When it comes to 2 in 1s, thin is in. A laptop or tablet with a slimmer form makes it easier to hold, and generally means a lighter device. But what are your top choices if you want to upgrade today?
The easiest way to understand what a 2 in 1 is, is to think of a laptop — a full-power laptop, with a keyboard and Microsoft Windows and all the versatility you should expect — and then add the ability for it to transform into a touchscreen tablet. 2 in 1s let you move between laptop or tablet whenever you need, so you don’t have to stay tied to a desk when you want to travel, but you can still get as much work, email or Web browsing done as you want to.
2 in 1s have the work-focused productivity of a laptop, combined with the touch screen focus and portability of a tablet. They typically offer excellent battery life and screen detail, since they’re all about a high quality display. On the down side, 2 in 1s can cost more, not be quite as thin or light as a tablet, or not as powerful as a dedicated laptop. 2 in 1s also come in a bewildering array of types, each of which is best suited to a different purpose. The trick to picking the right model is to understand the technology that makes them tick, as well as your intended use.
This svelte 2 in 1 is a ridiculously thin 12.8mm at its deepest point. In fact, it’s the thinnest 2 in 1 you can currently buy, not the mention one of the thinnest laptops overall. The Yoga 3 Pro is known for its watchband style hinge, which lets the screen flip all the way through 360 degrees. At 1.19kg it’s also light enough to easily use one-handed as a tablet.
The Yoga 3 Pro has a 13.3-inch 3200 x 1800 IPS screen, one of Intel’s newest and most energy efficient Core M-5Y70 CPUs with Intel HD 5300 graphics, and 8GB of RAM. You can get a 256 or 512GB SSD variant and the convertible laptop has the usual array of USB 3.0 ports, headphone plug and a SD card reader.
The 44.8 Watt-hour battery will see around 7 hours of use, though this will drop if you are working it hard. The Yoga 3 is fanless thanks to the power sipping Core M CPU, but it still packs an equivalent punch to a mid range Core i5. The Yoga 3 Pro replaced the 15.5mm Yoga 2 Pro, though the latter is still available online. Depending on spec, the Yoga 3 Pro starts from around $2000 up to $2300.
The ever popular Surface series takes a more tablet like approach to the 2 in 1 model, with a magnetically attaching keyboard cover. While not as easy to type on as a full laptop keyboard, the Surface 3 and Surface 3 Pro are very thin, at 13.6mm and 14mm respectively. Even better, with the keyboards detached, the Surface models are under 1KG and 10mm thick, making for a very easy to use tablet.
The Surface 3 Pro has a 12” screen with a 2160 x 1440 resolution. It also offers Core i3, i5 and i7s, with up to 8GB OF RAM and a 512GB SSD. The Surface 3 is equipped with a lower end quad core Intel Atom CPU and either 2GB of 4GB of RAM and a 64GB or 128GB SSD. The Surface 3 is also slightly smaller, with a 10.8” 1920 x 1080 screen.
Both units run Windows 8.1 and offer up to 9 hours battery life. The Surface 3 starts from $699, while the Pro starts at $979 with the top spec model costing over $2000.
More tablet than laptop, the Venue 11 Pro runs Windows 8.1 and is just 15.4mm thick. Where is stands out though is that is has both a laptop style hard keyboard and a slim Surface style soft keyboard available as accessories. It’s even got a tablet dock available that makes connecting up to external monitors and peripherals easy. The tablet section of the Venue 11 Pro is just 10.2mm thick and weighs 771 grams, but this goes up depending on which keyboard is installed.
The Venue 11 Pro has a 10.8-inch, 1920 x 1080 screen. The base spec model has an Intel Atom Z3795 CPU that buzzes along at 2.4GHz and includes 2GB of system RAM and a 64GB SSD. You can also trade up to a more powerful Core i5-4300Y processor, backed up by 8GB of RAM and up to a 256GB SSD.
Depending on exactly which spec you go for, battery life can be up to 10 hours. Importantly for those on the go, the battery itself is swappable. The Dell venue 11 Pro starts from $899, but can cost almost $2000 if you fully kit it out.
A laptop style flipper, the Spectre x360 is a super stylish 15.9mm of aluminium. It’s not quite as light as the competition though at 1.48kg. The HP convertible has a 13.3-inch, 2560 x 1440 resolution touchscreen. While you can get a lesser Core i5, it can also be equipped with a powerful Core i7. You get to choose between 4GB or 8GB of RAM and up to a 512GB SSD.
HP claim up to 12.5 hours of battery life, but in real world use it’s more like 9 or 10 for the more powerful CPUs on offer. Still, that’s pretty amazing for a fairly high-spec laptop. The cheapest model starts at $1499, but you can pay up towards $2400 for the fully equipped version.
At 16.5mm, the Switch 10 is bulkier than the 2 in 1s above, but still slimmer than most of the competition. It’s a detachable model, so as a tablet it’s only 8.9mm thick. The Switch 10 has a 10.1-inch IPS 1280 x 800 screen, covered in Gorilla Glass 3. It snaps in and out from the hard keyboard via Acer’s excellent magnetic hinge and converts easily from tablet and laptop use. You can even clip in in backwards, letting you use the keyboard in a variety of ways as a stand.
The base model Acer features a lower end Intel Atom CPU, 2GB of RAM and a 32GB SSD but remains snappy to use when running the full version of Windows 8.1. It runs for up to 8 hours on a charge too. You can also spec it up with a 1920×1080 pixel display, Core M CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD.
Prices start from a very affordable $549 for the base model, and range up to $1199 for the higher-spec offering. While we don’t yet know the exact specs, including how thin they are, Acer was showing off a range of new Switch models at Computex — expect a revamped design and newer hardware later this year.