They are immensely practical, and compact and come in many forms: 2-in-1 convertible notebooks. Half tablet and half laptop, these devices are the epitome of flexibility and adaptability to your own usage. But what exactly do terms like “convertible”, “hybrid” or “detachable” actually mean? Are there differences? And if so, which ones? We’ll explain that and more to you today.
2in1 – the generic term
“2in1” is a term that Intel likes to use for the entire device category, which probably originated with the introduction of Windows 8. It doesn’t matter whether a notebook has a fully detachable display or one that can only be rotated and pivoted, whether the keyboard is made of thin rubber or provides all the functions of a full-fledged docking station including a decent hardware bang – if your laptop has a tablet function touchscreen (or if your tablet sometimes turns into a laptop), it’s called a 2-in-1 device.
Convertible notebooks are full-fledged laptops whose display can be rotated, swiveled, flipped, etc. in such a way that the keyboard is hidden and you can use them as tablets. Windows usually runs on these devices and it is often difficult to distinguish them from a normal notebook or ultrabook at first glance.
One advantage of these devices is that, unlike hybrids or tablets, not much hardware needs to be installed in the display. Therefore, convertibles can sometimes be as thin and light as ultrabooks and still offer a lot of power. However, in tablet mode, they will almost always be thicker and heavier than the detachable display found on hybrid laptops.
Hybrid notebook or detachable
In contrast to convertibles, the keyboard and display of hybrid laptops can be completely separated from one another, which is why the term “detachable” is often read in this context. The result is devices that bring the best of both worlds: a lightweight, portable tablet for traveling, reading, video streaming, etc., and a physical keyboard for working.
The keyboard likes to function as a full-fledged dock and, in addition to a number of ports, often also has additional battery capacity, more memory, and computing power. One exception is the Surface Pro device from Microsoft, whose “Type Cover” keyboard is so thin that it’s really only for writing. But they do this job extremely well.
Hybrid notebooks are advantageous if they are often used as tablets because this is where they can show their full strength. However, the complete combo of display and keyboard is often a bit bulkier than in convertibles.
Deciding between the two designs can be a bit tricky. So it’s best to think about whether you need a tablet with an additional keyboard (hybrid) or whether you prefer a full-fledged notebook that you can use like a tablet if necessary (convertible). However, one thing is undisputed: 2-in-1 notebooks are fantastic devices for everyone for whom a simple laptop is too inflexible.