With the demand for traditional towers dwindling, a lot of the action in the desktop PC industry seems to be focused on all-in-one systems similar to Apple's iMacs. Intel is a big proponent of this class of machine, and it's encouraging development with a Thin Mini-ITX platform that allows AiOs to be built with off-the-shelf components. Now, it appears that Intel may also be pushing a different sort of all-in-one system. DigiTimes' sources in the supply channel say the chip maker is promoting AiO/tablet hybrids.
These so-called "adaptive all-in-one PCs" would be similar to existing AiOs but include internal batteries that allow for untethered operation. Reportedly, Intel is suggesting large 18-27" touchscreen sizes to enable multiple users to interact with the screen. The firm is also recommending that chassis allow the tablet portion of the system to sit completely flat, which should neutralize the "gorilla arm" issues commonly associated with touchscreen notebooks and AiOs.
If the adaptive AiO concept sounds familiar, that's because Asus demoed something similar at Computex nearly a year ago. That system went on to become the Transformer AiO, which combines a Tegra-powered 18.4" tablet with an Ivy-based docking station. The Transformer's tablet portion runs Android, has its own storage, and is essentially a separate device. Intel's adaptive AiO sounds more like a jumbo Windows 8 tablet with a docking station that provides little more than power and perhaps additional I/O.
The DigiTimes story says adaptive AiOs will have "high-end specifications," but there's no word on how long the machines are expected to run on battery power. System makers will have to balance providing adequate battery capacity for prolonged usage and satisfying the public's supposed desire for ever-thinner chassis. I hope their designs are biased toward the former; a little extra bulk probably won't hurt a device designed to be transported between tabletops inside the house. Holding an 18" or larger tablet in your hands is probably going to feel a little awkward regardless of its weight or thickness.