Why buy two devices when one will do?
That’s the appeal of a 2-in-1 laptop, a smart innovation that’s part traditional laptop and part touchscreen tablet. With a 2-in-1, you can finish an Excel spreadsheet at your kitchen table and moments later go to bed with your favorite streaming service like Netflix, Disney+ or YouTube.
“The main appeal of a 2-in-1 is flexibility,” says Antonette Asedillo, who oversees computer testing for Consumer Reports. “If you don’t need the keyboard, you can put it away, change the configuration to work as a stand, or possibly detach it completely.”
There are two approaches to the 2-in-1 design.
In the case of detachables, the keyboard can be completely disconnected from the screen. With convertibles, the keyboard rotates 360 degrees on hinges and folds flat against the back of the screen. You can also use a convertible in a kind of “tent mode”, where you fold the keyboard halfway and flip it over, making it easier to share your screen with people nearby.
“Tear-offs are useful when you want to be more mobile, like playing a game or browsing the web using just the screen,” Asedillo says. “Convertibles are great for presentations, times when you need to quickly show off videos and slideshows. It spreads the keyboard out of the way and keeps the screen upright.
The touchscreen, Asedillo says, comes in handy for pausing a movie or scrolling through slides with simple taps and swipes.
Of the 125 laptops currently in our rankings, more than a quarter are 2-in-1 models. That gives you an idea of how much consumers value these hybrids. CR members can see a list of recommended models, organized by increasing screen size, below.