As I roamed CES talking to PC vendors and hunting for trends, several key things stood out to me regarding tablets, starting with ...
Windows RT is Dead
Perhaps it felt this way because Microsoft was not actually at CES with a large booth showing off key product areas, but Windows RT was practically non-existent. At every major event where the big PC brands were showing off their hottest new devices, not a single one was showing an RT device.
To further hurt RT’s momentum, Samsung announced they’ve cancelled plans to release an RT device. I knew of several other RT devices that were supposed to be launched at CES and didn't, which does not bode well for RT’s future.
Intel is the big winner here and they are not taking it for granted, doing everything they can to further develop and inspire new rounds of computing innovations.
Intel is Serious
The chip giant is looking to drive innovation by whatever means possible. Their new lineup of low power chipsets designed to bring performance and efficiency continue to bring Intel closer to parity with the energy efficiency of ARM, but Intel’s not there yet.
I saw more than a dozen x86 based pure slate Windows 8 tablets at CES, which is an extremely good trend for Intel and partners.
Another interesting move Intel made at CES to further drive the market was to make touchscreens mandatory as a part of the Ultrabook spec going forward. This will make the transition to all touch on Intel and MSFT PCs happen much faster. I expect 40% of Windows 8 PCs to have touch moving to 65% by the end of 2014.
Of course factoring in the cost analysis of adding touch to all PCs will be a challenge, but I expect Intel to do everything it can to bring the cost of touch panels down so we can get touch-based Ultrabooks in the market for below $600.
It is clear that the best experience around Windows 8 is to have touch on all systems running it. This is a good move in my opinion and one that will help further develop the market for Windows 8 machines and hopefully drive an influx of better Windows 8 applications.
Tablets are coming in all shapes and sizes
Everything seems to be becoming a tablet, or include tablet-like functionality. No where was this more evident than the many all-in-one desktop PCs that could be ported around or laid flat and used as a communal touchscreen computer.
The Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon 27" desktop is one such example; an all-in-one that can lay flat on the tablet and includes 10 pt multi-touch allowing multiple people to work on the surface simultaneously.
Asus was also showing off a smaller version of the same concept at 17" that made for a bit more portable experience.
Of course these devices are not meant to be taken very far, perhaps just around the home or within the office, but the point remains nearly all computers being made are including tablet-like functionality.
Their were also plenty of innovative hybrids and convertibles being launched at CES and none was better in my mind than the Lenovo Helix with its 11.8 inch touch screen and clamshell form factor.
What is unique about this design is that the screen also detaches to a pure slate form factor but can also flip around and lay flat (like the Lenovo Yoga) for a more conventional convertible design.
Lenovo's Helix very interesting to me because it covered a multitude of use cases and was one of the most interesting new designs I saw at CES.
All in all I saw a great deal of innovative machines. I anticipate 2013 to be a transition year for the PC industry as they look to innovate and offer new and unique form factors designed to solve different personal computing problems and use cases.