What is a 2-in-1 laptop?
Today's 2 in 1 laptops (also called convertible laptops, 2-in-1 PCs, or just 2-in-1s) are increasingly popular because they give those laptop and tablet aficionados the little something extra they're looking for:
- For laptop users: A touch screen and other tablet-style conveniences
- For tablet users: A PC operating system, keyboard, and other features of a laptop
A 2-in-1 is defined simply as a PC that has the features of both a laptop and a tablet. This makes 2-in-1s a very broad product category, with everything from very laptop-like tablets to very tablet-like laptops . There are even 2-in-1 versions of smaller, more budget-friendly Chromebooks .
Laptops like 2-in-1s (with keyboards and flip-around touch screens) was sold years before today's stand-alone tablets became popular. But consumers found those early laptop tablet models to be too heavy and bulky. Today, improved technology has enabled PC manufacturers to build thinner, lighter, and more fully-featured combination designs -- creating the new category of the 2-in-1.
What makes a 2-in-1 different?
Generally speaking, a 2 in 1 is built like a laptop, with a similar (if thinner) shape, internal components (battery, storage drive, CPU) and external slots (USB ports, DVD drawer). But it also features a tablet interface that provides additional viewing and input options.
Here are more details about the distinctive features of a 2-in-1 laptop:
- Touch screen: It's not a 2-in-1 if it doesn't have a touch screen. Some 2-in-1 touch screens are housed within a laptop-like lid, with special hinges that flip 180 degrees from the keyboard for tablet-style use. Other 2-in-1 designs are more centered around the touch screen itself, with a keyboard that's hidden under a more flexible cover or flips out from another part of the device.
- Keyboard: It's also not a 2-in-1 if it doesn't have a physical keyboard. In fact, the type of keyboard that's used helps to define the two types of 2-in-1 that are available today:
OS and software: 2-in-1s are designed to do more than the everyday tablets , so many use full-fledged PC operating systems such as Windows 10 to run both mobile-style apps and regular PC software programs. NOTE: Some 2-in-1s, especially the more tablet-style ones, may run a web-oriented OS such as Chrome OS.
Processing power: Thanks to their somewhat larger form factor (and associated battery and cooling options), many 2-in-1s feature fast, multi-core CPUs similar to those available in high-end laptops.
- 2-in-1 attached laptop (also called a "convertible laptop"): The keyboard is built into the device and cannot be completely disconnected. Models with hinges that can flip the lid/touch screen (as described above) fall in this category, as are ones where a keyboard somehow flips out from the screen/body of the device.
- 2-in-1 Detachable (also called a "hybrid laptop"): A physical keyboard is integral to the device but can be detached. This creates the option of using the touch screen part of the system as a stand-alone tablet.
Advantages of 2-in-1 laptops
Users with no desire for tablet functionality are likely to buy a regular laptop, all else being equal. This means that the primary competition to the 2-in-1 in today's PC marketplace is the stand-alone tablet.
So, what are some advantages of 2-in-1s compared to tablets?
- Traditional office computing: 2-in-1s that run regular PC operating systems and software - and have physical keyboards for easier typing - will operate more like traditional home/business laptops. This makes a 2-in-1 superior to a tablet for most everyday office uses.
- Multiple usage scenarios: The tablet in a 2-in-1 makes it a useful tool for combination office/industrial settings or wherever a touch screen interface might be productive.
- Additional creative space: Many users find the tablet/drawing interface in a 2-in-1 to be an ideal enhancement to a regular laptop, whether for office work (flow charts, brainstorming sessions, etc.) or home entertainment (such as family drawing programs and games).
- Less is more: For many buyers, the 2-in-1 gets the nod simply because it means one less device to pack up and carry. If you like the standard computing experience of a laptop and prefer surfing the web and watching streaming movies on a tablet, then a 2-in-1 can provide the best of both worlds.
Trying to choose between a tablet and a 2-in-1? We present some factors to consider in another article, Tablet vs. 2-in-1 : Which is right for me?
Or if you’re ready to start shopping the best 2-in-1 laptop deals at Lenovo, head on over to our 2-in-1 Laptop Sale .
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