Tablet desires lead many to try new 2 in 1 computers.
Often the search for a new computer starts from a pressing need to replace a dead or dying PC, yet sometimes it comes from a simple hankering for something new. Whatever starts the hunt, more shoppers are discovering something they never knew existed: 2 in 1 personal computers that are both a powerful touchscreen laptop and a fast, detachable tablet.
Last summer, one in 10 laptops sold in key U.S. and Western European retail markets was a 2 in 1 device, but that ratio is now 1 in every five, according to Ben Young, senior manager of Intel’s 2 in 1 Program Office.
“Sales of 2 in 1 devices have more than doubled (2.5 times) year over year,” he said.
Even though they’ve been on the market for several years, many people still don’t know what they are and most people first experience them inside retail stories, said Young.
He said that a survey by Intel showed that 54 percent of actual 2 in 1 buyers had considered a tablet, showing that 2 in 1s are winning over people who initially intended to buy a new tablet.
“The survey revealed that 2 in 1 buyers buy more out of want than out of need, suggesting there’s an emotional element to selecting a 2 in 1,” said Young.
As innovative capabilities bring new interesting and useful experiences to people looking for a new computing device, says Young, 2 in 1s are changing the definition of the PC.
Increasingly shoppers are becoming aware that these clamshell, keyboard-operated, portable computers also function as touchscreen tablets.
Today, there are more than 70 different designs that transform by folding, twisting and even detaching from the keyboard.
Smaller, lower-cost models powered by Intel Atom processors start at below $300, while larger models with screens ranging from 10 to 15.6 inches come with high-performance Intel Core i7 processors and can be found for less than $1,000.
“We are tracking 50 designs priced at less than $699,” said Young.
While the $200 Windows devices and Chromebooks were very successful during the holiday period, the momentum is growing around new lines of sleek, fanless 2 in 1s, according to Steve Paine, a mobile computing researcher and reporter who runs Chromebook World, Ultrabook News and UMPC Portal .
“The HP Stream 11 led sales in the U.S. over the holidays according to the stats I have from our sites and from top lists seen at Amazon.com,” said Paine.
“But so far this year, the fanless, Intel Core M processor-powered models seem to be getting a lot of attention. Fanless is a trend I’m watching closely in 2015.”
Since 2 in 1s first came on the scene in 2013, the variety of designs and price range have grown.
Paine said that new 2 in 1s come with larger screens and in thinner designs, and increasingly have better battery life. He sees reduced costs of touchscreens and other components helping bigger-screened 2 in 1s hit the market at lower prices.
“Intel Core M processors have brought a reduction in weight and thickness to larger tablets to the point where some of them are reaching the magic 700 gram (1.5 pounds), where they become much more usable for consumers,” he said.
“This 1.5 pound cut-off point seems to be an important choice for 2 in 1 shoppers too, where they want to see a usable consumer tablet that can also function as a laptop,” Paine said.
“Fanless, 12-inch and laptop-capable models are here, and now it’s only the prices that need to fall in line with expectations. At under $500, which I think is possible, we could see huge interest in a Core M-based 2 in 1.”
Tech Radar recently published a list of top 2 in 1s, calling out Microsoft Surface Pro 3, Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro, IdeaPad Yoga 11s, Asus Transformer Book TX300 and Dell Venue 11 Pro 7130.
Paine said the ASUS Transfomer Book T300 Chi is a showcase example of a 2 in 1 powered by an Intel Core M processor.
“It has some great design aspects for consumers and yet there’s enough power there for even most stringent of Microsoft Office users,” said Paine. Paine said current and future 2 in 1 owners can also look forward to the release of the new Windows 10 operating system, which is said to become available to consumers later this year.
“It will bring new user interface and new features, but for 2 in 1 users the most important aspect is the push for applications that run seamlessly across phones and PCs.”
In its announcement, Microsoft said that for the first year following the release of Windows 10, anyone with a device running Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows Phone 8.1 could upgrade to the to Microsoft 10 for free.
In his second series of TV ads for Intel, actor Jim Parsons gets ironic at an airport security checkpoint, where he shows that a 2 in 1 laptop and tablet computer is in fact one device, not two. Learn more about this and other Intel innovations that are bringing new experiences to personal computing devices.