Hybrid Devices Offer the Best of Both Worlds, But Choose Your Keyboard With CarePosted by
Rather than deciding between a notebook or a tablet as your portable productivity tool of choice, consider a hybrid device that can transform on the fly – but make sure the keyboard isn’t its Achilles’ heel.
Windows tablets were once clunky and cumbersome devices, but a new generation of slender designs combined with the power of Windows 10 has delivered the perfect devices to slip in your travel bag when you need to get things done on the road. Lightweight designs, powerful mobile processors and all-day battery life ensure they can meet your needs when you’re away from the office.
The icing on the cake is that you’re no longer forced to choose between a notebook and tablet, as hybrid devices can easily switch modes to suit the task at hand. This way, you can opt for the convenience of a tablet-style device without sacrificing the power and flexibility of Windows.
Hybrid designs are split into two main categories: those with a keyboard that folds back behind the screen when not in use, and those that let you tear off the keyboard when you don’t need it.
When you fold back the keyboard it can act as a stand for the screen, making your hybrid device the perfect computer for running demonstrations and taking clients through presentations. Windows 10’s touchscreen-friendly menus ensure it’s easy to work in either tablet or notebook mode, and even when you’re using the physical keyboard you’ll find yourself gradually using the touchscreen for more and more tasks.
Windows 10 offers an on-screen virtual keyboard, which is fine for bashing out quick emails, but typing on a slab of glass for extended periods isn’t great. If you’re writing business reports or other long documents, you’ll want to pay close attention to the quality of the physical keyboard when choosing a hybrid device.
You’ll generally find that notebooks with fold-back keyboards offer better keyboards than tablets with detachable keyboards, although there are exceptions to the rule. Unfortunately, many hybrid devices treat the keyboard and trackpad as an afterthought in their quest for a super-slim design, leaving you with a cramped keyboard that often has a disturbing amount of flex when you press down on the centre keys.
If the quality of the keyboard is important to you then it’s worth getting some hands-on time before you hand over your money for a hybrid device. Watch out for keyboards that place some function keys in unusual locations to save space, or that opt for small Shift keys, which may upset some touch typists.
Some hybrid devices also sacrifice backlit keys, which won’t bother most people but can be frustrating if you tend to work on long-haul overnight flights. Unless your touch-typing skills are impeccable, you can be left struggling to see the keys by the light of the screen.
Also, keep an eye on the quality of the trackpad. Sometimes they’re too small, or awkwardly placed to one side rather than directly below the keyboard. You’ll also find that some trackpads aren’t responsive and precise enough for delicate work.
Hybrid devices come in all shapes and sizes, so choose with care if you need a decent keyboard to stay productive on the move.
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