When we think of 2-in-1’s we think of thin & light devices with either attached or removable keyboards. Basically the main purpose is to serve as a Tablet & a Laptop as well. Now, there are plenty of 2-in-1’s out there & they exist in all the segments including Budget, Mid-range & Premium segment.
Now, Budget 2-in-1’s exist but, being way too much underpowered makes them quite a headache to use as one’s daily driver. So, people generally avoid buying these kind of things. Premium 2-in-1’s are great for day to day tasks & productivity. But their High Price makes them not so affordable. So, that brings us directly to the Mid-range segment. This the segment where we generally find a good balance between price, performance & usability which makes this category the most important of the bunch. It’s just more people buy Mid-range 2-in-1’s compared to Budget & Premium ones. The pricing for these devices generally stay between 500-800 USD depending on the hardware it’s rocking.
So, we decided to evaluate the real life potential of these Mid-range laptops. So, took the ASUS Zenbook UX360CA & evaluated it’s day to day use cases. I mean if someone purchases a 2-in-1 with similar hardware can he get all his work done & be satisfied with the performance & usability ? Well, after using it for various purposes as a daily driver, we finally got the answers. We hope this article will be really helpful to those who are looking forward to a mid range 2-in-1 as their daily driver.
I guess we need to clear the specific type of configuration we are using here. So, here are the specifications for a evaluation model (UX360CA):
- Display: 13.3 inch 1920 x 1080 IPS LCD Touchscreen
- Processor: Intel Core M3-6Y30 ( Dual Core, 900 MHz-2.2 GHz, 4MB Cache)
- RAM: 4GB LPDDR3 (1866 MHz, upgradeable upto 8GB)
- GPU: Intel HD Graphics 515
- Storage: 256 Gigabytes of M.2 SATA3 SSD
- Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
- Bluetooth: v4.1
- Webcam: 720P
- Speakers: 1.6W Dual Down Facing Speakers
- Battery: 54Whrs
- Weight: 1.29 Kilobgrams (2.86 lbs)
So, let us explain some characteristics that we were looking for, when choosing the right 2-in-1 for evaluation. We stacked up some pointers & this 2-in-1 Laptop, the UX360CA checked almost all of the boxes that we’re looking for. Here’s the list.
- The device must have a 13.3 inch IPS Display
- The device must be under 1.5 Kilograms
- The device must be thin & compact
- The RAM must be upgradeable
- The Webcam must at-least be HD
- The Battery must be higher than 48 Whrs
- The device must have an all Aluminium build
Ok, that’s quite a bit of description. Hope the above content is clear to you & let’s move to the evaluation part now,
Talking about the usability of the Laptop in a daily use case scenario, with the internal hardware matters a lot to determine exactly what is the device is made to perform. So, our evaluation unit has an Intel m3-6Y30. Now, the Y processors are actually made to be used Fanless devices so, devices can be really thin but, these are not High-performance CPU’s either. So, this is level of power that you can expect from Lower-mid-end devices. In Higher-mid-end devices you might get upto a Core i5. So, what are these devices ideal for ? Well, continue reading.
USABILITY AS A TABLET
This is what people get 2-in-1’s for. So, how much a 2-in-1 can reach upto a tablet’s usability level. Well, I would say roughly 70% to maybe upto 75%. Though they can be flipped to be used a tablet & it’s ok when you keep it on a table or any other surface. It’s actually pretty useful to have a big screen to work on & they’re definitely touch enabled. So, on a surface it feels like a big tablet & a bigger screen is nice to have for both Media consumption & Productivity stuff.
That’s great right ? That’s a lot of what someone would expect from a Tablet. But, there is a flip side of the coin as well. The weight of the device makes it a little bit hard to carry around compared to a tradition Tablet. It’s not as heavy as a regular laptop I mean definitely these are quite thin & light. But, still that extra Keyboard dock along with some extra hardware adds some extra weight for sure. So, if you plan to carry these things in your hand, you may get a bit uncomfortable after some time.
So, depending on the user it’s usability as a Tablet can be a desired or a not so desired feature. But, everyone will use some of the advantages of the Tablet aspect for sure including Reading e-books & Media consumption. So, basically if you’re buying a 2-in-1, you must make sure that it has it’s proper usability to you as a Tablet as well or buying it will have no purpose to stand up and Mid-end 2-in-1’s are generally pretty good at serving the purposes as a tablet.
USABILITY AS A LAPTOP
This is a the second but most important goal of a 2-in-1. If you’re replacing your laptop with a 2-in-1, it must be able to perform all the tasks you need to do with a Laptop. So, hardware performance is pretty important here even if you’re buying a Mid-range 2-in-1. So, firstly don’t expect a mid-range 2-in-1 to perform super CPU intensive tasks like Video Editing. There are some higher end 2-in-1’s available capable of o editing 1080P videos quite well but, mid-ends are not for that. But, doing your day to day tasks like Web Browsing, Taking Notes, Making Presentations, Working with Spreadsheets are no problem in mid-ends.
Our evaluation unit was packing a Intel Skylake Core M3. Now, there’s a Kaby Lake successor available to this processor available in a refreshed version of the UX360CA. These processors are capable performers for your day to day tasks that I’ve mentioned above. These type of processors are generally dual core CPUs but, for day to day usage. But, for more intensive tasks, you need to get a higher-end one with a i5 or i7 depending on your needs. But, these will significantly cost you a lot more as they pack better hardware inside.
Media consumption is is definitely another goal for 2-in-1’s & these mid end ones are generally pretty good at it.
In youtube, the M3-6Y30 & Intel HD 515 handles 1080P without any problem & it can play 2K (1440P) videos fine as well. That’s where this hardware reaches it’s limit. Bumping up the resolution to 4K, I experienced some significant lag in playback. So, if 1080P or even 1440P is your goal, then fine but, don’t expect smooth 4K playback. But, most people stream in 1080P anyway so, it shall be fine for the average user but, if you want to stream 4K , you may want to bump your budget a bit.
SO WHEN SHALL YOU GET THESE MID-RANGERS ?
Well, if you can relate yourself to the type of user I mentioned above then these devices can be useful to you. Let’s go through all the points,
- Good Build Quality: Mid Range 2-in-1’s normally have good build quality. It’s pretty easy to get Aluminium Alloy build in this segment. Our evaluation unit (Zenbook UX360CA) also rocks an Aluminium Chasis (or Chassy if you want to call that).
- Decent Day to Day Performance: For a regular user, these devices can perform the day to day tasks pretty well. But, don’t expect CPU or GPU intensive tasks from these Mid-rangers.
- M.2 SSD Storage: In mid rangers, OEMs do pack M.2 SSDs but, don’t expect PCIe for this price at least in 2017 & even 2018. But, the SATA 3 SSDs generally have good read speeds & ok write speeds. But, that’s still faster than regular HDDs & also take less space so, the thickness can be reduced of the devices.
- Using As Both Laptop & Tablet: Having the convenience of using your laptop also as a Tablet, can be really helpful to many people. Just make sure that you’re going to use that functionality before making a purchase decision.
- Good Battery Life: These devices are actually made to last longer on a full charge & the hardware is also not high power consuming. So, depending on the battery capacity, expect 6-8 hours of Battery life.
So, if these complete your checklist, you can have a look at the mid ranger 2-in-1 devices. But, if your main goal is to Edit Videos or High-end Photo Editing then look at the High-end 2-in-1’s. There are some new 8th Gen Intel Core i5 & i7 equipped 2-in-1’s available So, you can consider those or a more powerful non 2-in-1 Laptop. But, if day to day study & office work is your goal, mid rangers are a good option.
So, the potential of Mid Range 2-in-1’s are quite significant as there are many users who can simply get their work done with these devices. Many users need that convertible comfort & have a low budget so, Mid-rangers can be a good option for them. Ok, that wraps up this informative article that we decided to make as many users are confused about mid range 2-in-1 purchase decisions & we hope it was helpful. If you still have queries, you can drop them in the Comment section below & we’ll be happy to answer them !