We live in a day and age when technology is ubiquitous, and the smartphone is the king. However, even if touch screens seem to be the future of computing (unfortunately), it’s hard (if not impossible) to perform certain tasks without a full keyboard, hence today’s article is about the best 2 in 1 laptop money can buy.
To begin with, a 2 in 1 laptop is a hybrid of sorts, also known as the love child of a tablet and a laptop. These hybrids are making a big comeback in 2020, hence if you’re looking for the best of both worlds, keep reading, because you’re in for a real treat.
The thing is, convertible laptops are getting less expensive by the day, and by that we mean they’re almost as affordable as their clamshell counterparts. And while we’re at it, check out our article about the best budget laptops.
To make it really simple for our readers, if you’re looking for the ideal balance between usability and portability, it’s hard to beat a 2 in 1 laptop; keep in mind that convertibles are especially great for kids and college students, as they’re optimized for drawing and media viewing.
Last update on 2021-10-19 // The links above are affiliate // Images from Amazon
How to choose the best 2 in 1 laptop
First things first: if you’re an Apple fanboy, the bad news is that the Cupertino based company has not jumped into the hybrid arena just yet, which is a little bit strange and disappointing. Okay, you can connect an iPad to a keyboard and play convertible, but that’s not the point. The good news is that there’s no shortage of convertibles from other manufacturers, ranging from Dell to Microsoft and beyond.
The development of hybrids or convertibles has been dictated by Microsoft since the development of Windows 8; Windows 10 is literally a multi-input OS and that’s the main reason for having a wide range of convertible and 2-in-1 devices today, which can be used for productivity tasks, running apps, and even gaming. However, if you’re looking for niche jobs like music production, you should choose something else.
Tablet first or laptop first
The first thing to consider in the best 2 in 1 laptop comes down to your personal choice: tablet first or laptop first? Think along the lines of Microsoft Surface Pro, a tablet-first device that can be described as a glorified high-end tablet featuring an attachable keyboard. A tablet-first gizmo is more compact, lighter and it’s great for traveling, being easier to carry around.
A laptop-first device like the Lenovo Flex is basically a convertible and works primarily as a regular laptop with tablet functionality (read touch screen). As a side note, if you want to prolong the life of your machine and benefit from peak performance at all times, especially while gaming or engaging in heavy-duty tasks, spend a few bucks on a high-quality cooling pad.
Another thing to look after is the ports and I/O department. There’s an unfortunate trend nowadays in big tech where we’re seeing a drastic reduction of ports in 2 in 1 laptop and portables generally speaking.
As in, hardware manufacturers are intentionally reducing connectivity options for users in order to keep things lighter, thinner, and cheaper. The point being, you’ll have to find a way to navigate around this problem via dongles for example, that provided your device of choice cannot accommodate the bare minimum in terms of connectivity, so check this out before you buy.
Keyboard quality comes into play if you’re going to use your 2 in 1 laptop for coding or writing, and poor keyboard quality is one of the main reasons many people have ditched platforms and devices. A high-quality keyboard is critical if you need to feel right and work well on a convertible/hybrid device.
Tech specs (CPU, GPU, RAM amount, storage space, screen size) and value for money are always important, but rest assured, as we’ll cover these issues closely, just pay attention to the Pros/Cons section in the detailed reviews below and you’ll do just fine.
8 Best 2-in-1 Laptops
Microsoft Surface Book 3
The Best 2 in 1 Laptop for Gaming
Our first pick for today is the famous Microsoft Surface Book 3, a high-end tablet-first convertible, designed by Bill Gates’ dream-team of tech nerds. For almost $2k you’ll get a quad-core Intel Core I7 CPU, 10th gen respectively, 16 GB of RAM, and a fast 256 GB SSD. The display is a 13,5’’ touchscreen variety, and the next question is: why would you pay 2 grand on these specs?
Well, eternal life is one of the first reasons that come to mind, as the Surface Book 3 boasts 15 hours of autonomy on a single charge. Yes, that’s as impressive as it sounds, and the same goes for connectivity options: you’ll get both USB A and Type C ports, plus a full-size SD card slot.
Moreover, the display is detachable, which means you can always grab it and run away with it to a conference or wherever. For live streaming and social media activities, you’ll be glad to hear that the Surface Book 3features dual 1080p cameras, dual far-field Studio Mics, and immersive Dolby Atmos sound, while the full-size keyboard is excellent for both prolific typists and coders.
The touchscreen display with 402 nits of brightness and 3000 x 2000 resolution is stunning, making the Surface Book 3 look and feel like an extremely premium 2 in 1 laptop, yet the hefty price tag which is comparable to a MacBook Pro can be discouraging for some people. However, if the design and build quality rank high on your shopping list, the good news is that it doesn’t get much better than the Surface Book 3.
The keyboard is one of the best we ever tested, connectivity features are solid (2x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A ports, 1x USB 3.1 Gen 2 USB-C port 3,5mm jack, full-sized SDXC card reader), and, most importantly, the Surface Book 3 is gaming-ready due to the GTX 1660 Ti GPU on-board.
Bottom line, if you’re looking for Microsoft’s best, it’s hard to argue with the Surface Book 3; also, if you want to create media and/or you consume a ton of it, and especially if you want to impress your friends, the Surface Book 3 comes highly recommended.
- Superb PixelSense display
- Premium design
- Amazing build quality
- Highly portable
- Fabulous keyboard
- Top hardware
- Very expensive
- Sub-par speakers
Lenovo Flex 5
The Best All-Round 2 in 1 Laptop
If you take a look at the price tag and then check out the tech specs, you instantly understand why the Lenovo Flex 5 is on our list of the best 2 in 1 laptops. For a few hundred bucks, you’ll get 14’’ of screen real estate (FHD/1080p, mind you), a brand new AMD Ryzen 5 4500U CPU, Radeon Vega 6 graphics, 16 GB of RAM and a lightning-fast 256 GB SSD.
On top of that, the Lenovo Flex 5 comes with Windows 10 preinstalled and a digital pen included in the retail package. To make a long and boring story short and interesting, the Lenovo Flex 5 packs a lot of power under its belt, weighs just 3.64 lbs while being merely 0.82’’ thick, retails for peanuts money, boasts 10 hours of autonomy on a single charge, and can be used in Tablet mode or Laptop mode due to its 360⁰ hinge.
What more can you ask? Considering the “full plastic” chassis, build quality is incredibly good, while the keyboard deck is rubberized for better grip; the laptop can be opened with one hand, yet the hinge is as strong as it gets. Moreover, you’ll notice zero creakings, and performance-wise, the new Vega 6 GPU is approximately 10 percent faster than the 3500U’s Vega 8.
It’s worth mentioning that the AMD’s Ryzen 5 is one of the best mid-range CPUs around, some say better than the latest Core i5 from Intel, which makes the Lenovo Flex 5 great for heavy productivity multitasking, including photo and video editing.
The soft-touch chassis offers plenty of connectivity options, including 2x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A, a power port, a USB Type C, HDMI, a full-size S.D, and an audio combo jack, plus 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2. The keyboard is backlit and it’s pretty good in terms of typing experience, and bottom line, if you’re looking for powerful performance and excellent value, the Lenovo Flex 5 will not disappoint.
- Amazing value for money
- Solid hardware
- Durable chassis
- Good speakers
- Digital pen included
- Display quality is mediocre
Microsoft Surface Pro 7
The Best Tablet-First 2 in 1 Laptop
The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is the successor of the Surface Pro 6, an update of an already excellent Windows 10 tablet. The Pro 7 has the same design, which has been virtually identical since the 2017 Surface Pro 5 but comes with the latest Intel processors and a USB Type C port.
Design-wise, the Pro 7 is a high-end machine, featuring premium materials and build quality, including a textured magnesium body, rounded corners, and Microsoft’s excellent kickstand on the back. The 12,3’’ responsive touchscreen is beautiful and crisp, with a resolution of 2736 x 1824 pixels and 395 nits of brightness; also, the Surface Pen is very precise and has low latency, being perfect for drawing or taking notes, as the same goes for the smooth and responsive trackpad.
Hardware-wise, the Pro 7 runs on Intel’s 10th gen i5 CPU, backed by 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal storage via SSD. Besides USB Type C, you’ll get a USB-A, a Micro SD card slot, a headphone jack, and a Surface Connect port. The Pro 7 measures 0.33’’ x 11.5’’ x 7.9 ‘’ (292 x 201 x 8.5mm HWD) and weighs 1.7 lbs, which means it’s a highly portable machine that looks and feels premium.
The redesigned kickstand has a fully adjustable hinge which is basically “free-range”, i.e. you have an almost unlimited number of adjustment points, while the detachable backlit keyboard is incredibly thin, yet excellent for typing and productivity-related tasks.
The bottom line, Surface Pro 7 is one of the best Windows tablet-first convertibles on the market today, and if money is no objective, it doesn’t get much better than this! However, if battery life ranks high on your shopping list, you may end up better with the older Surface Pro 6 model.
- Highly portable
- Impressive keyboard
- Solid hardware
- Ideal for daily multitasking
- Excellent kickstand
- Thick bezels
HP Pavilion x360 Convertible
Powerful Home-Office Companion
The HP Pavilion x360 is an affordable 2-in-1 14’’ touchscreen laptop, featuring an 11th generation Intel I5 CPU, 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of SSD storage. If you add the full HD 1080p IPS display, long battery life and the price which is well below the $1000 barrier, you’ll understand that the x360 is designed to be a work horse for people on limited budgets looking for a powerful home-office companion.
Even if the touchscreen may be unnecessary for some people (most people actually), it’s a cool feature to have, and if you consider all the perks, this HP Pavilion makes for a solid all-rounder laptop, and also good looking, which another nice touch from HP.
Another important thing to consider when buying a laptop for work is portability, and here the x360 really shines, being very light at 3.5 lbs give or take, and, on top of that, wonderfully compact.
Since the x360 is a convertible, this means you can fold it into tent/tablet mode, and the bottom of the laptop is magnetic, which means it will hold into position nicely. We must tell you from the beginning that you can’t play recent games at high settings on this Intel Iris Xe GPU powered machine; however, the display is fairly bright and has a glossy texture, while the IPS panel is rated at 261 nits of brightness, which is kind of dull (the average is like 300 nits for laptops).
There’s also a 5.5’’ stylus included in the package, which can be used when you fold the screen into tablet mode; both the keyboard and the touchpad are comfortable and satisfying even for avid typists. The I5 CPU and the 8 GB of RAM allow for solid multitasking, and you can even engage in serious video editing if you can live with the hardware limitations.
Battery life is solid at 8 hours, and bottom line, if you’re shopping for a reasonably priced convertible, the x360 ticks all the boxes in our book.
- Decent keyboard
- Touch enabled OS
- Solid performance
- Good value for money
- Fingerprint reader
- Dull display
Dell Inspiron 17 7000
If you’re looking for a beautifully designed 2-in-1, the Inspiron 7000 comes to mind. This 17’’ beast of a foldable laptop is one of the best in terms of productivity, which relies heavily on screen real estate, and it’s one of the few of its kind that manages to combine a full keyboard (programmers and writers will love it), which includes a numeric keypad, with a foldable design that allows the laptop to fold back into a big-ass tablet, if/when necessary.
This means that you’ll end up with a desktop replacement that is highly versatile, and a productivity machine that will provide you an immersive typing experience, not to mention multimedia capability. The touchscreen is very responsive in tablet mode, and you’ll definitely enjoy the 17.3″ panel of QHD resolution.
The whole show is powered by a solid 11th generation Core I7 CPU, 16 GB of RAM, and 1 TB Nvme SSD. On top of that, you’ll end up with a GeForce MX350 GPU, which means this work horse is also gaming capable, which is neat.
The downside of having a huge 17.3″ touchscreen display is that it’s not that easy to carry it around, but if you require a big landscape for work and play, this laptop will keep your eyes healthy long term and that cannot be quantified in money. Speaking of which, the Inspiron 7000 retails for less than $2k, which is not bad considering the specs.
To make a long story short, buy this laptop if you are a spatial visionary artist or engineer of any type, or just like to view wide open spaces when watching Netflix, Hulu, Youtube, etc., not to mention a little gaming on the side.
- Solid specs
- Good touchscreen
- Brilliant display
- Actual desktop replacement
- Fast and efficient
- Low-contrast keyboard
Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360
Thin and Stylish 2-in-1
If you already own a Samsung high-end smartphone, the Galaxy Book Pro 360 will sell itself, as it makes for a light, compact and premium 2-in-1, which is nothing short of impressive at first sight. As in, the design, workmanship, build quality and the choice of materials is second to none.
It’s true that the Galaxy Book Pro 360 doesn’t quite match its direct competitors in terms of performance, but this long-awaited laptop from Samsung does not disappoint if you’re not expecting miracles. It’s important to learn that this is the first product developed by Samsung with Intel, and it’s designed to create a relationship between smartphones and laptops akin to Apple’s ecosystem.
Basically, to get the most out of this laptop, you’ll require a Samsung smartphone and the Your Phone app for a great user experience. The laptop itself is light, compact, and premium looking and feeling; when folded, the machine turns into an impressive tablet-like device, and amazingly, the screen can be folded all the way around, which is great for productivity in tablet-mode.
There’s also a pair of USB-C connectors plus a Thunderbolt 4 port, a micro SD slot, and a headphone socket for music aficionados, not to mention the traditional S-Pen stylus.
The full HD AMOLED display, Samsung’s specialty, is gorgeous, with superb contrast and color reproduction, battery life is sufficient for everyday use, and the keyboard is absolutely fantastic. Speakers are impressive also, and before we forget, the hardware platform consists of an Intel Core i5/i7 CPU, 8GB (LPDDR4x) RAM, an Intel Iris Xe Graphics GPU, and 512 GB of PCIe 3.0 SSD storage, which means performance is more than enough for most people.
- Premium all over
- Solid specs
- Gorgeous display
- Fantastic keyboard
- Good sound
- Mediocre webcam
Microsoft Surface Go 2
The Best 2 in 1 Laptop Under $500
Back to Microsoft with the revamped/upgraded Surface Go 2; the new generation offers a larger display, better computing performance, as expected, and longer battery life. Basically, the Surface Go 2 is bigger, better, faster, more. All jokes aside, if you’re looking for a tablet-centric 2 in 1 laptop of sorts, the Microsoft Surface Go 2 is the way to go (see what we did here?).
This glorified tablet with an attachable keyboard is excellent for idle time and/or work from home (same thing basically); despite being a Microsoft product, this baby is not overpriced, shockingly enough, and it boasts a light and thin design, as well as excellent build quality.
The Surface Go 2 features a built-in kickstand and has a full HD camera with face recognition for prolonged Skype/Tik Tok/YouTube/whatever streaming sessions. The hardware department is taken care of by an Intel Core M3 processor, just like the Chromebook reviewed above, helped by 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage space. Again, this is basically the Asus Chromebook Flip running on Microsoft OS, can do almost anything a budget laptop does, and can even run full Windows 10.
Now, it’s up to you to decide what you want: Windows 10 familiarity or Chrome OS and tons of Android apps. Regardless of your choice, you’ll get an excellently designed 2 in 1 tablet-centric laptop, perfect for browsing, emails, homework, etc. with almost-laptop versatility and performance and tablet portability.
- Premium design
- Full HD camera
- Solid battery
- Vivid full HD display
- Excellent keyboard
- Not the best hardware
Acer Chromebook Spin 311
The Best Budget 2 in 1 Laptop
Last but not least, we present you with the cheapest Chromebook on the planet. Enter the Acer Chromebook Spin 311, a 2 in 1 laptop that retails for peanuts money. For significantly less than $300, you’ll get a convertible laptop powered by an Intel Celeron N4020 CPU, with an 11.6’’ HD touchscreen display, 4 gigs of RAM, and a 32 GB eMMc.
A quick look at the hardware specs will tell you half the story: we know, it’s not impressive, as in this is not a computing powerhouse, yet consider this: the whole show runs on Chrome OS, which is the lightest OS on resources on the market today.
Now you’re starting to get it: for the price of a mediocre smartphone, you’ll actually get a real-life laptop that can be used for productivity tasks (in the money-making process, right?), has built-in virus protection, boots up in seconds and boasts 10 hours of battery life. On top of that, the crisp HD display is protected by Gorilla Glass, which means it’s virtually indestructible; connectivity is taken care of by Intel Gigabit Wi-Fi 5 with 2×2 MU-MIMO. MU-MIMO, the shell is robust, and considering the price asked, build quality is on par with the big boys out there.
Are you impressed yet? This tiny laptop/tablet can run all Google apps in the Play Store and can store important documents/pictures/videos in Google Drive (up to 100 GB). The 360° Hinge will transform the Chromebook into a tablet, stand up display, tent, or whatever, and there’s even a wide-angle view webcam included that supports HDR imaging.
- Crisp HD display
- Solid connectivity
- Cheap, fun and versatile
- Good battery life
- Impeccable build quality
- Lovely size
- Not a true replacement for a laptop