What’s a Convertible Laptop?
Marry laptop functionality and a tablet-style form factor and, voila, the convertible laptop is born. In a nutshell, or more appropriately “a clamshell,” it looks like a clamshell laptop when closed but with a twist, literally. Its screen can rotate, pop out, detach, fold over or slide to resemble a slate tablet. If your standard laptop is the staid professor type who wears the same button-down shirt and khaki pants, a convertible laptop is the street smart hipster with the yogi moves. In fact, companies aptly name their convertible laptop lines according to their specific contortions. Now you get the picture, let’s move on to the different types of convertible laptops in the market.
What’s the difference between a convertible laptop, hybrid laptop and 2-in-1 hybrid laptop?
They’re basically the same thing except for differences in their configuration, that is, whether their parts stay together or come apart. We’ve already established that a convertible laptop looks like a laptop but swivels a component to transform into a tablet. What makes it a “convertible” as opposed to a “hybrid” is that its parts stay together. A hybrid laptop is like a convertible laptop except its pieces can split apart. From the user perspective, convertible, hybrid and 2-in-1s are interchangeable terms that refer to laptops offering tablet-style convenience.
Types of Convertible Laptops
A special hinge mechanism allows flip laptops to transform from a clamshell laptop, which is your standard laptop mode, into a few nifty configurations. It can “stand” with the keyboard facing down and the screen right side up facing you. Another option is a tent-like position wherein the keyboard faces up and forms a “tent” with the screen, which also faces you. Both setups are great for watching videos. The tablet mode is the easiest with the keyboard facing the back of the screen and the screen facing you so you can interface solely with the touchscreen.
As the name implies, a laptop that pivots or swivels can turn its screen around 180 degrees. If we go with the contortionist perspective, consider acrobats that can bend over backwards and fold their bodies in half. Pivot mechanisms allow you to transform your laptop into a tablet or stand but not in a tent-like position. The keyboard always points up so it never faces whatever surface you place your laptop, minimizing risk of damage, nor do you have to feel the keys in tablet mode.
These convertibles are more aptly described as “tablet-first” hybrids. The screen can slide up to reveal the keyboard underneath. This way the keyboard is always protected when not in use and hard to leave behind or lose since it’s permanently attached to the screen. They’re more limited to a dual mode: tablet or laptop. Still, they’re a good middle ground for best of both worlds with a tablet-like interface when you’re standing and standard laptop when a desk is available.
Detachable and Keyboard Covers
In this case, the components come apart like other hybrids, but the keyboard is more of an afterthought. The computer components are built right into the screen so you can completely detach the keyboard and use the detachable laptop like a tablet. The stand-alone slate is designed to be portable, weighing between one and two pounds.
A versatile yet bulkier configuration is housing the batteries and ports in the keyboard base. For something lighter, opt for a simple keyboard base that’s good enough for extended typing sessions; although, you may not get the benefit of an extra battery. A slate tablet with a keyboard cover isn’t technically a laptop; it’s similar to a standard tablet that can pair with a Bluetooth keyboard case.