Convertible tablet computers have always existed as a niche product. Even after the release of the iPad, the convertible tablet has remained a shadowy product. Convertible tablets are not simple devices, and are not oriented towards simply watching videos or surfing the web. They are meant to get things done. An artist might use the touchscreen as a means of creating digital art, while a business might use one as to keep track of inventory in a large warehouse while actually walking around the warehouse.
Whatever the need, convertible tablet computers are quite brilliant. Perhaps no other category of computer has so many elegant solutions available. The three convertible tablet PCs listed here are absolutely great products, and the main difference between them is durability and price. The best convertible tablet PCs are meant to be used under the toughest conditions, but even consumer level tablets are very well built.
The HP Touchsmart tm2t is a rare example of a convertible tablet PC which is built with the consumer market in mind. Weighing in at 4.8 pounds with battery, this isn’t the lightest tablet around, nor is it the thinnest. However, this tablet makes up for the weight with an excellent display. Tablet computers often suffer from flat color reproduction because the technology within the touchscreen isn’t favorable to creating a nice image, but the HP Touchsmart tm2t‘s glossy display does not have this disadvantage. It produces a brilliant image no matter how you use it.
The touchscreen itself is a 12.1 inch capacitive multi-touch screen capable of detecting two fingers at once. This allows for the use of popular multi-touch gestures like pinch-to-zoom. Capacitive touchscreens normally don’t work well with a stylus, but this tablet comes with a Wacom pen which serves the purpose. The inclusion of the stylus makes the focus of the product clear – this is a convertible tablet PC for artists.
The HP Touchsmart tm2t is not among the best convertible tablet PCs in terms of performance, but the low-voltage Core 2 processor inside does allow for about seven hours of battery life, which is impressive. Also impressive is the price, which starts at $899. Although not as rugged as other convertible tablet PCs, this option is much less expensive. Consumers who don’t need an ultra-durable product will find the Touchsmart tm2t to be a good choice.
Lenovo’s reputation as a maker of business laptops is legendary, so it is little surprise that the Lenovo ThinkPad X220 convertible tablet PC was able to make this best convertible tablet round-up. In fact, the Lenovo X series tablets have been the standard of the tablet PC world for years. Before the X220 was the X60, and before the X60 was the first Thinkpad tablet of recent times, the X41.
The Lenovo X200 tablet is, like all Thinkpads, well built. It has a very solid hinge, a great keyboard with little flex, and a chassis which feels extremely durable. The 12.1 inch widescreen isn’t the most brilliant screen ever invented, but it has a matte finish which makes this convertible tablet easy to use in brightly lit areas. An optional superbright display is available for use outdoors. The hardware is also impressive, as the latest second-generation Core i7 CPUs are available. Yet in spite of this very fast processor, the X200 is about an inch in thickness and only weighs between 3.5 and 3.7 pounds, depending on the options selected. A battery life of up to ten hours is possible with the optional 8-cell battery.
When compared to the HP Touchsmart the X200 is clearly a more durable and robust package. However, the durability comes at a great cost. You’ll spend at least $1699 on the Lenovo ThinkPad X220. That’s a lot of money, but for businesses which need a professional grade convertible tablet PC it will be money well spent.
Lenovo is know for making tough business laptops, but they’re not alone in that category. In fact, there is another brand of laptop which is even more well known for making ultra-durable products – Panasonic’s Toughbook brand.
The Toughbook brand was originally created with a focus on law enforcement and military applications, and this remains the focus today. However, Toughbook has been using its reputation to get its foot into the door of the business world, and one of its flagship business products is the Toughbook C1, an extremely rugged convertible tablet PC. The Toughbook C1 is easily the best convertible tablet PC in terms of durability. It has been tested to survive a 30 inch drive, uses a “triple hinge” screen design and has all of the features you’d also receive on a Thinkpad, such as a spill resistant keyboard and shock-mounted hard drive.
Despite being rugged, the Panasonic Toughbook C1 is also the lightest convertible tablet PC, weighing in at 3.1 pounds. Inside you’ll find a Core i5 processor, 2GB of RAM and a 250GB hard drive. The Panasonic Toughbook C1 can mount two batteries, and is capable of achieving about five hours of life with one or ten hours with two. The inclusion of two batteries makes it possible to hot-swap batteries, so your ability to work away from a power socket is limited only by the number of batteries you can carry.
As with the Lenovo X200, purchasing the best convertible tablet PC isn’t cheap. The Toughbook C1 doesn’t have many customization options and is sold through reseller rather than directly through Panasonic. Most models will cost between $2500 and $3000.