Convertibles, or 2-in-1 laptops as they are also called, are not necessarily a new breed of portable computers. Tablet PCs have been used in business environments since the 1990’s, but they’ve become a lot more popular among regular users in the later years, as their price has gone down and more form-factors were introduced to the market.
We’re going to talk about the best 2-in-1s available today in this post. But first, let’s see what you should expect from such a device. First of all, convertible ultrabooks need to be slim and light, while able to deliver solid-everyday performance and long battery life, and second, they need to include some sort of convertible or detachable touchscreen. This is what makes them more than just as a regular laptop, as it allows us to use them as tablets, stands or tents as well, or in other words transforms the laptop as we knew it in the past in a more versatile and adaptable computer.
Convertibles come in many shapes and form factors right now, with a variety of different features and price tags. We’ll split the post into two main sections, one that addresses the premium 2-in-1 ultrabooks and another for the more affordable hybrids, and I’ll tell you a few words about my favorite options in each camp.
By the end of the article, you’ll have a pretty good idea which one of these notebooks best fits your needs and budget. And even if you still haven’t made up your mind, don’t despair, get in touch in the comments section and I’ll do my best to help you out.
Premium 2-in-1 ultrabooks and convertibles
If you want the best hybrid laptops available in stores right now, you’ll find them in this section. Just don’t expect them to come cheap.
HP Spectre x360
If you’re willing to spend around $1000 for a 2-in-1 laptop, the HP Spectre x360 should be at the top of your list.
HP did a great job with this machine. They built it from metal, so it’s both beautiful and strong, and they bundled it with a good backlit keyboard and excellent displays. There are a couple of options for you to choose from, and even the base model, with a 1920 x 1080 px resolution and an IPS panel, is very good. They include a digitizer and active-pen support, so the Spectre is well suited for inking and sketching as well. Keep in mind that a pen is not included in the pack, so you’ll have to buy it on the side.
Pairing the display with fast Broadwell or Skylake hardware, up to 8 GB of RAM and M.2 SSD storage, the Spectre flies in everyday use and offers 6-8 hours of battery life on a single charge. That’s something most other 2-in-1s cannot match.
On the other hand, the sturdy aluminum build does take its toll on the laptop’s overall weight of over 3.2 lbs, while some of the other modern 2-in-1s are lighter. And since we’re mentioning the shortcomings, HP could have done a better job with the oleophobic glass on top of the screen and with the WiFi, which occasionally fails to connect to certain networks after the computer resumes from sleep.
The Spectre’s price could steer some of you towards something else though, as the most affordable options start at $899 and a decent configuration with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage goes for around $1000.
Follow the links below for our full review of the Spectre x360 and the latest deals on this convertible.
Surface Pro 3
The Surface Pro 3 in a different kind of hybrid, as it is actually a Windows tablet that can be paired with a keyboard-folio in order to get the laptop-like experience. That makes it more compact and lighter than the other 2-in-1s, but also better suited for life on a desk or other flat surfaces than for life on the road or in your lap.
The Surface Pro has a few distinct particularities, like the 3:2 high-resolution screen with narrow bezels and digitizer support (N-Trig, and a pen is included), the multi-angle adjustable kickstand on the back, the durable magnesium body, the quiet cooling system (yes, this device is fan cooled) or the rather limited IO.
On top of that, the Surface Pro 3 is powered by Intel Haswell U hardware, but a Surface Pro 4 update with Skylake on board is scheduled for the end of 2015, and we’ll update this section once it’s launched.
All in all, while the Surface Pro 3 is Microsoft’s best computer to date, it’s not necessarily the laptop-replacement the PR guys want you to believe it is. It lacks the comfortable clam-shell form factor that makes laptops so easy to use on the lap, it lacks the IO and the keyboard/touchpad experience, to name just some of the aspects that set the Surface Pro 3 apart from an actual ultrabook.
That doesn’t mean that the Surface Pro 3 can’t be the right pick for you, especially if you plan to use it as a tablet most of the time, and not primarily as a notebook. It does not come cheap though. The base configuration, with an Intel Core i3 processor, 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage space starts at $699, and higher-tier configurations will quickly go over the 1G milestone. Keep in mind the Keyboard Folio is not included and will set you back some extra 130 bucks.
Some of the available configurations are available discounted online. Check out this link for offers and potential deals.
Lenovo Yoga 900, the Yoga 3 Pro and the Yoga 2 Pro
These are Lenovo’s best convertible ultraportables designed for consumers, and while the name might suggest similarities between them, they are actually different in many ways.
The Yoga 900 is Lenovo’s latest offer, built on Skylake-U hardware and launched in 2015, the Yoga 3 Pro is built on Broadwell Core M hardware and was released in 2014, while the Yoga 2 Pro is a Haswell based machine released back in 2013, but it’s still worth buying today due to its excellent price.
All these machines are 4-in-1 convertibles designed to work as regular laptops, tablets, stands or tents. They are built on the same form factor, with the screen able to fold back 360-degrees on the back.
The Yoga 900 is an evolution of its predecessors. As a result, it is a sleek machine (weighs 2.8 lbs and is very thin) with an awesome high-resolution display, a backlit keyboard and the latest Core i5 and i7 Skylake processors inside, plus a large 66 Wh battery. It doesn’t come cheap though, with an expected MSRP of $1499 and up.
The Yoga 3 Pro is an even thinner computer with an aluminum shell, that only weighs 2.6 lbs, but has a large footprint, as you can tell by the hinges around its 13.3 inch display. It also packs a fairly shallow keyboard.
Hardware wise, the Yoga 3 Pro is powered by Intel Core-M processors with up to 8 GB of RAM and up to 512 GB SSDs, and there’s only enough room inside for a 44 Wh battery. The Core M processors offer limited performance and are not very efficient either (expect around 5 hours of life from this machine). On top of these, the initial Yoga 3 Pro variants were not fanless, unlike most of the other Core M powered machines, so make sure you get the newer Intel Core-M 5Y71 configuration and not the older Core-M 5Y70 models, if you’re interested in one of these Yogas.
The Yoga 2 Pro is thicker (by about 0.2 of an inch) and heavier (by about 0.5 lbs) than the Y3P, while it offers a similar form factor and a similar 13.3 inch display (with some documented colors issues though, make sure you research this topic). It’s also significantly faster, especially if you opt for the Core i7 Haswell U processors, while it doesn’t fall short in terms of battery life (again, expect roughly 5 hours on a charge). I’ve reviewed the Y2P here, if you’re interested in all the aspects you should know about this 2-in-1.
When it comes pricing, the Yoga 3 Pro starts at around $1100 these days, but you can actually find it cheaper online. That kind of money will get you the Core M-5Y71 / 8 GB of RAM / 256 GB SSD configuration.
The Yoga 2 Pro on the other hand starts at as low as $900 for a Core i5 / 8 GB of RAM /256 GB SSD configuration and Core i7 models go for just under $1000. That if you can still find it in stock anywhere. Follow this link for up to date prices and potential discounts.
Long story short, the Yoga 2 Pro has always been, at least in my opinion, a better buy than the Yoga 3 Pro. The newer version looks somewhat better and is lighter, but the loss in performance and usability (fewer ports, shallower keyboard) are hard to justify, especially when you have to pay premium for the Y3P. It’s also worth noting that both the Yoga 2 and 3 Pro lines lack a digitizer and proper pen support.
The Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga line
Lenovo merged the Yoga 2-in-1 factor with the high standards of their business ThinkPad lines, and the fruits of this merger are the ThinkPad Yogas. There are three different models available in stores at the time of this update, with 12.5-inch, 14-inch and 15.6-inch screens.
I’ve reviewed the 12.5 inch version a while ago here on the site and it’s a fairly good device. The latest generation is built on Intel Broadwell U hardware, but is otherwise identical to the version we reviewed. The 12.5 inch FHD low-glare screen is a part of it, with digitizer support. A pen is included (with most versions, with some you’ll have to buy it separately) and you can easily tuck it away in its dedicated slot inside the laptop.
Besides these, you do get a proper selection of ports, an ergonomic keyboard and a few extra-features when compared to the Yoga Pro lines. The keys are mechanically locked when the device leaves the laptop mode, so they are not as exposed as on the other Yogas, and the ThinkPad Yoga is overall a stronger built machine, meant to survive the hassle of corporate environments. The battery life on the other hand is average at best, around 5 hours on a charge, which is not enough for whole day’s work.
Now, all these do make the ThinkPad Yoga 12 somewhat bulky and heavy for a 12.5 incher, but if you do need what it has to offer you’ll be just fine with its 3.5 pounds and 0.75-inch body.
The ThinkPad Yoga starts at around $900 these days, for the base versions with Intel Core i5 Broadwell processors, 4 GB of RAM and SSD storage. There’s a fair chance you’ll find those slightly discounted online, while previous gen models with Haswell hardware should be even cheaper, if you can still find them in stock.
The ThinkPad Yoga 14 is a slightly different beast. It’s built on the same convertible form-factor, but lacks a pen or digitizer support, which are instead replaced by dedicated graphics. The TPY14 comes with a 14-inch IPS touchscreen, Broadwell or Skylake hardware, up to 8 GB of RAM, various types of storage and Nvidia 840M or 940M graphics, all tucked inside a sturdy 4.2 lbs body.
These specs make the ThinkPad Yoga a solid all-rounder that can cope with everyday tasks, multimedia content and some games. It’s not as portable as the Zenbook UX303LN, which bundles a similar configuration, but it’s a convertible, just as fast and somewhat cheaper, as the base version starts at around $1000 and you should find it discounted online.
The ThinkPad Yoga 15 is a full-size computer with a 15.6 inch display and it’s actually one of the very few convertibles of this size. It’s built on Broadwell hardware and weighs close to 5.1 lbs, but also offers up to 16 GB of RAM, dedicated graphics, a NumPad keyboard and several different storage options. This model has an MSRP of $899 and up, based on configuration.
Acer Aspire R13
Acer’s Aspire R13 is a rather odd convertible. It offers a 13.3-inch touchscreen that swivels inside its bezel, which is a design that does not expose the keyboard in tablet mode, but also leads to a larger footprint than on most other computers with a similarly sized display.
Check-out my Aspire R13 detailed review for the in-depth impressions on this machine.
Once you get past the aesthetics, the R13 proves to be a worthy convertible. It weighs 3.3 pounds, it packs a good quality high-resolution display with pen support (works with Acer’s optional Active Pen that sells for $50 and is not included in the pack) and bundles either Haswell, Broadwell or Skylake U hardware, with up to 8 GB of RAM and various amounts of SSD storage. The keyboard is rather cramped on the Skylake model and actually lacks the row of Function keys on the older versions, so you’ll need some time to get used to it.
Last but definitely not least, the solid price makes this laptop a great buy, as the base model MSRPs for $999 and includes a Core i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD, while upper configurations sell for a few hundred dollars extra. I expect the prices to drop in the following months, which should make the Aspire R13 an even more interesting option. Follow this link for more details and up-to-date prices at the time you’re reading this post.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 3rd gen
If I’d have an unlimited budget at my disposal, this would be the 2-in-1 I would personally get.
The Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon has now reached its third generation and has evolved with each model (here’s how the 2nd gen X1 Carbon did in our tests). This latest version offers the simple, yet elegant design that ThinkPad users love, the build quality expected from a device created to endure the harsh life of corporate environments, the convertible Yoga-like form factor, and a keyboard and trackpad (with physical click buttons) unrivaled by most other Windows laptops out there.
These are bundled with a high-resolution 14.0 inch touchscreen (options for FHD matte panels are also available) and Intel’s Broadwell-U hardware platforms, paired with up to 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB SSDs, plus a 50 Wh battery. And they are all tucked inside a slim and light magnesium body that only weighs 3.1 lbs.
So on paper, this ThinkPad X1 Carbon is close to perfection. In practice, you’ll first have to deal with the ludicrous prices, as the most basic model sell for around $1200, while a Core i7 configuration with 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD gets dangerously close to the 2G mark.
And even if you can look past that, you’ll probably expect this computer to behave flawlessly, but that’s not always the case, as the hardware tends to throttle under serious load, while the 6 hours of battery life you can expect to get on a charge isn’t exactly top in its class. But no laptop is absolutely perfect, not even one as expensive as this ThinkPad X1 Carbon.
Premium Core M options: Dell Latitude 13 7000 and Toshiba Portege Z20t
The Latitude 13 7000 is a 13-inch detachable built on a fanless Core M platform.
The stand-alone slate weighs only 1.9 lbs and includes a 13.3 inch FHD IPS touchscreen with support for Wacom pens, although a pen is not included in the pack. A keyboard dock is though, and when latched together the two parts make up for 3.7 lbs laptop. Part of the weight is due to the extra 20Wh battery inside the dock, on top of the 30 Wh one tucked inside the tablet itself.
The Latitude 13 7000 is motorized by either Core M 5Y10 or 5Y71 processors with up to 8 GB of RAM and 512 GB SSDs and these should make it good enough for everyday activities. Dell markets the device primarily for corporate users and thus it offers vPro enabled configurations and a large suite of compatible accessories.
All these don’t come cheap and neither does the tablet, as the base version has an MSRP of $1199, which makes it pricier than most other devices in this list, including the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro or the Microsoft Surface Pro 3. That’s why the Latitude 7000 might not appeal to everyone, but is nonetheless a 2-in-1 worth at least a look.
The Toshiba Portege Z20t is another Core M powered tablet with an attachable dock. It is a bit more compact though, as it only offers a 12.5 inch display, and as a result it is slightly lighter then the Dell as well (3.3 lbs for the tablet + dock). The 1080p touchscreen gets a non-glare treatment and includes a digitizer with pen support. On top of that, a secondary Wacom digitizer is bundled in the pack, if you require more precise pen recognition.
The docking unit includes a great keyboard, solid IO and a 36 Wh battery, alongside the other 36 Wh battery inside the tablet, and combined the two will easily offer 10+ hours of everyday use on a charge.
Tshiba’s Portege Z20T doesn’t come cheap though, with the base model selling for $1399 and up, but if you need a capable and long-lasting business device, this one should be on your list.
HP EliteBook Revolve 810 G3
This is the Broadwell update of the EliteBook Revolve series 810, a tabletPC with powerful hardware and plenty of features.
The Revolve is a rather compact device, with an 11.6 inch IPS display (unfortunately only a 1366 x 768 px panel is available) that integrates a digitizer, thus pen support. It works with HP’s Executive Tablet Pen, an optional accessory not included in most bundles.
Despite being small, HP put Broadwell Core i3 to i7 processors inside, up to 12 GB of RAM and up to 512 GB SSDs, thus this little fellow is a beast when it comes to performance. There’s also a 44 Wh battery tucked inside, so endurance is not going to be a problem either. All these features are tucked inside a magnesium chassis designed to pass MIL tests, thus the Revolve is also one of the sturdiest and most reliable devices out there, making it suitable for corporate wear.
In fact, the only important aspect that could steer you away from the Revolve 810 G3 is the price: $1299 and up.
Fujitsu Lifebook T935 and Stylistic Q775
These are Fujitsu’s updated 13-inch lines of Broadwell powered ultraportables. The Lifebook T935 is a tablet PC with a swivable display, while the Stylistic Q775 is a detachable, or a stand-alone tablet with a matching keyboard dock.
Both are powered by Broadwell U processors and both offer 13.3-inch displays with pen and digitizer support. The Lifebook gets a WQHD IGZO panel, an integrated fingerprint-reader or 4G modem, and a 17 mm aluminum and magnesium body that weighs 3.25 lbs. The Stylistic settles for only a FHD IPS panel, a more limited IO and a smaller battery, but still gets the optional 4G/LTE module in a 2.2 lbs body (that’s for the slate alone, without the dock).
As expected, neither of these laptops are very affordable and since they are mostly targeted towards enterprise users, regular consumers might actually struggle to find them in stores. But if you do need all those business features, you should at least have these on your short-list.
Affordable hybrids and convertibles
This section is reserved for more budget-friendly devices, that sell for under $1000. We’ll start with a few words on the really affordable options (with MSRPs under $500) and we’ll continue with more standard options further down (13 and even 15-inch everyday laptops).
The basic 2-in-1 mini-laptops
If you only have $500 or less to spend for a portable 2-in-1, you should peruse the devices in this section. If your budget allows you to get something better, scroll down to the next chapter.
These are mainly built on Intel low-power hardware platforms (Arom, Pentium or Celeron), so they won’t excel in terms of performance or multitasking capabilities, but still pack enough firepower to handle fine the standard everyday activities, like browsing, editing texts, checking out emails, listening to music, watching movies and so on, as long as you don’t try to do all these things at the same time. On the other hand, what they loose in performance they gain in battery life, as most of these devices can easily go for 6+ hours of use on a charge.
The Dell Inspiron 11 3000 is an 11.6-inch ultraportable with a Yoga-like form factor (360-degree foldable display). It’s available in a few hardware options, as it is powered by either Bay-Trail Celeron processors, Haswell Pentium CPUs or a Core i3. The latter option should definitely give it a bit more punch when dealing with multiple applications at once.
On top of that, the Inspiron 11 does offers a full-size and fairly comfortable keyboard, a solid set of ports and a 43 Wh battery that can push it for about 6 hours on a charge, all these inside a 0.8 inch thick, 3.1 pounds body.
Last but not least, Dell went really aggressive with the pricing for the Inspiron 11 3000 series, as it starts just under $350 for the Atom versions, while the Pentium configurations will sell for around $400. Follow this link for up-to-date prices and user reviews.
HP have a very similar device in stores, the Pavilion x360, another convertible 11-incher available in a multitude on hardware options. You can find it in a few different colors and bundled with Intel’s latest generation Core i3s or Celeron/Atom CPUs. But the Pavilion gets a smaller battery than the Dell and it’s also a bit pricier. Follow this link for more details.
Then there’s the Lenovo Flex 3 11, an even cheaper 11-inch 2-in-1 that sells for as little as $300 for a Celeron configuration, which makes it more affordable than all the other options in its class.
And last but not least there’s the Acer Aspire R 11, which we reviewed here on the site a few weeks ago. It sells for $249 and up and it’s available in a few different hardware configurations. All are bundled with a huge 50 Wh battery (enough for 8 hours of use between charges), but if you plan to go for this machine you’ll have to live with its poor TN display and its rather heavy 3.5 lbs body.
The Asus Transformer Pad T100 series consists of 10-inch tablets with docking units. There have been several different T100 models out there, from the initial T100TA (review) to the updated T100TAM (review) and up to the more recent T100HA (review), and all of them were met with great success.
Most options retail for under $300 (potential discounts are available here), but that alone would not be enough to attract users. The Transformer Pads T100 are also nicely built devices capable of delivering a good-everyday experience thanks to the Intel Atom Bay-Trail and Cherry-Trail processors inside, plus a battery life of roughly 8 hours on a single charge.
The Asus Transformer Pad Chi T100 is revamped 10-inch slate with a sleeker metallic construction and digitizer support. It does sacrifice the IO for portability and looks, and with an MSRP of $400, it might not be the ideal pick for most buyers, but it’s an option worth considering. Check out my detailed review or follow this link for potential discounts.
The Asus Transformer Pad T200 is a slightly larger and more powerful device. It sells for between $350 and $500 based on configuration and offers an 11.6 inch IPS display, a larger trackpad and keyboard, more ports and the ability to put a HDD inside the dock in order to increase storage space. It’s available with up to 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. Check out my detailed review for extra info or follow this link for a list of up-to-date configurations and potential discounts.
The Acer Aspire Switch 10 and 10E are Acer’s iteration of the exact same concept: Atom powered 10-inch tablets with a latchable keyboard dock. The Switch 10 is available in two different options, a base model called the Switch 10 E with a slower processor, a 1366 x 768 px display and a plastic body and a more premium option with a glass-covered case and a FullHD IPS display with digitizer and pen support.
I’ve reviewed the Switch 10 E over here and for the money it is a solid option, especially if you want a colorful exterior and long battery life. It retails for $279 and up, while the Switch 10 has an MSRP of $400 and will compete with the likes of the Asus Transformer Book Chi T100 mentioned above. Follow this link for updated configurations and prices on both models.
The everyday affordable 2-in-1s
You’ll find 13 to 15-inch convertibles in this section, all selling for between $500 to $1000 and the time of this update.
Dell Inspiron 13 and 15 7000 2-in-1 series
The Inspiron 13 7000 is one of the best affordable 13-inch 2-in-1s out there, and you’ll see why from my detailed review posted here on the site.
It offers a 13.3-inch IPS convertible touchscreen, a nice backlit keyboard, plenty of ports and a sturdily built case, with a silver rubbery finishing. Dell equips this model with either Haswell, Broadwell or Skylake Core iX processors, up to 8 GB of RAM and various types of storage, and both the memory and the storage are user upgradeable. There’s only a 43 Wh battery inside though, while most similar devices offer a larger one, and as a result the Inspiron 13 7000 falls a bit short in terms of battery life.
Still, this machine is a solid pick for the money. The base models start at a little under $600 and most configurations are available discounted online.
Dell recently released a larger variant of this laptop, the Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1, which sells for $600 and up as well (follow this link for the latest configurations and prices), but packs a 15.6-inch IPS display. It weighs 4.8 lbs and, surprisingly, bundles the same 43 Wh battery, so it won’t impress with its battery life either.
Lenovo Yoga 3 and Yoga 700 series
The original Yoga was released in 2013 and Lenovo worked on a couple of successor series since then, the Yoga 2, a Haswell equipped version that hit the stores in 2014, the Yoga 3, a Broadwell powered line that was launched in early 2015 and the Yoga 700 that followed up in late 2015 with Skylake hardware.
The Yoga 3 series consists of an 11 and a 14-inch model. The Yoga 3 11 includes a FHD 11.6-inch display, a light body (2.4 lbs) and Core M hardware. The 2015 model is fanless, but also somewhat faster and longer lasting than the Yoga 2 11. It also runs hotter and sells for more though, with an MSRP of $799 at launch, which will however get more affordable as time goes by.
The 13-inch Yoga 2 13 was replaced by the Yoga 3 14 (later rebranded as the Yoga 700), now with a 14-inch FHD IPS display. Lenovo claim they’ve put a 14 inch screen inside a 13 inch body, but in reality the new model has gained a few mms here and there, as well as a few ounces. The other big changes are on the inside, as the Yoga 700 is powered by Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 processors, gets a faster AC wireless module and an option for dedicated Nvidia 940M graphics on some of the higher-end models. Not much has changed otherwise, except for the more generous IO, since there’s now more room for ports on the edges.
On the other hand the Yoga 700 is rather expensive, with the base versions selling for around $850, which makes it pricier than the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 or the Acer Transformer Book Flip TP300, which the Yoga 2 13 managed to tackle closely in the past.
Follow this link for up-to-date info on prices and configurations, as well as user reviews and watch the video below for a few details and differences between the the Yoga 3 models.
Asus Transformer Book Flip TP300 and TP500
There are several models included in this series and the 13-inch and the 15-inch versions are the ones that caught my attention.
I’ve reviewed the Transformer Book Flip TP300 here on the site and you should check out the article for my detailed impressions. It’s also known as the Q302 in the US and bundles Haswell, Broadwell or Skylake hardware, up to 8 GB of RAM, HDD or SSD storage, a 13.3-inch FHD IPS convertible touchscreen and a 50 Wh battery. On top of these, you can get some models with Nvidia dedicated graphics (the TP300LDs) or some without (the TP300LAs).
Just like the other affordable 13 inchers in this list, the TP300 is fairly bulky and heavy (3.85 bls), but that’s mostly because of its Macbook-like metallic case, while devices like the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 or the Lenovo Yoga 3 14 rely on plastic shells. The aluminum covered body will probably make a difference for at least some of you, and the price will as well, as the Asus Transformer Book Flip is usually $50 to $100 cheaper than a similarly configured Dell, HP or Lenovo unit, although that might vary from region to region. Follow this link for more details and up to date prices.
I’ve also reviewed the larger member of the Flip family, the TP500, a 2-in-1 with a 15-inch display, and you can read all about it in this post.
It’s overall not as impressive as the TP300, but it’s cheaper, with some configurations starting at around $500. Follow this link for more details and up-to-date prices. It keeps the touchscreen, the form-factor and the metallic body and adds a NumPad keyboard, more ports and options for Nvidia 840M graphics, but also only bundles a slightly smaller 48 Wh battery.
Asus Transformer Books T300 Chi and T300FA
The Transformer Books are Windows tablets that you can use as standalone devices, or connected to the multi-functional docking-stations included in the packs, which bundle a keyboard, trackpad and in some cases other features like ports or an extra battery.
The Transformer Book T300FA and the T300 Chi are the more recent entries in this series, built on Intel’s Core M hardware, and I reviewed the T300FA model a while ago, as well as the T300 Chi a few weeks later.
They provide a completely fanless experience, enough power for a casual everyday activities and roughly 6 hours of battery life. Both offer 12.5-inch IPS displays, but while the T300FA gets an HD or FHD IPS panel, the T300 Chi gets a higher resolution 2560 x 1440 px screen. Both offer support for Asus’s Active pen.
These aside, the T300 Chi is the skinnier, lighter and more premium built version of the two. It does sacrifice the dock’s functionality though, which in this case is merely a Bluetooth keyboard, while on the T300FA the dock is physically connected to the tablet and includes ports and space for a 2.5″ storage unit inside.
Both units had an initial MSRP of roughly $700 and up, but both are greatly discounted these days. The T300 Chi is more widely available and sells for under $500 at the time of this update. And while there are reasons for this price drop, as you can see from the review, that Chi T300 can still be a great buy if you know exactly what to expect from it. Follow this link for up-to-date configurations and prices at the time you’re reading this post.
Lenovo Yoga 500 (Flex 2/3 14 and 15) lines
These are Lenovo’s lines of affordable ultrabooks.
The Flex 2 series is avialable in a 14 and a 15.6 inch variant, starting at around $500 (and going for even less online), with decent specs, plenty of ports and a screen that flips on the back, like on the Yogas but only to about 270 degrees. And that means than unlike the Transformers above, the Flexes cannot be used as tablets, but only in Laptop, Tend and Presentation modes.
The Flex 2 15 gets a 32 Wh battery, weighs 5.1 lbs (which translates in about 4-5 hours of everyday use for a mid-level Core i5 configuration) and a 1366 x 768 px TN touchscreen, which can’t really stand next to the IPS displays on the Asus line. On the other hand, the Lenovo Flex 2 15s are about $150 to $200 cheaper than a similarly equipped Transformer Book TP500.
The 14 inch version of the Flex 2 is identical to its larger kin, just slightly more compact (weighs 4.2 pounds) and even more affordable, as the Core i5-4210U CPU/ 4GB RAM / 500 GB HDD configuration sells for under $500 these days.
The Flex 3 series actually improves most of the areas where its predecessors felt short. First, they are powered by Intel Broadwell hardware. Second, they now get optional FHD IPS panels that can actually convert all the way to 360 degrees, just like on the Yogas, although the base versions are still offered with TN HD screens. Third, they are a bit more compact and lighter than before and they can get optional Nvidia dedicated graphics.
Despite all these things, the Flex 3 laptops are still very affordable, with the 14-inch model starting at $549 and the 15.6 inch version at $579.
Lenovo also introduced a smaller Flex 3 11 (also known as the Yoga 300) convertible that sells for $299 an up and is still a fully convertible device, but only settles for Celeron hardware and an 11.6 inch 1366 x 768 px display. Even so, it should be a decent competitor for the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 and the HP Pavilion 11 X360.
These are the best convertible ultrabooks you can find in stores right now. More are going to become available in the next months, so stay tuned, I’m constantly updating the list, adding new products as they hit the stores.
In the meantime, if you’re interested in a highly portable laptop, you should also check out my list of the best ultrabooks of the moment, my selection of highly recommended Chromebooks and maybe this other list of more affordable ultrabook alternatives.
Drawing the line on these 2-in-1 laptops, it’s hard to say some models are better than the others, as they are different and address different needs. Some are overall more interesting than the other though. For instance, the HP Spectre X360 is a great all-rounder, if you have around $1000 to spend, the Microsoft Surface offers unrivaled performance in a compact and light shell, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon and the HP Elitebook Revolve 810 G3 are great business options, while the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 or the Asus Transformer Book Chi T300 are great buys if you’re on a very limited budget.
At the end of the day though, you know exactly what you want from your next computer and how much you’re planing to spend on it, that’s why the final decision is all yours. If you need more help deciding though, if you spot any new product that’s not included in here or if you just have something to ask or add to this list, don’t hesitate to use the comments section below. I’m around and I’ll reply as soon as possible.
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