Four reasons your next laptop should be a convertible

Convertible laptops are great for web browsing tablet-style, filling in forms and job applications laptop style, keeping passengers on side when commuting and working in the office

31 Jan 2014


Want a tablet for web browsing and watching shows on Netflix but need a laptop for typing emails and working on documents?

Convertibles switch between tablet and laptop modes in seconds, so you can have both in one device.

Here we'll tell you a bit more about convertible laptops as well as explaining how they're just as good for relaxing on the sofa as they are working at the kitchen table.  

What is it?

As we said, convertibles are designed to give you one device for both work time and downtime. There are other convertibles, but ones running the Windows 8 operating system will give you the best experience.

With Win8 you can switch between a touchscreen interface suited to tablets and a more traditional mouse-and-keyboard Windows desktop like the one on your work computer.

HP Pavilion 11

How does it get from laptop to tablet?

Convertibles switch from laptop to tablet in mere seconds - much faster than having to shut down your laptop, then find and boot up a separate tablet. They separate in several different ways, but the key difference is that some stay in one piece and others separate into two.  

Stay in one piece
Some convertibles remain in one piece while switching from laptop to tablet. Take the Lenovo Yoga 2. Its screen folds completely back on itself to become a tablet - thanks to a nifty 360 degree hinge.
Separate into two
Other convertibles switch between laptop and tablet by dividing into two separate devices. Take the Sony Vaio Tap 11. It's pretty much a high spec tablet with a separate wireless keyboard that attaches via magnets.

Four reasons why you need a convertible laptop 

HP Envy Lifestyle

1) It's great for... web browsing and watching films

Once you've flipped the switch or swung the hinge your laptop becomes a touchscreen tablet built for chilling with a capital C. Windows 8 was designed with tablets in mind, with a Start screen filled with colourful tiles that can be selected, resized and moved with your fingertips.

Behind these tiles sit apps for pretty much anything you may want to spend your evening doing.
Watch a movie or TV programme via the Netflix app, have a rant with the Twitter one. Speak to your friend via the Skype app, or go to visit them using the National Rail Enquires one.

Find something to cook for dinner with the food one or book a last-minute foodie weekend with the Skyscanner one.
Or you can just surf the web through the browser, doing a spot of shopping and checking out your favourite gossip or football sites.

2) It's great for... those times when you just need a proper keyboard


There's not much that's easier than using a tablet. It sits comfortably on your lap, switches on instantly and is navigated with nothing more strenuous than a few simple taps and swipes across the screen. But as good as they are there are times when their virtual keyboards just won't do.

Sure, your tablet is great for scouring the web for the perfect jeans, but not so great for filling in your details on the order form. And it's the same for many other things, such as replying to work emails and writing long Facebook messages to filling in job application forms and booking holidays.

But how much easier would all those things be if you had a fully-functioning laptop keyboardthat you could call on at the flip of a hinge or click of a switch? That's exactly what you'll get with a convertible device.

3) It's great for work - in office and at home

Man Working At Home

YouGov reckons nearly half of us use our own laptops, phones and tablets for work purposes. And if you want a convertible laptop that can also be used in the office, look at the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 or the Lenovo Yoga Pro 2. Both run full Windows 8, feature the latest Intel Core processor and boast the kind of specs you'd find on a high-end ultrabook laptop.

Although Windows 8 is touchscreen friendly you can use your mouse and keyboard just like you always have to create, edit and procrastinate over work documents in Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

And if you really don't like the tiled start screen of Windows 8, set up your machine so it boots directly to the Windows desktop you've always known - with the Start button in the bottom left corner.

4) It's great for... just looking cool


You may think we're superficial to say image matters when buying a new laptop. But the importance of image shouldn't be overlooked. Laptops come with us everywhere, so we have to be comfortable with how they look.

And with the different ways in which convertibles convert, you can choose one that fits your personality and style.  

Dan Ackerman at tech site Cnet says: "Think of a laptop as a very visual extension of your personality. You may carry it around with you all day, or even all over the country. Like any personal accessory, such as a jacket or a pair of glasses, you should choose a laptop with a style and design that works for you."

5) It's great for... not annoying people on the train

If you're taking your own laptop to work do you really want to be dragging a full-size laptop onto the train every day? We've all seen the rustling of papers and sighing when someone pulls one out and plants it on the shared train table, nearly knocking over someone's coffee in the process.

But with most convertible devices measuring between 11 and 13 inches you can quickly switch them into tablet mode and watch last night's EasteEnders without invading anyone's personal morning space.

So, are you sold? Already own a convertible? What's the best thing about it? Tell us in the comments below...