I am not entirely convinced by hybrid computers, especially in a work environment. I just do not see them being that much more useful than a clamshell laptop.
But PC vendors continue to introduce such devices.
Toshiba's latest attempt, the Portege Z20t, is dubbed a detachable ultraportable. What it means is that you can detach the screen (tablet half) from its keyboard dock, flip it around and slot it back into the dock.
This presentation mode is offered by almost every hybrid device in some form or other.
The Portege can be used as a stand-alone tablet. The computing bits are all in the tablet half, though the ports are all micro-sized versions that require adaptors.
Meanwhile, the keyboard dock has a secondary battery (with the same 36Wh capacity as the one on the tablet) and full-sized ports and connectors. When running on battery power, the tablet will run down the dock's battery first.
The dock also has a cable-lock port that secures both the tablet and the keyboard. So one cannot just walk up to the Portege, detach the tablet and get away scot-free.
The tablet weighs 730g, which is lighter than the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 (800g). Both slates have 12-inch screens. Add the dock and the weight of the Portege roughly doubles to 1.51kg, which is typical for a high-end ultraportable.
Business users will find the touchscreen much to their liking. Firstly, it is matte, and so less reflective than a glossy one. This is important for those who work in well-lit offices.
Viewing angles are good because the screen uses in-plane switching technology, and there is no air gap between the screen and outer glass. The 1,920 x 1,080-pixel native resolution ensures that text and icons look crisp. In addition, the Portege supports stylus input.
It has a Wacom digitiser with up to 2,048 levels (compared with 256 levels on the Surface Pro 3) of pressure sensitivity. Because of this, writing on the tablet feels close to scribbling on paper.
The Portege also includes two pens, the thinner of which can be stowed inside the tablet.
The backlit keyboard has very decent key travel, though like other Toshiba laptops, its keys seem shorter than usual. The touchpad feels cramped, probably because Toshiba squeezed in two mouse buttons above it.
These buttons work with the pointing stick - an essential feature on business machines - in the middle of the keyboard.
Inside this hybrid is a new Intel Core M chip that should be capable enough for most business users. The low-power chip and the extra battery is likely the reason that this device lasted an incredible 13hr 15min in our battery-life test. By itself, the tablet should have more than six hours of up-time.
- Expensive, but well worth the price if you need a high-end hybrid, especially with the outstanding battery life.
Processor: Intel Core M-5Y71 vPro (1.2GHz)
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5300
Screen size: 12.5 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
Connectivity: Keyboard dock: 2 x USB 3.0, HDMI, VGA, Ethernet port
Tablet: Micro-USB 2.0, micro-HDMI, headphone and microphone combo jack
Battery: 36 watt-hour (keyboard) 36 watt-hour (tablet)
Value for money: 3/5
Battery life: 5/5
This article was first published on Feb 11, 2015.
Get a copy of Digital Life, The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.