Intel calls it the “adaptive all-in-one” computer. We call it Tabletosaurus Rex!
And whether this massive tablet will truly adapt and flourish, or face extinction, is at best a 50/50 bet.
Here’s the elevator pitch: a big battery pack is built into the screen of the all-in-one, so the entire display unit – which contains the same core technology as a laptop – can be undocked from a desktop cradle, transforming it into a tablet.
A very big and very heavy tablet, to be sure, and not one that you’d take down to the cafe. But certainly a tablet that can be taken to a different room or out on the back deck. Think of it less as portability and more as 'transportability'.
It appears at odds with Intel’s championing of a notebook – and these days, that means an ultrabook – for everybody.
But the company has also been pushing all-in-one desktops as a family PC, especially one that can be used by the kids, and it seems this is another wrinkle to the formula.
Admittedly, it could also be a neat way to browse the web and catch up with the morning news at the breakfast table (just be sure it’s a big table) – by reclining the mega-tablet back onto its inbuilt kickstand and touch-surfing your way through your favourite sites.
For Intel, the ‘adaptive desktop’ model doesn’t need to be a hit. It could be a small but comfy niche for a handful of vendors, or it could just fail to catch on.
What counts right now for Intel is that it’s seen to be Innovating – yes, with a deliberately capital I – on the tired desktop turf as well as in the hot-to-trot mobile space.
“There will be more innovation in the PC in the next 12 to 18 months than we’ve seen in the past decade,” says Intel PC Client exec Kirk Skaugen.
Another of those innovations is the use of waving-your-hands-in-the air gestures rather than physically touching the screen – a handy trait when you’re browsing over breakfast, especially if French toast is on the menu.
“The all-in-one will recognise the position of a user’s hands, fingers and even the joints of the fingers over a range of six inches to three feet from the screen, and can do so in three dimensions – up and down, left and right, back and forward,” Skaugen told TechLife.
It will also be able to respond to pre-set static hand poses and gestures.
The key to this is a ‘3D webcam’ developed by Creative Technology. Right now it’s an external unit which sits atop the screen and plugs into the PC’s USB port, similar to the first webcams.
Skaugen has no doubt that like those early webcams the technology will quickly shrink and be integrated into the PC’s housing itself, sitting directly above the screen.
Skaugen considers Sony’s VAIO Tap 20, which the Japanese manufacturer has dubbed a ‘desktap’ system (to ship later this year with Windows 8), as a poster child for the new category.
“This is relatively mobile and we’re getting many many hours of battery life already using 3rd-generation Core processors,” Skaugen explains. “It will be thinner and incredibly mobile with 4th-generation Core technology.”
David Flynn is attending the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco as a guest of Intel.