At CES in Las Vegas, Intel discussed their next-gen chip road-map, including new ultra-low power Haswell processors powering ultra-thin notebooks/ultrabooks and desktop computers. One of the most interesting demos was Intel showing off a reference laptop called North Cape featuring their 4th generation Haswell chip inside. Like my favorite Samsung 700T tablet (primary tablet), the North Cape is a hybrid tablet / ultrabook. The North Cape hybrid tablet / ultrabook sports a 13.3" 1080p screen, with a removable keyboard dock and sporting 13 hours of battery life when the keyboard is attached (10 hours when in tablet mode). The additional battery power comes from the keyboard dock, but the display itself obviously sports a battery for use in tablet mode.
It features an electromechanical locking mechanism that with a push of a button enables you to remove the tablet from the keyboard - a patent-pending technology that Intel plans to license to OEMs. Considering the major problems Samsung is having with their keyboard dock losing connection, perhaps Samsung should license Intel's locking mechanism. My 700T keyboard dock was been backordered for months and CDW keep pushing out the date. I suspect the faulty latching mechanism and high return rate might have caused Samsung to recall the keyboard dock resulting in manufacturing delays.
In any event, Intel's North Cape reference design sports "Smart Frame" where its 1080p HD screen can switch from displaying 13.3 inches to 11.6 inches automatically when you remove it from the keyboard dock or manually with a button on the screen's top edge. It does this using Intel's graphic card and drivers. Now why on earth would you want to go from a nice 13.3" screen to a smaller 11.6 inches Well, the bezel around North Cape's screen is super thin so when holding it as a tablet you'll need to be able to hold it without your palms or thumbs activating the touch screen. It's a novel solution to the problem of touch screens. Now you can have a nice large 13.3" screen when in notebook form with a keyboard and 11.6" when using it as a tablet. Of course, you could leave it in the 13.6" mode when in tablet form, you just have to be careful how you hold it.
The North Cape reference design puts Microsoft's Surface reference design to shame. Microsoft's goal with Surface was to show other manufacturers how to create an ultra-thin tablet/notebook hybrid. I think Intel one-upped them, which is a good thing in the long run to take on the Apple iPad juggernaut. Check out the Intel demo of North Cape below. Might be time to trade-up my Samsung 700T when this comes out!