It just wouldn't be CES (News - Alert) without Intel showing off some thoroughly amazing hardware, and did it ever deliver. The firm brought out the North Cape laptop, a reference laptop with some impressive specs and a few new design twists that make this a laptop to keep watch for in 2013.
Intel's (News - Alert) North Cape laptop has one very unusual feature: while convertible laptops aren't exactly new, Intel's is looking to up the ante in terms of convertible status, going from a particularly light Ultrabook with a 13.3-inch screen to a tablet with an 11-inch screen. With the North Cape, the keyboard can detach, and the screen can slight shrink down, adding a larger bezel for easier gripping.
The resulting detached tablet is only 0.39 inches thick – slightly more than a third of an inch.
The unusual design and processors are the main attractions here. The North Cape was designed to both test and show off the overall ability of the Haswell processors, Intel's fourth-generation Core processors, but the big feature here is one of battery life. Intel dropped an eye-popping bit of information about its product’s battery life, saying that the reference laptop, while docked, gets fully 13 hours before needing a recharge.
Since there are batteries in both the keyboard and the tablet / monitor portion, that's not exactly out of line, but part of that is also graphic increases in energy efficiency on the chips. Last year's Ultrabook chips pulled about 17 watts, while on some Core 3 designs, Intel got it down to just seven watts.
Haswell chips will go down still further.
As if this weren't good enough, the North Cape is also packing a matched pair of USB 3.0 ports, a proprietary power port (probably necessary with those dual batteries), and an HDMI jack to get the picture out to bigger screens when needed.
This is still an early version, so there's no word on pricing or release dates yet. But even in this configuration, it's looking like there could be serious challenge to the tablet and laptop markets, coming from Intel in the days to come.
It’ll be interesting to see the rest of the specs on this, things like RAM (News - Alert) count and hard drive size, but will it even have a hard drive? Something that thin may go straight to solid state, or may use a combination of solid state in the monitor and a full hard drive in the keyboard – and any of the currently available specs may well change before a full release.
Still, it's clear that Intel is going to push some envelopes in the coming days, and bring out a laptop that's decidedly unlike anything that's been seen recently. It's hard not to be excited in the face of such a concept, and it's entirely possible that Intel may have given the laptop new life by incorporating the tablet right into it.
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Edited by Braden Becker