centre? Except if they were programmers trying to talk code. yum install es cee i pie meta delete pee i dash seven point two doubledash meta delete SPACE doubledash enablerepo a pill FUCKIT meta delete-three-words ee pee ee ell ENTER AAARGH <throws PC out of fifth story window> ) (and that example didn't even involve any of the well-known Intercal splats and rabbit-ears).

Anyway, a good touch typist can type faster than most folks talk. If speed really is of the essence, there are chording keyboards that are much faster than QWERTY ones, although the learning curve is much steeper and not many people bother. Also how fast can a human think? A pianist will tell you that the first stage is training one's fingers to play the right notes, and only after that can you start to think about the actual music.

Keyboards are here to stay, at least until a direct interface to our nervous system becomes possible (if ever).

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WTF?

Re: Have you ever tried 'alternative' keyboards?

Even human beings have trouble with voice recognition! (Try going somewhere where people speak your language with a different accent. I'm totally baffled by Glaswegian and find Brummies hard going. Others have told me they can't understand folks in Devon, though I have no trouble with that one. That's just in the UK. Regional variation within Italy, say, or even that tiny country the Nederlands are much greater. Or so I'm told ... I'm no linguist.

Can you imagine what an office full of people talking to their PCs would be like? A call centre? Except if they were programmers trying to talk code. yum install es cee i pie meta delete pee i dash seven point two doubledash meta delete-two-char SPACE doubledash enablerepo a pill FUCKIT meta delete-three-words ee pee ee ell ENTER AAARGH <throws PC out of fifth story window>

Anyway, a good touch typist can type faster than most folks talk. If speed really is of the essence, there are chording keyboards that are much faster than QWERTY ones, although the learning curve is much steeper and not many people bother. After all how fast can a human think what to type or say? A pianist will tell you that the first stage is training one's fingers to play the notes, and only after that can you start to think about the actual music.

Keyboards are here to stay, at least until a direct interface to our nervous system becomes possible (if ever).

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"What I can say today is that Intel is executing on all cylinders," Skaugen boasted

And he's knocking his metaphors out of the park! Checkmate.

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"Intel is executing on all cylinders"

...how does the perpetrator of this phrase not deserve the death penalty ?

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Devil

Re: "Intel is executing on all cylinders"

Death is too good for anyone crating or using such a piss-awful phrase. Long, slow, and horrible torture in public is the only way to let the word-manglers know that they have gone too far.

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Anonymous Coward

What always amazes me is how people believe what we have now will not change - watch a bit more Star Trek.

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Change - when it's better

Just because the company wants things to change is not going to make people change... How are sales of those "smart" TVs going? 3D TV? DVD Audio? Coming soon 4k TV with no program source, that should fly off the shelf.

The boss will get a Sony touch screen ultra book, every one else will get a $400 Dell laptop.

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"absolutely all-day battery life, where you just don't have to bring your power brick at all anymore."

Holding him to that!

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Of course Intel are right, as most contributors above have agreed. Easy. Remove a screen from a laptop and it could be a tablet. Progress means more performance with less hardware so one day it will come.

The issue is when ? Calling the wrong timescale could break Intel.

In the meantime twin hardware may succeed. Start with a laptop, make the screen detachable to become a tablet. Design the package so that when the screen and keyboard are united all the power in the screen is available to the system. It would be a good laptop, just a bit heavy, and a rotten tablet.

If that is not good enough wait five years and try again.

What I really want is a top of the range machine with an A4 sized very high resolution screen and keyboard that will fold so I can slip it into my shirt pocket.

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Anonymous Coward

"...a new range – or a new segment – that we've called the 'Ultrabook Convertible and Detachable'," the head of Intel's PC Client Group, Kirk Skaugen, told his audience..."

"Ultrabook Convertible and Detachable" - Sales and Marketing fail!

If anyone remembers the names of phones that the phone manufacturers use to come up with before Apple launched iPhone will understand that giving simple easy to say product names in a word or two helps in marketing and sales e.g. look at most of the phone names prior to 1996 (e.g. http://www.gsmarena.com/samsung-phones-f-9-0-p10.php) and the ones now in the market.

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