It has smarter search, improved multitasking and a broader array of compelling apps. But Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 OS doesn’t really shine unless you have a great tablet or hybrid to go along with it. After all, the software is tailor-made for touch and 2-in-1 devices, not traditional clamshells. With so many manufacturers launching new products in so many sizes and configurations, it can be pretty tough picking the right tablet or hybrid for your needs and budget. These are our top picks, based on Laptop Mag’s rated reviews.
The Asus Transformer Book is a 2-in-1 detachable that gives you both an 11.6-inch tablet and laptop for less than the cost of an iPad. The quad-core Intel Atom CPU provides smooth performance, and the hard drive bay in the dock lets you easily augment the 64GB of onboard storage. Other highlights include a comfortable keyboard and touchpad, and useful bundled photo and video editing apps. The 6.5 hours of battery life isn't best in class, but you get decent endurance for the price.
Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 delivers a bigger and sharper 12.5-inch display (2160 x 1440 pixels) in a design that's significantly lighter and thinner than its predecessor. We also appreciate the more flexible hinge and a new magnet on the Keyboard Cover, which makes for comfortable lap use. If you want to take notes with the pen, just click the top of it to fire up OneNote. Although the battery life could be better, the Surface Pro 3 is a very versatile hybrid device.
Dell is taking a page from Lenovo's design playbook--and we don't have any complaints. The Inspiron 11 3000 sports a rotating hinge that lets you enjoy multiple modes (laptop, tablet, tent, stand) with a quick flip. We also appreciate the handsome design, which feels quite solid despite the sub-$500 price. Although the touchpad could be better, the Inspiron 11 3000 lasts an hour longer on a charge than the competing Yoga 2 11.
Weighing just 2.6 pounds, the Yoga 3 Pro almost makes the MacBook Air look bloated. We love the elegant watchband-style hinge, as well as the vibrant quad HD touch display and powerful JBL speakers. Lenovo's software is smart enough to automatically suggest apps as you switch modes. And there are plenty of modes, including tablet, notebook, stand and tent. The Yoga 3 Pro is pricey, but it's one versatile hybrid.
This compelling Surface 2 alternative runs the full version of Windows 8.1, so you'll be able to run both desktop apps and Windows 8 apps. The tablet boasts a 10.8-inch, 1920 x 1080-pixel IPS display with 32GB of storage to start. Things really get interesting when you add the Mobile Keyboard accessory, which boosts this tablet's endurance from 8 hours to an epic 15 hours.
A compelling tablet for work and play, the ThinkPad 10 comes with a pen to maximize your productivity and an optional keyboard that has plenty of cushy travel. This hybrid also has serious staying power, as it lasted nearly 9 hours on the Laptop Mag Battery Test. The 8-MP camera snaps sharp-looking photos, and you can launch this shooter with a quick flip of the optional cover.
The ThinkPad Yoga is a well-designed business hybrid with a rotating full HD display, excellent keyboard and long battery life. Lenovo builds on its innovative bendable design by having the keys retract in slate mode, making for a more comfortable experience.
If you're looking for a 2-in-1 with power, check out Acer's R 13, which has power in spades. Boasting an Intel Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM and dual RAID 0 SSDs, all for $1500, the R 13 delivers some of the best performance in its class. While the 3.3-pound R 13 may not be as light or pretty as Lenovo's Yoga 3 Pro, the R 13’s multi-mode display can perform more poses, and it offers optional pen input. The R 13's battery also lasts longer than other hybrids such as the Toshiba Click 2 Pro and both recent Yoga Pros. While the $1,500 configuration we reviewed may be little steep, the base model starts at $900.
It’s thinner and sharper than the MacBook Air, more practical than the Surface Pro 3 and more affordable than both. We first saw this beauty at CES 2015. We were impressed with ASUS’ impressively versatile Transformer Book Chi T300, which measures just 0.65 inches thick. It even packs a powerful Core M processor in a fanless design. Thanks to neodymium magnets, the Chi T300 quickly detaches from its base for full-fledged enjoyment of the available QHD display. Then, when it’s time to work, the comfortable clamshell design makes this hybrid a more practical partner than the Surface’s awkward keyboard cover. But best of all is the $699 starting price.