Are 2 in 1 Computers Worth it?

I’ve had my eye on two-in-one computers for a while. I’ve been hesitant to try one, first because I already have both a tablet and a laptop, but also because I had some concerns. Having one thing do both sounds cool in theory but do they both work equally as well for what I want them to do? And what happens if it breaks? Then I’m out both a laptop and a tablet.

For a long time, too, the price point didn’t seem worth it. I could get a decent laptop that did most of the same stuff for much less, and there are some cheap tablets out there. Then there’s the fact that you can add all kinds of peripherals to your tablet (keyboard, stylus, monitor, speakers) to allow you to use it in much the same way you would a computer. And phone screens are getting bigger all the time. So, other than the cool factor, I wasn’t really sure what a 2 in 1 brought to the table.

And then my laptop died. Died is putting it nicely. It fell over when someone (not me) tripped over the cord. Nothing happened to the screen, which initially made me pretty happy. But there was a lot of damage to the hinge and apparently something happened internally, because when I tried to use it afterward smoke came out. Also it wouldn’t connect to the internet anymore.

Suddenly I was in the market for a new computer.

I wanted something light and portable. When I started pricing laptops, it turned out that the price of 2 in 1 computers had gone down significantly. I started looking at my four-year-old tablet that is bordering on crappy battery life a little differently. Here’s a few things I learned:

  1. There are two main types of two in ones. Some detach (like the Surface Book) and others flip/rotate (like the Lenovo Yoga models). Obviously, on the whole, the ones that detach are going to be lighter when used as a tablet.
  2. Most use Windows. That might be a deal breaker for you, especially because the Windows Store doesn’t have nearly as many apps as either Google Play or the App Store. It will still let you download and install programs that are compatible with Windows, however, so it is not as terrible as you might think. Others are based on Chromebooks, so you’ll be fine if that’s something you are a fan of.
  3. On the other hand, they tend to be pretty good as laptops – obviously depending on the brand and the specs you’re willing to pay for.
  4. There is a compromise. Depending on the model you choose, the keyboard might be smaller than you’re used to. It might be super light as a laptop but the screen might be awkwardly large or too heavy when used as a tablet. Or it might have great battery for a tablet but not as a laptop. You really need to think about what your needs are, and then find one that will give you the most for your money.
  5. Speaking of money, what are you willing to spend? This is the really big question. You need to think about how much it costs to buy a 2 in 1 and then price out a laptop with similar specs as well as a tablet. You might be surprised at the price difference!

I ended up just getting a new laptop for now, although I am a little sad that I can’t flip the screen around to watch movies sometimes after my tablet dies for the second or third time in a day.