A 2-in-1 PC, also known as a 2-in-1 tablet, 2-in-1 laptop, 2-in-1 detachable, laplet, or simply 2-in-1, is a portable computer that shares characteristics of both tablets and laptops. Before the emergence of 2-in-1s, the terms convertible and hybrid were already in use by technology journalists. The term convertible typically referred to 2-in-1 PCs that featured some type of keyboard concealment mechanism that allowed the keyboard to be slid or rotated behind the back of the chassis, while the term hybrid typically referred to devices that featured a hot-pluggable complimentary keyboard.
Both convertibles and hybrids are crossover devices, combining features of both a tablet and a laptop. However, the 2-in-1 is a sibling class of both these categories, dubbed the 2-in-1 convertible or 2-in-1 detachable respectively, distinct from other convertibles and hybrids due to the presence of features found in traditional laptop computers.
2-in-1 PCs, consisting of portable PC components within light and thin chassis, are examples of technological convergence. The devices are convenient for media consumption and non-intensive tasks in tablet mode yet well-suited to content production in laptop mode.
2-in-1 convertibles are tablets with the ability to rotate, fold, or slide the keyboard behind the display. On most devices, the hinge is situated at the display and keyboard junction. However, the Dell XPS Duo is unique in that the display sits in a frame that allows the screen to be spun.
2-in-1 detachables are devices with detachable keyboards. In most cases, the keyboard part provides few, if any, additional features (most often a touchpad, as in the HP Spectre x2). However, the keyboards of some detachables provide additional features similar to those of a docking station such as additional I/O-ports and supplementary batteries. For instance, the Surface Book can leverage the discrete GPU in the keyboard upon the keyboard's connection.
When connected to the keyboard, the display of the detachable can either be free-standing on the hinge or require external support, often in the form of a kickstand. Novel ways of providing external support include the bending frame and locking mechanism of the HP Spectre x2.
Though the keyboard is usually bundled with the purchase of a 2-in-1 detachable, it is occasionally deemed an optional accessory by manufacturers in order to minimize the starting price of a device. In such cases the 2-in-1 detachable is often displayed with its complementary keyboard in advertisements and promotional materials. This is true for all devices of the Surface and Surface Pro lines.
2-in-1s fall in the category of hybrid or convertible tablets but are distinct in that they run a full-featured desktop operating system and have I/O ports typically found on laptops, such as USB and DisplayPort. The most prominent element is the keyboard that allows the 2-in-1 to provide the ergonomic typing experience of a laptop.
While 2-in-1s fall in a category distinct from laptops, they loosely parallel the traits of the Ultrabook device category, having light and thin chassis, power-efficient CPUs, and long battery lives. They are distinguished from traditional Ultrabooks by the inclusion of a touchscreen display and a concealable or detachable keyboard.
Some tablet computers have form factors resembling those of 2-in-1s. These include the first generation Microsoft Surface and Surface 2 (whose design and appearance are similar to the Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 respectively), and the iPad Pro and ASUS Transformer Pad series. Although they all have optional detachable keyboards in the vein of 2-in-1s, they are still considered hybrid tablets due to their use of mobile operating systems and ARM architecture, while generally lacking industry-standard I/O-ports.
The earliest device that can be considered a 2-in-1 detachable is the Compaq TC1000 from 2002. It comes preinstalled with Windows XP Tablet PC Edition and features a 1 GHz Transmeta Crusoe CPU, Nvidia GeForce 2 Go GPU, detachable keyboard, and stylus.
Mainstream attention for 2-in-1 PCs was not achieved until late 2013, when tablet-sized laptops with detachable keyboards, mainly running the Windows 8 operating system on Intel Atom processors, started to appear in the mass market.
Among the first devices from this era were the Asus VivoTab series by Asus which came in 10.1 and 11.6-inch models (26 cm and 29 cm respectively). They began to arrive in stores in October 2012 and were succeeded by the ASUS Transformer Book series in October 2013.
Microsoft started its own line of 2-in-1s with the introduction of the Surface Pro series, the first of which was released in February 2013. It had a 10.6-inch (27 cm) display, Intel Core i5 CPU, and detachable keyboard that doubled as a protective screen cover.
A number of prominent laptop manufacturers, such as Lenovo, Dell, Samsung, Acer, HP and others have also begun releasing their own 2-in-1s.
In April 2012 Apple's CEO Tim Cook, answering to the question of the researcher Anthony Sacconaghi about a possible hybrid of iPad and MacBook, compared a 2-in-1 to a combination of "a toaster and a refrigerator" that "doesn’t please anyone":
As of 2015, the only pre-installed operating systems specifically supporting 2-in-1's are Windows 8, 8.1 and 10. Although some Linux distributions do support some touch features of 2-in-1s, they are generally unsupported by hardware vendors.