Ever since Windows 8 pushed hard to be a good tablet operating system, the humble laptop has really evolved over the last few years. A new kind of notebook — the beloved 2-in-1 — even combines the features of both laptops and tablets, but can it really give you the best of both worlds?
Basically, what’s right for your friend might not be right for you. Knowing a few things can help you make the best purchase for your needs, so here’s what you need to pay attention to.
Two Types of 2-in-1 Laptops
Broadly speaking, 2-in-1 laptops can be categorized into two types: hybrids and convertibles. These aren’t actually the category names used across the industry, but I’m borrowing these terms from CNET since they make it easier to explain the two concepts.
Hybrids: A hybrid is a laptop where the screen can be completely detached from the keyboard base and serve as a standalone touchscreen tablet. The base is a proper keyboard, complete with USB ports and its own battery source.
Convertibles: A convertible is a laptop where the screen can be flipped back or swiveled to be used as a tablet. The screen and the keyboard never detach, but it’s a touchscreen so you can use it like you would a tablet.
The Pros and Cons of Hybrids
Pro: Better Battery Life — Generally, both the tablet base and the docked keyboard have a built-in battery. What this means is that you get two batteries, thus lengthening the overall battery life of the combined device. As a rule of thumb, you’ll get better battery life on hybrids than convertibles in the same price range.
Plus, several of these hybrids support Android phone-like microUSB cables, which is super convenient while we wait for USB Type CWhat Is USB Type-C?What Is USB Type-C?Ah, the USB plug. It is as ubiquitous now as it is notorious for never being able to be plugged in right the first time.Read More to become the standard.
Pro: Value for Money — Buying a full-fledged Windows laptop and a full-fledged Android tablet or iPad would set you back several hundred dollars more than these hybrids. So if you’re trying to be as economical as possible, you’ll save some big bucks going with a hybrid.
Cons: Jack of All Trades — Being a tablet and a laptop usually results in these hybrids being the proverbial jacks-of-all-trades and masters of none. The big sell here is the convenience of a full-fledged desktop operating system running on a single device that serves as both laptop and tablet depending on your needs, but it will never be a fantastic tablet experience nor a fantastic laptop experience.
Cons: Lack of Tablet Apps — The proper tablet experience of Windows 10 fails on one front: apps. Compared to Android or iOS, Windows lacks several major apps and games. You can still use it well for reading, watching movies, or browsing, but you might feel left out when all your friends have an app on Android or iPad that you can’t get.
Cons: Heavy As Tablets — A convertible is cumbersome to use as a tablet. While it offers that functionality, you won’t find yourself relying on it often. Convertibles are far too heavy and bulky to compete with the convenience of a proper tablet.
What Should You Buy?
Like I said at the beginning, there is no one-size-fits-all recommendation here. You should buy based on your personal requirements.
Hybrids are great for travelling executives or those looking to get both a tablet and a Windows laptop on a budget. The use-case scenario you are looking at is 60% laptop, 40% tablet.
Given a choice, what would you buy: a 2-in-1 Windows device or a dedicated laptop and a dedicated tablet? With Android tablet prices dropping, getting a proper Windows laptop and an Android tablet sounds like a tempting option, don’t you think?