Most of the people, most of the time, need nothing but a normal laptop to do their bidding. However, sometimes you want something with a touchscreen, for playing games or doing some nice graphic design, something that is flat and can be passed around easily at a table, and that something is a tablet. Until now, these two items have been largely separated, but that is the case no more – here comes the 2-in-1 laptop. There’s more than one type of 2-in-1, and they have rather confusing names, such as hybrids, convertibles, detachables, and so on. However, regardless of the transformation mechanism, a 2-in-1 laptop still does the same thing: it turns from a classic notebook to a tablet with just a flick of the wrist.
We went around, did our research, and picked a couple of 2-in-1 laptop models we think you’d like to try. We selected high-end (and correspondingly high-priced) devices as well as mid-rangers and low-end laptops as well so that you have as broad a palette of choices as possible. Here’s what we think you’d like:
1. Lenovo Flex 4 – 80SB0004US
Thin and lightweight, this laptop has excellent price considering the high components and even better design. It has slim and sharp edges and a black satin finish that makes it look even slimmer and sharper, it’s only 2.1kg and 20mm thick, and it has an amazing keyboard for a 2-in-1 model and even for a full-fledged laptop. It features an FHD flip touchscreen, and it’s one of the best overall convertible models.
The Flex 4 has an Intel i7-6500U, 2.5GHz and up to 3.1GHz overclocked, with the integrated video chip Intel HD Graphics 520. It has 16GB DDR4 RAM, which is quite a lot, and a satisfying 256GB SSD. It’s perfect for more demanding software and heavy-duty tasks as well as looking good standing on a CEO’s desk.
2. Dell Inspiron 7000 15 (2016 model)
This Inspiron can unquestionably compete with the Flex 4, if not in terms of design (though some may prefer the mild, curvy lines of the Dell model), at least regarding performance. It’s a bit heavier at 2.2kg, but also a bit thinner, at 18mm, and features the same FHD 15.6” screen we get with the Flex 4, although not the same great keyboard.
The inner workings are remarkably similar, powered by an ultra-low-voltage i7-6500U. However, you get to make a choice here: more memory or more storage? While the Flex 4 has 16GB RAM and a 256GB SSD, this one only has 12GB DDR4, but double the storage, with a 512GB SSD.
3. Samsung Notebook 9 Spin 13.3″ – NP940X3L-K01US
Another seriously sexy model, this 2-in-1 by Samsung is the delight of whoever can’t come to terms with the fact that Apple doesn’t produce convertibles. It’s the thinnest and the lightest here, by far, at 15mm and a mere 1.3kg, 300g lighter than our next model. It also has the best screen so far, a 13.3” QHD touchscreen.
The processor is yet again the same i7-6500U. While the RAM may seem insufficient at first glance, with only 8GB DDR3L, we can assure you that it’s more than enough to power some serious multitasking on this tiny champion. To top it all, we also get a 256GB SSD, all for a relatively understandable price.
4. Asus VivoBook Flip TP301UA-WB51
In case you’re really angry and preparing to flip over the table, you may just reconsider and flip this Flipbook instead. The Asus VivoBook Flip is a very neat machine, although admittedly not as pretty as some other models around here, and we believe it will perform satisfactorily for any task you could give it, apart from hardcore gaming. It’s relatively thin and light, at 18mm and 1.6kg, and it has a 13.3” FHD touchscreen.
The performance will not be quite as amazing as some of our other models, but then again, nor is the price as high. This model features an i5-6200U, 2.3GHz and up to 2.8GHz with Turbo Boost, and Intel HD 520 integrated graphics. It has 6GB RAM and a more than enough 256GB SSD.
5. Acer Chromebook R13 Convertible
This Chromebook from Acer is quite a peculiar model. First, because it’s quite expensive for a Chrome OS-based laptop, and second, because of what’s inside it. It features the usual silvery Chromebook-style design, instantly recognizable, and a 13.3” FHD touchscreen. It’s particularly slim and light, at 15mm and 1.4kg, and has the best battery life on this list, with an amazing 12h rating.
Interestingly enough, this 2-in-1 isn’t powered by Intel or AMD. Instead, it’s based on a MediaTek MT8173C Core Pilot Quad-Core ARM Cortex-A72/A53 Heterogeneous Multi-Processor, something that would appear in a smartphone rather than a laptop. The GPU belongs to the same category, an integrated PowerVR GX6250. It features 4GB LPDDR3 and 32GB storage, like every other Chromebook. It may seem weird, but this notebook has quite amazing reviews, being one of the few 4.5-star devices of its kind on Amazon.
There are many things you can use a 2-in-1 for. While these notebooks are not particularly suited for gaming, as the cooling capacity and other things necessary for gaming are somewhat lacking, there’s pretty much nothing else a 2-in-1 cannot do. You can use one for day-to-day tasks, including internet browsing, reading (it’s more comfortable than a classic laptop), writing, playing games (you can also play touchscreen games), drawing and doing graphics design, editing video, and many more things. These notebooks are also generally slim and lightweight, which makes them perfect for consistent carry, and have a great design, which makes them appropriate for business purposes.
If you want to buy a convertible laptop, you must first consider your budget. There are convertible Chromebooks which go for less than $200, while high-end Lenovo Yoga models go well above the $1500 mark. In other words, there’s a 2-in-1 for everyone, regardless of financial status. Performance-wise, it’s pretty much the same. Low-end ones have Intel Celeron or Atom processors, 2-4 GB RAM and 16-32GB flash storage, which is enough for really basic tasks. In the meantime, high-end products often feature i7 CPUs, 8-16GB RAM, 256 or even 512GB SSD, and some of them even have a dedicated graphics card, which makes them appropriate for graphics design.
What’s particularly important here is the display. The least you could expect from a full-size 2-in-1 notebook is an FHD touchscreen, for everything to look good enough, while an 11.6” laptop can get away with a 1366×768 resolution as well. The bigger the resolution, the better, but remember that a UHD screen will consume an ungodly amount of battery – not only is the screen itself more expensive and more power-hungry but the components necessary to power it (CPU and graphics card) will also eat up more energy. For some purposes, though, such as graphic design and video editing, spending money on a UHD screen which drains the battery in 3 hours is completely justifiable.