Hybrid Ultrabook Design with Slider Keyboard. Update: It’s ‘Letexo’

Posted on 11 April 2012 By


Update: This is an Intel concept design called Letexo.

Hybrid Ultrabook

As I filter through some of the information coming out of IDF in Beijing, this image strikes me as being significant. It’s a slider tablet design with a Windows 8 button. The design smacks of Dell but the logo on the images [Lxo, Lyo or Lko perhaps?] tells us that this is probably just a CAD concept. However, it looks fantastic and is something that could hit the Ultrabook sector soon. 

In other news coming out of IDF we’ve picked up news of the Intel HD 2500 GPU which should be an option, along with the HD 4000 GPU. There’s a note that Intel Quick Sync will be 75% faster than before – great news for video conversion and video rendering speeds. There’s also news about the ‘2012 Ultrabook.’ Stay tuned as we filter through it all and piece it together for you.

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  1. #1 by Adam on April 11, 2012 - 16:36

    “Sliders” and “Convertibles” that do not include a REMOVABLE and EXTREMELY LIGHT tablet ala the ASUS Transformer Primer do NOT qualify as “the best of both worlds”. They include some of what is good from both worlds but not the BEST of both worlds.

    To be specific, one of the best parts of a modern tablet is it’s ultra thin and ultra light form factor; if a hybrid design does not allow you to remove the tablet screen it will ALWAYS be just as THICK and HEAVY as the full laptop regardless of whether it has a touch screen or not.

    The ideal form factor exists in the ASUS Transformer Prime; I’m not sure that Intel wants to compete against ARM on thin, light, and battery life but that doesn’t mean that they should abandon this form factor.

    I REALLY, REALLY want the portability of a convertible tablet that allows you to separate an ultra thin and light tablet from the ultrabook/laptop portion which should provide additional battery life, a keyboard and plenty of expansion ports. -This is the best of both worlds and I’ve seen nothing in the plans from the Intel camp.

    I know that an Intel-based version of the ASUS Transform Prime would highlight the differences between Intel and ARM and would result in a much more expensive, thicker and heavier tablet that gets worse battery life than the Transformer Prime ARM Edition but I understand that and am ok with those trade-offs. Despite the immediate difference in portability and price that this would highlight it would still be a solution that provides a REAL processor with many times ARM perf and could run Windows x86 and all of the application that I want. -It could be the best of a tablet and the best of an ultralight laptop in one. One operating system; one device, two different but great experiences.
    It’s all I want and I hope SOMEONE makes it.

    I’ll fork over the $$ now and wait for increases in portability in the future versions if someone just releases it.

    I still maintain that I don’t want a hybrid SSD+ HDD (SSD only) and I don’t want separate tablet and laptop NOR do I want a fat “slider” hybrid laptop/tablet; I want a DETACHABLE tablet/laptop hybrid.

    -This is the “no compromises” form factor (except for price); Microsoft has billed Windows 8 as a “no compromises” OS, but I really need this hardware form factor to not make compromises and not have to have a second device.

    Adam

    • #2 by Clio on April 11, 2012 - 17:55

      Hi Adam,

      Below is what I wrote just yesterday on Engadget Comments about a few problems with the detachable form factor at the current tech levels:

      http://www.engadget.com/2012/04/10/lenovo-ideapad-yoga-priced

      In response to to another reader wishing to see such detachable form-factor, I wrote:

      In which case, they’ll have to pack the CPU+heatsink+RAM+SSD+battery+connection(port/radio), which means additional mass, into the “top” section of the latop.

      And in “Laptop mode”, since every finger poke is going to accelerate the top section away from the user, a havier top section brings at least 2 problems:
      1.) the hinge needs to be much “stiffer” to prevent screen from wobbles (The heavier the screen, the more it wobbles) and changing angle as a result of finger pokes.

      2.) the laptop tends to topple over; solution is to counter weight near the palm rest, and/or allow the device to have a protruding “Butt” to put the pivot/fulcrum farther away from user then the screen.

      Because of the above problems, I “guestimate” the maximum weight the “top” half can be is around 600 grams, together with a base weighing 800 grams or so to counter-weight finger pokes; It means Arm/Atom CPU only when in tablet mode, and total package weigh is 1.4Kg up. It also means the trackpad will have to give way to allow the screen to sit closer.

      Another point, I think general consumers would think such “detachable” device is “geeky” / ugly / not appealing when in the current trend and “weather”, they tend to use Apple designs as benchmarks.

      So you see, I’ve put much thought into the “detachable” form factor as well. But when you read through all these, you’ll start to think this “Yoga” design, with 13″ screen @ 1.47Kg, and i-core power @ tablet mode, it does has its advantages.

      Until Intel Manages to shrink ZERO-delays WiDi receivers into 600 gram tablets, my ideal device would be a 11″ convertible @ ~1Kg but also support active-digitiser pen input for notes-scribbling & creative doodles.

      So for now, slider/convertible/”Yoga” form factors may probably be the best we can get.

      • #3 by Adam on April 12, 2012 - 14:23

        Clio, WOW! Amazing post! Thanks for this!

        Most of the problems that you’ve highlighted are only issues if the touch screen is utilized while it’s docked into “laptop mode” – the “gorilla arm” problem still exists with using a touch screen in this mode; I’m more than fine with using the device’s touch screen ONLY in tablet mode (where the Win8 Metro interface should be displayed and utilized) and using ONLY the keyboard in laptop mode.

        Adam

      • #4 by Chippy on April 13, 2012 - 01:06

        While i’m not someone that needs a digitiser I do echo your call for an 11″ convertible. Stuffing the complete Ultrabook behind the screen could be tough although when you look at the Samsung XE700 (effectively an Ultraslate) it’s interesting. Think about the engineering effort going into ARM-based tablets and the Asus Transformer design.
        Steve/Chippy

      • #5 by James on April 15, 2012 - 03:32

        Mind that starting with Haswell in 2013 that Intel will be designing SoC’s that along with going 22nm, that we’re just starting to see introduced with Ivy Bridge, should help them squeeze more into smaller spaces than ever before.

        There’s also an alternative docking system that MS is working on that would allow for a scaling of performance when docked.

        Instead of putting everything in either the tablet or the dock, the system MS is working on would allow the Tablet to simply switch over to the dock’s more powerful processor.

        So the tablet could be optimized to be a tablet, but still perform as a laptop or even desktop when docked.

        All of which goes with their plan of pushing Windows 8 to cover a wide range of devices.

        There have of course been previous attempts at this idea but they switched both the hardware and the OS for a less than seamless experience.

        So we may be seeing better solutions start to come out next year.

  2. #6 by Michael on April 11, 2012 - 18:26

    Instead of all these bullshit, manufacturers should concentrate on bringing the ultrabook to the masses by substantially reducing the price of the current generation ultrabook.

    • #7 by Chippy on April 13, 2012 - 01:03

      That’s already happening Michael. We’re seeing an average 20% price reduction across the Ultrabook sector so far (compared with launch prices)

  3. #8 by Clio on April 11, 2012 - 18:33

    I like it! Note the screen/lid section did not cover the entire surface and let the base take up a margin – aside from making room for ports, this is very important for the “standing use” usage scenario I often talk about, as it allows the user to open the device to “notebook mode” without having to rest the unit on another table/lap/surface.

    How can I describe it…? Try this:
    1.) Stand up
    2.) Close the lid of your clamshell notebook/netbook/ultrabook (I assuming it have the hinge located right at the back of it, like most clamshells.)
    3.) Pick up and hold/cradle the device in one arm, with fingers wrapped around the hinge
    4.) Without resting the unit on any other surface or lap, try opening it up with your other hand.

    You probably can’t, because in order to firmly grip the device, your fingers around the hinge is exerting force to keep the lid shut even when you attempt to open it. Also bear in mind with touchscreen devices, hinges needs to be extra stiff, to the point that gravity is not enough to help open the device with just one hand.

    With this design, I imagine that margin would allow 4 fingers (index to pinky) gripping at that edge quite securely, while still allowing free opening/closing of the lid/screen section.

  4. #9 by DK on April 12, 2012 - 21:12

    it’s a great design and the dark red is gorgeous. but i find the trackpad pointless when you’ve got a touch screen right in front of you. + i’m pretty sure lenovo showed something similar at CES?

  5. #10 by Clio on April 15, 2012 - 18:56

    James :

    There’s also an alternative docking system that MS is working on that would allow for a scaling of performance when docked.
    Instead of putting everything in either the tablet or the dock, the system MS is working on would allow the Tablet to simply switch over to the dock’s more powerful processor.

    I think you’re referring to this patent:
    http://www.gottabemobile.com/2012/03/09/microsoft-patents-tablet-that-converts-into-laptop-desktop/

    This is effectively hot-plugging of CPU, GPU & RAM. I’m not convinced. I think that is a “half-step” for the tablet-dock form factor, it will take great effort to achieve (both hardware & software, meaning microsoft cannot pull his off alone), but only get half results.

    I think it will give an inconsistent user experience, one that will not be accepted by the mainstream.

    When a user un-docks the tablet part, the best response from the system is to continue running un-interrupted whatsoever.But that cannot be achieved if you scale back the available system resources.

    And as soon as some sort of low-latency wireless display technology appears, the tablet part can run a receiver app to take up touch-screen Monitor duty. It will better fulfill what people want, and this Microsoft’s patent will become largely obsolete.

    So I’m not holding breath for this Microsoft patent to turn into usable product. For me, 1kg Convertibles are a first step for a touch-screen full OS such as Win8. And then I’m hoping in another 3 years time, the next step would be either:
    i.) Tablet+i-core dock devices equipped with low-lag Wireless display protocol, or
    ii.) even lighter, fan-less or even vent-less i-core convertibles.

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