Which hybrid tablet PC should I buy?

Buy a tablet or laptop? Those are the pros and cons

Just nine years have passed since Apple launched a new device category with the first iPad. Since then, not only have countless tablets been sold, but new mobile computers with a wide variety of form factors have come onto the market. In addition to classic laptops, mobile computers such as convertibles, detachables (2-in-1 devices) and tablets are now on the shelves.

And while sales figures for PCs, notebooks and tablets are falling, ultra-flexible convertibles and 2-in-1 computers are enjoying increasing popularity. According to IDC, 392.5 million computers were sold worldwide in the first quarter of 2019. A third of these, that is 113.9 million, were tablets, 72.4 million classic notebooks and 39.7 million convertibles.

Computer for the couch

The increased interest in the flexible computers is not surprising, after all, convertibles or detachables should combine the best of the notebook and tablet world. With the convertible, for example, the notebook can be turned into a tablet by folding it over a hinge. And with hybrid or 2-in-1 computers, the screen can be separated from the docked keyboard and used independently as a tablet.

These mobile computers are tablet and notebook in one. Nevertheless, notebooks and tablets also have a right to exist as independent devices. Be it as a designated workhorse or as a handy surf device; they have firmly established themselves in everyday life. The classic notebooks are clearly designed for work.

Regardless of whether you live a life as a desktop replacement, go on a business trip as an extension of your office computer or deal with correspondence with authorities at home in your living room: you show your strengths at work.

Work on the go

They are usually equipped with Windows as the operating system, the common office programs as well as system tools or applications for image or video editing. They are driven by more or less powerful processors. How powerful they are depends primarily on the price. While processors from AMD are used in inexpensive mobile computers, CPUs from Intel dominate the premium class.

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Currently, Intel's ninth-generation Core-i processors are gradually appearing in high-end notebooks. With more expensive laptops or gaming devices, there are extra graphics chips for more power. This expands the notebook's field of application, so that sophisticated image or video editing is possible. However, these devices are then also quite heavy.

In any case, users are spoiled for choice when it comes to equipping a notebook and can configure their mobile computer according to their wishes and application. This also applies to working and main memory. Here too, premium devices have more memory than cheap notebooks. More expensive laptops have solid state drives (SSD), while cheaper mobile computers sometimes have very slow HDDs.

What also sets notebooks apart is their ease of connection. Multiple USB ports for a mouse, external hard drive, display or printer are required. Many notebooks also have HDMI or microHDMI interfaces and display ports (Mini-DisplayPort). And what is outdated in today's wireless world, but all the more practical, are LAN connections. Internet connections are possible even if the WLAN is unstable or insecure.

The antiquated equipment features undoubtedly also include optical drives, which can still be found in some notebooks. They are of course useful for backing up or viewing data; however, they make the devices heavier and less mobile.

The size of the display is decisive for the mobility and handiness of a notebook. Those in need of a desktop replacement are happy to use a screen that is 15 or more inches (38 cm) in diameter. And if you want to work in a way that is easy on the eyes, you should use a mobile computer with a low-reflection screen.

Those who tend towards a notebook should also consider whether the device should have touch functionality. If a touch display is installed, the notebook costs more. So if you want to keep your fingers on the keyboard with your notebook anyway, you can safely do without this functionality.

In any case, notebooks are characterized by their pronounced variety, which is just as noticeable in the enormous configuration options as in the price. And the more powerful, compact and mobile the computers are, the more expensive they are.

However, the battery life is one of its decisive disadvantages.

Performance and endurance

In principle, notebook batteries are less durable than batteries from tablets, for example. Whereby it's not just their size - in watt hours (Wh) or milliampere hours (mAh) that is decisive. Rather, performance and display size are decisive. That is why, among other things, processors are built into tablets that deliver the best possible performance, but generate little heat and guarantee long battery life.

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Qualcomm CPUs are often used in the Android top models. It is usually the same processors that set the pace on premium smartphones. Intel processors are not uncommon for Windows tablets, which, like Microsoft's Surface devices, are mainly entering the market as detachables. Cheap devices are often powered by chips from Intel's Atom family. In terms of performance, the Windows tablets are in no way inferior to the classic notebooks in their class.

This also applies to the main memory. While high-end devices often have more than eight GB of RAM, entry-level models usually only work with two or four GB of RAM. And similar to notebooks, Windows tablets in particular have a wide variety of configurations for processors, memory and display sizes. Which of course is also noticeable in the price.

Apple, on the other hand, offers fewer configuration options for the individual tablets. The top dog among the tablet providers has just as many devices in its portfolio as never before. There are iPads with a 12.9-inch display designed to dig the sand off the notebooks, as well as the small, handy iPad mini for the handbag.

Apple offers them in different memory variants; however, they cannot be expanded with cards. And RAM of different sizes are also not available. In addition, Apple is silent about the size of the batteries. Nevertheless, all of the iPads are more than durable and overtake most other tablets in various benchmarks.

Runtimes of ten hours are definitely possible with tablets. Powerpoint presentations can be corrected on the tablet while on the move or you can enjoy several episodes of your favorite series on a long-haul flight without having to keep looking for a power outlet.

Tablets with large displays are less durable; after all, the screens turn out to be real power guzzlers along the way. If tablet manufacturers install larger batteries in their pocket computers, this has a negative impact on the weight of the device. Devices with a dockable keyboard that have an additional battery ready are a real alternative for power users.

Discover virtual worlds

Tablets also have the edge when it comes to mobility. For example, anyone who wants to surf the web or check their e-mails as a commuter would do well to opt for a tablet with a SIM card slot. Although the devices with 4G modules are more expensive than pure WLAN tablets, they offer fast internet even without a smartphone connection.

In contrast to notebooks, tablets can also be used for taking photos thanks to integrated cameras. However, the cameras on most pocket computers are more of a decorative accessory than a real alternative to the camera, for example on smartphones. Snapshots should still be possible in most cases, although the resolution of the built-in camera modules is not particularly high.

Many tablet snaps also lack a flash. For example, Samsung is installing a 13-megapixel camera in its latest Galaxy Tab 5e; Amateur photographers still have to do without a flash. Quite apart from the fact that it still seems a bit strange to go on a photo safari with a more or less large tablet.

The qualities of the handy, flat computers, which usually weigh less than half a kilo, are much more evident today in new technologies such as augmented reality. Real images merge with digital ones and create new insights and a new kind of experience.

In addition to the built-in cameras, the sensors working in the tablets are a prerequisite. While the cameras bring real images to the device, sensors capture the environment in several dimensions. Thanks to these position and acceleration sensors, tablets can register the user's movements.

From this, new worlds emerge in corresponding applications, in which the boundaries between reality and virtual worlds are blurred. This works particularly well when the appropriate computing power is available so that even movements in the virtual rooms look fluid.

If you want to get a tablet or a laptop, you should take a look at our voucher page. Notebooksbilliger is currently offering a discount of up to € 400. Anyone who slashes a frog in biology class today no longer needs a scalpel. Instead, students dissect it virtually with a pen, tablet and app. And if you want to buy a new chest of drawers, you can place it virtually in your living room. This makes it very easy to check whether the new piece of furniture actually matches the rest of the furniture.

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In a similar form, there are already countless augmented reality applications in the world of work. And of course AR technologies have found their way into gaming worlds. After all, it makes sense to integrate virtual characters into your own environment, as is the case with the hyped Pokémon Go, for example.

Tip: If you want to buy a tablet or a laptop, secure a discount of up to € 400 on our notebook page.

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