Recommendations and advice for a 2 in 1 windows laptop
November 21, 2017 8:47 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for an affordable 2 in 1 laptop that can serve as my primary all purpose machine. I'm not a heavy gamer but I do like to play occasionally. I do some light coding - no seriously computationally expensive stuff. Weight isn't an issue. I'd prefer a larger screen. I don't want a Chromebook or iPad.

I don't need blazing speed as I am quite comfortable being a few generations behind on tech both as a cost-cutting measure and as a form of usability testing ( I like to be where my users are at rather than on the cutting edge where I might not notice the pain points of slower systems ).

Also I'm completely new to this form factor and don't really know what the potential gotchas are so any warnings/pointers are appreciated.

I'd prefer something closer to $500 than $1000 but I am willing to spend more if it makes a big enough difference.
posted by srboisvert to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I can recommend against the $300 Acer laptop I purchased last year. (I don't have the model number on me right now, but I can get it if you'd like it.) It has a nice big pretty screen, but the wireless NIC, and sometimes the whole system, fail if you don't pick it up with perfectly even force on both sides. Sometimes it can be brought back to life by twisting the bottom of the case a little bit this way and a little bit that way.

I've never encountered this sort of failure before. The system lockup is especially interesting: The audio will go into a stutter loop ("duhduhduhduhduhduhduh"), and the interface will freeze. Then I twist the case a little bit, and it will come back like nothing happened. It's a fascinating thing, because I have no idea what would lead to this sort of temporary failure.
posted by clawsoon at 9:55 AM on November 21, 2017

This Acer Aspire R15 is probably a good benchmark for you. It is pretty middle of the road but has some nice perks. At $599 it is close to your target. I am not sure if by larger screen you wanted more like a 17", but I assumed you were just not looking in the 11-13" range. 12Gb RAM is a bit more than the 8GB which is about the minimum you would want these days. The i5 processor is a generation behind but still decent. And it has Full HD 1080P when a lot of these lower end ines have only an HD display.
Compare to this Lenovo Flex 5 which has a little more RAM, faster i7 processor and SSD instead of a slower HDD for $300 more. Your day to day experience will probably be the same for both of these unless the few games you play require lot of resources.
posted by Short End Of A Wishbone at 10:39 AM on November 21, 2017

I have the Acer Aspire R15, which isn't quite a 2-in-1 since the keyboard remains attached, but still works well folded as a tablet. I bought it when I was on a tight budget, and it did the job admirably for intense multitasking and light gaming. However, the keyboard crapped out within a few months and I lost use of most of the row of numbers. It has a display keyboard, but I like having physical keys to tap and it made me mad every time I had to plug the USB keyboard in there. In spite of the fragile keyboard, I love how solid and rugged it is. I've been traveling and using it in field conditions, it's been dropped and sat on a million times, and it's still going strong. It's likely going to stay in use as the travel laptop.

After some research, I just replaced it with the Lenovo Miix 720, and I'm quite pleased. It's definitely more expensive, but it's closer in form to the Surface, which I love but can't afford. And unlike the Surface, it has a nifty Thunderbolt USB-C port and can be opened up to replace components, which makes it a bit more future-proof. While the Acer felt like a more flexible laptop, this one feels more like a tablet with a decent keyboard attached, but I can dock it with all the peripherals if I really miss that desktop feel. But I can never go back to non-touchscreens!
posted by Freyja at 12:52 PM on November 21, 2017

If you are not sucked in by Apple or Microsoft's "sexy" (i.e. Surface devices, which are quite nice), look at Lenovo.

Well built, take a beating and travel nicely. They have many models and price ranges to choose from. Myself, I love the workstation class machines (because I like to run a local "lab" with many virtualized machines) - I have been thinking about a P-series model.

Why Lenovo? Because, my last machine a W530 has lasted me since July 2013 and is still incredibly fast. (i7, 32gb RAM, dual SSD in RAID0 config) The only thing that has gone "wrong" is the touchpad has worn smooth (used to be textured).
posted by jkaczor at 2:19 PM on November 21, 2017


How do you find the Miix 720 screen with a stylus? I tried one at a store yesterday (had to sign my name) and found the screen to "slick", unlike the feel of a Surface screen. Otherwise, I really liked the form-factor.
posted by jkaczor at 2:21 PM on November 21, 2017

I have not once used the stylus. It's in my bag somewhere... I just scribble with my finger like a toddler.
posted by Freyja at 2:32 PM on November 21, 2017

I went with an ACER spin3 mostly because it was available at a really low price and met most of my requirements. So far I find it acceptable. I was tempted by fancier hinge mechanisms that would have kept the keyboard internal rather than being on the bottom when in tablet mode but I felt, entirely without any evidence, like those would be pretty likely to be failure points.

It's pretty heavy as tablet so it isn't really bathroom reading suitable or good for using while walking around but does fit the bill for reading. My only real issue right now is sorting out the font sizing and getting used to windows 10 tablet mode which I have never used before.
posted by srboisvert at 11:04 AM on November 29, 2017

« Older Expanding (kids') views of the world through other...   |   Non-US Disability/Handicapped Access Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.