Battle of the Weirdest Form-factors
Notebook-style computers are boring. Everyone has one (or two). The same is getting to be true with smartphones, and almost every tablet coming out bears a strong resemblance to the iPad. If you want something legitimately Different, you'll have to do a little digging. Feel free to use this article as a springboard to your adventures in alternative computing styles, you daring hipster you.
First we have the OCS1 UMPC. This thing looks a little like a gigantic Sidekick, but it slides normally and has the extra glossy sheen of something expensive and "premium". And for specs? Intel Oak Trail, a system-on-a-chip capable of supporting full 1080p, as well as full operating systems like Windows 7, MeeGo and Chrome OS. This allows the OCS1 to run a full version of Win 7, which makes it a different sort of mobile gaming machine. You'll notice the press screenshots show images of Starcraft II and Halo being played.
Whether or not the OCS1 will actually be able to handle modern games is another question entirely. We know it will have a 5" multitouch display, 32 GB SSD, microSD card support, HDMI-out and a Li-Polymer battery. The manufacturer claims ten hours of battery life, but that is highly unlikely unless this thing ends up packing a 24wh battery. Expect a Gyroscope, plus Proximity and Light sensors. There is a 5 MP camera on back and a 1.3 MP webcam.
In essence, this thing is a hugely fancy smartphone that can handle (supposedly) PC games. If it actually delivers on that, desktop gamers will finally have a portable solution that doesn't require them to lug a laptop and power cable around everywhere they go. If the OCS1 launches being able to handle major MMORPGs like WoW, I could see it gaining a very big niche following. That would basically turn this thing into the gadget equivalent of a heroin needle.
OCOSMOS expects this thing to launch in Q12011. Don't expect it to cost much under $1000. If you're looking for a unique alternative for a new laptop (and don't mind downsizing the screen) this UMPC may be very worth looking into. We'll have to wait until the first hands-on reports hit to know for sure.
The Dell Inspiron Duo already has some reviews out. Laptop Magazine was a big fan of this weird convertible netbook. Rather than doing the traditional sliding-display thing, the Duo has a funky-fresh swivelling display. This means that it actually looks like a tablet in tablet mode. I love my IdeaPad S-10, but it still looks sort of weird and clunky when folded down as a slate. I won't call the Duo seamless, but it makes a fairly attractive device in either mode. The whole shebang will set you back $549, or $649 for the optional dock that makes it look like a giant badass clock. It will ship the first week of December.
Now, for some meat. The Duo weighs 3.4 pounds and has a 10" display. The processor is an Atom N550 dual-core with 2 GB of RAM and Broadcom crystal HD acceleration. The HDD is 250 GB and Windows 7 is the operating system. There's also a custom UI called Stage and some custom touchscreen apps, courtesy of Dell. The swivel mechanism is said to be extremely durable and well-constructed, although the bezel is a bit too large. The touchpad is apparently kind of crappy, but the touchscreen is well-received and that is what matters most on a device like this. You can't expect perfection from Dell. Or, at least, you shouldn't.
So here are two unique choices. One for the mobile PC gamer in us all (or the dude who doesn't mind Photoshop on a 5" screen) and one for the tablet-netbook lover who just has to go against the grain. You could also try waiting for the Lenovo U1 Hybrid. This is definitely the sexiest of the "weird" ultramobiles. It has a tablet that separates entirely...and a history of delays long enough to merit its own article. Consider this your third 'bonus' wildcard option- but don't bet on it actually launching until you see the sales page.