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Samsung patent suggests tablet-notebook hybrid may be in the works

June 26, 2012

A recently revealed Samsung patent suggests the company may be working on a hybrid device that would hit stores at some point in the not-to-distant future. The patent, filed in December 2011 with the US Patent and Trademark Office, details a mechanism that would allow the company to pair a touchscreen display with a full-sized keyboard that would let the user switch between tablet mode or notebook mode. In other words, we’re looking at a patent that describes a hinge required to bind together the two components as well as to allow a seamless transition between the two modes.

The abstract of the patent is quite revealing especially when looking at the images that come with the filing:

An electronic apparatus includes a first member, a second member movable connected to the first member to open and close a front surface of the first member, a sliding device movably connecting the second member to the first member, and hinge devices to rotate the sliding device in a state in which the front surface of the first member is opened. The hinge device includes a first hinge member fixed to the first member, a second hinge member fixed to the sliding device and rotatably installed on the first hinge member, and a cam unit interacting with a first cam plane provided on the second hinge member to rotate the second hinge member. When the front surface of the first member is opened, the second member is automatically rotated by the cam unit and is tilted with respect to the first member.

So why is the patent describing a hybrid device rather than an Android tablet? PatentBolt reminds us that next year Intel will make its Haswell processors available to OEMs, and these next-gen CPUs will be able to offer support multitouch displays and multiple operating systems. Given that Samsung makes smart devices powered by various operating systems including Windows and Chrome in the desktop department and Android, bada and Windows Phone in the mobile sector, it makes sense to interpret this patent as a clear indication that Samsung is interested in launching hybrid devices in the future.

It would make plenty of sense for Samsung to have an Android/Windows 8 combo in stores at some point in the future, as the company is well versed at building both Android- and Windows-based devices. With such a tablet-notebook hybrid, users that love Android for their mobile needs but require Windows functionality for their work-related and other needs, would have the best of both worlds.

Sure, Microsoft may certainly argue that Windows 8 is optimized for tablet use and therefore hybrids aren’t really required. But Samsung may have different plans for the near future, especially since Microsoft decided to enter the tablet business with its own product, the Surface.

Then again, we may be wrong to agree with such hybrid speculations just because Asus also does it. Samsung may use this new tablet-notebook hybrid concept to create Android-only, Windows-only and, why not, Chrome-only devices in the future. Not to mention that not all the products described in patents are actually made by the companies that file them, so we’ll just have to wait and se on this one.