Is Intel's laptop-tablet hybrid a threat to Apple?

Cupertino may have met its match in Intel's new Letexo Ultrabook, which operates as both a super-thin notebook computer and a touch-screen tablet.

By TheWeek.com Apr 19, 2012 12:14PM
Tablet or notebook computer? Soon, tech consumers may not have to choose. Intel (INTC) recently unveiled its "Letexo" Ultrabook hybrid, a super-thin notebook computer that's also a touch-screen tablet. When the Frankenputer device functions as a laptop, the screen stands erect revealing a full-sized keyboard. But the screen can also slide forward and lay flush on top of the keyboard, creating a typical tablet experience. While it's predicted that the Letexo (also called the "Cove Point") will have a price of around $1,000, there's no word yet on when the device will be manufactured or sold.

Should Apple (AAPL), which currently dominates the tablet market, feel threatened?

Absolutely: Assuming Intel manages to bring the price down, the Letexo is so impressive that "Apple may finally have a true competitor," says Kevin Parrish at Tom's Hardware. Not only is it sleek-looking, but it solves what's probably tech consumers' biggest dilemma: Whether to purchase a new laptop, a new tablet, or both. "Why not have the best of both worlds?" It's astonishing how seamless the device seems to merge the two computer experiences.

Apple shouldn't worry: Intel's buzzy new tablet has its share of turnoffs, says Jared Newman at PC World. While its specs haven't been revealed yet, it appears "obviously thicker and heavier than stand-alone tablets." Then there's its biggest flaw: It's not cheap. While $1,000 isn't a rip-off -- Letexo is essentially two devices in one, after all -- it far exceeds the price of an average stand-alone tablet. Cash-strapped techies would likely opt for a cheaper tablet rather than splurge for this hybrid.

But why hasn't Apple thought of it? Tablets and laptops are like peanut butter and jelly, says Matt Peckham at TIME. They go together so perfectly it's shocking that Apple has yet to develop its own hybrid. It's antiquated to think that consumers still only use their iPads as casual, recreational devices, or that they look at their MacBooks and don't wish the screen was equipped with touch-based tablet technology. "I don't really want two separate tablet-sized screens in my mobile work/play life anymore." If Apple would meld the iPad and MacBook, "combining the versatility of OS X and the tote-ability of iOS," they'd have a blockbuster product on their hands.

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