Apple Patent Reveals Tablet/Laptop Hybrid

An Apple patent showing what is clearly a laptop computer/tablet hybrid has surfaced showing a removable display instead of a fragile hinge system for making the transformation between device formats.

Apple patent shows a laptop/tablet hybrid with quick-release hingesApple patent shows a laptop/tablet hybrid with quick-release hinges
Image credit: Patently Apple

The design uses a clever magnetic hinge system to hold the touch-sensitive display in place when using the computer as a laptop. When the display is removed to become a stand-alone tablet, the hinges retract into its side, leaving users with a clean-looking device that feels like a tablet and not a display yanked off of a laptop.

According to Patently Apple, the design uses wireless power transfer to keep the display working when it's detached and in tablet mode. Data could be transmitted to and from the tablet and laptop base via a built-in wireless chip system, eliminating the need for additional physical connectors -- which sounds very much like something Apple would do.

The hybrid design sounds intriguing and, at least on paper, seems elegant. That doesn't, however, mean the hinge system would prove to be practical in real world use, or that Apple has developed a reliable inductive charging system that works when the display is away from the laptop base. Of course, if any company could make all of these elements work well together and look great at the same time, it's Apple.

That said, companies often file for patents that aren't intended to be shipping products. Features from the patent, however, could find their way into future Apple products, and there are some enticing design elements in this one.