7 Disadvantages of a 2-in-1 Laptop (Why You May Want to Reconsider)

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Disadvantage of a 2-in-1 Laptop

A 2-in-1 laptop is exactly that, you get two laptops in one device – it’s a notebook that can transform into a tablet. Every major Windows laptop manufacturer offers one. This means you don’t have to splash out on buying a laptop and tablet separately (which would warrant a considerably greater cost). But while there are a solid number of reasons why you could benefit from the versatility of a 2-in-1. You need the right balance between productivity and performance. To ensure you get a laptop you’ll enjoy using day in and day out, let’s look at the disadvantage of a 2-in-1 laptop.

The Two Types of 2-in-1

With the usefulness of the touchscreen and ability to switch between a laptop and tablet. It’s not hard to see why these notebooks are all the rage. The main reason to get a 2-in-1, however, is because it’s more cost effective than purchasing a laptop and a tablet.

These machines can cost between $500 and $2000. So, if you don’t anticipate using the tablet mode, you’ll almost certainly pay a premium for the flexibility of a 2-in-1 compared to a standard laptop. Before we get into too much more about the disadvantages, let’s touch on the two main types of 2-in-1s you’re sure to see in the market.


2-in-1 Convertible Laptop

source: xda-developers.com

2-in-1 laptops with a 360-degree hinge are known as convertibles. When you want to use the device as a tablet, simply fold the keyboard back behind the display. You end up with a thick tablet since the keyboard is still attached. But you get a much better build quality overall. And since hardware can be fitted in both the display and keyboard base of the device. You’re left with fewer compromises since less components must be crammed into one area of the laptop.


2-in-1 Detachable Laptop

source: ign.com

These notebooks feature a keyboard that detaches from the display. The advantage here is that you can use the device as a laptop with the keyboard detached. Or remove the keyboard (via the hinge mechanism) and use just the display portion as a tablet. As such, the keyboards on these systems tend to be flimsy. Moreover, detachable hinge mechanisms have a higher failure rate compared to convertibles.

1.    Thicker/Heavier Than Laptops

Perhaps the biggest advantage of a hybrid is the portability. The small size makes it easy to carry wherever you go. Instead of toting around a laptop and a tablet, a hybrid simplifies both platforms into just one device.

While the size is an advantage, it’s also a weakness. Sure, the thin and light form factor is easy to carry. But then you’re having to deal with a small screen, which can work against you when you need more real estate for work on things like spread sheets. And if you’ll be spending hours on your laptop, you might consider an external monitor to prevent symptoms of eye-strain.

Depending on how much you’re prepared to spend, you can find traditional laptops that are smaller and more lightweight than a 2-in-1 laptop.

2.    Expensive

Indeed, if you do a lot of travelling or just need to carry your device from place to place, then a 2-in-1 offers the very best of both the tablet and laptop platforms.

The price on these machines is coming down every day. But the price compared to standard clam shell laptops can make obtaining a 2-in-1 prohibitively expensive. It’s hard to ignore the fact that the tag is often higher than a traditional laptop with comparable specs. This is usually due to necessary add-ons like a touchscreen.

Demand also plays a role. As more and more users want this device, prices go up. If your primary use is a laptop and you don’t really need the tablet side of a 2-in-1. You’re better off saving a few bucks and opting for a standard setup. Unless of course you’re looking to replace your laptop and tablet. Then it might be worth the extra cost over a standard laptop since you won’t have to buy two replacement devices.

Even if you’re comfortable with the limitations of a 2-in-1 compared to a laptop. Sleeker convertible and detachable models boasting a premium-level build quality demand a bigger, often eye-watering asking price.

3.    Performance

We’ve been alluding to it, now let’s talk performance. Another note about the sleek and slim form-factor of 2-in-1s is that it’s generally a compromise on performance.

Due to the relatively smaller size that a 2-in-1 laptop needs to be manageable. And due to less space to fit beefier components. If it’s raw power you’re after, a standard laptop is a better choice. 2-in-1s generally don’t run with the most powerful processors. And they often rely on integrated graphics. Slim and portable is the overriding priority here.

Now this doesn’t mean you can’t find a few 2-in-1 laptops boasting impressive specs. But have you ever tried gaming on a 2-in-1 laptop? While there are a few options out there, they come at a hefty price. But even expensive models can be less powerful than a laptop. The majority of 2-in-1s you’ll find feature specs that lean on the more power efficient side of the spectrum. You’ll be hard pressed to find any with the latest and great chips and GPUs.

When it comes to power, these are often more middle of the road PCs. But for basic types of tasks this is no big deal.

4.    Battery Life

Speaking of limited specs, 2-in-1 laptops are often optimized to make great use of their on-board battery. The hardware is very power friendly allowing you to maximize the runtime between charges. That said, battery runtime can be less than traditional laptops since there’s less room for cooling fans. And even when there are fans, they tend to use quite a bit of battery power.

5.    Limited Storage Size

Again, there’s not enough room to fit more powerful components, rendering these machines less powerful than standard laptops. While not directly related to the physical size of these laptops, this also means less storage. If you’re the type of user that needs lots of storage, 256 GB is considered a lot for a 2-in-1 with only a scant few models that offer up 1 TB of storage space.

6.    Cramped Keyboard

Hands the size of Shaq will find it challenging to fly around the keyboard. Due to the limited space features like the space bar and touchpad are smaller than that of the average laptop. Other ergonomic issues also make some of them less comfortable to use than a traditional laptop. And some detachable models don’t offer a cover for the keyboard, you have to purchase it separately.

7.    Security Features

The main drawback of 2-in-1 laptops in the business environment had to do with the lack of security features compared to laptops. You’re hard pressed to find multifactor authentication features like fingerprint scanners and face recognition software, locking slots, or the hardware based security chips required by many enterprises, like TPM.