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Tech trend: tablets posing as notebooks

gadgets Updated: Mar 05, 2015 11:47 IST
Xperia Z4


Introduced at Barcelona's Mobile World Congress, Sony's new Xperia Z4 Tablet appears to be a worthy successor to the brand's former VAIO notebook range. The device is the latest in a growing offer of mobile terminals sold with work-focused software and removable keyboards, features that position them as viable replacements for traditional notebooks.

While Sony's new device will of course compete with other 10-inch tablets, it is also positioned as a rival to certain ultra-portable notebooks. The Xperia Z4 Tablet is one of the lightest and thinnest tablets on the market, measuring 6.1mm thick just like the iPad Air 2. In terms of technical specs, the tablet boasts an HD screen (2048x1080 pixels) and an octacore Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor. The manufacturer claims the device is waterproof and has a battery life of 17 hours of video play.

The inclusion of Microsoft Office, in addition to accessories such as a keyboard with a touchpad, result in a user experience similar to that of a classic notebook. The Xperia Z4 Tablet, which runs Android Lollipop (5.0) with an in-house layer, will go on sale worldwide starting in June 2015. Prices in Europe range from €559 (around $621) with WiFi and no keyboard to €759 (around $844) with 4G and a keyboard.

Sony is not the first brand to market a tablet as a notebook alternative. One of the best known examples from the recent past is Microsoft's Surface Pro 3, which the brand has presented as a direct competitor to Apple's Macbook Air.

A hybrid between a notebook and a tablet, the Surface Pro 3 is delivered with Windows 8.1 and the Microsoft Office suite. With a 12-inch HD screen, next-generation Intel processors and a featherweight design, the device attempts to combine the best of both worlds. However, many consumers were turned off by the high price point, as the Surface Pro 3 sells for between €799/$799 and €1849/$1949, without the removable keyboard.

The real pioneer in the hybrid tablet sector was Asus, which launched its Transformer Pad range in 2011. The idea, which has since been co-opted by several other brands, was to combine a touchscreen tablet with a removable keyboard, allowing users to switch back and forth between a more entertainment-focused configuration and a laptop-like one for work. Today most major tech brands, from Acer to Apple and Samsung, sell dedicated keyboards designed for use with their tablets.