Not long ago, the choice of a portable computer was restricted to a traditional laptop. However, as time went by, powerful operating systems and mobile processors were introduced into the market. This widened the choice for end users to include tablets as convenient alternatives.
Due to the limited functionality of tablets and the inconvenience of a laptop, manufacturers saw the opportunity of merging the two devices to create 2-in-1 laptops.
A 2-in-1 refers to a detachable hybrid tablet or convertible hybrid laptop that comes with both a keyboard and a touchscreen. This flexibility allows you to seamlessly flip between the laptop and tablet modes.
Much like their traditional counterparts, the best 2-in-1 laptops come with an operating system which is either Windows or Chrome OS. To understand 2-in-1 devices better, you have to group them into two categories: detachable hybrid tablets and convertible laptops.
Detachable Hybrid Tablets
This is a slate tablet with a keyboard dock or case. For stability, the keyboard dock is preferred to the keyboard case. If you desire optimal mobility and portability, you can leave the keyboard part behind and operate with the tablet alone.
It is not uncommon to find best detachable laptops weighing less than 3 pounds, together with the keyboard dock. Apart from the extra functionality keyboard docks provide, they may also include USB ports and extra battery cells to give you more power to work off-plug.
Convertible Hybrid Laptops
Instead of detaching the keypad, this type of 2-in-1 laptops uses a folding design to transform from tablet to laptop and vice versa. If you are a frequent user of the keyboard for input, this is the best type for you.
Thanks to the folding mechanism and the range of motion it gives, you can opt for different modes based on use. For instance, you can share your display with other participants in a meeting by using a stand mode. You can also prop it up in tent mode if you do not have much space. The flexibility of this 2-in-1 laptop type is unbeatable.
The motherboard and battery system are located at the base much like in a conventional laptop. This gives the device stability when typing on a platform such as tabletop or lap. The relatively larger room for batteries provides enhanced battery life.
How to Choose The Best 2-in-1 Laptop
Generally, 2-in-1 laptops use mobile processors which are relatively less powerful compared to traditional laptops of the same size. The mobile processors are specifically designed to allow for quiet, cool operation instead of blazing speeds.
Chances are high that you will be working on your laptop for longer hours. Because of this, it is imperative that eyes stay comfortable and stress-free. The element that takes care of this in your laptop is the display. It should be clear, with the right amount of brightness and minimal flicker to allow you to stay productive for longer.
In the spirit of mobile workforce productivity, your 2-in-1 laptop must intuitively blend portability and performance. The key elements for maximum performance include immersive graphics, powerful processors, long battery life, adequate RAM, and a larger display.
Look at the number of cells in the battery system and whether the laptop allows you to incorporate external swappable batteries. This will give you extended hours of battery life. Check the charge option the laptop comes with. Some of the modern 2-in-1 laptops have a rapid charge option that lets you charge your laptop in a much shorter time.
The build of your laptop determines its durability. Due to the nature of their assignments, 2-in-1 laptops should withstand everyday drops and bumps as well as survive the vagaries of remote working such as temperature differentials.
Some 2-in-1 laptops use a top cover consisting of a carbon fiber foam sandwiched between two carbon fiber layers. This gives you a lighter, stronger, and much thinner device. To minimize the failure rate and allow for better cooling, your device should provide an increased air flow.
As with anything else, shopping for 2-in-1 laptops involves compromises and trade-offs. Our reviews below will help you decide the laptop that best suits your needs.
9 Best 2-in-1 Laptops to Buy in 2018
Probably the Best Detachable Laptop
This is one of the best detachable laptops on the market. It gives you up to 17 hours of battery life and 13.5-inch PixelSense Display. With a resolution of up to 3240 x 2160, you will enjoy clean, crisp, and sharp images.
Microsoft Surface Book 2 comes with either Intel Core i5 or i7 processor. In terms of storage, you can choose from 256GB to 1 TB SSD.
- Long battery life
- A solid resolution
- Evenly distributed weight
- Great trackpad and keyboard
- Powerful Nvidia graphics
- Wobbling display when you touch it
- Lacks Thunderbolt 3 support
The Best 2-in-1 Laptop For Business
With a thin-bezel design, this laptop has a wider screen space and Full HD IPS display to allow you to view the screen from lots of different angles. The combination of Intel HD graphics and Intel 8th generation quad-core processor, give you enhanced speed and performance.
If you are looking for a multitasking workhorse, Dell Inspiron 13 has up to 16 GB DDR4 memory for faster load times and larger bandwidth. For convenience, this 2-in-1 has USB 3.1 Type-C port for universal charging.
- Comfortable keyboard and touchpad
- Excellent aluminum construction
- No support for Thunderbolt 3
Very Light 2-in-1 Laptop With 4K Display
Embodying the 8th generation Intel quad-core, this ultrabook is among the fastest. Much like the Yoga 910, this machine weighs 3.02 pounds and has an integrated Intel HD 620 graphics. The 13.9-inch IPS display gives you solid viewing angles.
The RAM and storage are enough for the majority of tasks at 16 GB DDR4 and 512 GB SSD. For connectivity, you have Bluetooth 4.1, a port that supports Thunderbolt 3, and headset jack.
- Lovely design
- Excellent sound quality
- Decent battery life
- Active pen support
- Thunderbolt 3 support
- Slightly twitchy touchpad
Great 2-in-1 With A HDR Mode
This is a midrange 2-in-1 laptop with a solid Intel Dual-Core i7-7500U processor and a 13.3-inch touch display to go along with. This 3.2-pound convertible also has a 16 GB DDR4 RAM and a 512 GB SSD. The stealth silver shell looks professional and solid.
The keyboard boasts of concave keys together with hotkeys that allow you to juggle your external monitor as well as toggle on and off the speakers, trackpad, and Wi-Fi. In terms of ports, this machine has a full HDMI port, USB 3.1, USB 3.0, and USB 2.0.
- HDR Mode
- Snappy keyboard
- Backlit keyboard
- Poor Battery Life
The Best 2-in-1 Chromebook
Google Pixelbook comes with an Intel i5, 128 GB SSD and 8 GB RAM. The touchscreen measures 12.3 inches and has a 2400 x 1600-pixel resolution.
In addition to the headphone jack, this 2.4-pound laptop has two USB-C ports. With just the right mix of a soft and mechanical keyboard, this is not only one of the best Chromebooks, but also an enjoyable device to use.
- Thin and light design and quality aluminum build
- Stylus pen support
- Excellent keyboard
- Poor audio performance
Great Budget 2-in-1 Laptop
This laptop has a huge 15-inch display and is flexible enough to give you different modes including display, tablet, and stand.
Its performance is boosted by 8 GB RAM and 4-Core AMD Ryzen 5 2500U. The keyboard gives you a pleasant but slightly loud typing experience.
- Stylish design
- Great value for money
- Solid sound
- Dim screen
- Poor battery life
4K 2-in-1 Laptop With Great Sound
This 2-in-1 laptop has a sharp 15-inch 4K screen display and a powerful aluminum build. The processor is an 8th Gen Intel core and it’s complemented by MX150 Nvidia’s graphics chip. This gives you amazing speeds.
The keyboard has a comfortable layout and crisp key action. The laptop also includes HDMI, DisplayPort, USB-A and USB-C ports. The hard drive size is 512GB and the RAM is a comfortable 16 GB. This 2-in-1 weighs 4.2 pounds.
- Vibrant 4K display
- Strong sound
- Relatively thick and heavy
Reliable 2-in-1 Laptop With Cortana Support
This is an excellent example of a 2-in-1 detachable that combines performance and price. It comes with an Intel 1.6 GHz core i5 processor with integrated Intel 620 graphics. Internal storage and RAM are 256 GB SSD and 8 GB DDR4 respectively.
When it comes to ports, this machine has USB-A and USB-C together with headphone jack and microSD slots. The tablet weighs 1.9 pounds, but when combined with the keyboard, it comes to 2.72 pounds.
- Far-field microphones for Cortana support
- Keyboard cover and active pen support
- The fans are a bit loud
- Pen holder blocks USB-A port
- Relatively short battery life
The Best Cheap 2-in-1 Laptop
This is arguably the best cheap 2-in-1 laptop on the market today. The Celeron N3350 processor combined with the 32 GB storage and 4 GB RAM will be enough for the majority of day-to-day activities. The battery life lasts up to 8 hours making it an excellent on-the-move device.
Acer also included an active pen in this model which combines well with Windows Ink to help you take notes at impressive speeds. It is also super light and ultra slim.
- Sharp and colorful IPS screen display
- Comfortable keyboard
- Affordable and fair pricing given its features
- Attractive metallic chassis
- Small internal storage
Generally, 2-in-1 laptops are designed to give you the flexibility of a traditional laptop and the convenience of a tablet. Whether you go for the detachable or convertible laptop, you will find similarities in processor speeds, storage, builds, and other aspects.
The best point to begin your search for the best 2-in-1 laptops is to analyze what you want to achieve with the machine and your budget. In this way, you will know the specifications to look out for and the range in terms of price.