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What is a 2-in-1 Laptop?: 2-in-1 Laptop vs Tablet vs Notebook

What is a 2-in-1 Laptop?: 2-in-1 Laptop vs Tablet vs Notebook

The rate at which computers have developed over the past 2 decades is nothing short of astonishing, and we feel this is best portrayed through portable computers. Laptops that used to be heavy and bulky blocks of metal and plastic are now sleek and lightweight devices that you can easily take anywhere you go and that's just the regular notebook laptops.

Let's not even mention the rate of growth of smartphones and then of course there was the introduction of tablets which took portability to a whole new level by filling the gap left between smartphone and laptop.

We'll ditch smartphones for now, as we assume everyone already owns them, but the same can't be said for laptops and tablets. In most cases, if you are looking for a portable device, you will only want need or have the budget to get one of these devices.

In these cases, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of laptops and tablets to see which device best suits your needs.

I've already done a full article that is all about comparing and contrasting laptops and tablets, so if that's something you're interested in, you can find it using the search box.

In theory, you can buy a 2-in-1 PC to replace both your conventional laptop and tablet, but in reality, it is not that simple. Because some 2-in-1 designs are better as tablets, others are better as laptops, and very few are great at being both.

In this article, we'll take a look at what exactly a 2-in-1 laptop is. How does it compare to regular laptops and tablets, and ultimately is it worth your money?

What Is A 2-in-1 Laptop?

2-in1 is a type of portable device that is perfect for those who cannot decide between a laptop and a tablet and it is the so-called 2-in-1 laptop. Well, as the name suggests, this is a portable device that can work as much as a laptop as a tablet. Now, not all 2-in-1 laptops achieve this in the same way. That is why we make the distinction between convertible and detachable 2-in-1 laptops.

Convertible vs detachable 2-in-1 laptops


What is a 2-in-1 Laptop?: 2-in-1 Laptop vs Tablet vs Notebook

A convertible 2-in-1 laptop is a highly flexible device with a keyboard that can be folded behind the display to more closely resemble a traditional tablet.

A 2-in-1 convertible laptop is a very flexible device with a keyboard that can be folded behind the screen to look more like a traditional tablet.

Some models even have screens that can be rotated or sliding keyboards. However, whatever the case, all 2-in-1 convertible laptops have a mechanism by which they transform to look and feel like a regular tablet. This design looks like a conventional laptop, but the screen folds 360 degrees, which means you can transform it into a tablet, a tent for watching movies, or a kiosk for displaying presentations.

Because of that flexible hinge, convertibles are a bit more versatile than detachable ones, but they are also usually heavier and more uncomfortable to use in tablet mode.

To avoid this, be sure to limit your convertible options to models with 14-inch or smaller screens. Whether you choose a convertible or a detachable 2-in-1, it will come with a touchscreen and could also support a digital pen that allows you to draw and write on the screen. In fact, the window's robust touch support is one of the 2-in-1's best features.

Once you learn to interact with onscreen items using your fingers, it's hard to go back to a keyboard and mouse. Now some of these pens are simple pointing sticks while others are refillable active pens with digital eraser functions and pressure sensitivity. You'll want to see the functionality of the pen, if taking digital notes or drawing is important to you, they sometimes cost more. Needless to say, they double as a typical laptop at other times as well.

What is a 2-in-1 Laptop?: 2-in-1 Laptop vs Tablet vs Notebook

A detachable 2-in-1 laptop does not focus on rearranging its parts to make it look like a tablet but instead features a completely detachable keyboard. It is a laptop with a removable keyboard that can be used as a tablet by removing the keyboard. The detachable layouts are essentially iPad-like tablets with a removable keyboard cover that attaches to the side. Once the keyboard is connected, only the screen remains that can function as a normal tablet and this keyboard is more than just a detachable peripheral.

Its main advantage is extreme portability. If you detach the keyboard, the tablet itself weighs a little over a pound and is only a few tenths of an inch thick, and when you use it as a tablet, there is no keyboard to get in the way.

It's very convenient to use, but you have to compromise on performance as all components are built into the display.

It can double as a docking station that features a keyboard, trackpad, extra batteries, one-two ports, which you wouldn't find on a tablet, and even a discrete GPU in certain cases. However, the display can function without all this.

On many models, the keys are a bit awkward for 2-in-1s compared to a normal laptop keyboard. So don't plan on using it as your main word processor. It can also be uncomfortable to prop it up on your lap, especially if the screen is 12 inches or smaller. And lastly, it probably consumed some processing power in exchange for weight savings and portability, that's because all the important components, including the battery, are implemented in the display portion of the device.

The rest of the 2-in-1 feature options, such as memory, storage, capacity, and CPU, are very similar to what you will find in conventional laptops. One exception is that some 2-in-1s make use of the relatively slow but energy-efficient Intel Y-series processors, rather than the U-series chips that are more common in mainstream laptops. This can make them feel a bit slow on everyday tasks like opening and closing apps or multitasking, but the silver lining here is often excellent battery life.

Overall, they have a pretty interesting premise, but most of the time a player of all trades is a master of none.

2-in-1 Laptop vs Tablet - Which Is Best For You?

What is a 2-in-1 Laptop?: 2-in-1 Laptop vs Tablet vs Notebook

The hardware comparison

A tablet is best described as a large smartphone. It has a large screen, relies primarily on a touchscreen interface with just a handful of buttons, and in most cases, it has only one port. It can be a Lightning, USB-c, or micro USB port, and is used both for charging the device and for connecting it to another computer. Because the hardware used in tablets isn't that powerful, they tend to have excellent battery life.

Rather, a laptop is basically a laptop PC. The hardware it uses is weak compared to full-size PC hardware, but it is still far ahead of what is used for most other portable devices. However, laptops use keyboards and touchpads to record input and come with many ports that can be used to connect peripherals or other devices to the laptop.

This includes an Ethernet port, multiple USB ports, an HDMI port, a headphone jack, and sometimes even a Lightning port that can be used to connect an external GPU to the laptop. Unsurprisingly, 2-in-1 devices borrow items from both laptops and tablets. These devices can be used in tablet or laptop mode.

Some of them feature a detachable screen that can double as a tablet, while others allow the keyboard to fold behind the screen. These are known as detachable and convertible 2-in-1 devices, respectively. The tablet part of a 2-in-1 device is the screen. Even with the 2-in-1 models that don't feature a detachable screen, the screen at least has touch capabilities, so it can mimic the feeling of using a tablet.

However, everything else about 2-in-1 devices is all laptops with the inclusion of a keyboard and lots of ports. It's hard to make too many generalizations, as 2-in-1 laptops cover a wide price range; In most cases, you will find that the hardware is weaker than in normal laptops, but this is not always the case.

Although, when it is the case, it does wonders for battery life. 2-in-1 laptops can easily be found in smaller sizes than your regular laptops. Making them more portable but less ergonomic when using a keyboard. However, many 2-in-1 laptops can be seen as just laptops with added touchscreen capabilities.

This doesn't make them better laptops than regular laptops, but at least it makes them competent and acting like part of a laptop. But the same is not true for the tablet part of the equation due to a reason that will become clear as we progress through the software part of this comparison.

The software comparison

Buying a laptop with weaker hardware doesn't sound too good, but having a tablet with the hardware capabilities of a laptop sounds amazing. And in this regard, the 2-in-1 laptop feels like a well-balanced device. The software side is where some aspects of this device start to get a bit more questionable. As we stated earlier, laptops use robust operating systems like Windows, Linux, or macOS.

Tablets use mobile operating systems like iOS, Android, or ChromeOS. 2-in-1 laptops cannot use both and switch between operating systems when switching between 2 usage modes. So for the most part 2-in-1 laptops use normal laptop operating systems.

This has its benefits. It allows you to use more demanding software that mobile operating systems do not support and makes multitasking easier. That said, the normal assumption that many people make when looking at this type of device is that the tablet part will be compatible with everything that a normal tablet supports, and that is not the case here.

As simple as they are, some applications are simply not compatible with, for example, Windows, and there is nothing you can do about it. You have access to most PC games, although if you can run them or not is something else, they are compatible. The rest depends on the power of the hardware, and there are some 2-in-1 laptops with impressive specs. Although, they are accompanied by equally impressive price tags.

Some 2-in-1 laptops feature Lightning ports, so they can be connected to external GPUs to maximize gaming power. But at this point, a normal laptop would probably be better as it would feature better cooling due to its larger size, and even a normal size laptop's cooling systems aren't exactly good to start with. Now let's see how 2-in-1 laptops compare to regular laptops and tablets.

2-in-1 Laptop vs Tablet vs Notebook

The tablet is a super lightweight and highly portable device that is convenient and intuitive to use for casual tasks such as web browsing, multimedia content viewing, and mobile gaming. Also, it tends to have a relatively long battery life, as it doesn't have very powerful hardware.

Last but not least, tablets are usually affordable devices, although expensive high-end models certainly exist. In contrast, 2-in-1 laptops tend to be heavier than tablets. This is especially true of convertible models that are as ergonomic to hold in your hand as any laptop, but that's not even the main difference.

See that most 2-in-1 laptops run on Windows, which means they don't have access to all the mobile apps and games tablets have. So sure, the 2-in-1 laptop can work as a tablet, but it doesn't support many apps and games as normal tablets. Of course, some 2-in-1 laptops run on IOS, Android, or Chrome OS, but then they run into the problem that half of your laptop is worse.

Of course, 2-in-1 laptops have the benefit of the app store or the play store, so all the mobile apps you can find there is fair game. They also feature hardware that far exceeds anything you would see on a tablet. Like I said, some models even have discrete graphics cards. So they shouldn't have a problem running more demanding desktop apps or some PC games.

You could even connect an external graphics card to most of them for some intense PC gaming, but this doesn't really make the 2-in-1 laptop half better. And when we compare 2-in-1 laptops to regular laptops, we get a similar situation. The benefit is that 2-in-1 laptops are lighter, more portable, and tend to have longer battery life.

But since they are smaller, they also have less room to fit all the hardware, which in turn means they have less space to set up the proper cooling. As a result, 2-in-1 laptops tend to cost more despite having less powerful hardware.

If you are used to full-size keyboards from regular laptops, 2-in-1 laptops may be less ergonomic to use in their laptop mode. And I haven't even mentioned the smaller screens on 2-in-1 laptops that can make multitasking a tedious mess.

Why you should not buy a 2-in-1 laptop?

If you're after raw power and performance in 2-in-1 is likely to disappoint you. It may not come with the most powerful processors and often rely on integrated graphics. Since its main objective is ultra-portability. Also, there has always been a concern about breaking the hinge when folding the laptop and detaching the keyboard. Not to mention that the repair cost is also very high. Finally, it's worth mentioning that some 2-in-1s, particularly the sleekly designed models, which boast a top-tier build quality, can command extremely high prices.

In short, if you are a general user looking for portability, you should go for a lightweight standard laptop that will cost less. If you are a power user who gambles a lot or performs CPU-intensive tasks, you should go for a heavy laptop with dedicated graphics. But if you are looking for flexibility and use a stylus or touch screen a lot, you should definitely go for a 2-in-1 device.


2-in-1 laptops are a prime example of a device that loses so much for the sake of versatility, that it just isn't worth it to most people. The laptop part is strictly a worse laptop, it costs more, has worse hardware, inferior cooling, and a smaller screen.

Sure it probably has better battery life, but is it worth it on its own? And the tablet part can't even do anything that a normal tablet can do in most cases because it runs on Windows. To top it all, buying a 2-in-1 laptop can easily be more expensive than buying a laptop with similar specs and a tablet aside.

Therefore, if we are looking for the cost-effectiveness of hardware power, then it is not worth using “no” 2-in-1 laptops. Such price is not a problem for some people, powerful hardware is not a requirement for some. people, there is a target demographic that will find these devices perfect. And if you are one of these people, I can wholeheartedly recommend them.

The build quality of 2-in-1 laptops is excellent in most cases. But I wanted to do this article to let you know that you need to have very specific requirements to even consider a device like this. In any case, I hope this article has been useful to you, you can let me know if you have done it by sharing it with friends and what is your opinion on it, let me know in the comment section below.

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