NEW YORK – Convertible notebook/tablets and twoin- one tablet/notebooks s with detachable keyboards dominated the latest tablet launches, underscoring the segments’ strength despite slowing overall tablet growth.
E Fun launched its first Android-based two-in-one tablet with detachable keyboard, Asus upgraded its selection of Chi series two-in-one Windows 8.1 detachables, and Microsoft unveiled the Surface 3, which comes with optional detachable keyboard.
“Detachable two-in ones show strong growth potential in tablets,” IDC VP Tom Mainelli said. Likewise, convertible notebooks, which feature displays that fold over for use as a tablet but don’t detach, “are beginning to gain traction in PCs,” he added.
Asus’s Chi tablets fit into both categories because they can be used with attached touchscreen like a laptop, with touchscreen attached but flipped over for tablet-like use, and with touchscreen completely detached. The Chi models can also be configured in a tent-like configuration for use on a table or bed to watch videos and other content.
Overall, global tablet-shipment growth slowed to 6.6 percent in 2014, while U.S shipment growth slowed to 5 percent, Strategy Analytics found.
Here’s what the companies announced:
Asus: Two T100 Chi models and two T300 Chi models, ranging in price from $399 to $899, replaces a more traditional docking mechanism with a magnetic hinge that makes it easier to dock and undock the keyboard from the display.
The new T100 Chi and T300 Chi sport a completely new design that’s slimmer, lighter and made completely of aluminum for the first time, the spokesperson said.
The selection starts with a $399 T100CHI-B1-BK with FullHD 1,920 by 1,200 10.1-inch touchscreen and Intel Atom Z3775 2.39GHz quad-core processor. The top of the four-SKU selection consists of the $899 T300CHI-FH011H with 12.5-inch WQHD 2,560 by 1,440 touchscreen with Intel Core 64-bit 2.9GHGz dual-core processor.
All feature all-day battery life, IPS display, fanless design, all-aluminum unibody, diamond-cut chamfering on the edges, and free one-year subscription to Microsoft Office 365 Personal Edition and 1TB of Microsoft OneDrive.
The 10.1-inch T100 Chi is promoted as the world’s thinnest Windows tablet at 0.28 inches when the display is detached. The T300 Chi measures just 0.65 inch when the display and keyboard are docked, making it thinner than the Apple MacBook Air, the company said.
E Fun: The company expanded its tablet selection with its first Android two-in-one model, joining the company’s first Windows two-in-one model launched last fall.
The 11.6-inch tablet, available at Walmart stores and Walmart.com at $197, features Android 5.0 Lollipop OS, a detachable keyboard, access to Google Play, 1,366 by 768 IPS 16:9 capacitive touch display, quadcore Intel Atom Z3735F Processor (X86 at 1.8GHz), 1GB RAM, 64GB onboard storage, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, 2-megapixel front and rear cameras, and 9,000 mAh internal rechargeable battery, as well as MiniHDMI, MicroUSB, and MicroSD slots.
The company also announced availability of a quartet of limited-edition Nextbook tablets through Walmart.
Microsoft: The Surface 3, compared with the Surface 2, dispenses with the RT OS to offer full Windows 8.1, but it still has an optional detachable keyboard like its predecessor.
The new model is smaller and lighter but delivers a slightly larger 10.8-inch screen compared with 10.6 inches. Resolution remains 1,920 by 1,080, but the screen goes to 10-point multitouch from five. An optional pen wasn’t available with the predecessor. Both versions of the new model also sports improved processor, now a quad-core that runs at 1.6GHz, and more storage
The $499 version features 2GB RAM and 64GB storage compared with its predecessor’s 32GB storage and 2GB RAM. The $599 version gets 128GB storage and 4GB RAM compared with 64GB storage and 2GB RAM.
Also new is the addition of Wi-Fi ac to join a/b/g/n, and the main camera goes to 8 megapixels from 5. The front camera remains at 3 megapixels.
As with the Surface 2, the Surface 3 will come in an LTE version, which will be carried later this year by Verizon and T-Mobile folwing May 5 in-store availability of the Wi-Fi version. The LTE-equipped Surface 2 was carried by AT&T.
The detachable keyboard and Surface Pen will be sold separately for $129 and $49, respectively.
Consumers will upgrade to Windows 10 for free when the OS becomes available.
The Surface 3 joins the higher-performance Surface Pro 3 family launched last year.