The 10 Coolest 2-in1-Laptops And Tablets Of 2020

Among the coolest tablets and 2-in-1 laptops for 2020 are Apple’s iPad Pro, Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S7 Plus.

Flexible Productivity

Defying the original expectations, 2020 turned out to be a huge year for tablets and laptops, including 2-in-1 laptops. As the COVID-19 pandemic forced widespread working and learning from home, demand skyrocketed for any computing devices that could help equip the remote workforce. And vendors have stepped up to the plate with new capabilities for 2-in-1 laptops and detachable tablets that are primed for remote work and education. Top releases this year included Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold, Apple’s iPad Pro and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S7 Plus, along with tablets and convertible laptops from HP Inc., Dell, Microsoft and Panasonic.

What follows are CRN’s picks for the 10 coolest tablets and 2-in-1 laptops of 2020.

Get more of CRN’s 2020 tech year in review.

Apple iPad Pro (2020)

With the update to the iPad Pro during the first half of the year, Apple introduced a trackpad to the tablet‘s detachable keyboard for the first time--while also enhancing the keyboard’s design. The Magic Keyboard design uses a scissor mechanism and offers 1 millimeter of key travel for improved typing comfort. The updated iPad Pro also features the A12Z Bionic chip--offering an eight-core CPU and eight-core GPU that makes the tablet “more powerful than most Windows PC laptops,” Apple said.

Other major updates to the latest iPad Pro include the addition of a second camera--a 10-megapixel ultra-wide camera for taking expansive shots--that joins the 12-megapixel wide camera on the tablet. Additionally, the new iPad Pro adds a LiDAR Scanner for improved augmented-reality experiences, allowing the tablet to rapidly measure the distance to objects that are up to 16 feet away.

Apple iPad, 8th Gen

The standard entry-level iPad continues to receive useful updates year after year from Apple. And this year is no different: For its eighth-generation model, the entry-level iPad adds the A12 Bionic chip--best known as the processor in 2018 iPhones such as the iPhone XR. The A12 improves CPU performance by 40 percent and graphics speeds by 2X compared to the seventh-gen iPad. The new iPad retains the 10.2-inch display size and the ability to connect to a keyboard, as well as the option to use the first-gen Apple Pencil with the tablet (both sold separately). On battery life, the latest iPad offers up to 10 hours of usage over Wi-Fi or nine hours over cellular.

Dell Latitude 9510 2-in-1

For the 2-in-1 variant of the Latitude 9510, Dell includes a 15-inch touch display with FHD resolution and slim bezels around the “InfinityEdge” screen. The convertible model weighs 3.3 pounds and supports 5G connectivity, with the device configurable with Qualcomm‘s Snapdragon X55 Global 5G Modem. For the convertible’s performance, Dell offers up to 10th-generation Intel Core processors along with up to 16 GB of RAM. Key AI-powered features include ExpressResponse, which assesses user preferences and taps machine learning to more quickly launch frequently used applications while also boosting application performance overall. Another major capability is ExpressCharge, which aids utilization of battery life with AI and machine learning by determining a user’s usage patterns and bringing subtle adjustments (such as screen dimming) when the battery is low.

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (9310 2n1)

The XPS 13 2-in-1 is a 13.4-inch convertible laptop from Dell that can come with a 16:10 InfinityEdge display for 4K UHD playback. The laptop comes in a CNC-machined aluminum chassis, measuring a little over half an inch thin and weighing at least 2.9 pounds.

The laptop supports the Intel Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 from Intel’s new Tiger Lake family, supporting up to 4.7 GHz in frequency. For the Core i5 and i7 models, the laptop comes with discrete-level Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics while the Core i3 model comes with the less-capable Intel UHD Graphics. With a 51-watt-hour battery, Dell promises a “long battery life to keep you powered on the go,” while the notebook can be configured with up to 32 GB of RAM.

The XPS 13 2-in-1’s top features include an advanced thermal design consisting of back venting, a vapor air chamber and dual fans to keep the Intel processor cool; Dell’s smallest camera yet, measuring at 2.25 mm; and an edge-to-edge MagLev keyboard.

HP EliteBook x360 1040 G7

HP updated its top-tier commercial notebooks with the launch of seventh-gen EliteBook models, including the EliteBook x360 1040 G7. Key updates include the addition of a 5G connectivity option; AI-based noise reduction (to minimize background noise during conferencing); and massive battery life (up to 29 hours on a charge for the x360 1040 G7).

The form factor of the 14-inch notebook has also been redesigned to be 6.3 percent smaller this time around. The EliteBook x360 1040 G7 also includes slim bezels around its screen for an impressive 89 percent screen-to-body ratio.

Other key features for the notebook include an optional Sure View Reflect integrated privacy screen that comes with brightness of 1,000 nits; a convertible touch screen with FHD or UHD resolution; and strong performance via 10th-generation Intel Core processors and up to 32 GB of RAM.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold

In 2020, Lenovo introduced the world to a new category of device, the foldable PC. As such, the ThinkPad X1 Fold actually serves both of the functions of the devices on this list. The X1 Fold features a 13.3-inch display that, when unfolded, can be used as a tablet or as a screen connected to a Bluetooth keyboard. When folded, the X1 Fold can serve as a dual-display device with numerous options for multitasking across the two screens—including with a keyboard that can magnetically attach to the lower screen for use in a standard notebook fashion. The X1 Fold is also highly portable, with a weight of 2.2 pounds and capability to fold up into a compact form factor. The device also features optional 5G connectivity.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga, 5th Gen

For the fifth-generation ThinkPad X1 Yoga, Lenovo added a new display option (a 500-nit FHD Privacy Guard screen) for the notebook’s 14-inch convertible touch screen--as well as an enhanced keyboard, with the inclusion of keys for unified communications. The latest X1 Yoga also offers 10th-gen Intel Core processors and up to 15 hours of battery life on a charge. On portability, the fifth-gen X1 Yoga weighs 2.9 pounds and measures 0.59 of an inch thick, and sports the “Iron Gray” color that was introduced with last year‘s model.

Microsoft Surface Book 3

Like the previous Surface Book, the Surface Book 3 features two sizes for its display--13.5 inches and 15 inches. The Surface Book 3 continues the unique convertible design of allowing the display to be fully detached from the keyboard base; the display can then be used as a tablet, but can also be flipped around and re-attached facing the other direction. The notebook‘s display includes Microsoft’s vibrant PixelSense display technology with 3,000 x 2,000 resolution on the 13.5-inch model and 3,240 x 2,160 resolution on the 15-inch version.

The Surface Book 3 offers choices of quad-core, 10th-gen Intel Core processors, and is also configurable with double the RAM--32 GB. On graphics, the Surface Book 3 adds options to go up to the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 with Max-Q on the 13.5-inch model and up to the Nvidia Quadro RTX 3000 with Max-Q on the 15-inch model.

Panasonic Toughbook A3

This year, Panasonic announced a new rugged Android tablet, the Toughbook A3, aimed at industries such as warehousing and transportation. Differentiators include support for both 4G LTE and for FirstNet, a wireless network from AT&T that is dedicated to first responder and public safety users. The configurability of the A3 is also notable, with options to add a 1D/2D barcode scanner, an insertable smart card reader and a second USB-A port.

Other key features include a 10.1-inch display that is outdoor viewable with up to 800 nits of brightness; rain and glove touch functionality on the display; a dual hot swap battery design offering up to 15 hours of usage on a charge in total; and an eight-core Qualcomm processor offering a clock speed of up to 2.2GHz. In terms of ruggedness, the Toughbook A3 has been designed to be able to withstand a drop of up to six feet, while the tablet also features IP65 water and dust resistance.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus

Key features for Samsung’s latest update to its Galaxy Tab series of tablets include a variant that supports 5G—making it the first tablet to support 5G in the U.S.—and improvements to the S Pen stylus such as reduced latency. The Galaxy Tab S7 Plus includes a 12.4-inch OLED display with resolution of 2,800 x 1,752 and a 120hz refresh rate for smoother usage of the tablet. The Tab S7 Plus also offers the ability to connect to a keyboard (sold separately), which features improvements such as the addition of function keys (including an escape and delete key). Other updates include the addition of the eight-core Qualcomm SDM865+ processor, with a clock speed of up to 3.09GHz.