Why 2-in-1 devices are the answer to everything

XPS 11
Hybrids like the XPS 11 are changing the way we work and play

We love laptops and we love tablets, but sometimes we wish they'd get together.

They would be tablets when we wanted to kick back with a movie, show off our designs or buy helicopters on eBay, and they'd be Ultrabooks when we needed to get some serious work on - editing video, sorting out spreadsheets or just writing a few more chapters of our blockbuster novel.

It's not because we're greedy. It's because the lines between work and play are blurring. The cloud means that everything's available any time, anywhere, and with the right devices that means we can mix work and play to suit our schedules.

We'll catch up on Breaking Bad on the way to a meeting and check important numbers when we're lounging on the sofa. We'll catch up on our favourite blogs while we're waiting for important calls, and sign off documents during ad breaks.

The problem with that, of course, is that devices designed to do one thing only aren't always as adaptable as we'd like them to be. Tablets optimised for ease of use and portability are brilliant on the sofa, but they don't always have the horsepower when it's time to get serious - and similarly Ultrabooks can be overkill if all you want to do is post some sarcastic tweets and catch up with your social networks.

For many people, 2-in-1 devices - also known as hybrids - are the perfect solution.

Dual purpose tech

Hybrids are the Transformers of tech, but rather than turning into trucks they'll turn from Ultrabook to ultra-mobile tablet and back again. They come with serious specs - for example Dell's XPS 12 has a 12.5-inch, full HD (that's 1080p) display and a choice of fourth-generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors - but they're seriously mobile too.

If you're considering a 2-in-1 device there are several things to look out for. Decent storage is a must - while many tablets ship with as little as 16GB of storage you'll need a lot more than that if you're going to be working on complex projects or documents - and like any mobile devices it's important to get the balance right between build quality and portability: look for screens with Corning's legendarily tough (and light) Gorilla Glass, and intelligent use of ultra-tough, ultra-light materials such as aluminium and carbon fibre.

It's also a good idea to think about the kind of applications you'll be using your device for. If you'll be doing presentations or demos then wide viewing angles are important, and if you'll be working in areas with strong natural light then it's essential to choose a display that's bright enough to cope (the measurement you're looking for is luminance, measured in nits: the more nits, the more light the display emits).

Don't forget about connectivity, either: make sure the device you're considering has decent Bluetooth and Wi-Fi compatibility. If possible, go for 802.11ac wireless and Bluetooth 4.0: they're the fastest Wi-Fi and most up-to-date Bluetooth versions available.

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