Ultrabook reviews 2014, scoops and comparisons

Best 15 2-in-1 laptops – ultrabook convertibles and tablet hybrids

By Andrei Girbea - @andreigirbea , updated on October 17, 2014

Convertibles, or 2-in-1 laptops as we could also call them, are not a new breed of portable computers. In fact, Tablet PCs have been used in business environments since the 1990′s. But they’ve become a lot more popular in the last years and a lot more affordable as well.

Intel definitely had a word to say in this, as they’ve pushed the hybrid ultrabook concept strongly and as a result, we now have at least 15 good convertibles to choose from. We’ll talk about them in this post.

Before we do that though, let’s see what you should expect from a 2-in-1 ultrabooks. Well, these are mostly sleek and portable laptops capable of offering good-everyday performance and long battery life. On top of those, they come with some sort of flippable or detachable touchscreen, which allows us to use the devices as regular clam-shell notebooks, but also as tablets and several modes in between. And that makes them versatile and adaptable to all sorts of use situations.

These kind of 2-in-1 machines come in many shapes right now, with a variety of different features and price tags. We’ll split the post in two main sections, premium 2-in-1 laptops and affordable hybrids, and I’ll tell you a few words about each units positive and negative aspects. Thus, by the end of the article, you should be able to pick one of these computers for yourself, the one that best fits your needs and budget. Or at least you’ll know that there’s no convertible laptop that can meet your expectations right now.

Premium 2-in-1 ultrabooks and convertibles

If you want the best such devices available in stores right now, you’ll find them in here. But be aware that they don’t come cheap.

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro – my detailed review

This is Lenovo’s top-of-the-line convertible ultrabook these days and builds on the previous Yoga series. It has lost weight, is has been slightly polished and has got a few noticeable upgrades, including several Intel Haswell configurations and a sharp 3200 x 1800 px IPS touchscreen.

The form factor was kept mostly unchanged though from the original Yogas, as screen folds around the hinge and onto to the back, to 360 degrees, and that leads to several use modes: Laptop, Stand, Desk and Tablet.

Now, the Yoga 2 Pro is still quite hefty for a tablet, tipping the scales at roughly 3 lbs, and the form factor does leave the keyboard exposed on the back in slate mode, but even so, the tablet experience is pretty good with this one. The laptop experience is even better, as the Yoga 2 Pro comes with a decent keyboard and trackpad, plus a fair selection of ports for a convertible, although other devices do offer more options here.

The Yoga’s only major inconvenience is the rather short battery life though, of about 5 hours of daily use on a charge, but if you can live with that, there’s a fair chance you’ll get along fine with this computer. Especially since you’re getting a lot for what you’re going to pay for it. The cheapest configurations start at around $900 these days, and for roughly $1100 you can get yourself a Core i5-4200U processor with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB SSD, which should be more than enough for everyday activities. ( Follow this link for up-to-date offers and potential discounts and this link for my in-depth review of this laptop).

It’s also worth noting that the Yoga 2 Pro lacks a digitizer and proper pen support, and here’s where the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga comes in play.

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga – my review

Lenovo put their versatile Yoga form factor on a ThinkPad, and the result is this durable and sober ThinkPad Yoga, with a few extra features over the other Lenovo Yogas, but a few drawbacks as well.

For starters, there’s a 12.5 inch FHD low-glare screen on this unit, with a digitizer. 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 when not using it. Besides these, you do get more ports with the ThinkPad Yoga, an improved keyboard and a few business environment features. The keys are actually mechanically locked when having this laptop in tablet mode, so they are not as exposed as on the other Yogas. Last but not least, the ThinkPad Yoga is rigid and stronger, as it’s meant to live its life in a much more brutal environment, where it will be shoved and hassled around each day.

All these do make the ThinkPad Yoga somewhat bulky and heavy for a 12.5 incher, but if you need what it has to offer, you’ll be just fine with its 3.5 pounds 0.8 of an inch thick body. On top of that, the battery life on the TY is just average, around 6 hours, which might not be enough to get your through a whole day’s work on a charge.

The ThinkPad Yoga starts at under $1000 these days, for the base version, with an Intel Core i3 Haswell processor, 4 GB of RAM and a 500 GB HDD, and adding extra options can quickly push this one closer to 1.5G. There’s a fair chance you’ll find it slightly discounted online though, but don’t get your hopes too high.

Bottom line, the ThinkPad Yoga is not cheap, but is one of the few convertibles available these days ready for business. In other words, this might not be the first choice for everyone, but if you need what it has to offer and you’re OK with the extra bulk, the ThinkPad Yoga won’t disappoint. More details are available in my detailed review, so have a look.

Dell XPS 12

The Dell XPS 12 is another 12.5 inch device with a swivable screen, but in this case, the display rotates inside its outer-frame, as you can see in the pictures below. I can’t say that’s necessarily a better way to do it, but I can say that this solution is fairly robust and hopefully will prove itself reliable on the long term.

Unlike the ThinkPad Yoga, the XPS 12 is more of a consumer oriented device. It lacks a digitizer and proper pen support, although you can still use capacitive styluses with it. It’s also more compact and lighter, tipping the scale at 3.35 lbs, despite the fact that it bundles a 55WH battery that allows it to go for 7-8 hours of use on a charge. If you add the good keyboard, powerful hardware, the high-quality display and the accurate trackpad to the mix, the XPS 12 really sounds like a potential winner.

It’s not all roses with this laptop though, as it tends to get a bit too warm in everyday use and does lack a SD-card reader. But those are probably not enough to steer you away from the XPS 12 if you like all its other aspects.

The price however might. The base version of the Dell XPS 12 retails for around $1200, with a Core i5-4200U processor, 4 GB of RAM and a 128 GB SSD. Higher end configurations have a list price of  around $1500, but you can find actually find these greatly discounted online, for as low as $1050 these days. Keep in mind that we are talking about the Haswell iterations of the Dell XPS 12 here. Older IvyBridge configs are also available and those sell for a lot less (around $800), but run even hotter than the 2014 model, lack even more ports and don’t last as long on a charge.

Surface Pro 3

The Surface Pro 3 in an impressive Haswell powered laptop, thin, light and packed with tons of features. But Microsoft claims this can easily replace a laptop for your everyday activities, that’s why we’ve included it in here.

The Surface Pro 3 is an astonishing Windows tablet, but not necessarily a good laptop replacement

The Surface Pro 3 is an astonishing Windows tablet, but not necessarily a good laptop replacement

The thing is, if you want a fast and stylish Windows 8.1 slate, there’s hardly a better option than this one. The Surface Pro has a few distinct particularities, like the 3:2 aspect ratio High-res screen, the very quiet cooling system (because, as any other Core equipped device, the Surface Pro 3 is fan cooled) and an a matching Keyboard Folio that you can attach to the slate for the actual “notebook” mode. The Surface Pro 3 is a lot sleeker than the previous generation Surfaces and has seen a handful of tweaks and fixes, like the redesigned kick-stand that now allows you to adjust the tablet at any given angle, and not just on a few predefined positions.

But even so, while there’s no doubt the Surface Pro 3 is Microsoft’s best computer to date,  I don’t think it’s capable of actually replacing a proper ultrabook. It lacks the comfortable clam-shell form factor that makes laptops so easy to use on the lap, it lacks the connectivity and the keyboard/touchpad experience, to name just some of the things that set the Surface Pro 3 apart from an actual ultrabook.

That doesn’t mean that the Surface Pro 3 is not worth buying, it definitely is, although it does not come not cheap. The base configuration, with an Intel Core i3 processor, 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage space does start at $799, but higher-tier configurations will quickly ramp up the price. A Core i7/8GB RAM/256 GB SSD combo will set you back around $1500 for instance, and that’s without the Keyboard Folio that costs an extra hundred and so. But I’m confident all the configs will get discounted down the line, so check out this link for offers and potential deals.

Long story short, there are plenty of reasons why you might want to buy a Surface Pro 3, a device that actually blurs the line between a Windows tablet and a highly-portable laptop, but it’s not yet there, it’s not yet ready to replace a laptop for good. Not for me at least.

Asus Transformer Books: TX300, T300, TRIO and the popular T100

The Transformer Books are fully baked Windows 8 tablets that can be used as standalone devices, or connected to some multifunctional docking stations that bundle a keyboard, some ports and in some cases, a few extras, like a different hardware platform of their own, a HDD or an extra battery. In other words, with the Transfoor Books, the hardware is tucked behind the display, and the entire screen ensemble is completely detachable from the lower part of the laptop.

The Transformer Book TX300 is an older Ivy Bridge powered model that I reviewed a while ago. A good convertible, bur rather large and heavy.

The Transformer Book T300 is a plastic-made version of the TX300 mentioned above, with Haswell hardware, which retails for roughly $850 these days ( or even less ). The Transformer Book Trio on the other hand is somewhat more interesting, as a premium looking device that dual-boots Windows and Android, but the experience is not always flawless and the series is available in limited regions around the globe. You can read more about these over here, so have a look.

There’s also a much more affordable Transformer Book, the T100, which sells for $400 or even less, if you can catch some discounts. For that you’re getting a compact 10 inch Tablet with a detachable keyboard-dock, powered by Intel Atom processors, running Windows 8.1 and capable of dealing fine with everyday tasks like browsing, editing documents or watching some movies and running some casual games. You’re also getting a device that can last for 8 hours on a charge. But you’ll need to understand what this one can do and don’t ask too much out of it, otherwise you might find it slow or sluggish. If you do that, the T100 is going to be a great little fellow, considering its price. Follow this link for my detailed review, if the T100 has caught your attention.

The Asus Transformer Books: a stand alone Windows tablet with a multifunctional dock

The Asus Transformer Books: stand alone Windows tablets with a multifunctional dock

Sony Vaio Fit Multi Flip series

There are 3 different members in this family, a 13 incher, a 14 incher and a 15 inch ultrabook. All pack Haswell hardware and touchscreens that flip around a middle placed hinge, in order to offer a laptop, a tablet and a presentation mode for these devices, as you’ll see from the video below. All integrate an N-Trig digitizer and come with matching Sony pens.

The 13 incher, the Vaio Fit 13A Flip PC, weighs 2.9 pounds, is thin and sleek and starts at $1100, for the Intel Core-i5 version with 8 GB of RAM and a 128 GB SSD, but all models should be available slightly discounted online.

The 14 incher is even cheaper, as it starts at only $800, while the 15 incher packs a few extra features, like a higher resolution 2880 x 1620 px display and dedicated Nvidia GT 735M graphics. Those are reserved for the versions of the Vaio Fit 15 Flip PC, the base versions are much closer to the 14 and the 13 inch models in terms of specs and start at just under one grand. However, you might find some online discounts on both options if you’ll follow this link.

All in all, the Flip Vaios are fairly interesting devices. They are sleek, powerful, offer a convertible touchscreen with an embedded digitizer and are properly priced. But they are not without flaws though. Among them, the noisy fans, sharp edges, screen balance problems and rather short battery life (especially on the 13 inch model).

Sony Vaio Duo 13 and 11

The Duo 13 is another interesting convertible, a 13 inch slider, that can be used either as a tablet or as a laptop, since a full-size keyboard and a tiny trackpad are revealed when sliding up the screen.

Intel Haswell hardware motorizes the Duo 13 and a large battery ensures up to 10 hours of real-life use on a single charge. The Duo 13 bundles a touchscreen of course, with a Full HD IPS panel and digitizer, so you can use it alongside the included pen for taking notes, writing, drawing and so on. There’s a lot more I could tell you about it, but you’d better check out my thorough review for more details.

The Duo 13 has a list price for $1399 for the base model with the i5 CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 128 GB SSD, but you can actually find this a lot cheaper online, for $1100 or so. More beefy configurations are also available so at the end of the day, if you’re alright with the form factor and its shortcomings (can’t adjust the screen’s viewing angle and the palm rest is tiny), the Vaio DUo 13 is a 2-in-1 laptop to consider.

Sony also offers the Vaio Duo 11, an older model, launched in 2012, with an 11.6 inch screen, Ivy Bridge hardware and mostly similar features as the Duo 13. You can read more about it here, and you can find it compared to the Duo 13 in this post.

The Sony Vaio Duo 13 is one of the few Haswell hybrids available these days

The Sony Vaio Duo 13 is one of the few Haswell hybrids available these days

Affordable hybrids and convertibles

This section is reserved for more friendly-priced devices, that sell for less than $1000 and some of them for even under $500.

The basic 2-in-1 mini-laptops

If you only have $500 or less for a highly-portable machine that can do a fine job both as a tablet and as a laptop, you should definitely look at some of the devices in this section. These are mainly built on Intel low-power hardware platforms, namely latest generation ATOM or Celeron processors, and while they won’t excel in terms of performance or multitasking capabilities, they still pack enough firepower to handle fine the standard everyday activities, like browsing, editing texts, checking out email, listening to music, watching movies and so on. Check out some of these options below:

  • Asus Transformer Pad T100 (review) – a 10-inch tablet with a docking unit, the T100 was launched a few months ago and was met with great success. The price of under $400 is to “blame” for that (potential discounts are available here), but that alone would not be enough to attract users. The Transformer Pad T100 is also a fairly-nicely built device capable of delivering a good-everyday experience, hence to the Intel Atom Bay-Trail Z series processors powering it, and a battery life of roughly 8 hours on a single charge.
  • Acer Aspire Switch 10 – this is Acer’s iteration of the exact same concept: an Atom Bay-Trail pushed 10 inch tablet with a latch-able docking-unit. Being released several months after the Asus T100, the Switch 10 benefits of a few extras: a metallic case, as opposed to the glossy plastic one on the Asus, a more advanced dock, with multiple user positions, and a brighter screen, which will come in handy if you plan on using it outside or in other bright-light environments. On the other hand, those who bought the Aspire Switch 10 complained about poor battery life (up to 5 hours on a charge) and some design-flaws of the docking unit. Either way, the Acer 2-in-1 is an alternative to Asus’s solution and sells for under $400 as well. See this link for more details and some user reviews.
  • Dell Inspiron 11 3000 series -  a slightly larger device, with an 11.6 inch screen and a Yoga-like form factor. And also available in a few more hardware options, as it is powered by either a Bay-Trail Celeron N2830 processor or a Haswell Pentium CPU. 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 larger and more comfortable keyboard, more ports and a battery that can push it for about 6 hours on a charge, all these inside a 0.8 inch thick, 3 pounds body. Last but not least, Dell went really aggressive with the pricing here, as this series starts just under $400 for the Atom version, while the Pentium configurations will sell for around $450. See this link for up-to-date prices and some user reviews.
Cheap 2-in-1s you can get for under $500: Asus Transformer Pad T100 (left), Acer Aspire Switch 10 (middle) and the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 (right)

Cheap 2-in-1s you can get for under $500: Asus Transformer Pad T100 (left), Acer Aspire Switch 10 (middle) and the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 (right)

  • HP Split X2 – a 13 inch Windows 8.1 tablet with a connectable docking station, powered by Intel Core Y Haswell hardware, which, alongside the SSD storage, translates in even faster performance than the Dell Inspiron above. There’s also a matching docking unit, that offers a keyboard, but also potentially an extra battery and storage unit. The HP Split series though only gets a 1366 x 768 px TN touchscreen, which is rather mediocre for a tablet these days, but when you’ll look at what you’re getting for the price, you might be able to get past this aspect. The Core i3 / 4GB RAM / 128 GB SSD version of the Split X2 sells these days for about $550 (see this link for details).
  • If you do want a similar device with a 1920 x 1080 px IPS screen though, HP also offers the Spectre X2 tablet, but this one starts at $650 for the same specs mentioned above, which is a bit too much for my liking.
HP Split X2 (in black) and Spectre X2 (in silver) - 2-in-1 tablets with docking units and speedy Intel Core Y hardware

HP Split X2 (in black) and Spectre X2 (in silver) – 2-in-1 tablets with docking units and speedy Intel Core Y hardware

Lenovo Yoga 2 11 and 13 series

The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga is a laptop whose screen can flip over t0 360 degrees, transforming it into a tablet, and is in fact the device that actually pioneered this form factor a couple of years ago.

The original Yoga was released in 2013 and Lenovo also worked at a successor, a Haswell equipped version, that hit the stores in 2014. That one is called the Yoga 2 13. It comes with a 13.3 inch FHD IPS screen, a nice keyboard and trackpad, a fair selection of ports and a few different hardware configurations. It’s still rather bulky and heavy for a 2-in-1, tipping the scale at roughly 3.5 lbs, but it does have a good price on its side. The base version, with a Core i5-4200U CPU, 4GB RAM and 500 GB HDD+16GB SSD storage starts at $899, but you can actually find this config, and the others available, slightly discounted online, if you’ll follow this link.

The original IdeaPad Yoga is still a device to consider. Compared to the 2014 version, last year’s model is cheaper, packs more ports and uses somewhat nicer materials for the casing, but only settles for Intel IvyBridge hardware and a 1600 x 900 px TN touchscreen.

There’s also an 11.6 inch version of the Yoga 2, which starts at as little as $500 and which I’ve reviewed here on the site. For that you’re getting a 1366 x 768 px IPS touchscreen, an Intel Haswell Y series (lower-power hardware than the U series) or an Intel Pentium BayTrail-M hardware and a rather small battery that can last for about 5 hours on a charge, all inside a 3.2 lbs device. Again, not very light, especially for a 11 incher, but if you like the form factor and don’t have a lot to spend on a compact 2-in-1 laptop, the IdeaPad Yoga 2 11 can be a decent option for you.

Asus Transformer Book Flip series – details in here

This is Asus interpretation of the same Yoga form-factor, in a series that spreads from 13 to 15 inchers, with prices starting at around $600. All are built on Intel Haswell hardware, all feature 360 degrees convertible touchscreens and all are available in a bunch of different configurations, with up to 12 GB of RAM, SSD or HDD storage and even dedicated graphics.

I reviewed the 13 inch model, the Asus Transformer Book Flip T300, over here. It’s definitely not a bad device, with a metallic body and a fairly comfortable keyboard, similar to the one we’ve seen on older Asus ultrabooks. It can go for about 6 hours on a charge and starts at roughly $700, but that’s for the Core i3 version with a low-resolution TN panel. If you want the IPS FHD screen and some beefier processors (and you should), you’ll have to pay at least $800, but I’m confident this will get lower in time.

The 15.6 inch Book Flip T500 (reviewed over here) builds on the same recipe as the TP300. You’re getting more ports with this one, a larger keyboard with a Num-Pad area and Nvidia 840M graphics for the high-end models. A decent Core i5 configuration with hybrid storage and 6 GB of RAM will set you back about $700 bucks (see this link for up-to-date info and prices), which to be frank, is a bit much for a 15 incher, especially since the form-factor is not really a selling point in this size-segment. After all, I doubt you’ll actually want to use a 5 pounds 15 inch slate much.

Asus also has a TP450 unit in this series, with a 14 inch screen, but this one might not be that widely available. However, the TP550 model will, another 15.6 incher which ditches the metallic case for an all-plastic one (weighs about 5.5 pounds), gets a DVD unit by default, Nvidia 820M graphics and only a 1366 x 768 px TN touchscreen. So spec wise, the TP550 is not impressive, but it will be cheaper than the other 15 incher in this series, starting at under $600 for the basic configuration.

The Asus Transformer Book Flip series

The Asus Transformer Book Flip series

The Dell Inspiron 13 7000 is another affordable 13 incher worth mentioning and a close match to the Asus and the Lenovo 2-in-1s mentioned before, starting at around $600. Check out my review for more details.

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 2 14 and 15 line

This is Lenovo’s line of 14 and 15.6 inch affordable ultrabooks, 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 original Flex 15 line was released in 2013 and an update followed in 2014, bringing along Intel Haswell hardware and a few minor design changes. However, the new version also got a smaller 32 Wh battery (48Wh one on the original Flex 15), without actually loosing weight (5.1 lbs) and that translates in about 4-5 hours of everyday use for a mid-level Core i5 configuration. On top of that, you’ll only be getting 1366 x 768 px TN touchscreens with this series, which can’t really stand next to the IPS displays on the Asus line. On the other hand, the Lenovo Flex 2 15 are about $150 to $200 cheaper than a similarly equipped Transformer Book TP500, so when it comes to what you’re getting for the money, this series is tough to beat in the 15 inch segment.

The 14 inch version of the Flex 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 $600 these days.

Long story short, the IdeaPad Flex 2 laptops are short of anything impressive, but if you are after a nicely balanced laptop with fast hardware, a convertible touchscreen and no major drawbacks, you’ll have a hard time finding anything comparable for the money. Oh, and if you’re looking for discounts and potential deals on these units, you might want to check out this link.

The Lenovo Flex 2 series - you'll hardly find anything similar for the money

The Lenovo Flex 2 series – you’ll hardly find anything similar for the money

Acer Aspire R7

This is perhaps the most bizarre 15.6 inch laptop in this list, for two reasons. Number one, the screen swivels around a very sturdy metallic leg, as you can see in the pictures below, and that allows for a few different use modes: Laptop, Tablet, presentation and the Star-Trek Enterprise mode, with the display actually hovering over the keyboard. Number two, Acer decided the put the trackpad on top of the keyboard, to accommodate this form factor, and that will take a lot of time to get used to.

Other from that, the Aspire R7 is a good looking and sturdy built laptop that packs powerful Haswell hardware, plenty of ports, a large 54 Wh battery and a Full HD IPS screen with stylus support. Be aware that there’s also an older R7 model, with Intel Ivy Bridge hardware and a few other minor differences; you should not look at that one, but at the Aspire R7-572 model described above.

So, long story short, with a price tag of $900 for an Intel Core i5-4200U based configuration or even less these days and no major flaws, as long as you’re OK with the form factor, the Aspire R7 is a 15 inch convertible you should consider.

A proper priced laptop with plenty of interesting features, but a bizarre form factor

The Acer Aspire R7 – a proper priced laptop with plenty of interesting features, but a bizarre form factor

Other 2-in-1s worth mentioning

This list consists of a few older hybrids that you might still find in stores, but are no longer good enough to make it to the recommended list. However, for the right price and as long as you’re fine with their shortcomings, these are still worth your money.

  • Asus Taichi – this is an ODD beast, as it offers two different displays, a touchscreen on the lid-cover, and matte screen on the inside. And that opens doors for a lot of use modes, as you can use the two screens independently, or together, if you want to. The 11.6 inch version of the Taichi is available for about $800 these days, maybe even less online, and it bundles Intel’s IvyBridge platforms. A 13 inch version is also available on some markets, larger and heavier, but also with an improved selection of ports and bigger battery. However, the Taichi line was never upgraded to Haswell hardware and will probably never will.
  • Lenovo ThinkPad Twist – another IvyBridge ultra-portable, with a slightly bulkier body and a classic tablet-PC form factor, with the screen swiveling around a center-placed hinge. It packs a 12.5 inch display, a fair series of ports and a tough-built body, like a proper ThinkPad should. That makes it rather heavy, at 3.5 pounds, but some of you might take the extra weight and bulk for a sturdier construction, and a very good price. These days the ThinkPad Twist sells for as low as $500 ( see this link for more details ).
  • Lenovo ThinkPad Helix – this is Lenovo’s interpretation of the same concept displayed by the Transformer Book TX300: an independent Windows 8 tablet running on Intel IvyBridge hardware, with a multifunctional docking unit. The Helix is more sober looking than the TX300 and more rigid as well, integrates cellular connectivity and digitizer and pen support, so you can use it for taking notes, sketching, drawing and so on. The Helix is also more compact and lighter than the Transformer Book, sporting an 11.6 inch screen, but it’s fairly pricey, selling for $1400 and up,  and not without flaws: runs hot and noisy and the entire docking unit is bulky and awkwardly designed.
  • Dell XPS 11 – this is highly portable 11 inch laptop. It weighs 2.5 pounds and is only 0.6 of an inch thick. On top of that, it is more powerful than many other 11 inch 2-in-1s, as it is motorized by an Intel Haswell Core Y hardware platform. And it last for roughly 6 hours on a charge. And it packs a splendid 2560 x 1440 px IPS touchscreen. But why is the XPS 11 higher on the list? Well, for two reasons: it’s very expensive, starting at over $1000 (although you can find it discounted these days, for under $800 in most cases) and packs a crappy keyboard.
Interesting, but not good enough: Asus Taichi, Asus ThinkPad Twist and the Dell XPS 11 (from left to right)

Interesting, but not good enough: Asus Taichi, Asus ThinkPad Twist and the Dell XPS 11 (from left to right)

Wrap up

These are most of 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 impossible to say which is the best unit in this class, and that’s because there are some many good different models available, with different features and form factors. I personally like the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro and the Dell XPS 12 more than the others, but for you these could be options only if you’re looking for premium design and performance and you’re ready to pay premium for these.

At the end of the day though, you know exactly what you need from your next computer and how much you’re planing to spend for it, that’s why the decision is all yours. My indications are only meant to help, to shed some light on each unit’s particularities, their strong points and their quirks.

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. And before you go, keep in mind that such posts take countless hours of work, so if you appreciate the result, make sure to show this link to your friends and stay around for future updates.

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Andrei Girbea, aka Mike, Editor-in-Chief and a huge fan of mobile computers. Since 2007, I've only owned smaller than 12.5" laptops and I've been testing tens, if not hundreds of mini laptops. You'll find mostly reviews and guides written by me here on the site.


  1. praneeth

    September 6, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Can you suggest the best laptop or ultrabook around 35K to 40K for higher end performance.I need it for coding and all big stuff.reply soon

  2. Mallory

    September 8, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    Hey Andrei, I’m torn between a few different convertibles, the Dell inspiron 3000, the XPS 12 being top of the list. The issue I have is that I prefer the 360 hinge design of the former, less expensive option and how I can easily upgrade to an SSD, and possibly a 6 cell battery, (not to mention it has ports) but I would like a slightly larger screen like the XPS 12 has, plus a more durable design. Perhaps you know of a better option?

    Top factors for me are:

    Good trackpad, (I never use a mouse)
    Good battery life, (I carry my laptop around constantly)
    Good keyboard is a must. (I create an endless supply of word documents)
    Cool and quiet (definitely!)
    12.5″ display (preferably)

    I’m not concerned so much about budget. If there is a perfect choice out there I’ll most likely be willing to pay more for it, and save myself the pain of having to upgrade again in the near future.


    • Andrei Girbea

      September 8, 2014 at 8:48 pm

      Well, you don’t have any better options in this size-range right now, at least nothing’s coming to mind right now. There’s also the Yoga 2 11, but with a smaller battery than on the Dell and fewer ports, you can find my review here on the site. There’s the older Lenovo X230T, but not with Haswell hardware and I wouldn’t call the single-hinge form-factor more reliable than what’s on any of these.

      By the way, the XPS 12′s system might look solid, but you should do some digging, I’ve heard people complaining about the screen dying during a simple everyday flip. So the Yoga like form factor on the Dell Inspiron and the Lenovo Yoga 2 11 is what I’d go with if you want durability. Or maybe the Yoga 2 13 or the Yoga 2 Pro if you want a larger screen estate, but those are 13 inchers (thus bigger and heavier).

      If not in hurry, you could also wait, there will be plenty of new laptops announced in the next 3-6 months built on the new Intel Broadwell hardware, which promises superior performance, longer battery life and thinner/lighter form-factors and the 12.5 inch form-factor might come back strongly. There are already a few devices rumored to have such displays, I’m compiling a list here, but details are really scarce for now: http://www.ultrabookreview.com/5165-broadwell-ultrabooks/ . Keep in mind that only the Core-M platform has been revealed so far, which is a successor for the lower voltage Haswell Core Y series, and not for the more powerful Core U. (Let me know if I’m getting to technical here).

      Hope this helps, A

      • Mallory

        September 9, 2014 at 12:14 am

        Thanks, I’ve decided I do need a PC that’s bigger than my 11.6″ Chromebook. I like my Chromebook, (it’s really hardy! It’s been stepped on by my Bigfoot brother, and dropped on numerous occasions, heights, and surfaces. Aside from a few cosmetic scratches, it still looks and works great!) but I need a software compatible PC for school in the Fall, and I can’t wait very long. What do you think of the Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga compared to last year’s model, and to the Ideapad 2 13? (As for getting technical, the only knowledge of PC’s I really have is the little I’ve gleaned from reading countless specs and reviews)

        • Mallory

          September 9, 2014 at 12:30 am

          Sorry, the Thinkpad Yoga is first generation I believe. Got it mixed up with the Ideapad. The names are (just) a little similar!

        • Andrei Girbea

          September 9, 2014 at 1:32 pm

          The ThinkPad Yoga is alright and although released last year, it packs up-to-date hardware, so it’s going to be powerful. I reviewed it here: http://www.ultrabookreview.com/3880-lenovo-thinkpad-yoga-review/ . There’s only a single ThinkPad Yoga model, no follow-up yet.

          For a 12 incher it is rather bulky and heavy though. The screen works with a pen so that might help you in school for taking notes, etc. The keyboard is solid and the trackpad decent. Battery life on the other hand isn’t great, about 5 hours of regular use in my case. If the budget allows, get something with an SSD, not with a HDD, that should help.

          The Yoga 2 13 is not as solid, but offers a higher resolution screen and should be cheaper. Also has a larger footprint, but similar weight, and lacks Pen support.

  3. Anon

    September 9, 2014 at 5:00 am

    I completely agree with your choices of convertible laptops currently available. Good work on making it easily accessible to the public. I’m just another person looking for my ideal convertible laptop. I am wondering if you could point me in the right direction and if other people share similar thoughts.

    I think the majority of people don’t want weird altered laptop designs. They want the functionality of a clam-shell laptop with the option of converting it to formidable tablet to do so the machine would have to be light-weight (under 1.25kg which soon will be entirely possible with the release of the first broad well processors opening the door for fan-less laptop devices), taking this into consideration emphasis should be placed primarily on computational power and useability. Increased viewing angles and detachable components should not feature so heavily in an attempt to achieve this.

    As is seen by the first broadwell featuring laptops soon to be released(ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi, Lenovo ThinkPad Helix 2, Dell Latitude 13 7000 series). Detachable components add complications (Think of a USB increased portability, more likely to get lost or broken) and although the 360 hinge design is good the keyboard and track pad are lying on the desk which is unhygienic and results in damage to the tablet.

    I really liked the vaio fit design however poor battery life, poor design execution and non ideal technical specifications convinced me otherwise. (I would have like to see an the option of SSD in the case of the vaio fit models only on 13A and the option of more powerful dedicated graphics only on the 15A in the one laptop as I need both in my profession).

    I would like to see a similar hinge design to this with an indented keyboard and frontal region for the hinge to sit. This would allow for an effective seal in tablet mode as is present in most of the 360 degree hinge designs. It would be perfect if Apple released a Macbook pro or Asus a Zenbook a convertible feature such as this. (Why not change the unreleased ASUS Zenbook UX305 to have such a feature now I’m just fantasizing). Any idea if a convertable such as this will hit the market soon.

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 9, 2014 at 8:48 pm

      Well, no, nothing right now with that particular form factor and the light-weight you want, except for maybe the Dell XPS 12, although it’s not exactly the same thing. But I’m confident we’re going to see plenty of new laptops and probably new designs in the next few weeks.

  4. shari

    September 9, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    I’m looking for more like a tablet, no bigger 11inches, and ability to flip screen/keyboard/touchscreen. I want to have access movies, music, and want some access to microsoft(word/excel/powerpoint). Is there something there that fits this bill?

    • shari

      September 9, 2014 at 5:41 pm

      oh and ITunes…need that too, going overseas and want to have this type access.

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 9, 2014 at 9:01 pm

      Budget? Most of the 10-11 inchers mentioned on the post should do fine, like the Acer Aspire Switch 10, Asus Transformer Pad T100/T200, etc

  5. Greg

    September 16, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    I really enjoyed your reviews.
    I like the Lenova Thinkpad Yoga. Not a fan of the tracker nipple and the fact that the keyboard is on the bottom when using it as a tablet. I know the keys are locked. It leaves it open for damaged keys.

    I also like the Dell XPS 12, but I would like at least a 13 in. screen and full size HDMI port with a min. of two USB ports.

    Am I asking for too much ?

    Maybe you can shed light on this for my situation.
    I’m in the market for new laptop and thought a hybrid may work for me.
    I run my business out of my home using my desktop Windows 7 Pro system.
    I would like a laptop which provided me to do business in other areas of my home or out of the office if need be. I also would like to use it to browse the internet, as I’m doing now with your reviews. So I thought a tablet would be good for that, hence the hybrid.

    so, my question is…
    can I network Windows 8.1 (laptop) and 7 pro (desktop) so I can transfer business files between the two ?

    Will the hybrid handle my business software ?
    I use FileMaker Pro, as well as Word / Excel / Adobe Acrobat.

    Any advise is welcome

    Thank you for your response in advance..


    • Andrei Girbea

      September 17, 2014 at 7:21 am

      The laptop should handle your software easily. And you don’t necessarily have to get a fast configuration for that, even a Core i3 option would work alright.

      You can sync files between computers easily with CLoud storage solutions. I’m using Dropbox, but there’s also Google Drive, Microsoft Onedrive, Sygarsync, etc. Look them up.

    • Travis

      October 10, 2014 at 10:27 pm

      haha I’ve always thought the same regarding Lenovo’s red nipple track thingy. We buy Lenovo and HP laptops for the company and whenever I’m using the Lenovo ones, which I love, I always pull the rubber nibs off. I find my finger’s tripping over them all the time, but I guess I’m guilty of never teaching myself to be aware of it because I’m always pulling it off.

  6. bridget stadtny

    September 30, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    I want a 2 n 1 that will handle the.following programs :
    Deleter comicworks, deleter illustrator program, anime studio, publisher, open office, schedulorand. To do.lists software, notetaker, converters for pdf and pictures or art, etc…

    To use the following wih the above programs the deleter digital pen n tablet, waccom air brush, wand svanner,digimemo tablet, printers, scanners, projector, digotal camera


    October 1, 2014 at 5:22 am

    I really enjoy your review but I am confused on what to go for.I actually need a budget,rugged, 2 in 1 laptop for serious note taking and sharp audio recording.
    The system must be ultraportable for ease of movement and reasonable for serious academic activities.
    Thank you

    • Andrei Girbea

      October 1, 2014 at 1:29 pm

      You will probably need something with a digitizer. There are a few other there: the Vaio Duo 13, the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga, Microsoft Surface Pro 3 and others. Not sure what you mean by “sharp video recording”. If you want high-quality audio recording, you’ll need at least a proper external USb microphone

  8. JMG

    October 3, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    I am very impressed by your personal recommendations, so I’d like to ask your opinion on my circumstances. I am looking for a portable device to act as a replacement for my business laptop (extensive document drafting and editing) and as a tablet for consuming video/e-books/gaming/etc. I would like to run windows 8.1, and battery life is important to me (7hrs or better). USB, HDMI, and preferably an SD port are also features I am looking for. I am not stuck on a particular size, but I think 15” is about right. I use my current ultrabook “on the go” in hotel rooms, conference rooms, and on planes, so lower weight is better, after the other factors are met. No budget restrictions.
    Is there a solid performer that you would recommend above the others?
    Thank you so much for your advice.

    • Andrei Girbea

      October 4, 2014 at 9:23 am

      HI JMG.

      There aren’t many 15 inch convertibles out there, and for a good reason: a 15 inch laptop is still fairly large and heavy, thus very difficult to use as a tablet. You could look at the Asus Transformer Book Flip TP500, Acer Aspire R7-582 and the Sony Vaio Flip 15, although I’d stay away from Sony’s, they’ve sold the laptop business a while ago and future support could be problematic.

      You should look at some of the available 13 inchers, those should be more portable. But the sleeker the device, the smaller the battery and thus shorter the battery life. Still, I believe the Yoga 2 Pro could fit the requirements. However, If you can wait a few months, you should. There’s a new hardware platform (Intel Broadwell) just around the corner which promises thinner and lighter design, better performance and longer battery life. We’ll know more about those in the next 3-6 months.

  9. Liz

    October 6, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    Hi Andrei,

    I’m looking to buy an ultrabook/tablet hybrid for my partner for his birthday. I was doing some research and to me, the Asus Taichi 31 looks pretty good. I’m looking for something that’s slim and decent for gaming as well as good for usual day to day tasks like word processing and emails etc.

    I would appreciate knowing your thoughts

    • Andrei Girbea

      October 6, 2014 at 12:52 pm

      HI Liz. How much is that Taichi 31, can you share a link to the configuration and how much are you willing to spend? I’m asking because that’s an older device with a few flaws and would not be one of my recommendations right now, unless it’s really cheap.

      • Liz

        October 6, 2014 at 1:04 pm

        I found it for $1000 but I’m sure if I look around I can find it cheaper.

        I’m in Australia so everything is much more expensive unfortunately and I found it off Kogan which is pretty reliable in my experience: kogan.com/au/buy/asus-133-taichi-fhd-convertible-ultrabook-taichi31-cx022h/?utm_source=myshopping&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=myshopping

        I’m willing to pay up to $1600 mark for a hybrid that will do the trick. What’s the new version of the taichi & is it any good?

        - Liz

        • Andrei Girbea

          October 7, 2014 at 8:17 pm

          There’s no newer version of the Taichi, this one was an experiment and was not upgraded beyond the first gen. The Taichi has two screens, a touch-one on the outside and a matte one inside, as this has a major impact on battery life. Besides this, having a glass covered lid makes the laptops really fragile. Plus, since it’s an older laptop built on a older hardware platform, it’s not as fast and doesn’t last as long on a charge as the new units do.

          If you’re looking for a 2-in-1, I’d have the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro and the Dell XPS 12 on my list as top options. Then come the cheaper options, like the Lenovo Yoga 2 (not Pro, just 2), Asus Transformer Book T300 and the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 series. See what you can find and get back to me if you need a summary of any of those.

  10. Alex

    October 7, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    Hey nice article.
    I’m looking for a pc tablet which would be good for digital art and 3d sculpting. I’d like it to also have the power to big games at full speed. What would you recommend? I was interested in a Cintiq companion but I’ve read that it has charging problems. Something similar to the Motion R12 would be nice. Thank you.

    • Andrei Girbea

      October 8, 2014 at 11:47 am

      HI Alex. I’m not familiar with any of those rugged tablets you mentioned, so I can’t comment on them. Sry

      • Alex

        October 8, 2014 at 9:51 pm

        It’s okay, thanks anyway.

  11. Fernanda

    October 8, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    Hi Andrei. Tnx for your article. What do uou think about PC Tablet VAIO® Tap 11 ?

    • Andrei Girbea

      October 9, 2014 at 2:12 pm

      Haven’t tested it and can’t say more than you’d find online. Sry

  12. dilip

    October 9, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Hi mike, i am from india and i want to buy a budget range laptop (notebook), within $500. I prefer the 11.6 inch screen or 12 inch, maximum up to 13 inch, i travel a lot so i want to make sure that the notebook is in less weight. I think Intel powered 4gb i3 ram is enough for my use, with 500gb hard disk, with all the ports (HDMI,USB, Bluetooth.etc). With gqood battery backup(6-7 hrs), I don’t use for gaming, I just need for my tegular use and multitasking. I also learnt in your posts that few offer touchscreen and 360 degree adjustment (please mention in this category too). I followed your posts but got confused, Please suggest me good options which are available in the market, which give value to the money spent. Keeping in my mind I can afford for few adjustments but I am lucky if I get a sturdy and better working notebook. Thank you.Please reply ASAP.

  13. Hopelessly Clueless

    October 12, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    Thanks for your reviews, they have been very helpful. I am looking to replace my laptop and contemplating a tablet-hybrid but I’m trying to get my head around if it will be able to perform all the functions I want. I mostly use my laptop for internet & windows office functions but I also would like to be able to process my photos (using canon software) and use my wireless printer (again needing canon software) and iTunes. Will I be able to load and use the software I need onto a tablet my canon software came via cd? Or can you only download apps according to the tablets user software? Are there any hybrids with an option for a cd drive? Or would it just be better for me to stick to a laptop? I am trying to stick to a budget of less than £500. I would appreciate your opinion.

    • Andrei Girbea

      October 12, 2014 at 10:42 pm

      These small and compact laptops don’t have cd/dvd drives, but, you can either use an external optical unit that connects to the laptop via USB, or just download the required stuff from the Internet (drivers and other software). Most modern laptops should handle your expectations fine. However, processing photos, that could be complicated. What do you mean by that? Basic stuff like cropping, adjusting brightness/levels etc, or something more complex?

      Anyway, pretty much all the modern 2-in-1s are included in here. See if you can find something that meets your budget, I’m not too familiar with UK prices. I’ll be glad to help you out decide one you narrow your search to a few options.

      • Hopelessly Clueless

        October 13, 2014 at 9:49 pm

        I have been looking at the Acer Aspire Switch 10 and there are various Asus Transformer models within my budget including TF300T, T100 and Eee Pad. Also the Microsoft surface and Samsung Galaxy Tab. I currently run canon zoom browser software and photoshop to edit photos and convert them from raw images to jpeg. I don’t mind getting an external cd drive as I won’t need it very often but need to know if I will be able to load and run the software as I would on my laptop. Thanks for your help.

        • Andrei Girbea

          October 14, 2014 at 6:12 pm

          I’d say you’ll want a Windows device. The Aspire Switch 10 and the Asus T100 are both small devices with a 10 inch screen, the TF300 is slightly larger, with a 13 inch screen. Can you give me a link for the TF300T to check out the configuration?

          Also, not sure which Microsoft Surface you found for under 500. Again, share the link please, it’s probably an older model.

          • Hopelessly Clueless

            October 16, 2014 at 9:15 pm

            Here are some of the links I’ve found:
            Asus Transformer Book T200 11.6-inch 2-in-1 Ultraportable Convertible Netbook (Intel Ato… .amazon.co.uk/dp/B00NS6OQ9Y/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_v6cqub08PGS0E

            Asus Transformer TF701T 10.1 inch Tablet with Keyboard Dock (Black) – (Nvidia Tegra 4 1…. amazon.co.uk/dp/B00G6G08VI/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_r8cqub0H1MGZ7

            Asus TF300T 10.1-inch Multitouch Tablet with Keyboard (Blue) (Nvidia Tegra 3 1.4GHz, 1GB… amazon.co.uk/dp/B00862ZLIK/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_H4cqub1Y25VCN

            HP Split 13-m110sa 13.3 inch Tablet PC with Keyboard (Intel Core i3-4010Y 1.3GHz Process… amazon.co.uk/dp/B00FC5KRPQ/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_Cjdqub1BV6MYX

            Microsoft Surface Pro 128GB amazon.co.uk/dp/B00BE5T2TA/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_Fqdqub107SDR0

            Would be good to know what you think!

          • Andrei Girbea

            October 17, 2014 at 7:07 am

            Cut off the Asus Transformer TF701T and TF300T, those are running Android and now Windows.

            The T200 is a nice device, you’ll find my review here: http://www.tlbhd.com/asus-transformer-book-t200ta-review-18720/

            That Microsoft Surface is a bit older, but it’s still powerful. WOn’t last as long on a charge as the T200 and does not include a keyboard folio from what I can tell (you’ll have to buy one separately and those aren’t cheap).

            That HP Split should be OK, but I haven’t tested it and can’t say much about it.

            Also consider the Asus Transformer Book T100TA (comes with Office included, 10 inch screen), Lenovo Yoga 2 11, Dell Inspiron 11 3000 series (if within budget).

  14. Hopelessly Clueless

    October 16, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    I’ve just found this one which I think is a newer version than the previous one I’d sent to you:


    • Andrei Girbea

      October 17, 2014 at 7:08 am

      Yes, this is the newest version. But you still lack the keyboard folio.

  15. Dilip

    October 17, 2014 at 10:25 am

    Mike thanks for the reply. In 11.6 inch segment the basic versions available (as u mentioned) are lenovo yoga 2 11, Dell inspiron 11 3000, HP pavilion x360, which one is better. I use it mostly for browsing (I open multiple tabs) and ms office (assignments, writing) and some entertainment (movies n music), I don’t game or do any video editing job. I just need for research purpose. I need some good battery backup, no heating issues. Is there any possibility of upgrading processors (may be to Intel i3) and hard disk. Which of the above mentioned will perform better, do I have any new alternatives in my budget range.
    I am just wondering if there are any 13inch notebooks convertible and in my budget range (around $500 ).

    Thank you.

    • Andrei Girbea

      October 17, 2014 at 2:49 pm

      I believe the Dell and the Lenovo are available with Core i3 processors as well. And yes, you can upgrade the storage drive if you want to on the Lenovo and Dell.

      I have no experience with the HP X360 and can’t say much about it. Out of the Dell and the Lenovo (which I reviewed here, btw: http://www.ultrabookreview.com/4961-lenovo-ideapad-yoga-2-11-review/ ) , I’d choose the Dell for the extra ports and larger battery.

  16. Darby

    October 17, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    I’ve never had a problem with my XP12 screen dying in 2 years. I do wish I had waited for the longer battery life in the updated version

  17. Brett

    October 23, 2014 at 2:56 am

    Hi, I have been looking for a 2-1 for a while now, and I am not sure if I should go for the Hp pavilion x360 13.3 ( i5, 8gb ram, 1tb hard drive, for $650 @costco) or the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 (i3, 4gb ram, 500gb hard drive, for $550 @ Costco) (I also am looking at the Dell Inspiron 14 5000, i5 8gb ram 1tb hard drive touchscreen (not 2-1) and a backlit keyboard for $600 @ Costco)…if I could get your thoughts on what is best that would be great, I’m not to worried about size or price, I do minor CAD and unity work. I am also a student…so if I could get your thoughts on what is best for me that would be great!

    • Andrei Girbea

      October 23, 2014 at 4:26 pm

      I haven;t reviewed the HP X360 so can’t say much about it. On the other hand, I believe the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 is a really nice device, and you can upgrade that hardware later on if you want to and make it even faster (put an SSD and more RAM). The 14 inch version will of course bring a larger working space and comes in a beefier configuration, but it’s also going to be bigger and heavier. DO you want something highly portable or rather get something more capable? That’s the question you’d have to answer in the end.

  18. Brett

    October 23, 2014 at 3:06 am

    I am also open to any ultrabook suggestions that have similar or better specs to the ones in my previous comment. I would mainly be doing homework, CAD (minor) and Unity (minor) usage, and a little programming here and there (rarely)…I want to stay under $700. With these in mind please give me a suggestion to fit my needs…thanks in advance!

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