One trend at CES 2017 came in the form of 2-in-1 devices. These hybrid tablet-notebooks were everywhere -- Dell alone announced three hybrid devices, and companies like HP, Toshiba and ASUS also unveiled new tablet hardware.
Hybrids offer the flexibility of a tablet, with the functionality and performance of a notebook. After an initial lukewarm reception, they're finally taking off. These six devices unveiled at CES 2017 will lead the pack in the continuing shift to hybrid devices for both consumers and the enterprise.
The Dell XPS 13 wowed consumers and business users alike with its barely there bezel. And this year, the company unveiled a convertible version of the 13-inch notebook. The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 features the same thin bezel of its predecessor, and boasts a resolution of 3200 x 1800 pixels. According to Dell, the battery life on the new XPS 13 clocks in at 15 hours and the display fits into the same real-estate as a typical 11.6-inch display with a bezel.
It's not a detachable hybrid, instead the display can rotate 360 degrees to lie flat against the back of the keyboard -- similar to the Lenovo Yoga series or HP Spectre x360. What's impressive about this device is the fact that the thin bezel makes this one of the smallest 13-inch hybrid devices on the market; it's just shy of one-inch thick and weighs 2.7 pounds.
All configurations include 7th generation Intel Core processors -- the entry level model includes an Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD for $999. At its highest configuration, the device includes an i7 Intel Core processor, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD for $1,400.
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Dell's Latitude 5285
Dell brought some heat to the 2-in-1 market with its XPS 13 convertible, but the Dell Latitude 5285 is a clear hit at Microsoft's Surface Pro 4. The 12.3-inch tablet features the familiar kick-stand design of the Surface Pro, as well as a soft, detachable keyboard cover with trackpad and a proprietary stylus.
It not only matches the Surface Pro on a design-level, it also closely matches in available configurations. Just like the Surface, you can get the Latitude 5285 with up to 1TB storage, 16GB of RAM and the latest 7th generation Intel Core processors. To be fair, the Surface Pro 4 currently only offers the last generation of Intel processors, but if the Surface Pro 5 rumors hold any weight, that might not be true for long.
The device features unique options like a high-capacity battery with "ExpressCharge," which lets you charge the device as quickly and efficiently as possible. With keyboard, the device weighs 2.7 pounds -- which is the same as the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 device -- but without keyboard, it weighs just 2 pounds. Pricing for the Dell Latitude 5285 will start at $900, and the device is slated to start shipping on February 7.
Dell 2-in-1 Latitude 7285
Dell is clearly invested in the future of hybrids for both consumers and businesses -- and where the Latitude 5285 resembled the Surface Pro, the Latitude 7285 is more like the Microsoft Surface Book. Instead of soft, magnetic keyboard, the tablet-display docks into a solid keyboard base, offering a more traditional notebook experience.
However, the Latitude 7285 brings some unique features to the table that the Surface Book doesn't -- one in particular is wireless charging. The device can be configured with an optional keyboard base that has Airfuel Alliance certified wireless charging technology built in. When paired with the compatible wireless charging pad -- you can say goodbye to unsightly cables.
The Latitude 7285 also features the latest Kaby Lake processor chips from Intel and a display with up to 3k resolution. Dell also announced that there will be a number of different keyboard options, but no word yet on what they will include -- pricing isn't available yet, but Dell expects to ship the device by May or June.
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ASUS Transformer 3 Pro
The ASUS Transformer 3 Pro runs Windows 10 and features a design that is a dead-ringer for the Surface Pro 4 -- right down to the kickstand, 12.6-inch tablet display and soft keyboard cover. The device also looks enterprise-ready with a full size USB 3.0 port, an HDMI port, a USB-C port and the ASUS Pen.
Asus did not skimp on performance either, the device features a 7th generation Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and up to 1TB of storage. The 3k tablet display offers a resolution of 2880 x 1920, and the Thunderbolt port supports 4k external displays. The Transformer 3 Pro also ships with the keyboard dock included -- unlike the Surface Pro 4 -- and the 512GB model is currently priced at $1,499.
Where ASUS really one-ups Microsoft with the compatible ROG XG Station 2, an external graphics dock that connects to the Thunderbolt 3 port to give you desktop-level gaming performance. The docking station can be configured with up to an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 GPU, which can support gaming and VR apps, so you can have that level of performance when you need it.
The graphics dock isn't exactly portable, but it offers a unique option for consumers and business users. You can keep your device lightweight and portable for work and travel, but still get a desktop gaming experience at home. The ROG X2 dock was announced at CES 2017 alongside the latest ASUS hybrid, but there is no word yet on pricing and availability.
Toshiba Portege X20W
Toshiba specifically designed its newest 2-in-1 for the workplace, with a 7th generation Intel Core processor, Windows 10 Pro and sturdy design. While not the sleekest or most attractive hybrid announced at CES, the Toshiba Portege X20W is one of the few that took direct aim at the enterprise. It's not a detachable display, but it does rotate 360-degrees to lie flat against the keyboard.
The Portege X20W features a 12.5-inch multi-touch display with a Full HD touch screen display, a USB 3.0 port and a USB Type-C port that can also support Thunderbolt 3 connections -- but like the iPad Pro, you will need an adapter to charge the device and connect to an external display at the same time.
However, since this is an enterprise focused device, Toshiba also announced two "advanced docking solutions." The Toshiba WiGig Dock and the Thunderbolt 3 Dock, which will be available by the end of this quarter and will extend the connectivity of the device; no word yet on pricing for the tablet or docking stations, but both will be available through Microsoft's online and retail stores.
HP EliteBook x360
HP's Spectre x360 was such a success that HP not only introduced a 15-inch model, it brought the same design to the EliteBook -- which is the company's business-focused notebook category. The HP EliteBook x360 took the familiar EliteBook and introduced the hinge of the x360, allowing the display to rest against the back of the keyboard. HP also announced the device will feature an optional 4K UHD display and claims the device is the "thinnest and most secure business convertible."
The EliteBook x360 features a 13.3-inch multi-touch display, 2 USB 3.0 ports, a USB Type-C port, an HDMI port and Micro SD port. The notebook with enterprise security features built right in, like multi-factor authentication using a finger print scanner, IR camera or smart card reader. It also includes HP Sure View mode, which tints your screen with the touch of a button so it appears dark to anyone around -- similar to a privacy screen, but built right into the display. There is no word on pricing yet, but the device should be available later this month.
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