In the face of a slump in PC sales and industry debate over whether the smartphone or tablet is now the preferred tool for a large segment of domestic and even small business users, Asus continues to release a number of combined and flexible devices that try to play on both sides of the dividing lines.
The most recent, announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in January and starting to ship worldwide, are the FonePad, a large-format smartphone—or small tablet—with a 7-inch touchscreen, and an "all-in-one" desktop doubling as a tablet, the Transformer AiO.
The Transformer AiO (All-in-One) has an 18.4-inch detachable display, which runs as a stand-alone tablet, albeit a rather cumbersome one. Based on an Intel Core processor, it runs either Windows 8 or Android operating systems.
The Transformer AiO's base station is a fully functional desktop in itself independent of the tablet-style screen and can be used through a separate monitor.
Also starting to become available is the Transformer Book convertible notebook, which straddles the form factors.
Blurring lines continue
The lines of division between the full-format laptop, the notebook with touch-screen, the tablet and the smartphone are blurred now and are not likely to get any more well-defined. It is the end-user who will decide which machine fits into which role.
Dean Williams, Asus's product marketing manager for notebooks, says that his job is becoming harder as tablets move into the market segment traditionally handled by notebooks.
Among other recent Asus releases is the TaiChi, which features a double-sided screen combining notebook and tablet formats. In notebook mode, the same image can be displayed on both sides of the screen, allowing a user to work on the notebook screen while demonstrating to a small audience.
Perhaps less believably—purely from a social-dynamics point of view—it is suggested that a home office worker can run office applications on the machine's notebook screen while their children play a game on the other side.
This story, "As tablets rival laptops, Asus straddles both formats" was originally published by Computerworld New Zealand.