Notebookcheck's Top 10 Convertibles

Redaktion (translated by Martina Osztovits), 06/11/2014

June 2014 update. Here you will find the best convertibles reviewed by Notebookcheck in the last few months. Our list of top models is regularly updated, maintained and commented on and should assist in purchase decisions.

For the original German article, see here.

Convertibles, sometimes also called Two-In-One or Multimode-PCs, are not a recent invention. In the business sector, these hybrids of notebook and tablet have been known for a long time, but they eked out a niche existence until recently. With the advent of tablets, manufacturers rediscovered the potential advantages of such devices. It might be that the decreasing demand for conventional notebooks was also important for this development, as it forced manufacturers to develop "new products."

While the first convertibles were relatively heavy devices with severely limited mobility, current CPU and battery technology allows for slim and mobile devices with decent performance. So, they can handle nearly all everyday PC tasks and tablet mode enlarges their field of application. Windows 8 provides the necessary user interface with its tile surface and the known desktop environment for productive use.

Notebookcheck Convertible Charts as of June 2014

#Date%ModelWeightDisplayCPUOSRAMDrivePrice/Buy
101/1484%Dell XPS 11-9P331.13 kg11.6-inch 2560x1440 glossyIntel Core i5-4210YWindows 8 64-bit4 GBSSDstarting at $1279
-01/1484%Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga1.6 kg12.5-inch 1920x1080 matteIntel Core i5-4200UWindows 8 Pro 64-bit4 GBSSDstarting at $845
204/1483%Fujitsu Lifebook T9041.6 kg13.3-inch 2560x1440 glossyIntel Core i7-4600UWindows 8.1 Pro 64-bit8 GBSSDstarting at $1974



303/1482%Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S (Haswell)1.37 kg11.6-inch 1366x768  glossyIntel Core i5-4210YWindows 8 64-bit8 GBSSDstarting at $869
401/1481%Asus Transformer Book Trio TX201LA1.7 kg11.6-inch 1920x1080 glossyIntel Core i7-4500U / 
Intel Atom Z2560
Windows 8 64-bit / Android 4.24 GBHDDstarting at $1074
-11/1381%Samsung ATIV Tab 3 XE300TZC-K01DE0.6 kg10.1-inch 1366x768  glossyIntel Atom Z2760Windows 8 64-bit2 GBSSDstarting at $499
5new80%Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 111.3 kg11.6-inch 1366x768  glossyIntel Pentium N3520Windows 8.1 64-bit4 GBHDDstarting at $539
-11/1380%HP Spectre 13-h205eg x21.52 kg13.3-inch 1920x1080 glossyIntel Core i5-4202YWindows 8.1 64-bit4 GBSSDstarting at $899
-12/1380%Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro1.4 kg13.3-inch 3200x1800 glossyIntel Core i5-4200UWindows 8 64-bit4 GBSSDstarting at $900
-11/1380%Toshiba Portege Z10t1.4 kg11.6-inch 1920x1080
matte
Intel Core i5-3339YWindows 8.1 Pro 64-bit4 GBSSDstarting at $1500

Top 10 of the previous 8 months at the time of writing - current articles are listed first

#Date%ModelWeightDisplayCPUOSRAMDrivePrice/Buy
new05/1471%HP Pavilion 11-n070eg x3601.5 kg11.6-inch 1366x768 glossyIntel Celeron N2820Windows 8.1 64-bit4 GBHDDstarting at $489

Further tests of each month - current tests are listed first

Editors' Comments

1st: Dell XPS 11-9P33
1st: Dell XPS 11-9P33
1st: Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga
1st: Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga
Fujitsu Lifebook T904
Fujitsu Lifebook T904
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S (Haswell)
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S (Haswell)
Asus Transformer Book Trio TX201LA
Asus Transformer Book Trio TX201LA
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 11
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 11
HP Spectre 13-h205eg x2
HP Spectre 13-h205eg x2
Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro
Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro
Toshibas Portégé Z10t
Toshibas Portégé Z10t

Dell's XPS 11-9P33 is first. The light 11.6-incher (1.13 kg) has 360-degree hinges like the Yoga models from Lenovo. Dell is the first manufacturer to incorporate a touch keyboard into a conventional chassis. Not everybody will like the low feedback: The keys don't have any travel, but they are clearly palpable. The tester praised the versatility and the excellent build quality of the XPS 11. The sharp, bright display with wide viewing angles and a resolution of 2560x1440 pixels is impressive. The battery life ranges from six to ten hours. However, the processor throttles at relatively uncritical temperatures. Thanks to a lightning-fast SSD, standard users will not notice this, though.

The 12.5-inch Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga combines the 360-degrees solution of the consumer Yoga with the business qualities of a ThinkPad. The latter includes very good build quality and input devices. The Yoga ThinkPad features stable metal hinges and a concealable keyboard. The latter ensures that the underside is almost completely flat without disturbing key travel in tablet mode. The battery life of 7:35 hours is very long (i5 model). The very bright IPS panel with wide viewing angles is another advantage. The touchscreen has an FHD resolution and is slightly non-reflective. So, it is nearly perfect for outdoor use. The price depends on the configuration. The model with Core i5 and 256 GB SSD starts at 1249 Euros (~$1689, cheapest configuration). The only weakness is few interfaces (no Ethernet). But, Lenovo's power-adapter docking solution can help here. We assigned our Editors' Choice award to the ThinkPad Yoga in January 2014, since it is a good bundle with (almost) matte touchscreen, stable hardware and long battery life.

Similar to the ThinkPad Yoga, Fujitsu targets well-funded business customers with its Lifebook T904. Instead of a 360-degrees hinge you get a classic single hinge in the center. The expectations are pretty high for 1800 Euros (~$2434). Fujitsu equips its T904 with a Core i7, large SSD, IGZO panel (2560x1440) and Sierra Wireless AirPrime. The mobile CEO gets good input devices, but they cannot quite keep up with the perfect feedback from the EliteBooks or the ThinkPad T-series devices. The panel with the very high contrast and the razor-sharp details is not perfect: The brightness could be higher (outdoor use) and the viewing angles could be wider.

The Haswell upgrade of Lenovo's IdeaPad Yoga 11S brings significantly longer battery runtimes, but a performance gain is not noticeable. The device is still bulky and heavy in tablet mode, and the keyboard only features a weak feedback. But, the hinge design is clever, the build quality is stable, and the display has wide viewing angles (IPS).

The 11.6-inch Transformer Book Trio TX201LA combines "the best from both worlds": An Intel Atom runs Android 4.2 inside and a fast Core i7 works in the key dock for Windows 8. The units can be used separately: The small PC station can be used with an external TFT, while the tablet is used on the move. Asus incorporated a handy data interface between the operating systems. In addition, we liked the high-end aluminum case and the good keyboard (distinct feedback). The emissions are low and the connectivity, including micro-HDMI and mini-DisplayPort, is noteworthy. Windows is installed on a 500 GB hard drive, which unfortunately decreases the system performance. The Transformer Book Trio is one of only two convertibles in our top list with an HDD (eMMC in the tablet).

Samsung's ATIV Tab 3 XE300TZC-K01DE is still in our Top 10 because of its long battery runtimes, its very good display with S-Pen pen input and docking keyboard for prolific writers. In terms of technology, the 10-incher with Intel Atom Z2760 has long been surpassed by Bay Trail. As the successor SoC is significantly faster and mostly cheaper, we can only conditionally recommend the ATIV Tab 3.

Lenovo tried to create a handy convertible for a budget. The result is the 11.6-inch IdeaPad Yoga 2 11 with frugal and cheap Bay Trail platform, hard drive (ultra-thin) and IPS panel with standard HD resolution. Alike all other Yoga models the panel can be opened to 360 degrees. The haptic experience slightly suffers from the fact that the keys stick out from the bottom side in tablet mode. Unlike in the ThinkPad Yoga, keys are not concealed in this price range. But, we like its massive metal hinges, stable case, and bright IPS display with good contrast. Lenovo uses an HDD instead of an SSD for lower price and higher storage capacity at the expense of system performance. Passive cooling is a pro. Is it the perfect Windows tablet for on-the-move and at home? Not quite: A springy keyboard and few interfaces might have a big negative impact on productivity.

HP's Spectre 13-h205eg x2 with Windows 8.1 features a high-res and contrast-rich IPS display, a crisp keyboard, a fast WLAN adapter and a high-end SSD. It seems the manufacturer produced a balanced bundle. They also considered unremarkable things: The relatively heavy aluminum case comes without a fan! The Intel core is cooled passively, but 3D performance was limited for that. The build quality is decent and even prolific writers will like the crisp keyboard.

Another Yoga? The second generation of Lenovo's consumer Yoga, the Yoga 2 Pro, achieved 80%. The 13.3-incher with Core i5-4200U is very slim, but it is completely made from plastic. We liked the impressive IPS display with its QHD+ resolution of 3200x1800 pixels. But, programs need to get along with it: It works with a properly reconfigured Windows 8, but scaling problems occur in many applications and games. The comfortable weight and the decent system performance (128 GB SSD) continue to be pros. In terms of battery life the Yoga 2 Pro cannot keep up with its sister model, the ThinkPad Yoga (5:35 vs. 7:35 hours, WLAN test), and it does not support a dedicated docking station. Customers will get an ambitious convertible for 1300 Euros (~$1758), which they could make a good impression with.

Toshiba's Portégé Z10t is an expensive business convertible. The 11.6-incher's performance and connectivity are sufficient for completely replacing a subnotebook for 1700 Euros (~$2299). The manufacturer included a stable, high-end keyboard dock (with light), an LTE modem, an anti-glare IPS FHD display and two digitizer pens. The battery life of five hours (WLAN test) could be better. But the disadvantage of the Portégé Z10t can be found elsewhere: The opening angle of 100 degrees when in the dock is too small. We wonder why Toshiba did not see this bad design, which is not inherent in the construction?

Runners-up

HP Pavilion 11-n070eg x360
HP Pavilion 11-n070eg x360

While Lenovo demands 600 Euros (~$811) for its IdeaPad Yoga 2 11, HP offers their Pavilion 11-n070eg x360 for only 399 Euros (~$539, with OS). The 11.6-incher has similar hardware (Bay Trail, Celeron N2820) and also a 360-degrees hinge. It works differently, but it appears solid and durable. The matte case is of sufficiently high quality despite a high proportion of plastic (looks like a toy, yet nice), and it is fun to use it. But, we did not like the display: The HD display is a TN type with narrow viewing angles and very low brightness. So, the Pavilion x360 cannot be used in the sun at all. Furthermore, the slow processor is annoying. Overall, the Pentium in the IdeaPad Yoga 2 11 is 127% faster (Cinebench CPU tests). Because of these disadvantages, the Yoga 2 11 lost many points, but the webcam is very bad. It is not even apt for snapshots because of too much noise and blur.

Recent Convertible Awards


Editors Choice November 2013: not a hero in our Top-10, but a balanced solution, which can replace a subnotebook
Microsoft Surface Pro: Best Value Award Oktober 2013 - cheap since a successor is available
Asus Transformer Book T100TA-C1-GR: Best Value Award in December 2013
Editor's Choice award for the good bundle: Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga
Best Value Award for the Medion Akoya P2211T in February 2014

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Notebookcheck's Top 10 Convertibles
Author: Redaktion, 2014-06-11 (Update: 2014-06-12)