Tablet vs. 2-in-1

2-in-1s borrow features from both tablets to deliver the best of both worlds. Although 2-in-1s combine the capabilities of a laptop and tablet into one device, sometimes a traditional tablet is still preferred as the better option.

Which is Better: A Tablet or a 2-in-1?

2-in-1 computers, also called 2-in-1 laptops, operate in two modes: Tablet mode and laptop mode. In tablet mode, a 2-in-1 functions like a tablet, presenting a great option when shopping for a device that has the benefits of a tablet like touch screen display, with the added full-functionality of a laptop.

To help you decide if a 2-in-1 or tablet is best for you, let’s review the relative pros and cons of the hybrid 2-in-1 versus the standalone “slate” style tablet.

Comparing tablets and 2-in-1s

What’s the difference between a tablet and a 2-in-1?

First, let's review what we're talking about:

  • Tablet: A slate style tablet is a highly portable PC – considered to be a mobile device – featuring a touch screen interface that occupies the full length and width of the device. Typically larger than a smartphone, tablets are used more for computer-related tasks and are not designed for hand-held calling.
  • For a full definition, see our related resource: What is a Tablet?

  • 2-in-1 Laptop: A 2-in-1 is a combination of laptop and a tablet. A "2-in-1 Attached" model keeps the keyboard and screen connected, making the device resemble a laptop. A "2-in-1 Detachable" system allows the screen to be physically separated from the keyboard for use as a standalone tablet.
  • For more on the basics of a 2-in-1, check out: What is a 2-in-1?

Comparing the Advantages of a 2-in-1 to a Tablet

When choosing whether to buy a 2-in-1 or a tablet, it’s important to balance the advantages and disadvantages of each device type. As you review the outlined features and capabilities below, consider how these advantages chalk up in meeting your specific needs and requirements.

Advantages of 2-in-1

Compared to a standalone tablet, a 2-in-1 has these advantages:

  • Computing power: Featuring full PC operating systems and faster processors, most 2-in-1s can handle more advanced computing tasks than traditional tablets. Despite the heavier weight that results from this level of computing power, a 2-in-1 offers more all-around flexibility.
  • Ports and docking: 2-in-1s are more easily expandable than tablets. Many models have multiple ports and slots for attaching disk drives, monitors, and other accessories to expand your workspace.
  • Office and professional use: Professionals often choose 2-in-1s for business as replacements for their full-keyboard laptops, later finding the tablet mode of 2-in-1s to be ideal for notetaking, touch screen data entry, presentations, and more.
  • Multitasking: The more traditional PC capabilities of a 2-in-1 allow you to keep multiple windows open at the same time, and more easily switch between tasks than with a tablet.

Advantages of a Tablet

Compared to a 2-in-1, a standalone tablet has these advantages:

  • Weight: Slate style tablets are typically lighter than 2-in-1s, so they're a good choice for long periods of handheld or on-the-go use. Be sure to look at the specifications, as some very thin and light 2-in-1s are available today.
  • Durability: This is a double-edged sword. A standalone tablet has fewer moving or external parts than a 2-in-1 (i.e. 360° hinges, keyboards), but the touch screen on a 2-in-1 sits within a sturdier laptop-style frame.
  • Field use: “Road warriors” who initially choose a tablet for its manageability and portability are often happy to learn how many full office-style applications they can run, especially if the device is equipped with a stylus for data entry.
  • Battery life: Unless the 2-in-1 you’re considering has multiple batteries, a tablet will generally last longer unplugged, as it’s powering fewer components, rather than an entire 2-in-1 PC.

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