LAS VEGAS--With Intel now pushing its mainstream processors into tablets and convertibles, some PC vendors are opting for high-performance designs that offer no-holds-barred performance.
Lenovo is delivering probably the best example. The PC maker announced the ThinkPad Helix at CES (see video below) which is built around Intel's low-power "Ivy Bridge" Core i5 and Core i7 chips.
Surprisingly, Lenovo's Helix doesn't skimp on battery life, offering a total of 10 hours when used in conjunction with its keyboard base.
So, why would Lenovo stick an ultrabook chip in a tablet? Intel's most power efficient chip, the Atom, just won't cut it when running a full suite of Windows applications. Atom is fine for running the Windows 8 Metro interface but can choke when multitasking demanding desktop applications.
Later this spring, Acer will bring out a "detachable" Aspire product than can function, like the ThinkPad Helix, as a standalone tablet. Inside will be Intel's newest power-sipping Ivy Bridge chip that can throttle down to 7 watts. By comparison, standard ultrabooks today use Ivy Bridge chips with more power-hungry 17-watt processors.
The Acer system should be a big step up from the current Iconia W510, which uses the lower-performance Atom chip.
"You're going to get a product versus the current Iconia system that's 20 percent thinner, 20 percent better weight, with full [Intel] Core performance," said Intel's Kirk Skaugen at the chipmaker's CES event on Monday.