Convertible Notebook Computers

x1-yoga-4-2Cars with convertible roofs have surged and waned in popularity over the years. There have been a variety of soft top and hard top varieties. Some have impacted the market and others fizzled. Convertible notebook computers have suffered the same fate. They haven’t caught on yet as computer makers have tried different approaches.

A convertible notebook computer has rotating/detachable touchscreen so that it can be used as a traditional notebook computer, tablet, or something in between. The something in between can be called tent or presentation mode.

We wrote a related article recently about replacing your notebook computer with an iPad pro.

There seem to be a few challenges for convertible notebook computers. The biggest is the bulk of the machines though it is improving. An iPad Pro weighs in at 1.57 pounds versus the Apple Air 2 which weighs in at 0.96 pounds. Other entries in this category carry a similar amount of heft.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro S 1.53 pounds
Microsoft Surface Book 1.6 pounds
Lenovo Miix 700 1.7 pounds
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 1.73 pounds

These are all considered tablets with keyboards. Moving into a true convertible adds at a minimum of an additional pound.

Lenovo Yoga 3 11 2.6 pounds
Dell XPS 12 9250 2.8 pounds (detachable)
Lenovo ThinkPad X260 2.86 pounds
Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 260 2.9 pounds
Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 2.90 pounds

By the way, if you’re looking to just save weight there are some 14” and 15.6” laptops that are very svelte.

Model Screen Size Weight
LG Gram 14 14.0” 2.16 lbs
LG Gram 15 15.6 2.2 lbs
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 4th gen 14.0” 2.6 lbs


Construction and Durability

A convertible has more complicated moving parts than a standard clamshell notebook computer and much more so than a tablet. In our experience, we have not seen more issues with the complicated hinges or detachable screens. We still see far more standard clamshell notebook computers with hinge issues. That being said, the lower-end clamshells tend to have more structural issues versus the more expensive clamshell notebooks or convertibles in our experience.

Replacement batteries can also be a challenge in convertible notebook computers. Most clamshell notebooks, but not all, have user-replaceable batteries. Many convertible and tablet-based computers have batteries that need to be replaced by opening the case.

Usability and Processing Speed

The internals of convertible notebook computers are nearly identical to their clamshell counterparts. They all use the same memory, storage, and processors. You will not find any usability differences between a convertible and a clamshell with the same specifications. One caveat could be cooling. The larger case of a clamshell computer does allow more active cooling so ostensibly there could be slightly higher performance.

Final Verdict

Ultimately it comes down to personal choice and how you use your notebook computer. If you find yourself in a situation where a tablet or presentation type situation a convertible can be highly useful. A great application for a convertible is if you are in a standing position and you need to access information. Another is when you are meeting with an individual or small group and you need to present data on your screen. A convertible can provide a less awkward presentation than a typical clamshell notebook computer.

It is good to get your hands on a convertible notebook computer or at least watch some in-depth YouTube reviews. If your purchasing a fleet of convertible computers for your team a Lotus salesperson can setup a demo for you at your site and possibly even provide a test unit to your personnel to test drive.

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