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Apple patent teases convertible laptop / tablet

David Quilty

Have you seen any of those rumors over the years about Apple making a tablet/laptop combo for the masses? Well, it seems that at least part of the rumor has gone and gotten itself a patent.

Calling it a "convertible MacBook-to-iPad-like device," Patently Apple reports that the patent could be for a MacBook-type device that would convert to something like an iPad in horizontal mode. As a laptop, the screen would be propped open at an angle with a virtual keyboard below it; as a tablet, the screen would slide down on top of the keyboard, enabling multi-touch control directly on the screen itself.

I could see this being a really popular product, specifically among business users and the traveling sect, as it would give them the ability to have both a tablet and a laptop all in one. I would buy one tomorrow if I could -- it would be great to have with me through all the traveling I will be doing over the holidays. Sure, iPad docks with built-in keyboards are a great accessory, but unfortunately, they still can't do everything that I need my MacBook for.

Dell and others have their own version of a hybrid tablet/laptop computer available right now. But Apple doesn't -- and I am sure it wants in on that market. With reports about iOS 4.2 making the iPad a productivity rival for the MacBook Air, and the possibility that the new MacBook Air could be eating into iPad sales, a combination of the two could be a home run for many customers.

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