There remains no doubt — the introduction of the iPad popularized the tablet computer like never before. While the iPad Air 2 and similarly powerful Android tablets, like the Samsung Galaxy Tab and Kindle Fire HDX, still dominate the market, a new category of laptop tablet hybrids also emerged, with Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 serving as a somewhat expensive example. Considering Windows 8 itself is essentially a hybrid of desktop and mobile operating systems with differing interfaces as well, most hybrids run Windows.
These hybrids also combine the power and typing ease of a laptop with the touchscreen user interface improvements ushered in by tablets. You’ll get the power for video streaming, so make sure your ISP offers enough bandwidth. What follows is a look at the best laptop tablet hybrids that make sense on your Holiday shopping list.
The ASUS Transformer Book T100 – An Inexpensive Hybrid Option
ASUS’s Transformer Book T100 continues to garner accolades as an inexpensive hybrid option powered by Windows 8.1. With a retail price starting around $350, the T100 sports an easily detachable 10.1-inch touchscreen that functions perfectly as a Windows tablet. The design leverages Intel’s low-power Atom processor that promises desktop-level power with enhanced battery life.
The T100 features 2 GB of RAM, and either 32 GB or 64 GB of storage capacity; the 64 GB model retails for $399. In addition to Windows 8.1, Microsoft Office Home and Student also comes pre-installed. The included keyboard dock adds little to the T100’s weight and width when in use.
The Dell Inspiron 11 3000 features a Useful Rotating Hinge
Dell’s Inspiron 11 3000 is priced slightly higher than the ASUS hybrid (anywhere from $400 to $500 depending on options), and its unique rotating hinge gives you a ton of flexibility when using your hybrid. A tablet, a laptop, or even as a small video screen — the possibilities are nearly endless with the Inspiron’s 11.6-inch touchscreen.
The $479 Inspiron model sports an Intel Quad Core N3530 processor and 4 GB of RAM. An actual 500 GB hard drive offers you a better storage option than the limited solid state memory in the ASUS T100. The $399 model still offers the same RAM and hard drive, but its Dual Core processor is weaker than the N3530.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 works as a Premium Hybrid Solution
Microsoft’s own Surface Pro 3 is a robust option, possibly one of the the best laptop tablet hybrids, but one with a much more expensive price point compared to the Dell and ASUS models. The price of the Surface Pro 3 ranges from around $800 (a version without a keyboard) to nearly $2,000 depending primarily on the included processor and on-board storage. In fact, a version powered by an Intel i7 processor with 512 GB of storage and a detachable keyboard costs $2,099.
For that price, however, you’ll get desktop level performance with the convenience of a 12-inch touchscreen and a keyboard. Considering that the ASUS T100 comes with Office pre-installed, Microsoft might have considered offering more software on their flagship hybrid. Windows 8.1 is pre-installed, but Office is extra on the Surface Pro 3.
If you are looking for the convenience of a tablet with the power of a laptop, a hybrid is probably your best bet. Models from ASUS and Dell give you the benefits of a hybrid while still leaving you some leftover budget room for the others on your shopping list.