(Pocket-lint) - The 2-in-1 laptop market gets more crowded all the time - or should that be the 2-in-1 tablet market? Either way, unless you've got your eye on an exact product, it can be tough to know which to go for when you start looking for a new computer.
Are you hoping to back a portable machine that's perfect for writing on? Or perhaps a lightweight one that's ideal for watching movies and TV in bed?
Tablets and laptops have often felt like they've had a divide between them - one being for practical concerns and work, and the other for more lighthearted recreation and play. The good news is that those days are increasingly looking over.
There are now loads of brilliant devices that marry the best of both worlds, giving you fully rotating or detaching touchscreens so that you can watch movies or play games however you like, while their keyboards also mean that you can get work done, whether that's emailing, writing or whatever else you need to do.
We've rounded up some of the very best options on the market for you to have a look at - you might just find your next computer right here.
- Dell XPS 13 2-in-1
- Apple iPad Air (2022)
- Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio
- Microsoft Surface Pro 7
- Huawei MateBook E
Our Top Pick: Best 2-in-1
Dell XPS 13 2-in-1
- Really powerful
- Great display
Dell's presence on this list should be a hint that pretty much all of the big PC manufacturers are fully on board the 2-in-1 train. The XPS 13 2-in-1 is one of the most impressive machines we've got for you here (with a price to match).
Now with Intel's 10th generation Core processors, it's a complete one-stop-shop for all but the most onerous tasks.
Frankly, the XPS 13 2-in-1 is so powerful that it's likely to be overkill unless you're an on-the-go creative professional - if you're keen on using the tablet function with a stylus for design work, or need it for collaborative work, it's perfect.
Apple iPad Air (2022)
- So powerful
- Great design
- Need a pricey peripheral
- Some limitations
The fifth-gen iPad Air, for all its impressive power and wonderfully slim design, is technically just a tablet, not a 2-in-1. Add Apple's Magic Keyboard to the mix, though, or a cheaper third-party option, and you'll have a superb productivity device, too.
You get trackpad support and a full typing experience, making it an excellent pick for most people, especially if you're keener on the tablet end of things than the laptop side. If you want to watch movies and check the web, it doesn't get much better.
Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio
- Amazing design
- Great keyboard and touchpad
- Excellent display
- Hinge versatility could go even further
- The power ceiling isn’t that high for a professional device
A really intriguing device from Microsoft, the Surface Laptop Studio isn't quite as flexible as some others on this list, but does have a stunning design with a fairly unique hinge. It allows the screen to come forward to form a tablet or angled worktop.
This is great for those who work in visual fields and need versatility, but the big hiccough comes in the form of the laptop's price, which is really high compared to the more normal competition.
Microsoft Surface Pro 7
- Funky and light
- Great as a tablet
- Impressive display
- Pricey keyboard
- Big bezels
Microsoft's Surface line has slowly but surely been putting out better and better machines down the years, and the Surface Pro 7 is a superb example of what makes them so great. This is a premium 2-in-1, which would make a great standalone laptop or tablet, the true test of the machine in many ways.
It's got superb build quality, with nice materials used throughout, and an extremely crisp display that Microsoft has labelled PixelSense.
It's packing 2,736 x 1,824 pixels and looks great. The only downside is that you do have to buy the keyboard attachment yourself, but once you do you've got a superb package on your hands. The Surface Pro 7 is an absolute delight to use, which sees it top out this list.
Huawei MateBook E
- Superb colours
- Fantastic portability
- Great speakers
- Middling performance
- Unimpressive battery life
The Huawei Matebook E is something of a tablet-first approach, and thanks to this, it has a gorgeous display and great portability. The performance and quality of the keyboard cover can't quite match those of the Surface lineup, but the cameras are pretty great and found on both sides of the device.
The speakers are among the most impressive we've heard on a device of this size, too. This, combined with the awesome display, makes it a great media consumption device. Unfortunately, the battery life is less impressive, so you'll need to keep a charger handy.
The colour accuracy of the display, and the flexibility of the Windows OS, mean that it could be a pretty powerful tool for creatives. But we'd recommend sticking with the Core i3 variant, if you can find it, as the power and size constraints mean the i5 we tested couldn't really flex its muscles.
How to choose a 2-in-1 laptop
There are a lot of convertible laptops and tablets out there - these questions could help you figure out which is best for you.
Do you primarily want a tablet or laptop?
While you're obviously shopping for a hybrid device, we think it's worth working out which function you think you'll use more - the tablet side or the laptop side. This can help you to work out your priorities when it comes to the quality of a device's trackpad or keyboard, or indeed how thin and light it is when it's in tablet mode.
How much will you be typing?
As mentioned, if you want to work on the device you pick then you'll probably be interested to confirm that it has a good keyboard for typing. If you write a lot of emails or copy, then something like the Surface Pro's keyboard attachment might not be quite as comfortable in the long run, compared to a fully integrated keyboard.
What programs do you use?
Finally, while there are plenty of expensive options that pack in incredible power, some hybrid devices do have more modest specs. It's worth thinking about what programs you use so that you can account for this as you shop. If you do a lot of video editing, for example, you'll want to make sure that the 2-in-1 you have in mind can cope with the more demanding processing tasks that it'll be faced with.