With more performance than previous models, these convertible laptops are the only computing solutions most college students need to handle all of their tech interests.
What is a 2-in-1 laptop?
When selecting the best 2-in-1 for college, it can be helpful to know what makes them different from a standard laptop. Sometimes referred to as a “convertible laptop,” these devices feature the perks of a full-size laptop, such as a standard keyboard and ample USB ports.
Because they can also flip from laptop to tablet mode, however, they can easily replace expensive standalone tablets while offering touch screen responsiveness and integration with a stylus or compatible drawing pen.
2-in-1 laptops for college students also stand out because they’re typically more powerful than a tablet, giving them the chance to use programs that consume more memory or processing speed. The graphics are usually superior, too, and the internal memory goes beyond what today’s affordable tablets can offer.
Plus, 2-in-1 laptops can be integrated into a student work space environment through additional monitors and can support external DVD-ROM drives, a mouse, VR, and adaptive technology. With the power of a laptop, they perform the tasks students need, but the 2-in-1 is incredibly lightweight and can be used to draw, take notes, and game, too.
5 best 2-in-1 laptops for college students
With so many laptops available on the market today, choosing the right one for your student can be overwhelming. Thankfully, these five HP 2-in-1 models have earned high praise for their flexible design and robust processing power. All are suitable for taking to college, and each has unique perks to help you decide which is best for you.
1. HP Spectre Folio leather-encased laptop
The HP Spectre Folio 13-inch laptop is highly rated by users who need a lightweight and portable option for taking to class. It’s a one-of-a-kind product thanks in part to the 100% genuine leather exterior that makes it appear like no other folio when not in use. It is stylish and professional-looking for students who want to take it to their internships or job interviews.
With a responsive and sturdy touch screen display, taking notes and capturing lecture audio is easier than ever. Using the HP Spectre Folio in class just makes sense for those hoping to get every bit they can from a course.
If WiFi is ever an issue, the built-in 4G LTE equipment makes sure you can still communicate with the outside world, download files, and share important information with teachers and peers. A separate data plan is required for the 4G LTE data add-on, though it’s especially useful for when students want to work in public areas but can’t find a secure network.
The laptop comes standard with a 13.3-inch screen, and 4K resolution can be added on for brilliant graphics and a life-like viewing experience. Like some other 2-in-1s, this device features storage of up to 1TB for storing all of your important files, media projects, and more.
Students no longer have to choose which files or programs to keep on their device, as it’s possible to store just about everything with upgraded capacity.
The battery life is truly impressive, too, because you get more than 21 hours of video playback time from the basic video monitor and more than 12 hours with 4K. That’s more than enough to last a typical college student through their classes and into their evening activities and hobbies.
Perhaps the most exciting part of this laptop, however, is the availability of ports. With 1 micro SD media card reader, a single USB 1.3 Type-C™ Gen 1 port, and 2 Thunderbolt™ 3 ports, it’s possible to create a workspace similar to what desktop users get, all while utilizing less space in your dorm room.
Both share the same security, stability, and performance features, such as the durable 360-degree hinge that lets students use the device as a laptop with full-size keyboard, a tablet with a responsive touch screen, or an in-between position for Skyping family back home.
The HP Pavilion x360 series has a range of processing options to choose from. Depending on what type of programs students will use, they can opt for the Intel® Pentium® Gold 4415U+Intel HD Graphics 620 bundle or get one of the Intel Core processors with up to four cores and paired with an NVIDIA® GeForce® MX130 graphics processor with dedicated graphics.
The more powerful bundles are appropriate for students in the arts and technology programs who want to edit photography, perform 3D graphics rendering, or produce video projects. Students can also choose to experience smoother processing of their works when upgrading to a higher memory package.
The 12GB DDR4-2400 SDRAM pairs perfectly with the optional 16GB PCIe® NVMe™ Intel Optane™ and won’t leave students waiting for lag to pass while they work in numerous programs at once.
This 2-in-1 is particularly great for those who want to express themselves through the color of their laptop. Choose from one of three hues: natural silver, pale gold, or sapphire blue. All three are made from sturdy materials that can handle the workload of a typical college student.
3. HP Spectre x360 convertible laptop
Considered one of the thinnest and most powerful devices for college kids today, the HP Spectre x360 convertible laptop is a high-end choice for students who want the best in computing and creating. While the device comes in both a 13-inch and 15-inch model, the focus for students is on the smaller option. It’s a stunning device that features your choice of dark ash or natural ash silver finish with beautiful copper luxe accents. It is incredibly thin at just shy of 14mm thick and also weighs a mere 2.78 lbs.
As far as computing speed and power go, it’s among the industry’s best. It boasts the latest 8th Generation Intel Core quad-core CPU, and you can choose between the i5 or more powerful i7. Neither will disappoint when handling multiple tasks, streaming video, and browsing the internet.
A robust Intel UHD 620 graphics solution lets students take advantage of everything 4K display content has to offer, and gaming is intensely lifelike with the 720p definition. No dedicated graphics card is needed for this amazing experience. It’s equipped to handle some of the most demanding tasks, including inking, 3D animation, photo editing, and 4K video rendering. This is a big-league computing opportunity in a tiny machine.
For students who have a lot of stuff to keep track of such as games, programs, creative files, movies, videos, and more, consider upgrading to the 1TB, PCle-based flash storage. It’s much faster than standard 5400-rpm drives so that students can access files with lightning speed. There’s no lag or frustrating delays when opening programs and folders.
The battery life ranges from 12 to 16 hours, depending on how this 2-in-1 is being used. With a full range of matching laptop accessories and some of the best security features on the market, you can be sure that this is a 2-in-1 made to last an entire college career - and beyond. Anyone would be happy to own this savvy computing solution.
4. HP ENVY x360 convertible laptop
The next entry on our list of best 2-in-1 devices for college students is the HP ENVY x360 convertible laptop, a practical approach to giving college kids the perfect marriage of entertainment and educational tools.
For starters, this laptop is beautiful. The outstanding aluminum body boasts the best of minimalist design features and just the right amount of accent touches. Plus, there are two finishes to choose from on the 15.6-inch model. Both the 13-inch and the 15-inch models are thin enough to stash in a backpack and take anywhere your student goes, as they weigh just 2.87 lbs and 4.49 lbs, respectively.
A truly convertible device, it’s designed to make note-taking and video-binging a sophisticated experienced. The integrated Bang & Olufsen speakers bring a burst of audio richness to everything from watching your favorite YouTuber to indulging in the latest award-winning movie performance. There’s no need to invest in external audio components with this carefully thought-out 2-in-1 laptop.
This convertible laptop can be configured into four distinct positions, including tablet, tent, laptop, and stand mode. Watch movies, chat with friends, or take notes in class without having to do more than simply bend the laptop in the direction you want. It’s made to conform to your unique college experience.
Finally, you can’t discuss the HP ENVY x360 without mentioning what powers it. The 15-inch model has your choice of AMD or Intel processors, and both sizes are made with unique customization options, including dual storage support for SSD and HDD, Intel Optane Memory, and a backlit keyboard. The HP Fast Charge feature gets your battery back to 50% of battery levels in just 45 minutes, too.
This laptop is among the most powerful student options on the market, and it just keeps getting better. Newer features and a modern design make it a favorite among college kids who need something to take with them into the workforce after graduation.
5. HP ENVY x2 detachable laptop
The HP ENVY x2 detachable laptop could very well be the best 2-in-1 tablet for college. It has many of the same features as other laptops in the HP ENVY line, but it features the slimmest design without sacrificing any power. Its detachable keyboard keeps you working through class and beyond, but the tablet mode rivals any stand-alone on the market.
Among its amazing perks, you’ll enjoy a battery life of up to 20 hours for local video playback along with super-fast recharging that can go from empty to 90% charged in 90 minutes. It also boasts up to 256GB of storage and has all the ports you need, including a combo audio jack, SIM card reader, micro SD card reader, and USB-C™.
Additionally, there’s a 13MP rear camera and a 5MP front camera, and it includes proven Windows features, such as Cortana and Windows Ink technology.
While this device connects seamlessly to local WiFi networks, it also boasts a Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ x16 LTE modem so you can enjoy optional, secure data wherever you travel.
In fact, the entire system runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon™ 8358 system, a Windows-compatible platform that balances power with efficiency for thin devices like the HP ENVY x2.
Leave bulky laptops in the past because the future of student computers is the 2-in-1, with this model taking the lead for the busy college student.
Additional buying tips
Student needs vary by educational path, personal interests, and lifestyle, so be sure that you ask your student which features they value most in a notebook. You’ll also want to know a bit more about where they will be using their 2-in-1.
Will it be mostly classroom time? Is it something that needs to be sturdy enough to travel abroad? What features are needed to keep up with the tech and network specific to the school? What educational paths will be explored while on campus?
Knowing just what ambitions your student has for their time at school can help ensure you are purchasing the right features and upgrades that kids could easily grow into and find relevant years into their education.
With so many of the options available to be upgraded and customized with just the right amount of memory, processing speed, graphics capacity, and more, there’s no need to pick a one-size-fits-all solution. The best convertible laptop for college is the one that’s perfectly designed to make the college experience a productive one for your individual student.
Linsey Knerl is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Linsey is a Midwest-based author, public speaker, and member of the ASJA. She has a passion for helping consumers and small business owners do more with their resources via the latest tech solutions.
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