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Windows 8 hybrid roundup: Treading the line between laptop and tablet

Windows 8 has opened up the playing field for manufacturers to begin experimenting with the tried-and-true PC formula of laptops and desktops. As a result, we’ve seen some great Windows 8 tablets, but there is a newer frontier. Called, hybrids or ‘convertibles,’ the devices below can be used as both a tablet or a laptop. With Windows 8, hardware-makers like ASUS, Lenovo, and Dell are really pushing the boundaries of what personal computing devices can be. 

Below, we have PCs that will slide, flip, and twist their way into homes around the world — that’s the plan, anyway. 

Dell XPS 12

Dell XPS 12

OS: Windows 8
Screen: 12.5 inches, 1920 x 1080 pixels
Specs: Intel Core i5, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD storage
Camera: Webcam
Connectivity: Wi-Fi
Price: $1,200 

Description: The Dell XPS 12 has a unique approach to the hybrid form factor. The screen is hinged on the left and right sides, which allows it to flip vertically so that the display can face backward or forward. With the screen in its flipped position, you can close the lid to use the XPS 12 like a tablet and the keyboard and trackpad will be covered. The predecessor of the XPS 12 felt like a cheap netbook, but this version is much closer to an ultrabook with beefy internals and a high-quality build. 

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 Tablet Mode

OS: Windows RT
Screen: 11.6 inches, 1366 x 768 pixels
Specs: Tegra 3 processor, 2GB RAM, 64GB storage
Camera: Webcam
Connectivity: Wi-Fi
Price: $800 

Description: Both Yogas have a screen capable of rotating a full 360 degrees. The patented hinge allows the screen to bend over and rest on the back of the device, leaving the keyboard and trackpad exposed on the underside. The hinge seems to be very solid, though a bit stiff at times, probably to support the different uses being advertised for the Yoga like “tent” mode, which allows the Yoga to be placed on a table like the photo below. Plus, Lenovo says it can last up to 13 hours on battery. The Lenovo Yoga 11 runs Windows RT and on ARM processors. What that means for you is that it is not backward compatible with older Windows applications. It will, however, run quieter and get better battery life.

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga

OS: Windows 8
Screen: 13.1 inches, 1600 x 900 pixels
Specs: Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB RAM, 256GB SSD storage
Camera: Webcam
Connectivity: Wi-Fi
Price: $1,100 

Description: The 13-inch Yoga is a performance-driven, larger companion piece to the Yoga 11. Where the smaller version runs the mobile-optimized, Windows RT, the Yoga 13 comes preloaded with the full version of Windows 8 and is well-suited for users looking for a primary work-and-play station. The Yoga packs a whole lot of versatility in a fairly concise package, making it a compelling choice for power users.

Check out our Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 tablet review. 

Lenovo ThinkPad Twist

Lenovo Thinkpad Twist

OS: Windows 8
Screen: 12.5 inch 720p HD display
Specs: Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB RAM, 500GB hard drive storage (or 128GB SSD)
Camera: Webcam 
Connectivity: Wi-Fi
Price: $850 

Description: The Twist works much like it sounds: the screen can be twisted and placed back on the keyboard to switch the device from laptop-mode to tablet-mode. However, it’s not the most beautiful device on the market, looking a bit retro. Originally, we were worried about the hinge strength, but the Twist is capable of all the bending the Yoga is and can be placed in “tent” mode as well. 

Sony VAIO Duo 11

Sony VAIO Duo 11 - Homescreen

OS: Windows 8
Screen: 11.6-inch display, 1920 x 1080 pixels
Specs: Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD storage
Camera: Webcam 
Connectivity: Wi-Fi
Price: $1,100 

Description: We found the Sony VAIO Duo 11 to be “all gimmick, no game.” The issues came down to hardware limitations like a difficult sliding operation and only one, non-adjustable angle. Though ambitious in its design, the Duo 11‘s physical issues and lack of a full-sized trackpad make it a poor laptop replacement — at least, in our initial testing. There was also a weird software issue, where the Duo 11 wouldn’t auto-rotate when converted to laptop-mode, instead staying in its previous orientation, which you can see above. 

Toshiba Satellite U925t

OS: Windows 8
Screen: 12.5 inch 720p display
Specs: Intel Core i5 processor, 128GB SSD
Camera: 3MP rear, Webcam front
Connectivity: Wi-Fi
Price: $1,150 

Description: Our own Jeffrey Van Camp had a chance to get his hands on the Satellite U925t and came away very impressed. The name may be a marketing nightmare, but Toshiba makes up for it in other ways. Unlike the Sony VAIO Duo 11, Toshiba’s slider puts its focus on quality hardware. The hinge is solid; it has a full trackpad; and the screen stays firmly upright at all angles. It’s a bit heavy for a slate (3.2lbs) but strikes a good balance between laptop and tablet without making too many compromises. 

Asus Taichi

Asus Taichi

OS: Windows 8
Screen: Dual 11.6-inch (or 13.3-inch) IPS displays, 1920 x 1080 pixels
Specs: Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD storage
Camera: Webcam 
Connectivity: Wi-Fi
Price: TBA

Description: The Taichi from ASUS is one of those products that will probably end up being too ambitious for its own good, but that won’t stop us from feeling incredibly excited that it exists at all. The Taichi has two HD displays, one in the traditional laptop position and one mounted on the back of the screen. Early reviews find it’s easy to switch between screens and the Taichi has four — fairly self-explanatory — settings: Notebook mode, Tablet mode, Dual-Screen mode, and Mirror mode.

We can’t wait to see how these hybrid and convertible devices fair in the hands of the masses. There’s definitely a lot of potential here for a new breed of PC and that’s an enticing prospect. What devices do you have your eyes on?