Choose the best laptop-tablet hybrid

Consumer Reports News: March 25, 2013 01:08 PM

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When Apple launched the first iPad, tablets were tablets, and laptops were laptops. Sure, there were cross-over features, but aside from a few outliers, it was always pretty clear which was which. Enter Windows 8: We're now seeing tablets running full Windows 8 operating systems. And we're finding that what makes a good tablet may not make a good laptop—and vice versa.

Some have detachable keyboards that close over the system like a cover. Others are convertibles with attached keyboards that fold under, so they become tablet-like. And we'll be testing those with detachable keyboards as both tablets and computers, so you'll find these in both our tablet Ratings and computer Ratings.

Take the Acer Iconia W510-1422. It's a 10.1-inch tablet that we recommend for its long battery life, light weight (not including the keyboard), and ample-for-a-tablet 64GB of storage. As a laptop, it's also light, even including the keyboard. But the keyboard is small and cramped, and the performance of the Iconia's Atom processor just doesn't match up to that of other laptops with more powerful processors. As a result, we weren't able to recommend it in our laptop Ratings.

If you're looking for a new home PC, see our computer buying guide and Ratings.

On the other side of the equation is the Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro. It's got even more storage, at 128GB, than the Acer. But the 11.6-inch screen that helps it work well as a laptop is large for a tablet and makes it heavy. And the ATIV's battery life doesn't compare favorably with that of other tablets. We can't recommend it as a tablet. But the ATIV Smart PC Pro's excellent performance, due to its Core i5 processor, makes it a great laptop.

For the full picture on these detachables, you'll want to look at both our computer Ratings and tablet Ratings. The computer Ratings will let you know how well the device performed for tasks like word processing, photo editing, and gaming, as well as ergonomics and other factors. The tablet Ratings tell you about the screen's touch response and ease of use. They also provide detailed lists of interesting features like sensors, cameras, and more.

Donna L. Tapellini

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