(Pocket-lint) - The Nikiski is a notebook concept from Intel, incorporating a transparent panel in the deck in place of the traditional touchpad and palm rest. It's a prototype designed to show where Ultrabooks could go in the future.
Unveiled back at CES 2012, Intel has the concept model in the UK, so we pulled it into Pocket-lint Towers for a closer look.
Much of the Nikiski is conventional, certainly looking at the top with the notebook closed. But lift the lid and you'll find yourself looking down at the desk.
The reason for this is the incorporation of a transparent section in the base of this computer. The idea is that it provides you with a touchpad from the top, but viewed when closed, from underneath, you can still see a section of the display.
In concept it's rather like the flip phones so popular in the 1990s. While they incorporated an additional display, the Nikiski just makes use of the display it already has.
So the idea isn't really new, but the application is. And we mean application in the software sense, because the Nikiski offers a collection of Metro-style tiles, called Nikiski Reveal, so you can glance at the bottom of your closed computer and get instant updates.
Although the Nikiski pictured here is running Windows 7, the look and feel of Nikiski Reveal is very Windows 8 and Intel says that's pure coincidence, because Nikiski's look was designed before Metro was revealed.
If you're walking from meeting to meeting, notebook tucked under your arm, you can simply glance to see the latest from Outlook or Facebook alerts and so on, scrolling back and forth through the tiles to get to what you want.
You can click through to head a level deeper, so this isn't just a superficial notification system. For example, you can open links to read news in a browser, or accept or reject appointment invitations. It will even let you play video, although we found that once a video started we navigated away and it kept going, muttering away as we walked the corridors of power in Pocket-lint HQ.
It works and is an interesting concept, but we can't help wondering if it is a little niche. This is something that smartphones are very good at, whether it's Android, iPhone, Windows Phone 7/8 or BlackBerry, this is exactly the sort of information that integrated smartphones already give you.
So the question really is whether you want the simplicity of glancing at the notebook in your hand, or whether you'd rather slip the smartphone from your pocket.
As this is just a concept model, the rest of the package is almost immaterial, as the idea here is that manufacturers take the idea and run with it to make a commercial product for retail.
That said, it's a neat enough design with a nice chiclet keyboard set above the clear panel, all in a frame light enough to port around without pulling your arm out.
We found it a little slow in operation and the touchpad, although it worked, wasn't as silky smooth as the best out there, so before we'd be totally sold on the concept, we'd want to know that nothing on the notebook side of things had been compromised to give this quirky system.
So all eyes on the manufacturers now to see whether this idea ever sees the light of day.
The Nikiski was recently displayed at Intel's Triptych interactive art installation.
Is this a concept that appeals to you? Let us know in the comments below.