In one of Lenovo's latest patent applications published by the US Patent and Trademark Office, we're able to see that they're clearly preparing to bring their first hybrid tablet-notebook to market. According to Lenovo, tablet computers have an advantage in mobility and size while notebooks have the advantage of increased processor power and battery life. Lenovo's vision of a hybrid notebook-tablet is simple: Run Windows on the notebook side of the hybrid and Android on the tablet side. At the end of the day, Lenovo's hybrid notebook-tablet will be ready to catch the next wave of hot devices coming to market in 2013.
An Overview of Lenovo's Hybrid Notebook-Tablet
One aspect of Lenovo's invention provides a system comprising of a base device having one or more Intel processors and a first operating system such as Microsoft's Windows. A secondary computer system, based on an ARM processor such as the Snapdragon by Qualcomm CPU , could be built into the display and be able to run by a secondary operating system such as Google's Android when detached from the notebook base.
Lenovo's patent FIG. 2 depicts the hybrid nature of their notebook-tablet design. The hybrid computing system 201 includes a base notebook 202 and a display device and back plate 203 for supporting the display 204. The display is shown to be a detachable tablet and thus includes a touch screen interface 207.
The Two States of the Hybrid Notebook-Tablet
Lenovo's patent FIG. 3 shown below provides us with an illustration of an example embodiment of a hybrid computing system. The hybrid computer system 301 has at least two states. For example, the hybrid computer system includes a connected state when the tablet 304 is connected to the base 302 and a disconnected state when the tablet isn't connected to the base.
When the hybrid computer system is in the disconnected state, the tablet operates as an independent tablet computer. As such, the tablet CPU 308 and the tablet operating system 309 control the operation of the tablet, including the display screen 307, peripherals such as a camera 310, microphone 311, speaker 312, shared wireless antenna 315, SD card (not shown), other similar peripheral devices, and tablet software applications 313.
In the disconnected state, the tablet uses the touch interface module 314 for user interaction through combined display and touch screen, and the shared wireless antenna 315 for network communications.
The hybrid computer system assumes the connected state when the tablet and the base are connected, as for example through their respective connector elements 316, 317. In the example embodiment illustrated in FIG. 3, the connector elements include USB and I2C connections, as well as a power connection for charging tablet battery (not shown) while it is connected to the base.
A Photo of Lenovo's Tablet to Notebook Connector
Lenovo's patent FIG. 4 illustrates an example connector element 417 on display device (tablet) 404. The tablet includes a physical connector element that includes inlets 424A, 424B for permitting insertion of mechanical strengthening components on complementary connector element of the base device. Furthermore, the connector element includes electrical connection portion 425 that supports communication links, for example between controllers of base device and tablet as well as power connection(s), such as for charging the battery of the tablet.
Could there be a Possible Windows 8-Haswell Twist?
Although Lenovo's invention clearly illustrates that they're building the hybrid notebook-tablet to accommodate two operating systems and two architectures, one must keep in mind that the invention was filed prior to Microsoft introducing Windows 8 with a multitouch interface component called "Metro." Theoretically, the hybrid device could run a single OS for both the notebook and tablet. That would provide end users with a single unified operating system for apps, email and so forth.
The same is true on the architectural side of the equation. Intel will be introducing their new Haswell processor in 2013 which will be able to accommodate multiple operation system on a single device. This particular processor is out to challenge ARM based processors which is called for in this patent application to run the tablet side of the hybrid. Intel's new processor was announced after the patent was filed.
At the end of the day, the patent application supports an Intel processor running Windows for the notebook side of the hybrid and an ARM processor running Android for the tablet side. While I think that a unified Windows/Intel-Haswell architecture would be better for consumers, it's not what is being presented in Lenovo's invention. The invention is flat out trying to build a hybrid device that will appeal to two distinct fan bases.
At the end of the day, it's hard to predict whether the market will view Lenovo's dual architectural approach as wise or confusing. But one thing is for sure; Lenovo is preparing to bring a fresh new hybrid notebook tablet to market and for that we applaud their effort.
Lenovo's patent application was originally filed in Q4 2010 and published by the US Patent and Trademark Office in Q2 2012.
Note to Referring Sites: We ask that referring sites limit the use of our graphics to a maximum of one for this report. Thank you for your cooperation.
The Patent Bolt blog presents a detailed summary of patent applications with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application should be read in its entirety for full and accurate details. Revelations found in patent applications shouldn't be interpreted as rumor or fast-tracked according to rumor timetables. About Comments: Patent Bolt reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.