Inc.'s John Brandon reviews the latest convertible tablet books.
Prefer the minimalism of a tablet but like the power and feel of a laptop? A convertible tab book has all of the above--and more. When you need to swipe through a presentation, you've got a tablet. Need to type a long document or edit a video? Flip it into a laptop.
For the best of both worlds, the touchscreen slides in nearer the keyboard. We put the three leading U.S. tab books to the test.
"The Acer R7 is the ultimate convertible workhorse."
Sony Vaio Duo 11 Ultrabook
The 2.9-pound Windows 8 touch tablet easily converts to a tab book: The 11.6-inch screen flips up, revealing a responsive, backlighted keyboard that has a small nub you can use as a mouse. A near-field communication chip syncs your smartphone securely. The Duo 11 we tested, which had a 2.4GHz processor and 8GB of RAM, took two seconds to wake from standby. The built-in speakers sounded a bit muffled. (Note: The forthcoming 13-inch model, pictured, was not available for review.)
Battery: About 4.75 hours
MSI Slidebook S20
The lightest of the bunch, the 2.2-pound Slidebook has a flip-up screen that locks into place near the keyboard. It gives you easy access to the responsive 11.6-inch touchscreen but takes some effort to slide. The keys are a bit small for fast typing. There is no track pad or nub. The speakers sounded clear but not as loud as the R7's. Resuming from standby took three seconds. The Windows 8 device has a 1.8GHz processor and 8GB of RAM.
Battery: About six hours
Acer Aspire R7 Notebook ***Editor's pick
Our favorite of the three, the 5.3-pound R7 lies flat like a tablet, folds into a Windows 8 touch laptop, and slides into Ezel mode via a hinge that tilts the screen even closer to the keyboard. The four 2-watt Dolby speakers were surprisingly loud. In laptop mode, there's a large but awkwardly placed track pad above the keyboard. The R7 runs on a 1.8GHz processor with 6GB of RAM. Waking from standby took eight seconds.