As smartphones and tablets slowly become more like laptops, the same is true on the other side, too: laptops now integrate features like touchscreens and styluses, offering the best of both worlds on a single device.
Touchscreen laptops -- sometimes called "2-in-1" laptops because they function as both tablets and laptops -- are incredibly popular with consumers because they can adapt to whatever a situation requires. If you're taking notes in a meeting, you can use one as a regular laptop and get all of the benefits; likewise, if you're on the couch after a long day and you just need to zone out by crushing candy, the tablet functionality is a perfect match.
If you're looking for a workhorse laptop that can handle everything from streaming video to organizing a presentation, a touchscreen laptop may be perfect for you. Read on for everything you need to know about finding the right one for your lifestyle. Microsoft makes our favorite touchscreen laptop - you can get it with all sorts of customizations and capabilities so it's perfect for anyone.
Considerations when choosing touchscreen laptops
Before you shop, consider your own use case. Start by answering these questions.
Do you need a DVD drive?
If you watch a lot of DVDs or back up data to blank DVDs, look for a touchscreen laptop with an optical drive. Just keep in mind that it will drive up both the cost and the weight of your laptop.
What's your ideal screen size?
Touchscreen laptops range in size from 11 to 15 inches, measured diagonally. The screen size will pretty much define your experience -- how sharp everything looks, how big the laptop is, and how long the battery will last.
Windows or Chrome OS?
Most touchscreen laptops run Microsoft Windows 10 as their operating system, but there's also a new kid on the block: Google's Chrome OS. Windows 10 is the most widely used OS in the world, so if you're getting a touchscreen laptop for work, you'll want to use that. But if you do most of your work on the cloud and prefer the simplicity and security of an OS that's basically a browser, look into getting a Chrome OS touchscreen laptop.
Touchscreen laptop features
Once you have a general idea of the kind of touchscreen laptop you're looking for, it's time to start comparing specifications. Start with these three features. They'll have the biggest impact on how much you end up paying.
The central processing unit (CPU) is the "brain" of your touchscreen laptop, so you'll want to find a model with a fast enough one to keep up with your daily use. CPUs come in different kinds, but generally the best performers are made by Intel. Intel has four lines of primary CPUs: the i3, the i5, the i7, and the i9 (the higher the number, the more capable the processor). If you're looking for a solid performer that won't break the bank, get a 2-in-1 laptop with an i5 processor. If you need a faster machine for work like video editing, get one with an i7 or i9. A 2-in-1 laptop with an i5 processor costs between $400 and $600, and you can expect to pay closer to $1,000 if you're looking for one with an i7 or i9.
Random-access memory (RAM) is the memory computers use to handle multiple tasks at the same time. More RAM allows your machine to handle more tasks, which definitely makes it feel faster. We recommend getting a 2-in-1 laptop with at least 4 GB of RAM.
Super-slim laptops aren't just about fancy aesthetics -- ultra-thin designs can make a big difference in terms of a laptop's weight and bulkiness. If you need a thin laptop that's about an inch wide (or less), look for an ultra-thin 2-in-1 laptop.
Q. Does Apple make a touchscreen laptop?
A. No. Although Apple's iPad and iPhone both have touchscreens, its laptops don't. However, some third-party solutions exist that add a touchscreen on top of the laptop screen, but they're expensive and get mixed reviews from users.
Q. Can I turn the touchscreen functionality off on a 2-in-1 laptop?
A. Yes. On both Chrome OS and Windows 10, you can disable Tablet Mode from the Settings menu. Doing so will effectively turn it into a traditional, non-touchscreen laptop.
Q. Can I use a stylus with a 2-in-1 laptop?
A. Yes! Touchscreen laptops respond to just about any stylus available, making it a lot easier to write on them like a piece of paper.
Touchscreen laptops we recommend
Best of the best: Microsoft Surface Laptop
Our take: The Surface is the gold standard for touchscreen laptops. It's super thin, powerful enough for professionals, and just plain pretty. If you're looking for a touchscreen laptop that doesn't make any concessions, this is the one to get.
What we like: It's ultra slim and powerful. It competes with laptops that are much more expensive. There are a ton of available accessories, like the Surface Dial and the Surface Dock, that complement the laptop perfectly.
What we dislike: Upgrades get expensive quickly. If you're looking for the next model Surface laptop up, you'll need to pay a lot more for a faster CPU, more RAM, and a larger storage drive.
Best bang for your buck: HP 15.6" Touchscreen Laptop
Our take: The HP touchscreen laptop brings everything but the kitchen sink. If you're looking for a touchscreen laptop that's got an optical DVD drive, giant hard drive, SD card reader, and giant 15.6-inch screen, this is your most affordable option.
What we like: It's well priced. The ten-finger multitouch support means it can handle gesture-based controls. It's got every connectivity option you could possibly need.
What we dislike: It's big and bulky, making it a bit of a pain to carry around. The front-facing cam is low resolution, which can make video conferencing a pain.
Choice 3: Lenovo Yoga 710
Our take: Lenovo's Yoga line of touchscreen laptops redefines flexible. The Yoga 710 is our absolute favorite: it's incredibly portable, it's got super-fast 802.11ac WiFi, and the screen can fold over entirely onto the underside of the keyboard. If you're in the market for an 11-inch laptop, this is one of the best values out there.
What we like: The 360° "flip and fold" design means you can really use the Yoga 710 like a tablet. At only 2.6 pounds, it's also one of the lightest models around.
What we dislike: The screen resolution is only 1920 x 1080, so you may have trouble fitting more than one window on the screen at a time. The onboard Intel Pentium processor is fast enough for casual tasks, but power users may find it lacking.
Jaime Vazquez is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.