The many affordable tablets on the market can be handy when you just want a lightweight device to take with you on the go but also want an extra-large screen to enjoy media on. Unfortunately, standalone tablets just don’t tend to have the same productivity chops of proper laptops, especially since they tend to lack a keyboard and many of the ports of a laptop. But, 2-in-1 detachable laptops offer the best of both worlds.
With a 2-in-1 detachable laptop, you’re getting all your computing hardware packaged into the form factor of a tablet, and you can get a seamlessly designed keyboard dock that turns the device into a fully functioning laptop. Better yet, by making your laptop and tablet one and the same device, you won’t have to deal with downloading and copying the same programs and data to separate devices. Many of these devices will have an edge on traditional laptops as well, as they tend to have more capable touchscreens and stylus support that make them excellent for mobile game ports and art or design.
We’ve rounded up the very best options on the market so you can fulfill your desires for both a tablet and a laptop while only needing to purchase one device.
TL;DR – These are the Best 2-in-1 Detachable Laptops:
1. Surface Pro 8
Best 2-in-1 Detachable Laptop
Microsoft has revamped its Surface Pro series with the new Surface Pro 8. This model comes with a redesign that features a sharper 3:2 display with a 2,880 x 1,920 resolution and a larger 13-inch size. Despite the larger display, the tablet is no wider, though it is a bit thicker and heavier. There’s a bit more power inside, though, as Microsoft has incorporated 11th Gen Intel Core processors — the Intel Core i5-1135G7 in this case.
You’ll get some capable connectivity out of the Surface Pro 8. It still features the Surface Connect port for power and accessories, but Microsoft has included a pair of USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports as well. The Surface Type Cover is upgraded as well with a specially designed hide-away slot of the new Surface Slim Pen 2. Inking with the pen will also be more fluid thanks to the display’s support for a 120Hz refresh rate. Now that’s pro.
2. Surface Go 3
Best Budget 2-in-1 Detachable Laptop
Microsoft’s smaller 2-in-1 detachable laptop series also got an upgrade. The new Surface Go 3 actually doesn’t change much. It’s still a stunningly portable device, weighing in at just 1.2 pounds. The 10.5-inch display does get bumped to 1,920 x 1,280 for a 3:2 aspect ratio, and it’s plenty sharp for the size.
Microsoft’s bigger change is under the hood. Now you can get the system running on an Intel Pentium Gold 6500Y. It’s not going to be the beefiest system, but as a portable tablet that’ll support a snap-on keyboard, it’s an elegant solution. You can also save a bit of extra money by pairing it with a simple Bluetooth keyboard instead of Microsoft’s pricier Type Cover.
3. Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5
Best Budget 2-in-1 Detachable Chromebook
While most 2-in-1 computers tend to come at a premium price, going with an affordable Chromebook is a great option. The Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 is one of the few true Chrome OS tablets on the market, but along with an ultra-thin, lightweight chassis, there’s an integrated kickstand and detachable fabric folio keyboard, making it perfect for you to use anywhere. Plus, this Chromebook’s functionality and power make it ready to tackle whatever you throw at it.
The Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 comes loaded with a brilliant OLED 1080p display, giving you plenty of sharpness and easy viewing from all the different angles you may place this hybrid device. Its 2.55 GHz Snapdragon processor keeps the tablet running at a peppy pace and is more than capable of multitasking as you run all your favorite Android apps. And, the 15-hour battery life means this device should last as long as you need it to. There is even an option to use a stylus over your fingers on the touchscreen, so you can get really creative. This Chromebook offers a whole lot in its compact package.
4. Lenovo ThinkPad X12
Best 2-in-1 Detachable Business Laptop
The ThinkPad is one of the most iconic work laptops there is, and Lenovo hasn’t stopped bringing out new models that make the experience better and better. For those that need a 2-in-1 detachable laptop for work, the ThinkPad X12 is what you should be looking at. This model has the classic look and feel, but the 12.3-inch display can come off for the full Windows tablet experience.
With our selected model, you get a capable Intel Core i5-1130G7 with plenty of RAM and storage for getting most work tasks done. The package includes a keyboard and even a digital stylus for fine input on the display. That screen is also a bright (400-nit), Full HD IPS panel with an anti-glare and anti-smudge finish, so it’ll still look ready for business even after you’ve used it in tablet mode. Lenovo also offers some serious connectivity with a USB 4/Thunderbolt 4 port, USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port, and even Wi-Fi 6 (2×2) for incredible speeds both wired and wireless. It all comes in a package that’s just 0.34 inches thick or 0.57 inches with the keyboard attached.
5. Surface Book 3
Best High-End 2-in-1 Detachable Laptop
The Surface Book 3 combines the power and resources of a more traditional laptop with the appeal of a 2-in-1 detachable. The unique hinge is back, allowing the display to disconnect from the base and be used as a tablet.
You can opt for a 13.5-inch model or the larger 15-inch model we’re featuring here. The bigger of the two comes standard with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660Ti Max-Q or Nvidia Quadro RTX 3000 Max-Q with an Intel Core i7-1065G7 processor.
The GTX 1660Ti is more than capable of powering through lengthy video editing sessions, or a weekend’s worth of AAA games without any issues. This is the detachable you want if you expect performance from your computer, even if the screen can be removed.
What to Look For in a 2-in-1 Detachable Laptop
One of the most important factors to take into consideration when shopping for a device that pulls double duty as a laptop and a tablet is what you’re going to be using it for. For someone who only needs a method to check email, watch some videos, and shop on Amazon, you’re not going to need the latest Intel i-series processor and a ton of storage. Something like the Surface Go 2 with an Intel Core m3 and the base storage will be more than enough.
That said, if you plan on using your 2-in-1 detachable to do more resource-intensive tasks like editing the occasional photo or video, then you’ll ideally want to look for an Intel Core i5 or i7 that comes with Intel’s Iris Plus Graphics.
When it comes to memory, the more the better, especially for Windows 10 2-in-1’s, but again, this is a factor that’s driven by how you intend to use your new laptop and tablet combo. 8GB for a Windows 10 device is good enough for most casual use, but you’ll want to bump it up to 16GB when possible if you plan on doing more than just online shopping and social media — and even more so if you want to game.
Another aspect to keep in mind is that most 2-in-1 detachable don’t come with a keyboard. Meaning, you’ll need to factor an extra $150 or so into the overall cost.
Jason Cipriani has covered technology full-time for the past 8 years. During that time he has freelanced for the likes of CNET, Fortune, Time, ZDNet, Macworld, Wired, and TechRadar.