Review: 2-in-1 laptops, a developing technology [MUSE]


Yichen Liu

Over the past few years, there have been a growing number of 2-in-1 laptops. Unlike regular laptops, these 2-in-1’s can be bent into many positions by either flipping the keyboard around the screen or detaching it altogether, enabling it to transform from a laptop into a tablet and back. They are marketed as providing the utility of a regular laptop while allowing for the convenience and portability of a tablet. 

Many big companies have designed their own 2-in-1’s, often as their own distinct models but sometimes as more flexible versions of an existing model. Popular ones include the HP Spectre x360, 2-in-1 models of Samsung’s Galaxy Books, the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1,the HP Envy x360, various Lenovo Yoga’s, and the Microsoft Surface Pro series. There are also good Chromebook options. 

However, creating something that can become both a robust laptop and a slick tablet is difficult, and many 2-in-1’s currently on the market sacrifice at least some components in exchange for either more power as a laptop or more wieldiness as a tablet. 

Personally, I own a Microsoft Surface Pro 7 and have previously tried a HP Envy x360 for a few months. The Envy is a cheaper version of HP’s more premium Spectre x360, but nevertheless it had excellent performance and superb battery life, looked elegant, and was able to handle my usual workflow easily. However, I had the larger 15.6” version, so folding the keyboard to turn it into a tablet felt awkward, and the whole thing was slightly heavy for a tablet. 

On the other hand, the Surface Pro has a completely detachable keyboard and is more similar to an iPad with a keyboard than to the other 2-in-1’s I mentioned, both in terms of design and utility. A kickstand is built into the back of the tablet, allowing it to stand without hinges between tablet and the keyboard. As a laptop, it is relatively fast, dependable, and has a pretty good battery life. As a tablet, it is much slicker than the Envy, and also features a sharp display that works well with Surface Pens for both drawing and note-taking. 

A major drawback of 2-in-1’s is their high costs. Due to the additional promise of convenience and the additional benefits of a tablet, 2-in-1 laptops are often much pricier than normal laptops with the same specs. However, there are cheaper options that match the more costly 2-in-1’s in quality, such as the Envy I mentioned. In addition, with the increase of 2-in-1’s on the market and the growing demand for these laptops, hopefully the price will begin to decline. 

Ultimately, while I am satisfied with my current Surface Pro, I am eager to see improved designs in the future and will continue to follow the progress of 2-in-1 laptops. 

On this blog, members of the Carmel High School chapter of the Quill and Scroll International Honorary Society for High School Journalists (and the occasional guest writer) produce curations of all facets of popular culture, from TV shows to music to novels to technology. We hope our readers always leave with something new to muse over. Click here to read more from MUSE.