Intel's stand at Computex 2011 gives up a staggering amount of space to tablet devices, in an attempt to convince the world that the company stands a chance against ARM in the mobile space - but other areas show that Intel's thinking remains stuck in the past. Enter the Keeley Lake prototype.
While an engineering sample has been produced specifically for the show, an Intel spokesperson told thinq_ that Keeley Lake was never going to make it into production. Instead, Intel is hoping to demonstrate to its hardware partners what an Atom chip, a touch-screen, and some clever hinge-work can achieve.
A quick glance at the device reveals that Intel's impressively thin concept device is the height of 90s design: a hybrid tablet-notebook, which uses a hinged display to swap between roles as and when required. Aside from the somewhat odd colourscheme, there are certainly moments of brilliance to be seen in Intel's creation.
The Keeley Lake platform is, it has to be said, impressively thin. Traditonal hybrid devices have been far bulkier, making them uncomfortable to use in tablet mode. The hinge is also far more robust than we've seen on older devices, making it less likely to snap - a common problem in hybrid systems. The hinge itself is pushed forward on the device - making it easier to use the laptop in a cramped space, such as an aeroplane, we were told.
At its heart, however, Keeley Lake is still a hybrid - the worst, some might say, of both worlds. While hybrids have their fans, the market has spoken: tablets were rare, esoteric devices until the keyboard was sawn off and the true 'slate' created - and the success of Android-based tablets and Apple's immensly popular iPad have shown that the lack of a keyboard is no barrier to succcess.
While some manufacturers are looking to bring the keyboard back, such as Asus with its Transformer devices, few are creating traditional hybrids any more - and by showcasing one as a next-generation prototype, Intel risks being seen as out of the loop.
It's possible we're being unfair to Intel here: there is likely to be a range of customers who would invest in a Keeley Lake-based creation. The only question that remains: are Intel's OEM partners convinced enough to create a commercial variation?