Hint: It won’t look like your current one
What will your next Chromebook look like? I am willing to bet at this point, that it will be a two in one (2-in-1) convertible laptop. It will be able to be folded on itself to provide a tablet like experience for the Android apps.
Even the more mainstream Windows machines are starting to move to the touch form factor. It seems to provide a best of both worlds approach and will hopefully stop some of the hemorrhaging of sales for the major laptop makers. Sales of laptops, with the exception of Chromebooks, have been on the decline for the last few year.
As smartphones become more powerful and able to handle more computing tasks, people will forgo the laptop and desktop computers. Tablets are also eating into laptop sales for the devices that people want for the couch, and on the road. With so much of the focus moving towards consumption of media and less on “doing things” tablets and smartphones will fit the bill. Also, let’s face it, Tablets are giant phones that can’t make phone calls.
So why a 2-in-1?
A 2-in-1 will give you the best form factor to be able to access the coming Android apps and still have a really functional laptop. The screen folds behind the keyboard to be used in tablet mode. The keyboard disables in this configuration so that you don’t inadvertently push buttons on the keyboard when using it as a tablet. The touchscreen does work all the time, even in the laptop mode. I have found with other touchscreen laptops that using the touchscreen, even in laptop mode, is pretty nice for scrolling on webpages.
The ability to fold it into a tent or easel view is also great for watching movies or TV. Since you really are not going to want to hold a really heavy 13 inch tablet for 2 hours while trying to watch Star Wars. So being able to set it up on a table and forget it, is awesome. I can’t wait to try that out.
So which 2-in-1?
Right now? I think I would buy the new Acer Chromebook R13. It looks like a MacBook Air and weighs slightly more. It provides great performance and storage for the App Store, which already works (in Beta Channel). Not all Android Apps work with the laptop, things like launchers and Android skins won’t work, since they are specific to phones.
Apps like Skype, which has been long missing from Chromebooks, and the Microsoft Mobile Office Suite will now work with you Chromebook. Further moving the Chromebook towards the mainstream of laptop computing. I feel the final barrier of larger acceptance will fall, once the App Store is fully realized.
So, 2-in-1’s aren’t limited to Chromebooks either. Several Windows laptops are coming out in this form factor. Why should you care about this? A lot of the Window’s 2-in-1’s are later released as Chromebooks. The new Lenovo Yoga, with the OLED screen where the keyboard should be, it has a virtual keyboard. The keyboard panel also doubles as an input screen, much like a Wacom tablet would. There are rumors over at chromeunboxed.com point to this exciting new laptop being a reality. Even the giant laptop maker that Lenovo is, understands the Chrome is the only growing segment in laptops that is increasing sales, while Windows and Mac laptops slump.
I don’t know why Apple decided to skip out on the touchscreen for their new MacBooks, but I think they are missing the boat. People will buy the new MacBooks because Apple.
Simple, the 2-in-1 is going to be the answer that a lot of people are looking for. They are new to the market now, and will take some time for more widespread adoption. I know I am looking for a solution to the shortcomings of a tablet, while answering not needing to have a full laptop all the time. I have tried the detachables and I am not impressed with that solution, the tablet piece is too heavy and makes it lopsided when using in laptop mode.
So my next Chromebook will be a 2-in-1. I have a feeling yours will also. It’s the best of all worlds.