Need a laptop but want a tablet – have both with a Windows 8 convertible

Write essays in the library and check Facebook on the bus home with just one device - convertible laptops are designed to suit students at work and at play...

Laptop or tablet, tablet or laptop? This may be a question you're asking yourself as you establish how far your already scarce student finances will stretch.

Students With Tablets And Laptop

Although we've fallen head over heels in love with tablet computers - one in four UK households now own one, according to Ofcom - there really is a time and a place for everything.

And amazing as iPads and their ilk are, you're not going to get through university with one as your only computing device. We'd go as far as to say a laptop is pretty much essential for heading to uni.
But a tablet can be a great addition to your studies, helping you research essays on the go and keep in touch with course mates.

Although the laptop is probably more important, the thought of hitting campus with one and not the other just seems unfair.

Well, now you don't have to thanks to a new wave of convertible devices which combine the best of both worlds. A convertible is the name given to Windows 8 laptops that convert into tablets.

HP Envy X 2 Convertible

(Credit: HP)

The devices first appeared when Windows 8 was launched last year, and were designed to get the best of the operating system's blend of touchscreen and regular desktop computing.

Convertibles suit students at work and play  
Student life can be unpredictable; a random night out can scupper an essay-writing session; an unexpected deadline can see a planned night out scrapped. But with a convertible device you'll be prepared for whatever the day throws your way - whether you leave the house set for work or play.

Need to work on your laptop in the library? A convertible will sort you out in the same way as your regular laptop.
But what about when your pals disappear to the union and you still have research to do? No worries, with a convertible you can turn the laptop into a tablet and do your reading accompanied by a well-earned pint and some banter with your crowd.

Different types of convertible device
These convertible laptops sound great - but they're not all the same.
Some separate into two totally separate devices, whereas others remain in one piece and convert by flipping, folding or sliding.

How do I work out a hybrid from a convertible?

If your laptop becomes a tablet thanks to a swivel hinge, it's a convertible. If it does so because the screen is on the back of the lid, it's also a convertible. If it does it by separating into two individual devices, it's not a convertible - it's a hybrid.
But either way they allow you to browse the web on a touchscreen tablet, or set about typing up a 3,000 word report from the same device.

Hybrid example - HP Envy x2
Picture the scene: You've spent an absolute pig of a day in the library - you've been grappling with an essay on Henry VIII since 9am and it's now 7pm. It's got to the point where the constant tweaking and refining is actually making things worse.

It's clearly time to go. But you have Facebook to check and email to pick up, and the thought of taking out your laptop in the union or on the bus makes you feel physically sick.
Thankfully the HP Envy x2 hybrid laptop means you can do all that while leaving your battered keyboard and lingering doubts about your grasp of history behind.

How? It boasts an 11.6inch screen which can be lifted right off the keyboard dock and used as a tablet.

HP Envy Lifestyle

(Credit: HP)

Reviewers at Cnet hailed its excellent battery life the fact it "works just as well as a laptop as it does a tablet" and we handed it an Our Experts Love tag this year too.

It must be good, so how does it work?

The tablet and laptop separate thanks to a natty latch feature: slide the latch to the left and the tablet slides right out. It's so smooth it can be done one-handed. And with 55% of the Envy's overall battery power stored in the tablet screen, you should have ample time to reply to your messages about your day of woe, with HP saying it's capable of around seven hours.

Reviewers said its keyboard is capable of some serious typing, a la your mammoth library day. Your hands will probably be knackered but because it only weighs 700g you'll be able to hold it in one hand and give your main typing hand a rest.  

If you want to see the Envy in action, check out this video:

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The Envy runs an Intel Atom processor rather than a Core i5. If you're using the laptop for browsing the web, streaming video and using Microsoft Office you'll have more than enough power though.

Convertible example - Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S

Picture the scene: You've been plugging away at an essay all morning. You're getting nowhere - you really need a break, but you know the minute you walk out of the library you won't be coming back.

With the deadline racing ever closer, you just can't risk that happening. What you need is something that'll help you take a break from where you're sitting, so you can replenish yourself without even leaving 'the zone'.

Lenovo's IdeaPad Yoga 11S makes such breaks a breeze. It looks like a regular laptop, but push the screen backwards on its 360 hinge and it will rest against the bottom of the laptop to become a tablet.

Ideapad Yoga 11'_Clementine Orange _Hero _08_interface

(Credit: Lenovo)

So, if you've been tapping away for ages on your work, but need a five-minute break to check FB or Twitter then you can do it from the same device - easy peasy.

The 11.6inch screen means it's great for mooching around campus with, too. It's small enough to slip inside your bag, then as you flit around campus from one site to the next you can whip it out as and when you need.

They say good things come in small packages and this is definitely the case here. Despite its diminutive 11.6inch screen, it packs the power of a full-size ultrabook.

The Yoga also has a ThinkPad-style keyboard which tech reviewers have lathered in praise - making your typing smooth even if the essay isn't going so well. It boasts Intel Core processors in Core i5 or i7. These aren't the latest Haswell ones, but still pack more than enough power for web browsing, spreadsheets, word processing, video streaming and more.

Ah, video streaming. If you enjoy winding down  with a few YouTube videos or last night's EastEnders. This is another area where the Yoga comes into its own. It features a natty stand mode where the screen is folded back around, so you can sit back, put your feet up with a few Ricky Gervais clips. After the day you've had, it's well deserved.

Ideapad Yoga 11'_Clementine Orange _Hero _07_interface

(Credit: Lenovo)

The stand mode is also great if you're giving a presentation in class.
The rub - convertibles suit both sides of student life
So there we go. When you're at university you're different people on different days - a book-laden, success driven 2.1 student one minute; or a football bantering, sneaker-wearing, Twitter-browsing lad the next.
Uni is a mash-up of work and play, of concentration and relaxation, so it makes sense that your tech can adapt to suit either school of thought.
The convertible. The laptop that turns into a tablet; tech that will be whatever you want it to be.