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Buyer's guide: Pros & cons of laptop-cum-tablet devices

Buyer's guide: Pros & cons of laptop-cum-tablet devicesI am considering an Intel i3 laptop within a budget of Rs 35,000, but I'm also curious about the new hybrid devices - tablets that come with a detachable keyboard. Could you inform me about the pros and cons of such a gadget over a plain notebook computer?

Sushant Rajput, Sanjay Prabhu, Rahul Singh, Vinith Nair

You can use hybrid machines just like a laptop, complete with its full Qwerty keyboard, but it also works well as a standalone Windows tablet. Besides, you can pack the keyboard and screen separately, making it extremely portable for travel.

Most laptops that retail for under Rs 35,000 are equipped with a 500GB hard drive. In hybrids, you get a 3264GB solid state drive. These SSDs allow for faster boot times at startup.

On the flip side, hybrid laptops run on an Intel Atom-based processor, which are not as powerful as the Intel i3 chips you find on laptops. Also, you get just 2GB RAM on hybrids, while laptops are usually packed with 4GB. That said, hybrids are more than adequately equipped to handle office productivity, basic image editing, web browsing, music playback and casual games like Plants vs Zombies.

Given that hybrids are designed for portability, they come with a smaller 10-inch display. On the positive side, these screens - unlike those of a budget laptop - are 'touch enabled' and work well with Windows 8. But their smaller size, along with mono speakers, doesn't make them the best gadget for a person who enjoys hi-def multimedia entertainment. For movies and videos, a laptop with stereo speakers and a 14 to 15-inch display would be a better choice.

Hybrids come with the Windows OS preinstalled despite being priced at under Rs 30k, while most Intel i3 laptops in and around the same budget come with just DOS or Linux.

And lastly, a hybrid is equipped with built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and one full-sized USB port by way of its keyboard dock. A laptop, on the other hand, also comes with an Ethernet port for a wired network connection; a greater number of USB ports, as well as a DVD disc drive.

If storage is of great priority, you could consider the Asus Transformer Book T100 (Rs 29,900) for its keyboard dock, which houses a 500GB hard disk in addition to the 32GB in the tablet.

Alternatively, there is the Acer Aspire Switch 10 (Rs 34,500), which only includes a 64GB solid state storage in the display.

For on-the-go connectivity, opt for the iBall Slide WQ149 (Rs 21,999) that is equipped with a micro SIM slot for 3G data access. You also get 32GB onboard storage, 1TB of cloud storage, and a one-year subscription to Office 365 (Microsoft's office productivity suite).

All three hybrids are powered by a quad-core Intel Atom processor, come with 2GB RAM, a 10.1-inch HD LED touchscreen, run Windows 8.1, and include a micro or mini HDMI port for linking to a larger display.

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