Apple Patent Reveals Tablet/Laptop Hybrid

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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.

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Just because Apple patented a toaster-fridge doesn't mean they're going to make one.

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Just because Apple patented a toaster-fridge doesn’t mean they’re going to make one.

However I see something along these lines as the next logical extension of Apple design

MacBook > MacBook Air > Hybrid < iPad < iPhone

A touchscreen tablet with a docking station with extra memory, storage, and power. Add to this the moderately successful Bluetooth keyboard-cases for iPads from several vendors and it looks to me like a strong case could be made for convergence.


And I forgot to add the well documented iOS-ification that we’ve seen in OS-X


MacBook Duo?

Steve (not the dead one)

I agree with geoduck and Aftermac that this looks more like a doc.  You could take it with you if you really wanted to or needed to, but is really meant to be where you use it at home.

I wonder if you could pair it with a Mac Mini?  Docs are shared, the tablet is a (smallish) display, and you take the tablet with you.  I suppose with more cloud stuff this would be unnecessary.


Sounds like a copy of the Surface


Like many other Mac gear heads, I’ve been waiting impatiently for Apple to unveil the next evolution of the Mac Pro… and in the meantime I’m left with pondering what the next step might be. Aside from the obvious shrunken form factor, what else could be done differently? One thing I’ve hypothesized is some sort of multi-touch keyboard/display input device, and/or further integration with iOS devices. It seems like this patent would be the mobile version.

Walter Wright

Apple’s going to make a toaster-fridge!  And I read it here first!  I gotta get one of those….

dubyatee f.

Amazing only one person so far, including the author of the article, has pointed out that Microsoft already made this device. Or at least something whose similarity can’t be overlooked.


I think it’s extremely unlikely we’ll ever see one of these on store shelves.

faith wales

Tablet/laptop hybrid is a big step to technology today and also for manufacturers. Combining them could be the answer to people’s needs and also work and traveling would be easier and efficient. Join the trend, and experience this new invention.

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