Netbooks or tablets… Why can’t I have both?

Ah, CES. While I am not fully recovered from the 14+ hour days on my feet, I have had some time to reflect on the show and how Intel is developing technology that helps customers deliver really cool, new devices unique and innovative in their design, as well as useful.

The general CES media buzz, I’m sure you’ve all heard, is how 2011 will be “the year of the tablet.” Wandering the CES show floor this year, I can see how that conclusion was made – until I got to the Intel booth. While I knew I would see many new and upcoming tablets and netbooks powered by the Intel(r) Atom(tm) processor, what I was truly impressed with was the section of companion devices combining the best of both the netbook and tablet worlds.

While many reporters featured several devices in “first look” reviews, what I didn’t see were stories that examine the possibility of convergence and a new class of products that can fit nicely between the categories of tablets and netbooks.

These innovative Atom-based products are being called everything from “convertibles” and “sliders,” to “switchblades.” Some clam or flip, others slide or swivel. What they have in common is each brings some of the best elements of the netbook (tactile QWERTY keyboard) and tablet (beautiful screens for consuming content) together in one device. One example is the Samsung TX100 slider announced at CES. Another demonstrated in the Intel booth was the Dell Inspiron(tm) duo. When people see this convertible swivel from a netbook to a tablet, they are blown away! Another was a CES “Best of Show” winner for People’s Voice, the compact Razer Switchblade Concept, described as a “breakthrough portable gaming device model” for gaming on the go.

After seeing these amazing devices in the booth, I thought it’d be fun to hit the street at CES to get a feel for what consumers think about them, specifically the new Inspiron duo from Dell. In the words of one of the testers, “this is just awesome.” These reactions made me realize that it’s not about a “one shoe size fits all” approach and there is no reason that we should have to choose between our precious keyboards and full high-resolution screens for watching our favorite TV shows or playing Angry Birds in HD.

What do you think about these new form factors and the idea that netbooks and tablets may converge over time? I’d love to hear from you. In the meantime, check out the video to see some of the reactions.

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