Convertible laptops have been around for a couple years now. These are laptops that can be converted into tablets by either disconnecting the keyboard or swiveling it out of the way. The first few models to come out left quite a bit to be desired. However, they’ve started to come of age, making now a good time to be looking for one.
Why Look For Convertible Laptops Now?
We’ve had tablets for a number of years now. This means the technology behind them has had a chance to fully mature, making them more reliable, as well as giving them better battery life. Also, Intel, among others, has come out with processors that give them excellent speed and processing power, like their newest Haswell chip.
This Haswell chip from Intel is basically a laptop processor, although with slightly better power consumption properties. Combine the Haswell chipset with the Windows Mobile operating system and you have a handheld computer that can do almost everything your laptop can do.
Most of the earlier models of convertible laptops were klunky and poorly done. They were either too heavy, too big, or too small, and their keyboards weren’t very good. However, makers like Asus have gone back to the drawing boards and redesigned their offerings. Models are available now that are almost perfectly proportioned. They’ve also been able to design keyboards with extra battery power that easily and positively connect and disconnect.
The Sony Vaio Tap 11 Falls Just a Little Short
The Microsoft Surface line is one of the original members of the family of convertible laptops that came out a little while ago. However, it’s really neither laptop nor tablet. It’s too thick and too heavy. The Sony VAIO Tap 11 is only slightly thicker (at less than 100 mm) than most tablets. It also has the aforementioned Haswell processor. The problem with the Tap 11 is that the keyboard is a free-floating type that doesn’t connect directly to the laptop/tablet. This makes it difficult to use anywhere but a desk or table. The tablet has a kickstand on the back that also almost requires a hard surface like a table or desk. Need to work on the bus or train? Forget it.
The Asus VivoTab RT: On the Right Track
The Asus VivoTab RT is a huge step in the right direction from the Sony Vaio above. It’s also super thin and less than nine millimeters. It also has the Intel chip that you need for true laptop performance. Even better, you get a total of 96GB of storage space, 64GB internal and 32GB on the Asus Webstorage Cloud. Windows 8 means you can run almost any program your computer or full-sized laptop can run.
However, it doesn’t stop there. The keyboard/mobile dock has an internal battery to boost battery life of the unit (up to 20 hours total with the Dock), plus two USB 2.0 ports that let you connect a mouse, memory stick, or other USB peripheral. Even better, it has Near Field Communication (NFC) capability that lets you tap it to another device to swap information and a micro-HDMI port so you can connect it to a TV to watch movies. The keyboard/dock also has a full-function trackpad just like a regular laptop. The 11-inch screen is a little small for my eyes, but most users will be more than happy with it.
My Choice in Convertible Laptops Is the Dell XPS 12
The full name for this is the Dell XPS 12 Ultrabook convertible. That should be a good giveaway that this convertible approaches true “laptop-hood” while still retaining absolute portability. It has an easy-to-view, 12.5-inch screen. What I like is how it converts from laptop to tablet. Out of the box, the Dell XPS 12 looks like an ultrabook. Open it up and it still does. Push against the bottom or top of the display and that stops, though. The screen is hinged at either side allowing it to flip 180 degrees to convert into a tablet.
Like I said, the Dell XPS 12 is laptop-lite. It has two USB 3.0 ports (one with power out), up to 8GB of memory, HD video out, a mini card reader, and wireless video out. Also, like a “regular” laptop, it has a fully functional touchpad. Unlike most laptops I’ve looked at recently, this one has a camera that can record in full 1080p HD. The XPS even excels in memory and storage, with your choice of either 4GB or 8GB of memory and either 128GB or 256GB of Solid State Device (SSD) storage.