Best 2 in 1 laptops 2021: Get the benefits of a laptop and tablet combined

By Rachael Phillips

If you’re debating whether your next purchase should be a tablet or laptop, then the good news is you can enjoy the best of both worlds in just one machine.

What is a 2-in-1 laptop?

Two-in-one laptops allow you enjoy the performance of a laptop with the portability of a tablet.

Detachable or convertible?

A 2-in-1 laptop can split or fold into a tablet with one easy motion. There are two types of 2-in-1 laptop; detachable and convertible. The screens on a detachable laptop are entirely separate from the keyboard, so it can be used as a tablet. The convertible versions feature a flexible hinge that can be rotated 360º placing the screen behind the keyboard.

Both detachable and convertible styles have their benefits and which one is the best for you depends on what you’re going to be using it for. The convertible 2-in-1 laptops are great if you regularly use your keyboard as you will always have it with you. The detachable versions are often lighter and not as bulky, making them easier to handle when in tablet mode.

Thanks to advancements in mobile processors, the 2-in-1 laptop sector has grown extensively, so a wide range of options are now available. The majority of the biggest laptop manufacturers, including Dell, HP, Lenovo, Microsoft, Acer, Samsung, and Asus, all have excellent offerings in the 2-in-1 sector.

Benefits of a 2-in-1 laptop

The beauty of a 2-in-1 laptop is that you can do everything that you’d expect to do with a regular laptop with the added convenience of a tablet. Gone are the days when a 2-in-1 laptop would lack the performance of a traditional laptop. These days 2-in-1 laptops are slimmer, lighter and pack a powerful punch when it comes to performance. In fact, they follow a similar line to traditional laptops, where the more money you’re willing to spend, the better the processor, RAM, and graphics cards you’ll find.

Things to look out for when choosing a 2-in-1 laptop

Think carefully about the size of the laptop/tablet you’re going to want to carry around. Don’t make the mistake of thinking just because this is a nifty 2-in-1 solution that they will all be super slimline and portable. Some of the higher-end machines can actually weigh quite a lot and are bulkier than a regular laptop.

It’s also worth considering the battery life on your ideal machine and whether it’s going to match your needs. We recommended looking for a 2-in-1 laptop with a battery of at least eight to nine hours so it’ll see you through the working or school day with ease.

There is also the issue of storage. If you already own a tablet, you’ll know that the storage isn’t the best unless you have a pro version. So if you’re using it for work or want to download multiple programs, then you’re going to need extra storage. Most 2-in-1 laptops have comparable storage solutions but just make sure you have enough for what you’ll be using it for.

So which 2-in-1 laptop should you buy?

We’ve put each laptop on our list through its paces to see how it performs at work and home. We’ve tested how easy it is to get a full day of grind done and equally how it fares up when we fancy hiding under the duvet and indulging in a Netflix binge.

We’ve considered everything from battery life to CPU performance, and these are our top picks of the best 2-in-1 laptops on the market today.

Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360

Best for: Overall

(Samsung)

The Galaxy Book Pro 360 is everything you want in a 2-in-1 laptop. It’s compact, light, powerful and fast. The first thing that will hit you is how good looking this machine is. It has a brushed metal chassis in a dark navy blue, giving off a futuristic look. There is a 15.6-inch full HD, super AMOLED touch screen, which is outstanding. The screen is a traditional 16:9 widescreen. With integrated AKG® and Dolby Atmos®, it offers an immersive sound experience, which makes this an excellent choice if you’re planning on using it to catch up on your favourite TV and movies.

Turning this from laptop to tablet is easy, thanks to the 360-degree folding hinge. Even when fully folded over, this machine remains slimline and easy to handle.

The Galaxy Book Pro 360 includes an 11th generation Intel® Core™ i7 processor with 16GB of RAM and a generous 512GB of storage. This is a fast machine, it takes just seconds to unlock and login and even when running multiple apps, it doesn’t slow down or feel like there’s any lag. The Galaxy Book Pro 360 comes with three USB-C ports, one which supports Thunderbolt 4, a headphone socket and a microSD slot. Connectivity is no problem with this machine either as it has WiFi 6E and Bluetooth 5.1.

(Samsung)

Our favourite aspect of this machine has to be the “S” pen stylus. It feels so comfortable to hold and just glides across the page. It makes annotating documents and writing notes a breeze. It comes with a full-sized keyboard that is super responsive and a joy to type on, so it’s ideal if you’re using this as a work machine. The battery life on the Galaxy Book Pro 360 is fantastic. The official stats are that it can run for up to 20 hours on a single charge, and the reality is pretty close. We managed to get around 18 hours of out a single charge, and that was by using the machine for office work and watching videos. So it’s a brilliant 2-in-1 laptop choice if you travel or work remotely regularly.

(Samsung)

There are a host of privacy functions, but we do love the fingerprint reader, which means you no longer have to remember a multitude of passwords and you can use your digital wallet with ease (although, looking at our bank balance, we’re not sure this is such a good idea).

£1,399 | Samsung

HP Spectre x360

Best for: creatives

(HP)

The HP Spectre x360 is one of the nicest looking laptops we’ve tested. It has 11th generation Intel® Core™ with Iris Xe graphics processors, which works well for complex workflow and tasks like video and photo editing. We loved how quick this machine worked in all aspects of usage, and with WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5, we had no problems with connectivity. The intelligent features that are included in this HP Spectre x360 are what makes this machine superior. It has auto colour, which will automatically adapt the colour and brightness according to where you are, ideal if you want to use it outside. It also has an in-bag detection function to avoid the computer overheating and the battery draining when you’re on the move.

The digital pen works smoothly and is really accurate when writing notes or navigating between applications. The keyboard and trackpad are both large enough to feel comfortable when using for long periods. We do have to highlight the privacy function on the built-in webcam. There is a visible camera shutter, so you know when your camera is switched on and a one-push mute mic button. These two things can help to avoid any embarrassing situations when you’re involved in back-to-back teams meetings. Despite its thin frame, you’ll find five different ports, including two Thunderbolt™ 4 with USB4 Type-C, a USB type-A and an SD card reader.

£1099.99 | HP

Acer Chromebook Spin 513

Best for: portability

(Acer)

This 2-in-1 laptop offering from Acer is excellent if you are looking for more of a tablet than a laptop. As the name may give it away, this Chromebook runs the Google Chrome OS, so there are plenty of apps available for it on the Google Play store. It has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c processor with 4GB of RAM, so it still feels snappy when browsing the web or doing basic office tasks. The storage capacity is a paltry 64GB, but this is a machine designed for the web, so documents and photos can all be stored in the Cloud. It’s a convertible 2-in-1 and uses 360-degree hinges to lay flat or turn into a tablet. When transformed into tablet mode, it still feels slimline and lightweight despite its 13.3-inch screen size.

It has a generous number of ports, including two USB 3.2, 1 x USB 4, 1 x Thunderbolt 4 and a traditional 3.5mm headphone jack. It also uses older style 802.11a/b/g/n/ac wireless and Bluetooth 5.0, but this doesn’t really make much of a difference to connectivity. The Acer Chromebook Spin 513 looks great, but because most of the chassis is made up using plastic, it feels a bit flimsy. The speakers aren’t great either, so if you’re planning on watching video content or listening to music whilst you work, you may want to invest in a decent pair of headphones. But for the excellent price point, this is a decent machine that can tackle a range of basic tasks in its stride.

£349 | John Lewis

Dell Latitude 9420

Best for: small business

(Dell)

The Dell Latitude was built with business in mind. This machine feels solid and durable, although it feels a bit clunky compared to others at the same price point. It has some really stand out security features, including a screen that automatically locks and unlocks when it senses you’re within a certain distance, which we think is great if you’re working with a lot of sensitive data. A brilliant AI feature will also get to know how you work and adapt your apps and system to boost performance.

We were really impressed by the webcam and the quality of the microphone and audio. It isolated any background noise, so ideal if you’re in a busy office. It has a 14-inch screen and comes with an 11th Generation Intel Core i5 processor with 16GB of RAM, which leaves this machine working at lightning speeds. It has a 128GB SSD, which we thought was pretty stingy since it’s a business-oriented laptop. It’s preinstalled with Windows 10 pro and plenty of ports, including HDMI, 2 x USB-C ports which support Thunderbolt 4, a microSD card reader, and a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A. It’s easy to switch to tablet mode, but it is notably heavy and clunky. The battery life is fantastic, lasting around 15 hours of office tasks, watching videos and surfing the web.

£1736.80 | Dell

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 15IIL05

Best for: remote working

(Lenovo)

This 2-in-1 laptop from Lenovo is an excellent machine at a perfect price point. It isn’t the lightest choice on the market, weighing 2kg, but it feels solid. It has an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD storage. The battery life is impressive, with it lasting around 8-10 hours of general use. The battery life combined with the snappy processor makes it a great choice for anyone working at home. The 15.6” screen offers bright and vibrant colours, so it’s as good for watching video content as it is for working on. The screen doesn’t work so well in brightly lit conditions or outside so a bit of a let down if you want to enjoy some sunshine whilst you’re working. The sound quality isn’t great despite the dual 2 watt Dolby-powered speakers. We love the graphite grey chassis, which looks really high-end, and the hinges feel tight when flipping it into tablet mode, so again, it gives a good solid feel. There are plenty of ports, including USB A, USB C and a full-sized HDMI port. It runs Windows 10, and because of the size, the tablet isn’t really the best for just general browsing but rather a good screen for designing or streaming content. In short, it’s a great laptop if you’re looking for a traditional laptop that can transform into an entertainment centre when you’re done.

£649 | AO

Microsoft Surface Pro 7+

Best for: detachable

(Microsoft)

The Mircosoft Surface Pro 7+ is ultra-light and totally versatile. It’s a detachable 2-in-1 offering, so carrying it around is made even more manageable, especially when you want to just the tablet without the keypad getting in the way. This tablet is all about performance.

It has a Platinum Intel Core i5 processor with 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD, so even if you’re multitasking, you’ll find this works at lightning speed. There is also an option to add an extra SSD if you desire more storage space. The bezels on this 2-in-1 laptop are chunky, but we quite liked it as it felt a bit more solid when using in tablet mode. The keyboard was a bit fiddly to attach at first, but once we got the hang of it, any further attempts were easy. The keyboard felt small and cramped when typing on it for long periods, but this could be remedied by using Bluetooth to connect your own choice of keyboard.

The screen is 12.3 inches, but it’s so bright and vibrant that it somehow feels bigger. The battery life is really impressive, lasting around 8.5 hours on a single charge. We were also blown away by the webcam on the Microsoft Surface Pro 7+. Not only does it work as a facial recognition camera, so logging into your machine is quick and simple, it’s also 1080p and crystal clear. There’s nothing you won’t enjoy doing on this 2-in-1 laptop; from working to curling up in bed and binging on the latest Netflix series, it’s an excellent all round device.

£1249 | Microsoft

ASUS ZenBook Flip 13 UX363

Best for: on-the-go

(ASUS)

The ASUS Zenbook Flip has a 13.3 Full HD touchscreen which offers a bright and vibrant display. It has an Intel Core i5 processing chip, 8GB of RAM and a generous 516GB storage space. It’s a really impressive machine and can handle several tasks at once with no lag whilst still working at lightning speeds. It’s really light and easy to handle, especially when in tablet mode. There are two Thunderbolt 4 ports, a USB-A 5Gbps and an HDMI. One thing that’s missing is an audio jack. Still, with wireless headphones becoming the norm now, we are not sure that’s something that will be missed. The keyboard is comfortable to type on, even for long periods of time. The trackpad is large but doesn’t get in the way when typing.

One thing we loved is that by clicking a button on the top right-hand corner of the trackpad, you’ll get a light-up virtual grid that doubled up as a 10-key numerical keypad. We know this may not be the most exciting feature in the world and perhaps a bit gimmicky, but it’s handy when totting up your monthly bills or indeed, if you work in finance. The battery life is pretty decent lasting around eight hours on a single charge. That’s not bad when you consider you’re getting a bright HD screen, which is why we think this laptop is ideal for when you’re travelling or working remotely.

£1099.99 | John Lewis

Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable

Best for: business

(Lenovo)

The Lenovo ThinkPad X12 has a 12.3 inch screen with an 11th Generation Intel® Core™ i5, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. It has a pretty powerful Intel® Iris™ Xe graphics card, so the visuals were stunning alongside the screen’s brightness. The detachable keyboard is shallow, and it doesn’t feel that comfortable to type on, but on the flip side, the trackpad feels bulky and oversized.

There are two cameras. The front-facing webcam offers 1080p resolution alongside a hybrid infrared with a webcam privacy shutter and an 8MP rear-facing camera. We thought the camera faired quite well when on video calls, and the dual-array mics meant the sound was clear. The speakers aren’t bad either, they’re what you’d expect from Dolby® Premium, but if you want a better sound experience, you’re probably best using headphones.

The battery life is reasonable, lasting around 8.5 hours of web browsing and general usage. But it does have a rapid charge included, so you won’t have to wait long to get to full battery level once it does run low. The number of ports are disappointing but manageable, with 1 x Thunderbolt 4, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C and an audio jack included. Connectivity is no problem as it boasts WiFi 6 802.11AX and Bluetooth 5.1.

£1948 | Lenovo

Acer Spin 5

Best for: all-day battery

(Acer)

The Acer Spin 5 has an Intel Core i7-1065G7 processor, 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage space, making it a powerhouse of a laptop in a small, sleek package. The screen is 13.5-inch and offers a full high definition display, so whatever you’re planning on using this machine for, you’ll see it with crystal clarity. There are plenty of ports, including 2 x USB 3.1 Type-C with Thunderbolt 3, 1 x USB 3.1 2.0, HDMI 2.0, MicroSD reader, 3.5mm headphone jack and a stylus dock.

The webcam is pretty impressive, it’s 720p but is really clear. It weighs just 1.2kg, so it’s incredibly lightweight, and we found it really comfortable when handling it as a tablet. It has a full-sized keyboard that is springy and responsive, making long typing sessions comfortable. The trackpad is also a reasonable size, and it was effortless to operate with no lag. The active stylish uses Wacom AES 1.0 technology which was responsive and really easy to control.

There are over 4,000 pressure levels, so it can handle a range of tasks, from taking notes to creating a masterpiece. The additional quick charging dock for the stylus is a game-changer too, it keeps it handy and ready for use and no fumbling around trying to find an external charger. The battery life is impressive; the official figures are 13 hours, and we hit around 11.5 hours of use before it needed a recharge.

£899.99 | Acer

Dell XPS 13 9310

Best for: a great display

(Dell)

If you’re looking for a 2-in-1 laptop with a 13-inch crystal clear display, the Dell XPS 13 9310 is the one for you. It has an HD 400 certified display that enables over 16 million colours, so there’s more depth and details than your regular HD screen. We found it worked really well when working with photos and videos, so ideal if you do a lot of editing and visual work. It weighs in at just 1.32kg, but despite it being lightweight, this laptop doesn’t feel at all flimsy. That’s down to the aluminium chassis and Corning Gorilla Glass, which leaves it feeling strong and resilient.

There are limited ports with just Thunderbolt 4 (USB Type-C), a MicroSD slot and a headphone jack, but that is the trade-off for having such a slim and sleek body. The hinges feel secure when turning this machine into a tablet. When in tablet mode, it still feels light and easy to handle. The battery life is impressive, lasting around 14 hours even when switching between multiple applications and streaming content. Even when the battery drains, its not a problem as the charging process is quick, taking around two hours to fully charge.

£1298.99 | Dell

Verdict

With a super AMOLED touch screen, an 11th Generation Intel Core i7 processor and 16GB of RAM, Samsung’s 2-in-1 laptop is a premium machine with a slimline and compact body. This machine will suit all users making this the most versatile 2-in-1 notebook on the market. It performs just well as a high-end machine handling multiple complex tasks with ease, alongside the outstanding battery life its no surprise that the Galaxy Pro 360 is our top pick.


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