Convertibles are in style. Not specifically the top-down-on-a-sunny-day vehicular kind, but tablets that double as a laptop and vice versa. The latest model to add to that mix is Lenovo's new Miix, announced Thursday.
A 10.1-inch Windows 8 tablet, the Miix can immediately convert into a laptop via a "quick-flip" detachable folio case, which is optional and has a built-in keyboard. Bai Peng, vice president and general manager of Lenovo's notebook business unit, said in a statement that "users don't want to choose between a laptop and a tablet," but want to mix both.
The Miix also features a 1366x768 HD IPS display in both the laptop and tablet incarnations, an dual-core processor, and 64 GB of built-in eMMC that is expandable by 32 GB with a microSD slot. There's also Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi and optional 3G-GPS connectivity, and up to 10 hours of battery life.
Fewer Tablets, More Convertibles?
The Miix is the latest in a convertible form factor that Windows is inducing, in large part because the new OS is oriented toward touchscreens but users still prefer keyboards for productivity needs. It will be available this summer, starting around $500.
Also on Thursday, Samsung Electronics unveiled its ATIV Q, which set a new standard in choice by having both Windows 8 and Android Jellybean 4.2.2 running on the same machine, with switching possible simply by clicking an on-screen tile. Files in one OS are available to the other, such as photos saved into a photos folder.
But Samsung upped the choice factor by also making the Q a convertible that can be a tablet, or a laptop, or, by flipping the display into a standing position, it becomes a movie-watching or photo display device.
In November of last year, Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing said he expected the market to tilt away from consumption-oriented tablets and toward convertible PC/tablets. Some observers thought his remarks at the time were referencing the somewhat less-than-expected of Apple's iPad.
'Premature in the Extreme'
Charles King, an analyst with industry research firm Pund-IT, said he agreed with the Lenovo CEO "to a certain extent." He noted that, "for all the positive qualities that standalone tablets have, they still fall short" in supporting productivity.
King added that, while tablets can handle mail and some other tasks, "for serious work, typing with a keyboard is a better experience." That's from the tablet side. From the laptop side, he predicted that many users will stick with that tried-and-true format, although they may want a tablet from time to time. "The talk I've heard about the end of the PC is premature in the extreme," he told us.
King also described Samsung's Q model, a convertible running both Windows and Android, as "a brilliant idea on their part," because it tackles one of Windows 8's shortcomings -- "how anemic their app market is."
Lenovo also announced on Thursday five touchscreen laptop models in their S and U series -- the IdeaPad S400 Touch, S500 Touch, S210 Touch, U330 Touch, and U430 Touch. The models will all be available this summer, at prices ranging from $429 to $899.