2 in 1 laptops that flip into tablet mode aren't just a novelty — they offer a flexibility that standalone devices can't match. Here are 10 useful things you can do with a 2 in 1.
What Is A 2 In 1, Anyway?
The easiest way to understand what a 2 in 1 is, is to think of a laptop — a full-power laptop, with a keyboard and Microsoft Windows and all the versatility you should expect — and then add the ability for it to transform into a touchscreen tablet. 2 in 1s let you move between laptop or tablet whenever you need, so you don’t have to stay tied to a desk when you want to travel, but you can still get as much work, email or Web browsing done as you want to.
Various 2 in 1s transform between laptop and tablet mode in different ways. In general, though, you can split 2 in 1s into a few key categories. You can find those that function like a laptop normally, but have a 360-degree hinge that lets the screen flip around to become a tablet. You can find laptops with a detachable keyboard (turning the screen into a tablet), some of which have an extra internal battery to boost power. You can also find sliders: 2 in 1s that have a keyboard hidden away inside their chassis. And, of course, there are designs that take an entirely unique approach to converting.
For a full overview of 2 in 1 models currently available in Australia, check out Gizmodo's comprehensive roundup.
10 Reasons To Choose A 2 in 1
1. Transform from type to touch
When you have to bust out a report in a hurry or do detailed spreadsheet work, there's nothing to beat a conventional physical keyboard. But when you want to laze on the couch and surf Facebook, a tablet's easier to use. With a 2 in 1, changing from one mode to the other doesn't require any more than detaching the keyboard, or twisting it around to the back.
2. Travel with fewer chargers and less junk
When travelling for business, many people take a laptop and a tablet. That's two devices to lug around, plus all the associated chargers. Switch to a 2 in 1 and you've halved the clutter and improved the odds you'll get away with nothing but hand luggage. Bonus: if your machine uses a standard micro-USB port (found, for instance, on the Acer Aspire Switch 10), you may even be able to use the same charger that you need for your phone.
3. Choose the computing platform that's right for you
Convertible devices are available in both Windows 8.1 and Android flavours — choose the approach that works best for you. If you can't decide, some models (such as the Asus Transformer Book Trio) allow you to switch between Windows and Android on the same device.
4. Lose the keyboard for space efficiency
Stuck in a crowded train carriage, or minimal elbow room on the plane? Just lose the keyboard and keep on trucking. That's simply not possible with a standard laptop.
5. Use a stylus for easy note-taking
If you don't want the distraction of a keyboard while taking notes in a meeting, switch to tablet mode for your note-taking. For even more efficient (but silent) note-taking, add a stylus (or choose a model which has one built in, like the Surface Pro 3).
6. Score a cheap copy of Microsoft Office
Unlike the majority of tablet devices, many 2 in 1s come with a bundled Microsoft Office licence, so you can maximise your productivity without blowing out your budget. (Case in point: the Asus T100.)
7. Be the ultimate e-reader with a keyboard
When you're simply reading an ebook, a touch-screen is all you need — but when you want to search down interesting titles or make annotations, typing makes the process easier. Even if you're always in tablet made, the ClearType technology built into Windows will give you a better resolution than any conventional e-reader.
8. Maximise battery performance in a way that suits you
Battery life is a constant challenge when you're working on the go. 2 in 1s generally offer good battery life, as well as sensible options for improving it. You can tweak your settings and apps in Windows, or opt for a model where the keyboard offers extra battery capacity.
9. Work in a variety of angles and formats
The kickstand on many 2 in 1s is flexible, so you can vary the perfect working angle depending on whether you're at your desk, on your couch, or crammed onto a plane. Some models offer even more options: the Lenovo Yoga Pro 3 can be used in "tent" mode, which is great for presenting (or resting on your stomach in bed).
10. Enjoy every style of gaming on offer
Some games (Star Citizen) demand a keyboard. Some (Crossy Road) only offer up their genius on a touch screen. With a 2 in 1, neither is out of bounds. Set mode; enjoy!
Have your own reason to favour a 2 in 1? Share it in the comments.
Laptop picture from Shutterstock