# Help choosing a convertible ultrabook / slate

by Ben Niehoff
Tags: choosing, convertible, slate, ultrabook
 Sci Advisor P: 1,587 I have avoided using the word "tablet" in the title, because this word now refers to a few distinct kinds of devices, and I don't want a bunch of iPad fanboys descending on this thread to give me useless advice. So: I have a Fujitsu T5010 and it's starting to feel heavy. If you don't know what this is, it is a laptop whose screen flips around to lie flat like a tablet. However, it is NOT a capacitive touch screen. The screen itself is actually a Wacom tablet with active digitizer pen (analogous to the Wacom Cintiq series). I use this machine to do all my handwritten research work and note-taking; and since it is also a true laptop, I use it to run Mathematica and write papers as well. But it weighs almost 5 lbs and I'd like something lighter. Two options I'm considering are: Lenovo Thinkpad Helix Pros: 1. Detachable screen for super-light note-taking. (Screen alone is 1.8 lbs.) 2. 11'' form factor for less bulkiness; can fit it in a smaller bag. Cons: 1. Heavier in notebook mode (3.8 lbs.) Although, extra weight is due to second battery in keyboard. 2. Uses 3rd-generation Intel processor; shorter battery life (6 hours in tablet mode, 10 hours with second battery in keyboard). 3. Mini DisplayPort output requires VGA adapter to connect to my TV or monitor. 4. No SD card slot And this: Sony VAIO Duo 13 Pros: 1. Lighter total weight (2.93 lbs.) 2. Uses 4th generation "Haswell" processor for longer battery life (10 hours!) 3. SD card slot 4. HDMI port can easily connect to TV 5. Backlit keyboard Cons: 1. 13'' form factor is the same size as my Lifebook (although half as thick). 2. Screen does not detach as a separate "slate". 3. HDMI port needs adapter to talk to my monitor. Between these two, I think the Helix is more suited to my needs. I realize the pros and cons listed seem to favor the Vaio, but not all of these have equal weight. The fact that the Helix screen is detachable is a huge plus, especially if I am sitting through talks where the seats have no writing surface on which to place a laptop. I could hold a 1.8 lb device in my hands and take notes (although that depends on how hot the thing gets...). If there's something I didn't list in the Pros and Cons (such as how many megapixels the webcam has), it's something I really don't care about. This is a tool for a specific task. I realize there is also a Vaio Duo 11, in the 11-inch size. However, it uses the 3rd-generation processors and has a shorter battery life (4.5 hours). So it's not really in the running. In general, between the 11-inch and 13-inch form factors, I'm a little torn between the added portability of 11'' versus the increase screen space of 13'' for writing. And despite being bigger, the Vaio is lighter by a pound over the Helix+keyboard, although the Helix tablet alone is 50% lighter than the Vaio. So here are my options: 1. Helix 2. Vaio 3. Wait for a new Helix to come out using the Haswell generation of processors. 4. Something else? This isn't something I intend to buy right away, so the landscape may change. If Lenovo releases a Helix with Haswell processors, then that would win hands-down. But the Helix only came out recently, so I don't think they will release an update in the timeframe I'm looking at (I'm thinking to get something by the end of the year). I'm especially interested if anyone has similar machines to suggest. Please suggest something with an i5 or i7 processor with an active digitizer pen. No Android or iOS devices, that's not what I'm looking for.
 Admin P: 9,168 Hybrids are tough. Companies aren't putting many good options out there. It seems MS is pushing their Surface tablet as a hybrid by advertising the keyboard. Lenovo has the Tablet 2 that has a keyboard too. Both are rated well.
 Sci Advisor P: 1,587 A friend has the Thinkpad Tablet 2 and let me play with it for a few minutes. The device itself is alright, but I noticed he had brought a laptop with him as well. I get the same impression: that the Tablet 2 can't actually replace a laptop, so it doesn't really solve the weight issue. Also, the keyboard available for the Tablet 2 works by Bluetooth, which means it saps power rather than providing it (I think it makes sense for a separate keyboard to have a second battery in it). The Microsoft Surface Pro is tempting, but looking at pictures where it's attached to the keyboard, it doesn't look like it's possible to sit the thing in your lap. The Surface itself has to lean back onto a "stand" in order to stand up. The Helix is really starting to look more attractive...
 Sci Advisor P: 1,587 Help choosing a convertible ultrabook / slate Well, I think I've decided to eliminate the Sony Vaio due to a weird design issue. When the screen is sitting up in "laptop mode", the bottom edge slides forward to cover the top third of the base. This leaves very little room for the keyboard and trackpad; the trackpad is squeezed into a tiny, unusable shape. Still trying to figure out whether I want the Helix. It's especially frustrating to read reviews about it, because reviewers don't seem to understand what it's for. Part of the reason is that the word "tablet" has been co-opted by the Android and iPad crowd to mean "cheap, touch-sensitive entertainment device". Reviewers see the Helix as some sort of compromise device and balk at the $1600 price tag. And yes, if all I wanted was a machine to read PDFs, watch movies, and play Angry Birds, that would be absurd. But reviewers don't understand the purpose of the pen, and definitely don't understand the difference between "active digitizer" and "capacitive touch-sensitivity" (and the extra$800 that goes along with that distinction). Nearly every review I've read treats the pen as a more accurate way to click things on the screen, since the 1920x1080 resolution makes some of the menus tiny. No one seems to consider that you can actually write with an active digitizer, at a natural size and speed (and of course you can also make professional-quality digital art). Of course, I don't think most people need to write on their computer, so they see it as some kind of novelty. The Thinkpad Tablet 2 is still somewhat attractive as a note-taking device, but its Atom processor is underpowered doing things like Mathematica. However, for the price of the Helix, I could get a Thinkpad Tablet 2 and a Macbook Air, so that might actually make more sense (although I loathe the idea of being mistaken for a Mac fanboy).
 Sci Advisor P: 1,587 I have seen unsubstantiated rumors that the Helix might be updated with Haswell in October or November. So I'll wait and see. That's around when I wanted to buy anyway. Several things on the Lenovo site are on sale right now, so that could indicate that new things are conning soon.