Best 2-in-1 Laptops

Updated January 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 22 Models Considered
  • 7 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 178 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best 2-in-1 laptops

    Last Updated January 2019

    If you need a versatile machine for your work, art, or leisure, a 2-in-1 laptop is a good way to go. These laptops have touchscreens that can be folded to effectively turn the computer into a tablet.

    Not only can this be useful for work that calls for a more intuitive interface, but it can also offer a way to change up the way you work or to display a presentation.

    The 2-in-1 laptop has surged in popularity in recent years and is available in a range of sizes and prices. There are no Apple 2-in-1 laptops as of yet, but models with both Windows 10 and ChromeOS are widely available.

    2-in-1 laptops tend to be more expensive than traditional laptops with similar specs.

    Key considerations

    A 2-in-1 laptop can be an investment, and before you make a purchase, you should have a clear vision of what your computer will primarily be used for and where you will use it. Some computers will outperform others, but they will also generally come at a higher cost. If you don’t need the processing power, an inexpensive Chromebook might be perfect. But if you need a computer with excellent resolution and an accurate touchscreen for working on art or design, you’ll need a different type of machine.

    Operating system

    Everyone who is familiar with computers has a preferred operating system. With 2-in-1 laptops, your options are somewhat limited.

    • Windows 10 comes in the majority of 2-in-1 laptops and offers a wide selection of applications that most users will be familiar with. This is the operating system for artists, programmers, and gamers.

    • ChromeOS is found in Chromebooks, which are made by a variety of manufacturers. This browser-based operating system relies heavily on G Suite, which can make for an easy transition if you use Drive or Gmail regularly. Most Chromebooks are compatible with apps from the Google Play store, but some are limited to Chrome and Chrome extensions.
       

    Configurations

    Almost all 2-in-1 laptops are capable of folding so that the keyboard is on the back of the touchscreen, mimicking a tablet. But that’s not all they can do.

    Some models can convert into “tent mode,” propping upright so that the edges of the screen and keyboard rest on a surface, creating an angled screen that is easy to use for tasks like drawing. Some models may function similarly, allowing the keyboard to rest facedown on the surface while the touchscreen remains slightly angled.

    Other models may have a swiveling hinge, which allows you to conceal the keyboard when using tablet mode.

    The most versatile configuration is a detachable mode, which allows you to truly use the screen as a tablet, leaving the keyboard behind. This typically results in a decrease in battery life and processing power, but for a true laptop-to-tablet experience, it’s an excellent feature to have.

    Take note of the technical specs of detachable models. Some of them are laptops that convert to tablets, which are better for professional use, while others are tablets that convert to laptops, which work better for leisure use or basic tasks like writing and browsing.

    Resolution and screen size

    Just like traditional laptops, 2-in-1 laptops offer resolutions of up to 4K (or 3480 x 2160). Depending on your work, 4K resolution may be a must-have. But if your laptop will be used primarily for sending email, browsing, and writing, the extra pixels may not be worth the added cost.

    Screen sizes range from around 11.6 inches to 15.6 inches, and a larger screen means a larger laptop. There’s no right answer here — it comes down to preference, portability, and what you’ll be using your computer for. In general, the extra screen real estate demands a higher price.

    Performance

    The two biggest determiners in a computer’s performance are the CPU, which acts as the “brains” of the computer, and the RAM, which allows it to multitask. As with any computer, the speed of a 2-in-1 will suffer if either of these fall short.

    For CPUs, most 2-in-1 laptops sport Intel Core i5 or i7 processors. While these aren’t as powerful as the i9, they will meet the needs of most.

    RAM ranges from 4GB to 16GB. If you don’t plan on doing any heavy lifting, 4GB should be fine and will save you quite a lot at checkout. For more intensive work like video editing or programming, you may need as much as 16GB.

    Storage

    Depending on your work, a sizeable amount of storage can be a must. But with so many forms of cloud storage available, that number may matter less to you, especially if you have a Chromebook and can store up to 100GB of files on Google Drive.

    Most 2-in-1 laptops offer anywhere from 64GB to 2TB of storage. There are two primary types of storage: hard disk drives (HDD) and solid-state drives (SSD). SSD storage comes at a higher price, but since it has no moving parts, it allows your computer to perform significantly faster. To get the most out of your RAM and CPU, an SSD is the way to go.

    Battery Life

    Almost all 2-in-1 laptops have lithium-ion batteries, which tend to charge quickly and hold a charge for a long time without use.

    Most batteries will last from 6 to 15 hours, though this is dependent on factors like screen brightness and what tasks you are performing, as using Photoshop will drain battery a lot faster than Microsoft Word.

    If you regularly work on the go, a reliable battery can be a lifesaver. But if you mostly work at your desk, a short battery life may make little difference to you.

    Lightweight and powerful

    If an SSD is a must for you, this machine has 512GB of SSD storage and 16GB of RAM for great performance. The battery is nothing special, but the lightweight and compact design make up for it. Comes loaded with Windows 10.

    Features

    Once you know what operating system is right for you and how fast your laptop-turned-tablet needs to be, you should consider additional features like the overall form factor and security features.

    Size and weight

    The size of your laptop is largely determined by the screen dimensions, but thickness and weight will vary.

    With an impressive battery can come an impressive weight, which may take a toll on your shoulder if you take your laptop with you. Despite their touchscreen and flip designs, some 2-in-1 laptops are just as thin as traditional laptops.

    Security

    Protecting your data is important, and you may find that a password doesn’t quite cut it.

    Some 2-in-1 laptops include added security features that are fast, intuitive, and reliable.

    • Fingerprint scanners provide a quick way to log in to your computer and keep out unwanted users.

    • Facial recognition works similarly, identifying your face with the built-in camera. This may feel a bit strange at first, but it is extremely accurate and secure.

    • Encrypted drives protect specific files in the case of theft. These files can only be accessed with an encryption key — otherwise their information will appear garbled to any would-be thieves.
       

    Cloud-based services and storage solutions like Google Drive may not offer these security features, which may affect you if you purchase a Chromebook. However, two-step verification is a trustworthy way of accessing important accounts and documents.

    Camera and microphone

    If video calls are a regular part of your work, you should ensure that the camera and microphone of your 2-in-1 laptop are reliable and of decent quality.

    Most cameras range from two to eight megapixels, and some models may have front- and rear-facing cameras.

    Ports and connectivity

    You won’t find a 2-in-1 laptop without WiFi capability, but some may offer a better connection than others. Most models will use a 2.4GHz connection, which is reliable but only moderately fast, but dual-band models can use 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi connections, allowing for faster upload and download speeds.

    Bluetooth is another standard feature, but ports may vary. Most models will have USB 3.0 ports, but this is not always the case — something to take note of if you regularly use flash drives to transfer data. USB-C and Thunderbolt drives may be found in higher-end models and offer rapid charging and data transferring.

    Stylus

    While just about any 2-in-1 laptop will have a touchscreen that is stylus compatible, few models include styluses. There are two main types of styluses you should look for.

    • A passive stylus works like an extension of your finger. The tip interacts with the screen for things like clicking and dragging, and there’s no need to charge the stylus.

    • An active stylus is more precise and feels like a pencil or pen in your hand. It has a rechargeable battery and communicates with your laptop, typically via Bluetooth. Active styluses include additional features like moving the cursor by hovering above the screen and distinguishing between the stylus and your palm.
    EXPERT TIP

    Be careful when connecting and detaching your screen — breaking the linking mechanism can be an expensive repair.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    If power is what you’re looking for, take note of whether the processor is located in the screen or in the keyboard in detachable models. Models with the processor in the keyboard are usually designed to be used primarily as laptops rather than tablets.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    Expect a shorter battery life with 2-in-1 tablets, as the touchscreen uses extra energy — even when you aren’t using it.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    2-in-1 laptop prices

    Basic 2-in-1 laptops that tend to be smaller in size and have less processing power fall in the $200 to $500 range. These often work well for college students or people who are looking for a basic, functional computer with touchscreen capability. Many basic Chromebooks fall in this price range.

    For $500 to $1,000, 2-in-1 laptops offer fast performance and often have SSD storage. These are capable machines that can be used for a variety of purposes and may keep pace with more expensive models.

    Models in the $1,000 to $2,000 range offer performance suitable to professional artists and designers with impressive CPUs and high-resolution screens. With the added price you may get an active stylus and possibly a detachable screen.

    Affordable, compact, and rugged

    This Chromebook is not the fastest with 4GB RAM, but its backlit keyboard and Gorilla Glass make for a tough and flashy design. With a 12.5” 1080p touchscreen, this is a great machine for working on the go.

    Tips

    • Consider purchasing a case for your 2-in-1 laptop, and always ensure that the screen is protected. Storing your laptop in tablet mode may damage the screen or keyboard.

    • A matte or privacy screen can improve the look of your touchscreen and prevent scratches.

    • If you opt for a detachable model, always store the keyboard somewhere safe so it doesn’t become lost, damaged, or stolen.

    • Expect 2-in-1 laptops to weigh considerably more than most tablets.

    Others products we considered

    The market for 2-in-1 laptops is on the rise, and there are a handful of models aside from our top five worth looking into. The Microsoft Surface Book 2 stands out as one of the best detachable models with a useful tablet mode and impressive battery life. It is more expensive, but it is a quality machine with excellent performance. The Acer Switch Alpha 12 is a relatively affordable detachable laptop that includes a stylus. For its price, this is a powerful machine that is portable and convenient.

    If you don’t want the keyboard on your lap when you’re using tablet mode, consider a model with a rotating hinge, which conceals the keyboard during tablet mode.

    FAQ

    Q. Does the keyboard turn off when a 2-in-1 laptop is in tablet mode?

    A. With models that flip backward, yes. If you do want to keep the keyboard on, some laptops have workarounds.

    Q. Are all 2-in-1 laptops compatible with active styluses?

    A. No. If this is an accessory you plan on purchasing, make sure that the laptop you purchase is not only compatible but also reliable for use with an active stylus.

    Q. How long should a 2-in-1 laptop last?

    A. Like a traditional laptop, a 2-in-1 model should last for around four years. However, this is a rapidly advancing area, and it’s likely that strides will be made in the next decade to improve things like battery life and form factor.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor
    • Peter
      Peter
      Writer
    • Rich
      Rich
      Writer

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