Get the Best of Both in These Hybrids
Slim, lightweight tablet computers are great for watching videos in close quarters, reading books and even as remote controls for other devices. But when it comes to extended typing, a laptop with a real keyboard often works better. That’s why many people opt for a hybrid computer that easily converts back and forth between tablet and laptop.
Today’s best hybrid computers…
If you want a hybrid to use primarily as a laptop: HP Spectre x360 offers powerful features comparable to most laptops, including a sizable 13.3-inch display and a speedy Intel Core i5 processor. It also has an innovative design. Some hybrids are converted from laptops to tablets by detaching the keyboard or sliding the display screen over the keyboard. But the Spectre x360 display rotates backward so that it rests back-to-back with the keyboard. While this means it weighs as much in tablet mode as it does in laptop mode—a hefty 3.2 pounds—the “flip and fold” design also allows you to bend back the screen only partially so that it forms an A-frame that can stand on its own. That can be very useful on cramped, flat surfaces such as airline tray tables. Cost: Starting at $900.
If you are cost-conscious and want to use laptop mode and tablet mode for roughly equal amounts of time: Microsoft Surface 3 strikes a balance between laptop and tablet with a midsize 10.8-inch screen and a detachable, full-sized keyboard. Microsoft includes a one-year subscription to Office 365, which gives you Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel software. For an additional $50, you can purchase a Surface Pen, which allows you to write and draw directly on documents on your screen and have your handwriting converted to text. The built-in three-position kickstand enables the device to stand on flat surfaces. Cost: Starting at $499 ($628 with keyboard).
If you want to use laptop and tablet modes for roughly the same amount of time and can afford a higher-end model: Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro sets the standard for hybrid devices. Its high-powered features are similar to those of the HP Spectre x360, including a flip-and-fold design and a 13.3-inch screen. But it uses Intel’s powerful new Core M processor, which doesn’t heat up. That eliminates the need for an internal fan and allows the device to be one of the thinnest, quietest hybrids available. It is about a half-pound lighter than the HP, making it much easier to hold in tablet mode. One drawback to consider: The battery lasts about seven hours, versus 11 or more for the HP and up to nine hours for the Surface. Cost: Starting at $1,249.
If you want an affordable hybrid to use primarily as a tablet: Asus Transformer Book T200, with a detachable keyboard and 11-inch screen, sells for just $450. It offers similar quality to many stand-alone tablets in the $500 range. In tablet mode, the T-200 weighs just 1.8 pounds. In laptop mode, the Intel Bay Trail processor provides adequate power but won’t satisfy heavy-duty users hoping to replace all the capabilities of a full-fledged laptop.