The 2013 International CES showcased a vast number of Windows 8 PCs, from the occasional desktop to laptops/Ultrabooks, tablets, and hybrids of every sort. Of course, while there are a number of interesting concepts and form-factors, some are better than others. The following is a brief tour of some of the various form-factors on display, as well as my impressions.
The Dell XPS 12 features an interesting spinning design, where the screen rotates around inside of a “frame.” While it isn’t a bad design, I found it strange to push on the screen in order to convert it from laptop to tablet mode. Returning the device to laptop mode is a much faster and more comfortable process than the other way around.
Out of all the tablets, the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 is probably the strangest. At first glance, it looks exactly like a regular laptop/Ultrabook, and while I knew that the screen could fold back upon itself, it still frightened me a little to push the screen so far back. But sure enough, the second hinge kicked in and the device went from being a laptop to a tablet. I’m not sure I like the feel of the keys on the “back” of the tablet, but there are always cases which can solve this issue. You can also flip the device over and use it like a tent.
The Lenovo ThinkPad Twist is your traditional tablet PC. In fact, I had a device just like this – albeit clunkier and running an older operating system – back in 2006. That being said, Lenovo’s build quality makes this a familiar and reliable device to use. Rotating the screen can still be a little awkward, but it works well.
The Handheld Gaming Device
The Razer Edge is probably the most unique Windows 8 device on display at CES. Technically, it probably shouldn’t be included in a list of Windows 8 hybrids - at least in the traditional sense – but it blends a gaming handheld like the PSVita or Wii U controller with a high-end gaming PC. The result works surprisingly well, although I found the sensitivity a bit high at first. Thankfully, this is easily fixed in the game’s settings.
I’ll be honest, this one took me a little while to figure out. The Sony VAIO Duo 11 almost feels like an impenetrable safe. That is, of course, until you find the small slit at the top/back of the device. From here, all it takes is a simple upward pull to “pop” the device into laptop mode. It’s also the only device in this list to completely eschew a touchpad in favor of a pointing stick. And on a touch-centric device, this actually makes a bit of sense. Best of all, this particular form-factor actually gives the screen some support, making it much more comfortable to take advantage of touch while using it in laptop mode.
The last device is the Toshiba Satellite U925t, which features a unique slide-out design. Imagine a sliding glass door which can then swing outward, and you’ve got the Satellite U925t. This sounds great in theory, but it’s a little difficult to use in practice. As you can see in the above video, the process of sliding the screen out doubles the size of the device. This wouldn’t be a problem at a big desk or table, but on a small CES display – or worse, an airplane – there’s not nearly enough room. It’s not a bad device, but you’ll need a lot of room to use it.
Which type of hybrid do you prefer? Let us know in the comments!