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The case against hybrid computers

Suddenly computer makers are creative again. After decades of sticking with two basic designs, factories are churning out a range of new formats.

There are PCs, laptops, tablets, smartphones and all manner of devices filling every conceivable niche between.

One type of device getting a lot of attention from the industry is the hybrid tablet-PC. It has the power of a PC and, when connected to a keyboard, does the same job as a touch screen laptop. Remove the laptop and you have a tablet.

Well, that’s the theory.

Hybrid problems

Hybrids are the answer to a problem that doesn’t exist.

You either need a lot of computer to do heavy-duty work or you don’t. Laptops score because they pack more power than you’ll ever need in a handy portable package.

Tablets are great because they distill the computer experience, reducing it to the basics making life simpler and more mobile.

There’s a clumsy physical feel to hybrids, even the best ones. And thanks to hinges and connectors, they often seem more fragile than either laptops or tablets.

This clumsiness pales besides the software clumsiness. Windows 8.1 fixes some of the niggles with Windows 8, but it still fails to smoothly straddle two worlds. It is not a great experience.

The price is wrong

And on top of all that, hybrids are ridiculously expensive. In New Zealand they often cost the thick end of $3000. For that money you can buy a first class laptop, a good tablet and still have change.

Sync the two devices to the cloud and you’ll have the best of both worlds.

Laptops and PCs may represent the past for most people, but they will live on for those of us who need heavy duty writing tools or other content creation kit. Tablets are the future.

Hybrids are not a bridge between the two, they are an evolutionary dead end.