Best 2-in-1 laptops
Microsoft’s Windows 8 didn’t just shake up the company’s entire software empire, but the mobile computing industry as well.
Given the dualistic nature of the new Windows, laptop and tablet makers responded in kind with devices commonly known as 2-in-1 laptops, or hybrid laptops.
These are devices that are able to serve as both a laptop and a tablet, either in a detachable design that sees the touchscreen doubling as a tablet, or a convertible approach in which the notebook’s hinge rotates 360 degrees for a similar effect. In the past, neither have been all that successful in providing both experiences in equal measure, but that’s slowly changing.
Considering their similarity to Ultrabooks in terms of build quality, thinness and lightness, 2-in-1 laptops are generally priced in the same range: between $700 (about £450, AU$800) and $2,000 (around £1,169, AU$2,131). However, some manufacturers, like Acer, make budget hybrids, and there are even 2-in-1s designed specifically for the business user, like the Dell Venue 7000 series. However, the hybrid market is almost entirely catered toward consumer needs.
These are sleek, powerful devices that look good and serve multiple use cases to varying degrees of success. Obviously there are a ton of solid devices out there that narrowly missed the cut, such as the Asus Transformer Book Flip TP300LA, so there’s no shortage of great devices for you to choose. As Microsoft’s release of Windows 10 draws near, expect an even greater selection of these devices to pop up in due time.
With that, here are the best 2-in-1 laptops that we’ve reviewed thus far.
1. Microsoft Surface Pro 3
The best of the best
CPU: 1.9GHz Intel Core i5-4300U (dual-core, 3MB cache, up to 2.9GHz with Turbo Boost) | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4400 | RAM: 8GB LPDDR3 | Screen: 12-inch, 2160 x 1440 multi-touch (ClearType, 3:2 aspect ratio) | Storage: 256GB SSD | Optical drive: none | Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: Two 5MP webcams (1080p HD video) | Weight: 1.76 pounds Dimensions: 7.93 x 11.5 x 0.36 inches (W x D x H)
This is not only Microsoft’s most striking and versatile device to date, but the most convincing poster child for the hybrid category yet. And this ringing endorsement comes from a long-time skeptic of such devices.
This version of the tablet comes in cheaper than the most affordable iPad Air and 13-inch MacBook Air combined, even with the Type Cover, and that’s the point. On paper, this slate is more powerful than either Apple device, not to mention most other comparably priced laptops and tablets. The Surface Pro 3 might not be perfect, but it’s far and wide the brightest shining example of a potential tablet takeover. If you’re not concerned about a downgraded performance, consider the new Surface 3, which doesn’t provide as much kick as the Pro, but is lighter and a lot cheaper.
Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Pro 3
2. HP Spectre x360
CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200 (dual-core, 3MB cache, up to 2.7GHz with Turbo Boost) | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 8GB DDR3 (1600Mhz) | Screen: 13.3-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 FHD Radiance LED-backlit touchscreen | Storage: 256GB SSD | Connectivity: 802.11ac (2×2) and Bluetooth 4.0 combo | Camera: HP TrueVision Full HD WVA Webcam (front-facing) | Weight: 3.26 pounds | Dimensions: 12.79 x 8.6 x 0.63 inches (W x D x H)
Buy the HP Spectre x360. It easily comes as one of my most recommended machines, with an excellent 1080p screen, solid performance, good battery life, and sturdy build quality; all for an excellent deal at $999 (£899, AU$1,899).
If it weren’t for a few missteps with the trackpad and being too hefty for tablet use, this laptop would have easily stood amongst the most highly rated laptops TechRadar has ever reviewed. Despite its flaws, though, the Spectre x360 is one of the best-looking and powerful devices HP has ever produced and well worth a look over many, many other 2-in-1 laptops.
Read the full review: HP Spectre x360
3. Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 12
A versatile hybrid ideal for those who work as hard as they play
CPU: Intel Core i5-5300U (2C, 2.30/2.90GHz, 3.0MB, 1600Mhz) | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 1920×1080 | Storage: 180GB SSD OPAL2 | Optical drive: None | Connectivity: Intel Dual-Band Wireless – AC 7265 + Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: HD 720p | Weight: 3.48 pounds (1.5kg) Dimensions: 12..44" x 8.70" x 0.74" (31 x 22 x 1.8 cm)
The Yoga 12 is a versatile bulldog of a device. You can use it as your work laptop. You can use it for play. It won’t be the best pick for either of these tasks, but it won’t stray too far from the upper tier either. At 3.4 pounds and 0.74 inches thick, it’s just light and slim enough to claim portability. With more than seven hours of video playback, its battery is good enough to get through a workday, and it’s affordably priced starting at just $845.
Packing a full HD display that can bend into four different modes, you’ll enjoy this device’s flexibility, even though it isn’t the lightest or sexiest device on the planet. With that being said, it performs on par or better than any of the devices on this list.
Read the full review: Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 12
4. Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro
Lenovo’s former-flagship Ultrabook is a real stunner
CPU: 1.6GHz Core i5 4200U | Graphics: Intel HD 4400 | RAM: 4GB of DDR3 | Screen: 3,200 x 1,800 IPS multi-touch display | Storage: 128GB SSD | Optical drive: None | Connectivity: Intel Wireless-N 7260 Wi-Fi | Camera: 720P front-facing camera | Weight: 3.06 pounds Dimensions: 13 x 8.66 x 0.61 inches
With the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro (starting at $1,099, £999, AU$1,599), we can now confirm that 3,200 x 1,800 pixels is delicious indeed. On top of the winning Yoga form factor, we loved the solid performance, backlit keyboard, and the snappy SSD, creating mobile device-like response times.
At the $1,000 price point, you could put the Yoga 2 Pro in just about anyone’s hands and make them quite pleased.
For those of you who crave portability more than anything, Lenovo recently unveiled the new LaVie Z, which the company claims is the lightest convertible on the market. For those who want more power and don’t mind a little heft, you could also check out the Lenovo Yoga 3 2014.
Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro
5. Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S
The laptop that will bend over backwards for you
CPU: 1.5 GHz Intel Core i7-3689Y | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4000 (integrated) | RAM: 8GB PC3-12800 DDR3 SDRAM 1600 MHz SODIMM | Screen: 11.6" HD LED Multitouch 1366×768 | Storage: 128GB DDR SSD | Optical drive: none | Connectivity: Lenovo 802.11 b/g/n wireless, Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: 1.0MP 720p HD integrated webcam | Weight: 3.10 lbs Dimensions: 11.73" x 8.03" x 0.67"
Yes, another Lenovo hybrid! The 11.6-inch Lenovo Yoga 11S (starting at around $799, £599, AU$1,299) laptop is a flexible machine that can fold over from a typical laptop stance to a stand position, to a position with the keyboard behind the screen, ready for delivering presentations.
It comes with HDMI, SD card and USB ports, and boasts a surprisingly impressive Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD for storage. The screen is sharp and bright, though not full HD, and works well with Windows 8. It’s also nicely light and small for portability. You can easily use the Yoga 11S as you would any other laptop, replete with a full QWERTY keyboard.
Read the full review: Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S
6. Asus Transformer Book T200
Another excellent transforming tablet-laptop from Asus
CPU: 1.46GHz Intel® Bay Trail-T Quad Core Z3775 | Graphics: Integrated Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 2 GB LPDDR3 | Screen: 11.-inch 16:9 IPS HD (1366 x 768) with multi-touch screen | Storage: 32GB eMMC With 500 GB HDD | Optical drive: None | Connectivity: Integrated 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth V4.0 | Camera: Front 2 Mp and rear 5 MP | Weight: 1.71 pounds Dimensions: 12 x 7.6 x 0.47 inches (W x D x H)
If you are looking for a combination of Windows laptop and tablet, the Asus Transformer Book T200 is a very appealing option that offers a fair amount for only $539 (£349, or AU$690).
The T200 is quiet, light, well built and feels responsive during normal usage. Battery life is excellent, so you won’t find yourself hunting obsessively for charging points throughout the day. Its "smart" hard drive bay adds plenty of storage space alongside the speedy 32GB SSD, and despite having a disappointing resolution, the IPS display is at least vibrant with good viewing angles. Good connectivity in the form of USB 3.0 and RJ45 ports are welcome additions, with a reasonable pre-loaded software set finishing off the package nicely.
Read the full review: Asus Transformer Book T200
7. Dell Venue 11 Pro 7130
A powerful, small tablet that wants to play in the big leagues
CPU: Intel Core M-5Y71 vPro | Graphics: Intel Gen7 graphics | RAM: 8 GB | Screen: 10.8-inch FHD 1920 X 1080 IPS display | Storage: 128 GB SSD | Optical drive: None | Connectivity: Intel 7265 dual-band 2X2 802.11 ac WiFi & Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: 2-megapixel webcam; 8-megapixel rear camera | Weight: 1.6 pounds (0.72kg) Dimensions: 11.01 x 6.95 x .42 inches (27.97 X 17.65 X 1.07 cm)
At the $700 (£437 and AU$800) entry price, the Venue Pro 7000 offers a nice balance of performance and portability in a travel-friendly size. However, unless you find yourself accessing CPU and GPU taxing apps, you might find more value in an Atom-based convertible. Going with Atom will lower your cost and give you better battery life.
For those who need power and performance, the confines of a 10.8-inch display may be too rigid to maximize productivity. Opening more than a few tabs or windows on the small display will trigger claustrophobia. If you need to be more productive, there are bigger convertible options, like the Surface Pro 3, to choose from that may fit that need better.
Read the full review: Dell Venue 11 Pro 7130
8. Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi
This 2-in-1 laptop takes thinness to a new level
CPU: 1.2GHz Intel Core M 5Y71 processor (dual-core, 4MB cache, up to 2.9GHz with turbo boost) | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5300 | RAM: 8GB DDR3L (1600MHz) | Screen: 12.5-inch, 2,560 x 1,440 (WQHD) capacitive multi-touch IPS display | Storage: 128GB SSD | Optical drive: None | Connectivity: Intel Dual Band Wireless-N 7265 + Bluetooth 4.0 LE | Camera: 2MP 720p webcam | Weight: 3.14 pounds Dimensions: 12.5 x 7.5 x 0.65 inches (W x D x H)
The Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi is one of the first laptops to finally get the hybrid form factor right. Thanks to the use of a magnet latching system and Intel’s fanless Core M processor, Asus has been able to produce a lighter tablet-laptop hybrid that’s thin to boot.
The detachable Bluetooth keyboard also opens up a few alternative ways to use the device. Over the last few weeks, I propped up the screen while I used the keyboard as a remote for Netflix and stood the screen on its side, using it as a makeshift vertical screen. The best thing about all this is it’s entirely seamless, letting you easily switch between tablet and laptop modes with ease.
Read the full review: Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi
9. Lenovo ThinkPad Helix (2015)
Steep price, great performance
CPU: Intel Core M-5Y71 | Graphics: Intel HD5300 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 11.6-inch 1920 x 1080 Multitouch | Storage: 128GB SSD | Connectivity: Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: 5MP front, 2MP rear | Weight: 1.75 lbs. | Dimensions: 11.85" x 7.57" x 0.37"
One more Lenovo! With a well-built dock featuring physical buttons and a large trackpad, very good performance, superb battery life and lashings of storage, memory and connectivity options, the Helix goes a long way towards justifying its considerable price.
Read the full review: Lenovo ThinkPad Helix (2015)
Joe Osborne and Kevin Lee contributed to this article