Apparently the giants in the tech industry now believe the tablet is the way to disrupt the laptop market - and they may be right. I see two reasons for this.
The first is the intersection of component size and power. Simply said, the power of the current mobile processor is enough to be used in other devices like tablets.
The second is the principle of "form follows function". Some laptop manufacturers have tried to disrupt the tablet market with 2 in 1 designs which include touch screens that fold against the back of the keyboard to activate tablet mode. The problem with this design is the tablet mode experience feels clumsy, awkward, and heavy in hand. Microsoft quickly identified the issue and modified the design of their Surface products to allow the keyboard to be detached.
Apple also recognized this limitation and has successfully maintained distinct product categories, with desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and phones each serving a specific purpose. The Macbook Air, for example, does not have a touchscreen because it is a traditional laptop.
Lenovo, and others, are changing their approach by incorporating processors with the power found in laptops and desktops into their tablet devices. They are also exploring ways to expand their capabilities through accessories and applications.
The 14.5 inch "Tab Extreme" will enter the market as a direct competitor to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra, so it is worth comparing the two devices at a high level to see if it has a technical advantage.
The Galaxy S8 Ultra boasts a 14.6 inch Super AMOLED display (2960 x 1848 pixels @ 120 Hz) and is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SOC. It offers connectivity options such as USB Type-C 3.2, WiFi 6, and Bluetooth 5. It also features a 13 MP rear camera, a 12 MP front camera, and an under-display fingerprint reader. The model with 8GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage, costs $999.99 and includes a USB C charging cable and stylus.
The Tab Extreme boasts a 14.5 inch OLED display (3000 x 1876 pixels @ 120 Hz) and is powered by the MediaTek Dimensity 9000 SOC. It is unclear if the device will use the (+) version of this chip which offers some performance perks. It offers connectivity options such as USB Type-C 3.2, WiFi 6, and Bluetooth 5. It also features a 13 MP rear camera, a 13 MP front camera, and an under-display fingerprint reader. The model with 12GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage, costs $1199.
Obviously both products are very similar, with the main difference being the price which can be attributed to the varying amounts of RAM and storage. In terms of CPU performance, the MediaTek outperforms Qualcomm, but Qualcomm has better graphic performance.
The main point of distinction between the two products may be in their keyboard accessory. Samsung uses a keyboard folio case similar to the Microsoft Surface, while Lenovo has adopted a design similar to the Apple Magic Keyboard.
So is it a laptop or a tablet? I would argue it is both. When attached to a keyboard it easily meets the definition of a laptop. Without a keyboard, it meets the definition of a tablet. Marques Brownlee has an interesting review of the Apple Magic keyboard and he states users fall into one of two groups. The first are those who attach a keyboard to their tablet and leave it attached most of the time. For them it is truly a laptop with the ability to morph into a tablet when needed. The second consists of individuals who mostly use their tablet without any attachments, but only add a keyboard when necessary. In his opinion, this solution is a slam dunk for the first group and debatable for the second.