With the arrival of Windows 8, various convertible devices have shown up on the market. While they come in various shapes and sizes, they all fundamentally pair the touchscreen operation of a tablet with the physical keyboard of a laptop. Due to Windows 8's touch-optimised interface, convertibles allow for a good mix of casual swiping and getting on with some real work when needs be. Let me give you some pointers on what to look out for if you'd like to get hold of one.
If you're yet to lay eyes on Windows 8 then take a look at our review. In short, it's a drastic change from the Windows you've become so familiar with over the years. The classic desktop and Start menu are gone, replaced instead with big, colourful live tiles. Those tiles and the reliance on gestures as a method of navigation show that Windows 8 has been built with touch interaction at its heart -- using a traditional keyboard and trackpad combination isn't the best way to get around.
The first choice you'll have to make is whether to go with full fat Windows 8 or opt for the lighter RT version. Windows RT runs on the low-powered mobile processors that you'd find in phones and you can't install any normal desktop software alongside it. You'll only be able to get apps from the app store, which at the moment isn't particularly well stocked.
Full fat Windows 8 is the version you'd expect to find on any regular desktop computer -- you can install and run programs such as Adobe Photoshop onto it as well as download apps from the store. Full Windows 8 machines run on the same chips you'd find in normal laptops so you'll get a much bigger serving of power -- at a higher price, of course.
Except for the Microsoft Surface, all models listed below are full Windows 8 machines. The Surface will be available in a Pro version early next year. Lenovo's Yoga will soon be available in an 11-inch RT version.
In terms of design, each manufacturer has its own take on what they think is the best way to turn the devices from tablet to laptop. Dell's XPS 12 employs a screen that flips over inside its frame, Lenovo's Yoga bends completely back on itself and both the Sony Vaio Duo 11 and Toshiba Satellite U920T use a slide-then-lift method.
Microsoft's Surface meanwhile is much more tablet than it is laptop, but you can buy it with a laptop-style keyboard that attaches to the device. Samsung, Dell and Asus all offer similar keyboard docking tablets but are yet to put any physical products in my hands so I can't recommend these just yet.
Take a look through the five devices listed below and see which style would suit you best. Be sure to check out our full reviews of regular laptops too -- you can still get a better performing laptop for less money if you don't want a convertible touchscreen.
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