It the classic laptop vs tablet debate, but you can have both if you’re fed up of carrying around a laptop and a tablet. A convertible, hybrid, 2-in-1, might be the answer. Since the launch of Windows 10 there has been a wave of new devices aiming to be all things to everyone. Here are the best convertible laptops and tablets of 2016 you can buy in the UK. See also: Best laptops 2016 and best tablets 2016.
New entry: Samsung Galaxy TabPro S.
Although many of them will come with Windows 10, which makes sense, there are a few in this chart which come with an alternative operating system including both Chrome OS and even Android so there’s lots of choice. We’ve also added the iPad Pro 9.7 which will be a legitimate option for some users.
As usual, there are a lot of devices out there from a larger number of manufacturers so these are the best ones which we’ve reviewed. These are the best convertible laptop and hybrid tablet reviews.
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You can also take a look at our round-ups for best budget laptops and our best Chromebooks. For something more portable see best ultraportable laptops, and also best gaming laptops.
Laptop vs tablet: What is a hybrid?
Although they’ve been around for a while, these devices vary quite a lot and so various different names have been used to pigeon hole them without a real front runner which was settled on. We’re going mainly with convertible here.
Across the media, retail and the manufacturers you’ll hear names such as convertibles, hybrids and 2-in-1s. They all mean the same thing in essence – a device which is trying to be both a laptop and a tablet.
As we’ll explain next, there are essentially two different types here and we’re going to round up the best of them all in one place.
HP Spectre x360
Laptop vs tablet: Tablet or laptop first?
There are some big differences between a convertible laptop and a convertible tablet. While both are a 2-in-1 device aiming to be a laptop and a tablet at the same time, design challenges mean that you’ll typically get more of one than the other. However, some do manage to sit somewhere in the middle.
A convertible laptop comes in various different styles but is likely to have a screen which flips almost 360 degrees (above) in order to change it into a tablet, for example. That’s the main part of the design and doesn’t vary too much across the market. It also means you can use it in other ‘modes’ such as tent or display.
Convertible laptop modes
Examples include Lenovo’s Yoga range which has been the inspiration for many rivals. A recent exception is the Microsoft Surface Book which is laptop-first but still has a removable keyboard.
Meanwhile, a convertible tablet (below) is more like a regular tablet but either has a keyboard which attaches magnetically or a fancy case which creates a laptop-like experience. The keyboard may connect over Bluetooth in some cases.
Examples include the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Samsung Galaxy TabPro S and the Huawei MateBook. We’re likely to add the latter two once we’ve had them in for a proper test.
Which one is right for you depends hugely on what you want to do with it. Do you mainly want a laptop on which to do regular work but can also shapeshift into a tablet for the odd task? Or do you want a tablet which you can also do a bit of typing on when the need arises?
Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Laptop vs tablet: What to look for in a hybrid
Much of what you need to look for in a convertible laptop or convertible tablet is the same. Like almost any tech device you’ll want to get the best specifications for your money including the processor, memory, storage and screen. Make sure you click through to the in-depth reviews of each device to find out what they offer, including benchmark results.
As alluded to, the design is going to be a big part of your buying decision here and you need to choose a device which fits your needs best. A convertible laptop is likely to be bigger and heavier but is likely to offer longer battery life (there’s more space for a bigger battery). Since it is laptop-first, it will also provide a better typing experience and there’s normally room for things like more physical ports should connectivity be an issue.
Although a convertible tablet might not have many physical ports (some have full-size USB), they are smaller and lighter than a hybrid laptop making them great for travelling around. As the device is a tablet-first with a keyboard dock/case, using it like a laptop is often fiddly and awkward. Look for one with a clever design and proper keys. A trackpad is also a boon, despite touchscreens, but not all feature one.
Laptop vs tablet: Best convertible laptops and tablets 2016
1. Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Reviewed on: 30 June 16
RRP: From £749 inc VAT (model tested £1079)
There is a great deal to like and rave about the Surface Pro 4. The design is thinner and lighter for starters. The screen is awesome, there’s plenty of power available, the new Surface Pen is better and the Type Cover is a vast improvement on the last one. However, the design is inherently awkward at times, it’s more expensive that a lot of laptops and the Type Cover, which you’ll pretty much need, isn’t included lowering the value.
Read our Microsoft Surface Pro 4 review.
2. Lenovo Yoga 900
Lenovo Yoga 900
Reviewed on: 26 February 16
RRP: From £1199 inc VAT (model reviewed £1499)
The Lenovo Yoga 900 is a laptop that really asks you to believe in its design style. After all, it doesn’t come cheap and for the price you can get a laptop with much more power if you’re not out for something immensely portable. That’s where this laptop excels: portability. As well as being slim, light and all-round lovely, the smart hinge lets it sit where most other laptops just can’t. The battery should last through a full day’s work as well. The trackpad can feel fiddly and the display isn’t perfect, but if you’re feeling flush this is one of the top ultraportables around.
Read our Lenovo Yoga 900 review.
3. Microsoft Surface Book
Microsoft Surface Book
Reviewed on: 30 June 16
RRP: From £1,299 inc VAT
It’s expensive but the Surface Book is an amazing piece of technology combining excellent (and unique) design, top-notch build quality and high-end specifications. Battery life is amazing and there’s a lot you can do with the Surface Book model with the Nvidia GPU. The big question is can you afford one?
Read our Microsoft Surface Book review.
4. Apple iPad Pro 9.7-inch
Apple iPad Pro 9.7-inch
Reviewed on: 18 April 16
RRP: From £499 inc VAT
There’s no doubt that the iPad Pro 9.7 is the best tablet Apple has ever made, combining the power of the original into the stunning form factor of the iPad Air 2 (with a camera bump). Apple has also added new features such as upgraded cameras and one of the best displays we’ve seen on a tablet. Whether you should buy one is another question, though, and depends on your perspective (see above). For some, the iPad Pro 9.7 will be the perfect balance between work and play while for others it will simply not be up to the job. What we can say is that it’s certainly not the ‘ultimate PC replacement’ as it’s trying to do too many things at once.
Read our Apple iPad Pro 9.7-inch review.
5. Asus Transformer Book Flip TP200SA
Asus Transformer Book Flip TP200SA
Reviewed on: 13 January 16
RRP: £309.99 inc VAT
Whether the Asus Transformer Book Flip TP200SA is a good buy or not depends entirely on your priorities. If you want to open up loads of browser windows and have plenty of apps open at once, this isn’t for you. The Asus Transformer Book Flip TP200SA only really runs well with an app or two running, and no data-intensive background processes going on. In laptop terms it’s a whelp. However, good stamina, a smart design and good, non-cramped keyboard make it a great low-cost choice if you want something to do some writing/emailing/browsing while you’re away from home.
Read our Asus Transformer Book Flip TP200SA review.
6. Samsung Galaxy TabPro S
Samsung Galaxy TabPro S
Reviewed on: 4 July 16
RRP: £849 inc VAT
The TabPro S is undeniably a beautiful and capable piece of hardware and it can be a joy to use. The problem is, it’s not a joy to use all the time. The 2-in-1 form factor can work, and we still think that the Surface Pro 4 is the best example of this, thanks to its build quality and integrated kickstand. The TabPro S is an excellent computer, but it remains frustrating that it doesn’t always excel in being one. Hopefully Samsung will consider improving simple things like the stand on the inevitable sequel if it is to continue to charge this much money for it.
Read our Samsung Galaxy TabPro S review.
7. Microsoft Surface 3
Microsoft Surface 3
Reviewed on: 12 May 15
RRP: £419 inc VAT (64GB Wi-Fi)
Objectively, the Surface 3 is the best compromise between a laptop and tablet. It’s a highly portable gadget which can run full Windows programs and it costs less than the Surface Pro 3. It’s not exactly cheap by the time you’ve added the keyboard and stylus, though. It’s also only good for lightweight duties – it’s less powerful than laptops costing the same – and some people will find the screen is too small for ‘proper’ productivity. It’s a better work tool than an iPad and Bluetooth keyboard, it has to be said, and if you only need to use office apps and a web browser, it could be exactly what you’re after. Most people are better off spending more on the Surface Pro 3 or, if you don’t need a touchscreen, a Core M laptop such as the Asus UX305F.
Read our Microsoft Surface 3 review.
8. Chromebook Pixel (2015)
Chromebook Pixel (2015)
Reviewed on: 3 August 15
RRP: £799 inc VAT
As we’ve stated in pretty much every Chromebook review, they’re not for everyone. Being tied to the web, and Google’s version of the web in particular, isn’t going to be ideal for some users. The same goes for those that want to edit video, record music, or play AAA games. Those users would be better served by a decent PC, which you could certainly buy for the same money as the new Pixel. But, and it’s a very big but, if you embrace the ideals of Chromebooks, and have the money to spare, the 2015 Pixel is a truly beguiling device that is a genuine pleasure to use. Do we want one? Unquestionably. Will we be buying one? Hmmmm.
Read our Chromebook Pixel (2015) review.
9. Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 P20W-C-106
Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 P20W-C-106
Reviewed on: 23 December 15
RRP: £999 inc VAT
Bagging a 4K UHD display may seem impressive but here is wasted on a little ultrabook. A small battery plus high-res touchscreen equals foreshortened runtime. The Radius is quick but annoying on too many levels. For a better overall experience, try the ZenBook UX303UA which is £100 cheaper.
Read our Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 P20W-C-106 review.
10. Google Pixel C
Google Pixel C
Reviewed on: 20 January 16
RRP: £399 inc VAT ($500) for 32GB; £479 inc VAT ($600) for 64GB
Buy from Google
As a standalone tablet, the Pixel C is superb. It’s better than the HTC-made Nexus 9 which was great but not exceptional. Which the ‘C’ most certainly is. Storage is a bit limited, but if you can live with 32GB it’s good value at £399. Paying an extra £119 for the keyboard is something we can’t see many buyers doing. If typing is a priority, you’d be better off spending your £518 on a decent ultraportable laptop as Android Marshmallow – good as it is – isn’t nearly as versatile as Windows. And while the keyboard is well designed, you’ll still prefer a full-size laptop keyboard. If you need to run Windows apps, the consider the Surface 3 which is slightly cheaper – even with the optional keyboard – but remember that there are even cheaper options such as the Asus Transformer T100HA.