A ‘hybrid’ by definition is the result of crossing two or more items, usually in an attempt to make a more superior item or one that fulfills a specific need. For example, hybrid seed was created in order to increase disease resistance and improve crop yield. Likewise, hybrid vehicles were created to address our alternative fuel dilemma. So what are hybrid tablets and what are they supposed to accomplish?
Up to this point, if you wanted both the functionality of a laptop and the convenience of a tablet, you needed to purchase both devices. There are some things you can do with either device, but one device does not completely replace the need for the other. Laptops are a mobile version of the desktop computer you have at home or work and are tailored for work-related items. Tablets on the other hand are essentially larger-screened versions of your smartphone, and are ideal for on-the-go consumer use.
Some computer manufacturers tried to address this issue with devices known as convertible tablets. These are essentially laptops that double as a tablet for taking handwritten notes. They are bulkier than tablets and the touch screen interface isn’t as slick as an iPad or Android tablet. Anyone wanting the functionality of a tablet would probably not be happy with one of these.
You can also attempt to solve this issue by getting a case with an external keyboard for your tablet. While this does make a tablet look and feel more like a laptop, there may still be shortcomings of this approach depending on your needs. I purchased a case with a built-in keyboard for my iPad2, and I even tried to install several office-like apps and remote printer apps. However, I still find myself frequently borrowing my wife’s laptop.
Enter the hybrid tablet. These devices are similar to their convertible tablet predecessors, but are truly two devices in one. The screen is actually a tablet that can be completely detached from the keyboard (in most cases) and used independently. However, with the keyboard, it can be used and folded up just like a laptop. Moreover, these devices are being made by most computer manufacturers to target Microsoft’s upcoming release of Windows 8. Windows 8 will offer two different modes: a touch screen mode for tablets and slates and a traditional mode for desktops and laptops. If all the hype is true, then the industry might finally be able to address the “laptop or tablet?” issue with a single device – the hybrid tablet.
Windows 8 is currently scheduled to release later this month (October 26th). At that time, the market will be flooded with new laptop, tablet, and hybrid devices. Will you be jumping on board right away or are you going to hold off until the dust settles?