In some ways convertible tablet-style laptops give you the best of both worlds. You have a full-fledged laptop that you can also use as a tablet by pushing the display back 360 degrees so that it’s back-to-back with the keyboard.
But laptops with this type of 360-degree display are typically thicker and heavier than standalone tablets (or models with detachable keyboards).
Taiwanese computer manufacturer Compal has an interesting solution: a convertible with a flip-up keyboard. It’s called the Dual Cylindrical 360 (for now), and the company says it was able to use this sort of keyboard to design a computer that’s just 10.4mm (about 0.4 inches) thick.
It’s a bit tricky to figure out what’s going on based on the picture alone, but here’s my attempt to describe it.
What we seem to be looking at is a computer that’s just 10.4mm thick when it’s closed, whether you’re using it in laptop or tablet mode. But open it up and you’ve got what looks like a laptop… with a flat, blank surface where you’d normally find the keyboard and palm rest.
That’s because the keyboard is hidden beneath a panel at the front that you can flip up and back when you want to type. Leaving the keyboard exposed at all times would make the laptop a little thicker, so the whole idea here is to reduce the Z-height of the laptop as much as possible.
It’s unclear if Compal plans to actually manufacture this convertible laptop anytime soon, but the concept was posted on the IF World Design Guide website recently. If the Dual Cylindrical 360 does ever see the light of day, it’ll likely have a catchier name and it’ll probably be sold under a different brand. Compal is an OEM that manufacturers computers and other devices for other companies. It doesn’t typically sell products under its own name.
Other recent concepts from Compal posted to the IF Design Guide include the Book+ which is a device with dual LCD displays and a leather case, offering a book-like experience, the CyberAR Chromebook with a multi-angle, high-quality camera for augmented reality applications, and the Hybrid Convertible with a 15/6 inch display, that becomes a tablet when you lift the screen and pull it forward with one hand.