The New PC Era: 8 Hot Laptop-Tablet Hybrids

These devices attempt to bring the best of the tablet and laptop worlds together in one portable package.

Welcome to the hybrid PC era

The term "post-PC era" has been bandied about for years as tech visionaries fantasized about the day that users could access all their desktops, apps, and data from a single device, anytime and anywhere. What's really emerged is a multidevice era, where users turn to different hardware -- smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktop machines -- for varying needs, creating new levels of complexity for admins as they try to secure and manage multiple devices and platforms. But now hardware vendors are rolling out hybrid machines that pull double duty as tablets and laptops, letting end-users easily move between touchscreen and keyboard while reducing the number of clients admins have to grapple with.

Acer Iconia W510

Acer announced its Iconia W510, which has a 10.1-inch IPS touchscreen at 1,280-by-800-pixel resolution, at Computex this week. The unit will have a detachable clamshell keyboard dock -- similar to the current W500 -- that doubles as an extended battery, akin to how Asus' Transformer series' docking station functions. Acer is hyping the W510's trimode, which enables users to "touch, type, and view," and the company says the extended battery life should hit up to 18 hours using Windows 8.

Asus Taichi and Transformer

Asus rolled out a couple of hybrid machines this past week: the Taichi and the Transformer Book. At first blush, The Taichi might look like a standard Ultrabook with a full-size, backlit QWERTY keyboard and trackpad. However, the system has a double-sided display; when the lid is closed, it becomes a multitouch tablet with stylus support. Both screens can operate independently and simultaneously, so it can be shared between two users. The system comes equipped with third-gen Intel CPUs, SSD storage, and dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi. Meanwhile, the Transformer Book is a full Intel Core i7 ultrabook that switches instantly into tablet mode when you detach the display. It comes with SSD or standard hard drive, as well as SonicMaster technology for better audio.

Dell XPS Duo 12

At IFA, Dell announced the XPS Duo 12, which boasts a flip hinge to transform the machine from an Ultrabook into a tablet. It features a full HD, 1,920-by-1,280 display, and it comes either with an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor. Dell noted that the machine is built from "premium materials," such as machined aluminum and carbon fiber, as well as Corning Gorilla Glass for durability.

Fujitsu Stylistic Q702

The Fujitsu Stylistic Q702 comes with an optional keyboard dock, which transforms the touch-enabled tablet display into a laptop. Along with providing a full keyboard, the dock boosts the tablet's battery life from 4.5 hours to 9 hours while adding expansion ports, including USB, Ethernet, and VGA. Weighing in at 1.88 pounds, the Stylistic Q702 includes a third-generation Intel Core i3 or i5 processor, 4GB of memory, and either a 64GB or 128GB solid-state drive. The 11.6-inch Stylistic Q702 features the latest IPS (In-Plane Switching) display technology for wide viewing angles and color accuracy.

HP Envy X2

Hewlett-Packard's Envy X2 tablet-laptop hybrid device is made for Windows 8. It resembles a netbook, with its keyboard base and an 11.6-inch touch display. But the device turns into a tablet once the screen is detached from the base. The tablet is 8.5 millimeters thick and 680 grams, and the display shows images at a 1,366-by-768-pixel resolution. The system runs on Intel's low-power Atom processor code-named Clover Trail, and it will be sold with the keyboard base and 64GB of solid-state storage. The device offers more than eight hours of battery life in laptop mode, and it has NFC capabilities, a high-definition webcam on the front, and an 8.0-megapixel camera on the back. An optional stylus is available.

MSI Slider S20

MSI earlier this year revealed its 11.6-inch Ultrabook MSI Slider S20, a laptop packing the new-generation Intel Chief River CULV platform processor, Windows 8, and a complete array of peripherals and I/O ports, including USB 3.0, Bluetooth 4.0, and HDMI. The system can be collapsed into a tablet with a 10-point multitouch screen. The MSI Slider S20 weighs in at just under 3 pounds and is less than 2 centimeters thick.

Samsung Series 5 and 7 Slate PCs

Samsung's latest foray in the world of hybrid computers is its new Series 5 and Series 7 Slate PCs. Built for Windows 8, these machines are composed of a touchscreen tablet that connects to a hinged keyboard base, effectively transforming the device into a laptop on the fly. The systems weigh in at less than two pounds, and the keyboard dock attaches with a mechanical hinge so that users can pick up the device with one hand without fear of the pieces separating. They also come equipped with the Samsung S Pen, a stylus for sketching, doodling, and writing that features handwriting-to-text conversion.

Sony VAIO Duo 11

Sony VAIO Duo 11 comes equipped with Sony's Surf Slider design, which lets users slide out the keyboard when they need to type. According to Sony, the system comes equipped with a full complement of ports and interfaces, including Bluetooth Smart Ready, USB 3.0, HDMI, Ethernet and VGA video ports. The 11.6-inch display is full HD (1,920 by 1,080) with a 16:9 aspect ratio. The system includes a stylus for sketching or writing and has handwriting-recognition capabilities. Under the hood, it runs the Intel Core i7, i5, or i3.

Today's Best Tech Deals

Picked by PCWorld's Editors