Your buying guide to the best laptop / tablets
If you don't want to carry around both a laptop and a tablet then a convertible 2-in-1 device might be the answer. Usually there are some compromises and very few devices offer the best of both worlds, though.
The Surface Book arguably has the fewest compromises, but it's also very expensive: you could buy a laptop and tablet separately and still have change left over compared to buying a Surface Book. If nothing here takes your fancy, then do check out our other guides to the Best Laptops and Best Tablets.
Although many run Windows 10, which makes sense, this chart may include alternative operating system such as Android. Then there's the iPad Pro which will be a legitimate option for some running iOS.
The iPad Pro might not seem like an obvious 2-in-1 but the Smart Keyboard (and plenty of third party options) creates a surprisingly workable machine. Combine that with some decent mobile app versions of things like Adobe Lightroom and you might have the perfect portable partner.
What is a 2-in-1 laptop tablet?
Although they've been around for a while, these devices vary quite a lot and are called different things such as 'convertibles', 'hybrids' and '2-in-1s'. They all mean the same thing in essence – a device which is trying to be both a laptop and a tablet.
As we'll explain, there are essentially two different types here and we're going to round up the best of them all in one place.
Tablet or laptop first?
As we said, there is inevitably some compromise with these devices. Typically they will be better at being a laptop or a tablet but some do manage to sit somewhere in the middle.
Some are even designed first and foremost as a laptop, while others are first a tablet, a laptop second. So it depends on your priority as to which type will suit you best.
Which one is right for you depends hugely on what you want to do with it. Do you mainly want a laptop on which to do regular work but can also shapeshift into a tablet for the odd task? Or do you want a tablet which you can also do a bit of typing on when the need arises?
A convertible laptop will usually have a non-removable screen which flips almost 360 degrees in order to change it into a tablet. This style (shown below) also means you can use it in other 'modes' such as tent or display.
Lenovo's Yoga range is possibly the best known convertible laptop and has been the inspiration for many rivals. Microsoft Surface Book is also laptop first, but still has a removable screen.
Meanwhile, a convertible tablet (below) is more like a regular tablet but either has a keyboard which attaches magnetically or a fancy case which creates a laptop-like experience. The keyboard may connect over Bluetooth in some cases.
Examples include the Microsoft Surface Pro and the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S and the Huawei MateBook.
There's a new wave of devices incoming that run Windows but on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835, a processor normally found in smartphones. Two of which, the HP Enxy x2 and Lenovo Miix 630, are tablet first design. Meanwhile, the Asus NovaGo is on the laptop side.
What specs should I look for?
Much of what you need to look for in a convertible laptop / tablet is the same as for a regular laptop and tablet.
You'll want to get the best specifications for your money including the processor, amount of memory and storage plus a good-quality screen. Make sure you read our reviews to find out more, including benchmark results.
The design, though, is going to be a big part of your buying decision and you need to choose a device which fits your needs best. A laptop-first design is likely to be bigger and heavier but is likely to offer longer battery life (there's more space for a bigger battery).
This type should also provide a better typing experience and there's normally more physical ports, including USBs and video outputs.
Although a convertible tablet might not have many physical ports (some still have full-size USB though), they are smaller and lighter than a hybrid laptop making them great for travelling. The trade-off is that using it as a laptop is often fiddly and awkward. Look for one with a clever design and proper keys. A trackpad is also a boon, despite touchscreens, but not all feature one.
Best 2 in 1 laptop and tablets for 2018 - Convertible and 2-in-1 reviews
1. Microsoft Surface Pro (2017)
- RRP: From $799 (model reviewed $2149)
The new Surface Pro is a superb 2-in-1. It’s beautifully built and performs well. The screen is excellent and even the speakers sound good. However, it’s very expensive, especially when you add the cost of the Type Cover and – if you need one – the Surface Pen.
Few should opt for the base model, and you’ll pay a heck of a lot more for a Core i7. Ultimately, while a fantastic device, it’s hard to recommend the Surface Pro unless money is no object.
2. Lenovo Yoga 920
- RRP: From $1,196.99
- Buy from Lenovo
The Lenovo Yoga 920 is an excellent hybrid laptop. It has amazing battery life, great build, good looks, real power and a high-quality screen with a pressure sensitive stylus.
What’s not to like? It’s not great for gaming, and a few similarly slim laptops now have discrete graphics. Display brightness could be higher too and it would be good to see the 4K option come to the UK. However, as that will also come with a higher price we can’t honestly say we’d necessarily recommend it over this model.
3. Microsoft Surface Book 2
- RRP: From $1,199
The Surface Book 2 is a stunning piece of work from Microsoft once again. It's a great example of a premium laptop with top-level design, performance and features. We only have a few minor quibbles such as the lack of Thunderbolt.
It might be one of the best laptops you can buy but not everyone should rush out and get one. The price means that it's only justifiable for those who will really make use of its modes, features and performance. For the average Joe, a cheaper rival will suffice such as the Surface Laptop.
Read our Microsoft Surface Book 2 review.
4. Asus ZenBook Flip S UX370UA
- RRP: From £1,299
The Asus ZenBook Flip S is a near-perfect laptop for someone who wants a hybrid that is very thin and very light, without sacrificing productivity power. A year or so ago a laptop like this would probably have used a Core Y/M-series processor, which just isn’t as powerful.
It won’t please those who hate shallow keyboards, or need a laptop that will definitely last through a full day’s grind, though. If that’s what you’re after, consider the HP Spectre x360 or a non-hybrid touchscreen model.
5. 10.5-inch iPad Pro
- RRP: $649 (WiFi, 64GB); $749 (WiFi, 256GB); $949 (WiFi, 512GB); $779 (cellular, 64GB); $879 (cellular, 256GB); $1,079 (cellular, 512GB)
There's a lot to say about the 10.5in iPad Pro, but in short, we think you'll love it. It's a delight to use for a huge variety of tasks thanks to its power, design and great screen size, but it comes at a price. For future-proofing, you'll likely want to opt for the 256GB Wi-Fi model at £709 at least, and when you add accessories like the keyboard into the mix you're getting very close to shelling out £1,000, and for that you could buy one of Apple's laptops.
We'd recommend considering how much you think you're realistically going to use the iPad Pro. Do you love using a touchscreen? Are you a designer or illustrator who'll benefit from its compatibility with the Apple Pencil? Do you need a device that's incredibly portable? Do you need lots of power for gaming or graphics-intensive apps? Do you have lots of disposable income?
If the answer to more than one of those questions is yes, then you might fit perfectly into the target market for the iPad Pro. For everyone else, a laptop or cheaper iPad is likely to suffice.
6. iPad Pro 12.9in
- RRP: From $799
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is undoubtedly a brilliant device and for some could be a laptop replacement, in which case the price would be more easily justified. You'll likely want to splash out on the Smart Keyboard and possibly the Pencil too, so bear in mind that they are optional extras.
Although it's an excellent device, the 10.5-inch iPad will appeal to more people due it's more manageable size and price.
7. Lenovo Miix 510
- RRP: From $649.95
It’s alarming that Lenovo has managed to get quite as close to the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 at half the cost here. High-quality build, a good screen, solid performance and a comfortable keyboard mean there’s nothing to let the side down and make the Lenovo Miix 510 seem cheap or compromised.
Not every part is as good as the Surface Pro 4, of course. The Microsoft keyboard is a little stiffer, the screen is much sharper. However, the two laptops have exactly the same functional benefits and the Lenovo Miix 510 is also competitively-priced next to more conventional slim laptops.
The main point to mull over is battery life. At 6.5 hours with light tasks, the Lenovo Miix 510 won’t last all day long. Consider that everything is crammed into a 10mm-thick shell and it’s no great surprise, though.
8. HP EliteBook x360 1030 G2
- RRP: From $1279
Parts of the HP EliteBook X360 1030 G2 can’t match those of consumer laptops around the price. The screen isn't super-bright and you’ll find higher-resolution panels too.
However, it’s very hard to beat as a laptop for work, particularly if it will need to fit the security protocols of a large company. vPro CPUs are an option, the keyboard and trackpad are both excellent and battery life is superb.
The HP EliteBook X360 1030 G2 is probably too expensive to dole out to the admin staff of a small business. But it’s certainly one of the most desirable business laptops money can buy.
9. Acer Spin 1
- RRP: $319.99
If you want a cheap hybrid and have realistic expectations about performance, you should jump at the Acer Spin 1. It's well-made, is comfortable to type on and has a superb screen for the price.
We would, however, advise getting the 64GB version unless you are planning on installing virtually nothing. A 32GB phone may leave you with plenty of space, but a 32GB Windows 10 laptop certainly does not.
If you're not bothered about the hybrid factor, also consider Acer's great Swift 1, another laptop that gets you a lot for your money.
10. HP Spectre x360 13 (2018)
- RRP: From $999
- Buy from HP
The HP Spectre x360 13 is a charming laptop that looks great and has enough power for most productivity jobs, thanks to the use of Intel’s impressive 8th Gen CPUs. Among its peers the main draw is the 4K-as-standard screen.
Not just sharp, it’s colourful and provides excellent contrast.
You need to decide whether you’d prefer to have a super-sharp screen or killer battery life. The Lenovo Yoga 920 lasts hours longer than the HP, and performs better in benchmarks and games with the same CPU (although if this is thanks to the Meltdown vulnerability, the playing field is effectively levelled).
For our use, which would boil down to at least 80% work, we’d likely pick the Yoga 920. However, those who will appreciate the HP’s rich 4K screen may well be swayed in this laptop’s direction.