On Tuesday Apple announced that they were introducing new Mac Book Air models with faster chips and a $100.00 reduction in price for each model across the line. That was welcome news, but nothing to get really too excited about because Apple is just making slight improvements to the MBA. I loved the groundbreaking design of the MBA when it was introduced and I still think it is very cool and best in class, but it is now three years old and I think Apple needs to introduce a radically new design which can complete with the new crop of Hybrid Laptop/Tablets which run Windows 8 and Android.
Not too long ago, when the spectacular new iPad Air was introduced, I put up a post on this blog praising the new tablet and noting that the ever-increasing capabilities of tablets such as the iPad were making them viable replacements for laptops. I stated that I thought I could see myself just using a tablet and a desktop computer in the future and not purchasing traditional laptops in the future. Now that Microsoft Office is available for the iPad it is an even more attractive laptop substitute. When the iPad Air hit the Apple Stores I took a trip to my local Apple Store to see it in person and I must say that the Air lived up to my expectations. As usual, the build quality was excellent and although I seen pictures of the Air and knew the spec’s prior to seeing it in person I was still surprised by just how light, yet sturdy, it felt.
In recent weeks I have also spent a lot of time looking at the some of the latest tablets running Windows8 and Android being sold at stores here in San Diego, including our local Microsoft Store. I have to admit I was also very impressed by Microsoft Surface tablets, particularly the Surface Pro 2. The Surface Pro 2, which runs on the Intel i5 chip, is really a full blown computer in the body of a tablet. It remains fairly a expensive device, with 128 GB model at $999.00 and the 256 GB model costing $1299.00, which is more than many laptops with comparable spec’s, but the Surface has redefined the capabilities of tablets in ways that even the iPad has not in some ways.
At least one company, Asus, briefly produced laptop that ran Win8 and had a detachable screen that could function as an Android tablet. However, it appears that neither MSFT or GOOG was very happy with that machine. I checked the Asus website and it appears that Asus no longer sells this laptop so they must have been pressured to discontinue it. Too bad, because I think that would machine have appealed to many people, because Android is regarded as a better OS for mobile devices and Windows is clearly superior to Android as a conventional computer OS. However, I can understand why MSFT and GOOG were not supportive of that type of hybrid because, ideally, they don’t want users to have split loyalties. Asus still offers hybrid laptops, but it appears that they only run Win8.1 now.
I think Apple should copy the dual OS concept and build a Mac Book that runs OS X with a detachable screen that could function as an iPad running iOS. High ranking Apple Executives have indicated that there are no plans to merge the Mac’s OS X and the iPad’s iOS into one OS a la Windows 8. Apple thinks OS X and iOS are perfectly suited for the type of devices that they run on respectively and I understand that position. A new Apple OS that combined OS X and iOS might indeed be advantageous in some respects, but might not provide the same performance or user experience that OS X and iOS provide for the devices they are specifically designed for.
I’m not sure if Apple could produce such a Mac/iPad hybrid at a competitive price, but if various PC makers can produce hybrids of this type I don’t see why Apple could not. Various tech blogs have run stories within the last year that suggest Apple may indeed be working on such a hybrid device, but who knows? Maybe they are and they are keeping it under wraps. We know that Apple is set to introduce a new 12 inch Mac Book Air that is rumored to feature a new lightweight design. Is it possible this new laptop will be hybrid? Probably not, I suspect an Apple hybrid is not quite ready yet, but I really look forward to the day that it is. Mac and iPad users would love it. It would indeed be the best of both worlds.