Detchable 2-in-1 vs the Notebook – A Peak at the Future

by Nicole on August 25, 2015

The Notebook hasn’t changed much since the first design way back in 1981 when the Zilog Z80 a 23.6 lbs clam shell device was released. These productivity power houses have gotten thinner, more powerful, with all day battery life and are now extremely affordable. With the rise of the tablet we’ve started seeing 2-in-1 computers where the screen detaches from the keyboard leaving you with a tablet. At Intel’s Developer Conference we learned about what manufacturers are designing into their next generation of computers, and what compromises you’ll be making if you go for a 2-in-1 over a notebook.

Is the Detachable 2-in-1 right for you?

Fitting all of this into a 2-in-1 with a detachable display isn’t going to be easy. This isn’t just a notebook with a display instead of a keyboard, it’s a totally redesigned machine that may or may not meet your needs.

A detachable 2-in-1 is just that, the screen detaches from the keyboard. Imaging a traditional notebook, but instead of a keyboard they’ve placed a display. In a normal notebook has all it’s working parts in the base, in a detachable 2-in-1, they are in the display.

If you’re thinking of going for one of these new designs there are somethings you should try to be aware of. Since the processor and display are in the same device managing the thermal design is the main challenge. Connectivity is also something that should be heavily tested since the antennas and high speed components are in close proximity, the drives require shielding. Performance in tablet mode is reduced in order to keep heat. When manufacturers are designing a detchable 2-in-1 they are designing for tablet first usage, meaning that everything revolves around making the experience comfortable to use in your hand.


Questions to ask when purchasing a 2-in-1

If you are considering a detachable 2-in-1 checking our the systems thermal design, be sure to ask: where is the battery located? Is it right where you’ll be placing your hand? How well has the company done managing the performance? When you dock the tablet into the keyboard, it should allow the processor to run higher and the system to get hotter, since you won’t be holding it.

The downside of the 2-in-1

One thing that should be noted that isn’t in to the future of the detachable 2-in-1 is that the table will never get wireless charging, that will only happen in the base. The tablet will also never have good audio, the audio codecs are in the base and honestly, I have yet to come across a detachable 2-in-1 that has decent audio.

Why you should love USB Type C

USB Type C is going to allow for thinner form factors. The Macbook has paved the way for wide spread adoption and taken the heat for forcing the consumer into a world of dongles. What we should remember is that a no wires future is upon us, and having a single connector is focusing the need for multiple cables. You’ll be able to charge, dock, send lots of data, hook up audio, attach external display’s. There isn’t much that you won’t be able to do with this connector, so don’t whinge too much about buying cables or dongles, you’ll be using them for a while.

intel no wires

The Future of the Notebook

When looking at the future of the notebook, it’s all about refining the experience that we’ve got.  We can increase productivity by attaching additional display’s, instead of pluging in, that will happen wirelessly. Dropping all wires including those for charging and docking is almost here. Instead of typing in a password you’ll be able to use your face to log in. Convience is key and making what we have work seamlessly with our work flow is what we’re all waiting for.


If you’re looking for something a tad more exciting, we’ve seen the addition of secondary eInk display’s on the backs of notebooks.  Eye Tracking and Gestures for controlling are actually already here. Intel’s Real Sense is shipping and out there in the real world.  Only, we’re just at the beginning of that journey, we have yet to have a standard set of gesture controls which is why the general public is being introduced slowly, with features like face unlock.

A few months back I got to sit down with Anil Nanduri , Director of Perceptual Products & Solutions at Intel about the future of human computer interaction.

The 2-in-1 detachable isn’t going to be for everyone, if you’re thinking about picking one up, you should be sure that the tablet form factor is of primary importance and not something that might be useful on occasion. If you’re only needing it sometimes, you might want to consider an attached 2-in-1, they aren’t much heavier and have a more refined design.