Convertible Laptop Roundup

mysterydave

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Dec 31, 2007
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I was looking to get a new laptop and wanted a convertible so I took a look at a lot of options. There has been an explosion in this space and all the big manufacturers have brought something out in this area. Recently there are even 15.6" and 17" screen convertibles. Most manufacturers seem to offer a tablet with an attachable keyboard cover or laptop where the keyboard can be removed in the 12"-12.6" screen range, a best of both worlds device around 13.3" inches. , and devices that are primarily laptops but can fold to a tablet in the 14"-17" screen size range. If these are over 14.5" I have not included them in my summary.

I am going to concentrate here on my requirements. Largely a portable device that has a decent amount of processing for use as a main workstation. For me that means programming, office, and some gaming. I have only looked at machines meeting these criteria:

- 12"-14.1" screen sizes
- available to buy in UK
- at least 8gb RAM (ideally more)
- sky lake or kaby lake i5/i7 processors

Ideally I would also like a QHD screen, either discrete or Iris graphics and a decent battery life. Also I don't like bezels - big screens are good for working on, small devices are good for mobility. Bezels are wasted space in this form factor in my opinion.

Here are the main manufacturers’ offerings:
  • Manufacturer | Tablet | Convertible | Laptop
    ■Screen Size: | 12-12.6" | 13.3" | ~14"
    Acer | Switch Alpha 12 | Spin 5 | Spin 7
    Asus | Transformer Book | ZenBook | N/A
    Dell | Latitude | XPS | Inspiron
    Fujitsu | Lifebook P737 | Lifebook T936 | N/A
    HP | Elite x2 | Spectre x360 | Pavilion x360
    Lenovo | Miix/Yoga 900S | Yoga | ThinkPad Yoga
    Microsoft | Surface Pro 4 | Surface Book | N/A
    Toshiba | Portégé X20 | Portégé A30 | N/A
Notable absences are Samsung (Tab Pro 12 Gold Edition and Spin Notebook) and Sony Vaio Spin as these only seem available in the US. Toshiba Radius seems to be discontinued and not generally available either. Also missing are announced but not yet available models such as Fujitsu T937 and the latest kaby lake Lenovo ThinkPad Yogas.

Hardest to find in this form factor is discrete or iris graphics. Almost all use Intel HD. Some of the 15.6"+ screen devices do better though.

If you are not bothered about graphics card HP Pavilion and Dell Inspiron offer great bang for buck. Especially the Dell with 16gb ultra fast RAM, i7-7500U processor and 512gb SSD for under £900.
Yoga 510 is where you jump in if you want graphics for a low price.
Asus Zenbook or Spectre offer affordable QHD screens paired with skylake chips.
There is great value in the £750-£1000 price range and you have to really want the top end features to justify straying above this price range.
The Dell XPS 2in1 with infinity screen looks slick but cost and only has the low powered kaby mobile chip. Lenovo 900 and 910s also look good with the watchband hinge but I don't like the large bezel on the 900.
If like me you want graphics card and a higher resolution screen in a smallish convertible then Microsoft and Lenovo 900 are the only options. Microsoft seem to have positioned themselves well here, taking the high end market that Apple would usually occupy while Lenovo have something for everyone with a spray and pray strategy making lots of different devices, a bit like Samsung’s smart phone strategy.

That leaves me choosing between the Surface Pro 4 or larger Surface book for around £1500 or more or the Yoga 900 at £1.8k, but I don't like the bezels on these devices. Dell latitude packs a larger screen in a smaller area than the Tab Pro but no graphics card. Lenovo Yoga 710 packs a larger screen than Surface book and Yoga 900 in a smaller profile but is only HD. For the lower price of £1000 and smaller bezels I think I have to make that sacrifice...

Is it the right choice? Any models I missed from the summary? Can anyone make any recommendations from their own experience?

This file is a summary of the models that I looked at.
The 'Side Bezel' and 'Top/Bottom' (bezel) columns are estimated based on the dimensions, screen size and aspect ratio. 'Profile' is length x width. Most are just over an A4 sheet in size. Specifications are taken from manufacturers and retailers websites, as are prices and may not be entirely accurate or up to date. Links are generally provided but in some cases the information came from multiple sources and only one link is included.
Pen support indicates Y if it comes with a pen, S if it has active pen support but you need to get a pen separately and N if I could find no active pen support or included pen. Note these are all touch screen devices so even these will work with a capacitive pen.
USB column indicates the number of ports, without taking into account type 2v3 or thunderbolt.
 

velo3100

Splendid
Moderator
My best advice is that choose the one with a good cpu that will not throttle under load. This will make a difference when compiling code. The gpu will depend on the type of games you play. I think the switch alpha is the best as it has a full quad core cpu I think which is good for programming as the rest I think have only u cpus. As for gaming, I would not recommend it due to thermals.
 

mysterydave

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Dec 31, 2007
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All dual core 4 thread U CPUs or else mobile m/Y type CPUs even the alpha is i5-6200U.

Gaming maybe CoH, nothing too strenuous.
 

jollyo55

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May 10, 2017
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What did you decide on in the end? I am looking for a 2-in-1 mainly for the wide clamshell opening angle. I have very limited desk space so being able to fold the keyboard/touchpad under the main screen would allow me to use the 2nd monitor and my own keyboard/mouse, and have some resting space for my wrists. I was looking at the Dell Inspiron 2-in-1 series but I would like the specs in their gaming series built into the 2-in-1 :) I use mine for photo/video editing sometimes as well as programming so need a high-spec CPU, discrete graphics, 16+GB ram and a good quality SSD. Currently have an i7 3630QM and 740m with 2 SSDs on an Asus N56, Win10/Ubuntu dual boot, and based on benchmark scores the best option for me would be the i7-7700HQ, with ideally the 1050 Ti.

I'm very curious what you picked.
 
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