When Microsoft launched its touch-friendly Windows 8 operating system (OS), the first that would work with both computers and mobile devices, it set the ball rolling for the emergence of devices that could switch seamlessly between the two genres: tablet devices with which you could use keyboards as if they were laptops, and laptop/notebook computers that could be twisted to separate the screen to create a tablet.
Welcome to the world of hybrid devices. This week we look at three options that run Windows 8 to give you the best of both worlds.
Samsung ATIV Smart PC @ Rs. 53,990
The ATIV comes with a cool blue exterior. And it is the only one of the tree devices under review to sport a stylus, from WACOM, a leading touch input devices company. The stylus can give 1,024 levels of pressure, a great attraction for the artist in you.
Sadly, the stylus works only on the ATIV, and no other device.
The 11.6" screen is bright and easy to remove. It uses touch point contacts rather than plug into the tablet base - though it is not unstable as it sounds. The various slots - micro HDMI output, micro SD and USB port - are on the screen itself. If you are making a presentation, the cable needs to be plugged to the screen. The docking keyboard has two more USB ports.
There is an 8 MP rear camera with flash, and a 2 MP front camera. Sound is good, both input and output. The big blip is that neither the 64GB of storage nor the 2GB RAM can be extended.
Acer Iconia W510 @ Rs. 53,990
The Iconia's screen is a slightly smaller 10.1", compared to the Samsung counterpart, but the specs are similar: a dual-core 1.8 GHz Atom processor, 2GB RAM and 64 GB storage. The white body seems a dirt magnet, but plastics are good and the device well-built.
As mentioned, the screen docks on to slots at the base, making it more stable and firm than the Samsung. Cameras are similar as well - 8MP at the rear and 2MP at the front. The keyboard is smaller. The device works nicely as a tablet, though, and as screen can be turned to face the other way means it can be used for closed-group presentations.
Against Samsung's 10-point multi-touch screen, the Iconia has only a 5-point multi-touch - which may or may not matter in daily use. The Iconia has a micro HDMI slot on the screen, and separate USB slots on the screen and the keyboard.
HP Envy X2 @ Rs. 59,990
The most expensive of this crop and the latest in the market, the Envy comes in a brushed aluminium finish and has specs similar to the Acer and the Samsung models - a 1.8 GHz dual core Atom processor, 2GB RAM, 64 GB memory. Where it is ahead is that it has a Beats Audio certified audio system - which clearly reflects in the performance.
The connector is a dock, and feels solid. It is the heaviest amongst the three devices, but is the only one that has an HDMI dock - a full dock, mind you. This means you can easily hook it up for a full-fledged presentation. There are also 2 USB slots at the base and a full SD card slot, while the screen has a micro SD card slot.
Like the Samsung, the Envy X2 has an 11.6" screen, and the cameras are similar to the other devices - an 8-MP rear one with an LED flash, and a 2MP at the front for video calls.