Whether the screen is detachable from the keyboard or the hinge somersaults 360 degrees, convertible laptops are all the rage. Everyone from HP to Microsoft has their own 2-in-1 on the table, even if the latter example is expected to do away with its multi-talented Surface Book concept come round 2.
Because it’s detachable, the best 2-in-1 laptop may require its user remove its display from the keyboard base. Other form factors, however, include convertible models like the Lenovo Yoga 910 or HP Spectre x360 15, which catapult into tablet, tent or stand mode using fully reversible hinges, perfect for watching movies or browsing the web.
These days, a hybrid laptop can be priced anywhere between $300 (about £239, AU$392) and $3,000 (about £2,394, AU$3,924). While the former category is inhabited mainly by Chromebooks, the latter is where you’ll find powerful desktop replacement candidates, like the top-end Surface Book i7 configuration with Performance Base, 1TB hard drive and all.
As the forthcoming Windows 10 Creators Update is largely focused on touchscreen laptops with a twist (or spin or flip), hybrids are becoming as customary as traditional laptops and tablets once were, and surely even the best 2-in-1 laptops are bound to get better. With that in mind, below we've procured a list of our choice hybrids to buy in 2017.
1. HP Spectre x360
Thin, light and handsome
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 | RAM: 4GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – UHD (3,840 x 2,160) IPS UWVA-backlit multi-touch | Storage: 128GB – 512GB SSD
With Kaby Lake now ruling the roost in terms of CPUs, HP decided it’s high time to flip the switch on its Spectre 2-in-1. With an overhauled keyboard and suave new logo, the HP Spectre x360 holds its own against anything Apple can show, but it also draws from it a few influences.
The four-speaker arrangement, reminiscent of the iPad Pro, ensures user-facing sound regardless of its orientation. Meanwhile, the new x360 dual-wields USB-C ports for faster charging and data transfers. Sound familiar?
The battery life in the Spectre x360 exceeds 8 hours whether you’re using it in laptop or tablet mode, though it’s (potentially) undermined by the lack of an SD card slot this time around. Fortunately, like with many things USB-C replaces, there’s an adapter for that.
Without taking a huge toll on the price, the HP Spectre x360 is undeniably deserving of the top spot on our list.
Read the full review: HP Spectre x360
2. Microsoft Surface Book i7
Same Surface Book design, new Surface Book benchmarks
CPU: 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6600U | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 965M; Intel HD Graphics 520 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.5-inch 3,000 x 2,000 PixelSense Display | Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD
One of the few honest-to-goodness surprises from Microsoft last year was the introduction of the Surface Book with Performance Base, also known shorthand as the Surface Book i7. It’s the same design as the original Surface Book, so don’t expect Microsoft to have done away with the controversial fulcrum hinge. However, this version of the Surface Book is not only 131% more powerful graphically than its vanilla counterpart, but the battery has improved by 20% as well.
It’s expensive, sure, but for the price you’re getting a laptop that’s both faster and more versatile than an equally priced MacBook Pro. For creative professionals with an artistic side, the more capable GPU and extensive battery life (our movie test says 9 hours and 16 minutes) are tempting. So long as it’s necessary for your workflow, it may be worth the lofty price of admission, too, even if you’re getting the short end of the stick in memory and SSD space.
Read the full review: Surface Book i7
3. Samsung Notebook 7 Spin
Capable, versatile and affordable to boot
CPU: 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6500U | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce 940MX; Intel HD Graphics 520 | RAM: 12GB – 16GB | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) LED with touch panel | Storage: 1 TB HDD – 1TB HDD + 128GB SSD
Though Samsung is known for its phones more than its notebooks, this is one convertible worth taking for a spin. Equipped with a Skylake i7 CPU and discrete Nvidia graphics, the Samsung Notebook 7 Spin is nearly as fashionable as a MacBook Pro, but for roughly half the cost. It has all the trackpad real estate you could ask for combined with a snazzy, full-size keyboard – number pad and all.
The difference is that the Samsung Notebook 7 Spin is equipped to flip… inside out. Though it’s confined to a 1080p display, it’s HDR-enabled, which beautifully distinguishes the Notebook 7 Spin from just about every other laptop on the market. Plus, unlike the latest round of MacBooks, it has an SD card reader and proper USB 3.0. It doesn’t exactly push boundaries on the graphics front, but the Samsung Notebook 7 still manages to succeed by offering sublime value for rather competent specs.
4. Microsoft Surface Book
The ultimate Windows 10 hybrid laptop
CPU: Intel Core i5-i7 | Graphics: Intel HD graphics 520 – Nvidia GeForce graphics | RAM: 8GB-16GB | Screen: 13.5-inch, 3,000 x 2,000 PixelSense Display | Storage: 128GB – 256GB PCIe 3.0 SSD
In 2015, Microsoft shook the laptop scene by revealing the first of its own, namely the Surface Book. While there's still work to be done, most of which have to do with battery and aspect ratio, the Surface Book still remains as one of the best 2-in-1s money can buy.
In its tablet, or Clipboard, mode it's already among the most powerful and thinnest Windows 10 devices on the market. Dock it onto the keyboard base, however, and you're in for a real treat; that is, assuming you opt for one of the discrete GPU configurations, which add more power to the Surface Book's lower half.
Read the full review: Surface Book
5. Asus ZenBook Flip UX360
A convertible that doesn't need to be
CPU: Intel Core m3 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 FHD IPS touchscreen | Storage: 256GB – 512GB SSD
Unlike the Asus ZenBook Flip UX305 before it, the ZenBook Flip UX360 ditches the MacBook Air doppelgänger approach in favor of a hybrid design with a whole array of ports. Everything from USB-A to USB-C is present, along with micro HDMI and a micro SD card reader. At the same time, it doesn't neglect the wholly aluminum chassis of yesteryear.
Although it’s still strikingly thin, the Asus ZenBook Flip UX360 still manages to bear more weight than many other laptops in its class due in part to its reversible display. On the upside, the keyboard and trackpad, which are notably large and comfortable, also contribute to the laptop’s heft. While we’re still not sold on the practicality of Windows 10 in tablet mode, the ZenBook Flip UX360 is ultimately an excellent value.
Read the full review: Asus ZenBook Flip UX360
6. HP Spectre x360 15
This 15-inch hybrid is more portable than you think
CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce 940MX; Intel HD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 15.6-inch, Ultra HD (3,840 x 2,160) UWVA eDP BrightView | Storage: 256GB – 1TB PCIe SSD
More than just a basic hardware refresh, the HP Spectre x360 is as easy on the eyes as it is to use. Because the keyboard feels natural to the touch, there’s no debate as to whether this 2-in-1 is better as a laptop or as a tablet; it comes equally recommended as both. If it made a peep, what with its silent fans and subdued chiclet keys, the HP Spectre x360 15 may even garner a few jealous stares.
Equipped with not only two USB-C ports, but everything from full-size HDMI to an SD card slot, the HP Spectre x360 15 is effectively the anti-MacBook Pro. Not only is it substantially more affordable than Apple’s closest competitor, but this swanky hunk of metal flaunts a shimmering gold finish that leaves “Space Gray” looking like yesterday’s news.
Read the full review: HP Spectre x360 15
7. Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1
Whether for work or for fun, get your hands on this 2-in-1
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520 – 620 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) touchscreen | Storage: 500GB – 1TB HDD, 128GB – 256GB SSD
Like every 2-in-1 on this list, the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 does it all. During the day it can be a laptop used for work or study, but flip that sucker inside out and it’s equally proficient as a tablet, optimal for watching movies or serving up a fresh dose of memes to your friends on Facebook. The Inspiron 13 7000 is not unwieldy nor is it overwhelmingly loud and sultry. Rather, it manages to pull of an exquisite design without any of the pitfalls that usually afflict notebooks like this.
It’s not perfect, however, seeing as the Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 is a tad weak in the speaker department. There’s a bit of a muffled sound dispelled from its middling speakers. This makes for a case where you’ll almost definitely want to shell out for a pair of nice headphones to go with it. Despite this, the keyboard feels great, the screen looks great and the tablet mode leaves plenty of room for procrastination. There’s nothing that particularly stands out with the Dell Inspiron 7000, but if it ain’t broke...
Read the full review: Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1
8. Lenovo Yoga 910
A svelte spin on a working 2-in-1 design
CPU: Intel Core i7-7500U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD 1,920 x 1,080 – UHD 3,840 | Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD
Lenovo has knocked it out of the park once again with the Yoga 910. Once thought to bear subpar keyboard travel and buggy software (no thanks to firmware incompatibilities), the Yoga 910 addresses many of the complaints we had with its predecessor. A sharper, more contemporary design is complemented by not only an Ultra HD screen, but one that’s 13.9 inches big with super-slim bezels to boot.
Although the battery life comes in short at a mere 4 hours and 32 minutes, according to our TechRadar movie test, it’s one of the few remaining 2-in-1s to keep classic USB ports intact. That’s a feat on its own for those unprepared for the adapter-riddled future of USB Type-C. Fortunately, however, a pair of USB-C ports are in sight as well, giving users the choice between which interface you prefer. Plus, the speakers aren’t half bad, suiting the Yoga 910 for all sorts of entertainment as well.
Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga 910
9. Lenovo Yoga 900S
The lightest 2-in-1 laptop
CPU: Intel Core m5 – m7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515 | RAM: 4GB – 8GB | Screen: 12.5-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – QHD (2,560 x 1,440) IPS, multi-touch | Storage: 128GB – 512GB PCIe SSD
The Lenovo Yoga 900S feels like a direct response to Apple's 12-inch MacBook. The 12.5-inch display, the USB-C port and even the Intel Core-m chip on the inside reeks of the controversial, yet incredibly lightweight MacBook. It's a response, however, that brings with it a handful of notable advantages over Cupertino's solution.
For one, you get access to full-size USB 3.0 ports in addition to the Type-C interface. The highest end version ships with an m7 processor and 1440p display and costs less than MacBook's comparatively specced built-to-order model. Unfortunately, you'll also have to deal with a smaller trackpad and a similarly inadequate keyboard, but otherwise the Yoga 900S is an impeccable value.
Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga 900S
10. HP Elite x2 1012 G1
CPU: Intel Core m3 – m5 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515 | RAM: 4GB – 8GB | Screen: 12-inch, 1,920 x 1,280 FHD UWVA eDP ultra-slim LED-backlit touchscreen | Storage: 128GB – 512GB SSD
If you're looking for something more resistant than a Surface Pro but with minimal added weight, the HP Elite x2 1012 G1 is a top contender. Featuring a backlit keyboard, Wacom "Active" pen support and Thunderbolt 3, the HP Elite x2 1012 G1 is as versatile as it is good looking.
And that goes without mentioning the 12-point stress test the tablet underwent through production. That's right, HP claims that its Elite x2 1012 G1 can endure drops, bumps and temperature shifts that would leave other tablets on the market dead in the streets. Though its cost might seem extravagant for a device with only a 1080p display, the appeal of the HP Elite x2 1012 G1 is understood best when experienced in person.
Read the full review: HP Elite x2 1012 G1
Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article