Looking for a laptop replacement, but tired of talk of convertibles, hybrids, sliders, touch-friendly laptops and slates? Drowning in advertising-speak about how this new Windows-8 device is going to make your life infinitely better? Yeah, us too. Never fear, though, we've got your back! Follow on after the break to find out everything you'd ever dreamed to dare to know about Windows 8 hybrids.

In an attempt to make this easier for our poor battered brains, we've divvied the machines up into categories, loosely based around form factors. There's descriptions, piccies and review roundups galore, not to mention a specs comparison table for each category. Also, please bear in mind that while this is undoubtedly the most awesome, amazing Windows 8 roundup ever, some devices have been left out because: we don't feel they're proper hybrids (this excludes tablets and touchscreen laptops, for example); we don't have enough information on them yet, or they're just pain 'ol not coming to the UK. (Yeah, LG, we're looking at you.) One final thing worth bearing in mind is that this is only full-blooded Windows 8 devices; we're deliberately not including the Windows RT offspring. Now, without further ado, let's dive on into the future of mobile computing, Windows 8-style.

 

Cubs – Convertible Ultrabooks

Convertible Ultrabooks are aimed more towards the laptop end of the hybrid range. They don’t break apart into separate pieces, but fold, Transformer-style, into something more resembling a tablet, and also work as a conventional laptop. Since they aim to rival Ultrabooks, the specs, weight and price tend to be similar (if not a bit higher), the main differences being the convertible form factor and a touch-sensitive screen.

 

1.) Asus Taichi

 

What it is: A totally unique form factor, the Taichi is like a laptop with a second (also touch-sensitive) screen stuck to the back of the lid.

What the reviews say:

PC Advisor: “We're not convinced that there's a need for two screens -- Dell's XPS 12 Duo and Lenovo's Yoga (and other convertibles) show that you can have a single touchscreen which works in both laptop and tablet modes.”

CNET: “Although we would like to applaud Asus for trying something different with the Taichi, it feels like a repeat of the first PadFone. In short, it seems like an interesting concept device that isn't ready for primetime yet.”

What we say: Although the hardware feels solid (and heavy), the fact that the unit we saw had the outside screen smashed already pays testament to the Taichi's greatest flaw -- the vulnerability of that outside screen. Not to mention, a second screen adds cost, and we're not sure it really gives all that much back.

 

2.) Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13

 

What it is: Essentially a laptop with a touch-sensitive screen and hinge that enables said screen to fold all the way round, giving several different usable form factors – normal laptop, “tent” (basically just a kickstand replacement) and something resembling a tablet.

What the reviews say:

Slashgear: “The Yoga 13 is one solid device, and I would even say that it’s one of the best Windows 8 machines on the market at the moment”

AllThingsD: “I salute Lenovo for design imagination. But the touch-pad bug, available storage and battery life, combined with the hefty price, make the Yoga 13 less than ideal”

Wired:  “Overall this is a thoughtful and very usable hybrid…while I’m not sure that anyone really wants a tablet that’s quite this big, at the very least it’s a solid contender for the laptop user who just wants the occasional touchscreen experience available. “

The Verge: “A big step in the right direction, but I’d wait for step two or three…what I want more than anything is the ThinkPad X1 Carbon with a Yoga hinge; this is a decent approximation, but not quite up to its level. “

What we say: Again, though the hardware in general (and especially the hinge) felt good and solid, having the keyboard permenantely on the outside doesn't appeal. Yeah, it's disabled and all, but having that a key-mark gouged through your expensive touchpad doesn't really appeal.

 

3.) Dell XPS 12 Duo

 

What it is: An outside-the-box folding mechanism that enables the screen to rotate into a good, keyboard-covering tablet mode.

What the reviews say:

Gizmodo AU: “If you just want a device that can act as a laptop at work and a couch-surfing tablet in the evening, then the XPS 12 Duo is the device for you. It’s perfectly usable as a productivity laptop for school or work — and it gives you the option of becoming a tablet when you want a more casual, touchscreen-only experience. Mind you, it is just a tad pricey for what it is”

CNET: “Dell has revamped its rotating Duo laptop concept into the much-improved XPS 12, but like most convertibles, it makes a better laptop than tablet.”

What we say: The concept is good, but we have concerns about the longevity of the very fiddly hinge and locking mechanism. Also, Dell have managed the opposite of laptop alchemy here -- rather than metal-lookalike plastic, the Duo is made of aluminium that looks startlingly like plastic; making your expensive ultrabook feel like every other cheapo Dell you've never wanted to own.

 

4.) Lenovo ThinkPad Twist

 

What it is: A classic Lenovo business laptop, with an, erm, twist: a hinge that allows the screen a huge range of movement. Aimed at the more serious/business-focussed end of the market, who care less about aesthetics than PowerPoints.

What the reviews say:

Techradar: “For those looking for a portable PC that quickly flicks between laptop and tablet this may well be an option – especially if weight and thickness are less of an issue.”

CNET: “Combining the rotating screen and Windows 8's tablet-style positional awareness, Lenovo's new ThinkPad Edge Twist has some unique appeal for education and small-to-medium business buyers.”

What we say: Hardly a new concept, but with Windows 8 and a decently solid hinge, the ThinkPad Twist gives flexibility, at quite a weight and size price however.

 

Specs sheet:

 

Sliders

Sliders are a special sub-category of the convertible ultrabook, notable for their sliding mechanism somewhat reminiscent of the T-Mobile Sidekick: the screen slides oh-so-smoothly up and out to reveal a keyboard. They don't quite have the Olympic-gymnast flexibility of their all-singing all-dancing cousins, but there are a few notable machines here nonetheless.

 

1.) Sony Vaio Duo 11

 

 

What it is: Sliding 11.6” hybrid with a comprehensive suite of ports, solid sliding mechanism and a pressure-sensitive stylus to boot.

What the reviews say:

T3: “On one hand it’s a £1000 tablet, which is too heavy and cumbersome to compete with the iPad or even the Tegra 3 powered Nexus 7, which is 1/5 of the price. On the other hand, here is a new Windows device which has all the power of a laptop, that can be picked up and used like a tablet, offering a superb touchscreen experience, amazing connectivity and an enviable full HD screen.”

Techradar: “While it's not a perfect laptop-tablet hybrid, and certainly won't have mass appeal, Sony has furthered the Windows 8 cause with an exceptionally powerful device that challenges the perceptions of what tablets can achieve.”

CNET: “While you'll have to accept compromises in keyboard size and comfort, a great display, a portable size and a massive helping of processing power makes up for it.”

What we say: The Duo 11 showcases some of the best features of Windows 8 - connectivity and versatility. Whilst it's too heavy to be used exclusively as a tablet, when you consider the processing power and plethora of ports, this is one of the closest yet to a fully-featured laptop in a touch-friendly format.

 

2.) Toshiba Satellite U925t

 

What is it: A slightly larger, 12" sliding ultrabook, though here you're not limited to any one viewing angle -- the screen tilts back and forth like a conventional laptop.

What the reviews say:

Engadget: "The U925t's slider form factor makes for a compromised typing experience. Meanwhile, other Win 8 convertibles offer better screens, battery life and build quality for a similar price."

The Verge: "The U925 is a laptop that sometimes pretends to be a tablet. It doesn't pretend very well — it's just too heavy to be a tablet — but I still like that I can fold it down and rest the screen on my lap when I'm watching a movie. Other than its shape-shifting gimmick, though, the U925t unfortunately just doesn't bring much to the table. It's an unattractive machine with very average performance, and just enough problems (like the trackpad issue) to give me pause."

CNET: "The mechanical elements of the Toshiba Satellite U925t convertible laptop are complex, but well-made. It won't be your main machine, but it's one of the more usable Windows 8 launch experiments."

What we sayIf you need a huge, durable tablet to carry around your office and still be a fully functional laptop, this could work. It is slightly more comfortable to use in that form than the XPS 12 or Yoga 13. But for comparable prices, you could go with those machines to get a better screen or laptop experience. It's unlikely you want to come aboard the Satellite—the creative thinking is just not implemented well enough to recommend yet.

Specs sheet:

 

Detachables (Core iSomething)

Detachables, or hybrids, are tablets with a keyboard dock that normally adds functionality in the shape of ports and extra battery life as well as a tactile keyboard. These are the ones that are designed to be real laptop-killers, with Ultrabook level internals that should see you never needing to reach for that laptop again.

 

1.) Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro

 

 

What it is: A full-blooded Windows 8 tablet with Ultrabook internals; matching keyboard dock with a few ports and a keyboard thrown in.

What the reviews say:

Techradar: “There's no doubt this is a powerful device, but we can't help feeling a little disappointed that Samsung hasn't let its design team really go to town on the Ativ Smart PC Pro. When you think what the company achieved with the Series 9 laptop, its OLED TV and Galaxy Note 2, the Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro smart feels chunky, heavy and plasticky.”

CNET: “With the handy keyboard dock, S Pen stylus and powerful components under the hood, the Ativ Smart PC Pro is shaping up to be a good choice for professional users who need more grunt than the average tablet can offer.”

TrustedReviews: “It’s a powerful convertible tablet with a gorgeous screen, generous connectivity, optional 4G, a slim keyboard cover option to match Microsoft’s Surface, and the ever-fabulous, pressure-sensitive Wacom S Pen which slots into its body. On the other hand, it’s a bit on the heavy and plasticky side, and 64GB of storage seems somewhat stingy on such a premium tablet.”

What we say: It's a powerful device, and whilst not the best-looking, certainly has a strong mix of components - the S Pen should appeal to more creative users.

 

2.) Asus Transformer Book

 

 

What it is: Asus' play at a full-on Windows 8 tablet, following in the line of its successful Android Transformer devices. Although full details haven't been released yet, this is one of the most promising devices announced so far in this category.

What the reviews hands-on say: 

Techradar: "We came away quite impressed with both its build quality and its potential. Pricing is obviously a concern, but if Asus manages to bring it in at a sweet spot – and if that latching mechanism doesn't push it too far in advance of Ultrabook prices -- we can see the Transformer Book doing rather well."

AnandTech: "If you're torn between a small notebook and a large tablet, you might have met your match."

What we say: From what we've seen so far, the Transformer Book is shaping up to be a category-leading device -- not a surprise from the makers of the legendary Transformer Prime Android tablet. It's a powerful and well-built tablet, and when coupled with the keyboard dock sports laptop-beating connectivity, storage and battery life. One to watch. (Release expected early 2013, pricing TBA)

Specs sheet:

 

Detachables (Atom processor)

Like their more powerful relatives, these consist of a tablet, which has all the guts, and a detachable dock that has a keyboard, and commonly extra ports and a battery. While these don't pack enough punch to really be your main machine, they should make good travelling companions or netbook replacements.

 

1.) Lenovo IdeaTab Lynx

 

 

What it is: Lenovo's play in the more consumer-friendly, tablet focussed end of the market. Light weight, low price and a functional keyboard dock look to be the standout features here.

What the reviews say: 

CNET: "Despite the catchy name, the Lynx's feather-light display may help it stick out. If other Windows 8 vendors also offer screens this svelte, though, Lenovo may have its work cut out to make the price and features pop in a crowded Windows 8 world."

PCMag: "The IdeaPad Lynx is a hybrid tablet with accessories that can make this slate feel like a laptop with a full keyboard"

What we say: From what we know so far, the IdeaPad Lynx is shaping up to be the device to beat in the lower end of Windows 8 hybrids. Weight rivalling an iPad, competitive pricing and a keyboard dock that does a lot more than just provide a keyboard means this is going to be a device to rival the Surface RT come December.

 

2.) Samsung Ativ Smart PC

 

 

What it is: Atom-based Windows 8 tablet, with an optional keyboard dock. It’s a tablet-sized tablet that can run most of your desktop apps.

What the reviews say:

CNET: “With Windows 8 on board and the keyboard dock, the Sony Ativ Smart PC is evidently designed for those of you who want to get some serious work done on your tablet, not just play Fruit Ninja.”

What we say: “The Ativ 500T is a compromise. A bunch of compromises, crammed into a sorta-dorky looking tablet. For a lot of you, that’s going to mean it’s in a No Man’s Land of mediocrity — despite a genuinely impressive trick of running desktop apps on this slender little tablet, just not worth it.”

 

3.) HP Envy x2

 

What it is: From what we know, the Envy x2 is going to be HP's budget-end, Atom-based Windows 8 tablet, once again gunning after the lower end of consumers who maybe aren't quite looking to replace their laptop, but are willing to stump up the premium above a RT tablet.

What the reviews say:

CNET: "The HP Envy x2 is a classy combination of slimline laptop and portable tablet. It's well put together and potentially offers the best of both worlds. There are plenty of rivals, including the Asus Transformer Prime and the forthcoming Samsung Ativ Smart PC -- not to mention a slew of impressive laptops. But with decent build quality, full Windows 8 and plenty of power, it looks to be worthy of envy."

Neowin: "It can be hard to compare some of these devices since they're almost all in a category of their own, but the HP Envy X2 comes in at a hefty £799 so may not be consumers' first choice since that's not even really comparable to other devices on the market."

Pocket-lint: "It looks and feel like a quality hybrid PC, so if you think you're going to be after a Transformer-style device, it'll be well worth consideration when it hits the stores later in the year."

What we say: Although the Envy looks like a good, premium, well-made device, it sadly comes with a premium pricetag. £799 is running dangerously close to some of the more powerful options in this form factor, not to mention the IdeaPad.

 

 

4.) Acer Iconia W510

 

What it is: A firmly budget Windows 8 tablet, with nothing particularly unique apart from the price.

What the reviews say: 

Engadget: "Ultimately, though, the W510 does a disservice to Acer: with a chintzy build and a cramped, netbook-like keyboard, it confirms whatever pre-conceived notions shoppers may have about the brand. There is something to be excited about, though: the W510 performs well, and at $500, it's attractively priced for a tablet running full Windows 8. The Clover Trail-based Atom processor inside makes for some zippy performance in Windows 8, and that nine-hour battery is also promising."

Trusted Reviews: "The Iconia W510 is a great first entrant in the affordable Windows 8 convertible tablet laptop arena for Acer. It’s an attractive, well-built device that sets itself apart from rivals by being smaller and lighter, as well as offering a unique swivelling hinge for its keyboard dock. Combined with a low price of around £500, it looks like it will be a great choice."

What we say: If you absolutely have to have a full-blooded Windows 8 tablet for as little money as possible, then this is your baby. In hardware term though, this is a return to Acer's roots - and that's not a good thing.

 

5.) Dell Latitude 10

 

What it is: A replaceable battery and docking station betray this 10-inch tablet's business aspirations; form over function is the guiding principle here.

What the reviews say:

Techradar: "The Latitude 10 feels like a true business tablet. And that's meant as much as a compliment as it is a criticism for its functional aesthetics. The replaceable battery isn't hidden behind some sleek aluminum plate, and those gaping ports haven't been left out in order to create a smooth piece of industrial design. Just as Windows 8 affords a new ethos for tablets, so the Dell Latitude 10 focuses on what you can do with this tablet, rather than how smoothly it slides into your over designer bag. Anyone looking to do more than just play games and read books on their tablet should keep an eye on this one.

What we say: If aesthetics aren't at the top of your wishlist, and practicality is, then this might be worth a look. For just a tablet, however, it's priced quite premium.

Specs sheet: