At some point in the last few years you've probably used a 2-in-1 hybrid PC. They offer the best of both worlds, providing a tablet-like experience for people that want to kick back and read or sketch, along with a traditional sit-up computing setup for those that need to get serious work done. Innovative form factors give you both options in a single product without weighing down your bag. This year, they're more relevant for business users than ever.
2-in-1 hybrids come in a range of form factors. There's the traditional flip-over clam shell, in which the screen folds back a full 180 degrees to touch the underside of the keyboard. There's also a detachable option, where the screen unplugs from the keyboard altogether.
There's also another class of device where the computing power and battery resides entirely in a slate-style tablet with an optional lightweight detachable keyboard that's effectively a screen cover with keys. Microsoft's Surface device uses this approach and includes a touch pad in the keyboard. The most recent iPad has caught up, offering an integrated touch pad that makes it more like a laptop than ever, although you're still stick with iOS rather than the full macOS.
So, even tablets are moving into hybrid laptop territory as vendors flesh out their functionality. It makes these devices even more appealing as a single purchase replacing both laptop and tablet.
One of the biggest benefits of a 2-in-1 hybrid device is that they don't cost as much as buying a tablet and a separate laptop or desktop device. Combining everything in one package enables buyers to lower their capital investment in new equipment. It also helps eliminate multiple operating system licenses.
Aside from giving the financial department fewer headaches, reducing the device count also gives IT departments less to worry about. With an increasing number of mobile devices around, IT administrators have a broader portfolio of equipment to manage. This equipment is also less predictable, travelling frequently between the company's internal network and the outside world. That raises the risk of malware, meaning that devices should be closely managed. You can use management systems like Microsoft's InTune to handle this, but reducing the devices you must manage per employee will help simply things at the back end.
Combining two devices in one also gives employees a usability advantage, because they don't have to lug a clam-shell laptop and a tablet around together. That means more convenience and less chance of losing a sensitive and expensive piece of equipment.
This doesn't make a 2-in-1 hybrid device suitable for all employees. Although there are exceptions like Microsoft's Surface Book, most of these devices don't feature a discrete dedicated graphics processor. That makes them unsuitable for graphically intensive tasks like detailed CAD or fluid engineering simulations. The engineers or architects in your team will probably still want a more powerful device dedicated to these tasks.
That still leaves a large selection of employees as suitable candidates for a hybrid device. Any employee that tends to be mobile, working outside the office for extended periods, would benefit from a device like this. Similarly, an employee with limited desk space would find them easier to manage
In 2020, that describes most employees. The pandemic has us all working from home with repeated and sporadic lockdowns keeping us there for extended periods. It's easier to provision a single small device for home-bound workers than a full-sized desktop, and a single device that can be easily stowed is especially useful for the many employees working from the kitchen table. If they need more functionality, then docking stations are available so they don't have to sacrifice expandability for portability. The pandemic is likely to accelerate demand for these devices to serve a growing need, which makes 2020 a flagship year for these devices.
Check out the popular monitors below - limited stock available