Need a laptop that can also work like a tablet? These are the best tap-happy laptops on the market
Laptops with touchscreens are more popular than ever. Lately, it seems there are as many new models launching with touchscreens as without. And that makes sense: a high-quality screen opens up a world of intuitive, tablet-style touch control, in addition to all the traditional capabilities of a laptop.
The problem is that there are so many touchscreen laptops out there that it can be hard to choose the right one. Luckily for you, we’ve tested them by the dozen, and we’re here to point you in the right direction. Read on for our in-depth buying guide, and our roundup of the finest touchscreen laptops on the market today.
How to choose the best touchscreen laptop for you
What is a touchscreen laptop?
A touchscreen laptop is one that has a touch-enabled display, as found on smartphones and tablets. That’s easy enough to understand, but there are a few different types to choose from.
Some models use a classic folding design, and just happen to have a touch-enabled display: the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 is a good example. Then there are flexible laptops, such as Lenovo’s Yoga range, that can rotate on a hinge up to 360 degrees, so you can prop up the display in various positions or flip it over and use it as a tablet.
The most versatile option is the laptop-tablet hybrid, which has a detachable keyboard (often sold separately) that lets you switch between using your device as a regular laptop and as a standalone tablet. Popular examples of hybrid laptops include the Microsoft Surface Pro and the Google Pixel Slate.
There are a few more unusual touchscreen laptops too, such as the dual-touchscreen Lenovo Yoga Book – but radical designs like that have yet to take off.
To add to the confusion, there are numerous terms in use to refer to various types of touchscreen laptop. You may see them referred to as “2-in-1 laptops”, “hybrid laptops”, “convertible laptops” or even “tablet laptops”.
Is a touchscreen laptop better than a tablet?
A touchscreen laptop can do it all. You can switch between laptop and tablet modes depending on the task at hand and run Windows apps that won’t work on an Android or iOS tablet. The internal components will also normally be more powerful – unless you’re talking about the most expensive Apple iPad Pro.
However, a tablet will normally be lighter and cheaper, with longer battery life. If portability is your priority, consider a tablet, perhaps with an optional keyboard attachment.
What should I be looking for when buying a touchscreen laptop?
There are a few things to consider when shopping for a touchscreen laptop. Display size is one factor: if you’re after a portable device, a smaller display may be the best choice, but if you work at a desk all day then a larger screen will probably suit you better.
You’ll also want the display to have a good level of brightness that’s comfortable to use in well-lit conditions since you’ll be looking and tapping at it all day. Ideally, it will have a good contrast ratio so that the colours and tones are vivid. Depending on how you want to use your laptop, it’s also worth checking if your chosen model comes with a stylus, or if you have the option of using one that’s sold separately.
How much should I spend?
The good news is that all of our picks are available in a variety of configurations – so if you don’t need a super-powerful CPU or masses of storage, you may well be able to buy your chosen model for a lower price than shown. More to the point, however, these laptops are broadly less expensive than they used to be, as the technology has become increasingly mainstream. In their basic configuration, none of our picks exceed £1,000.
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The best touchscreen laptops you can buy
1. Microsoft Surface Pro 8: The best touchscreen laptop
Price: £846 | Buy now from Amazon
Microsoft took so long to update the design of the trusty Surface Pro, that we almost couldn’t remember how long it had been since its last overhaul.
Thankfully, the new design is here and the Surface Pro 8 is all the better for it. It’s similar in form to the Surface Pro X, which means its slimmer, lighter and more attractive than the outgoing Surface Pro 7, plus it has a larger 13in display with a higher refresh rate of 120Hz and an increased resolution of 2,880 x 1,920.
Instead of an ARM-based CPU like the Pro X, the Pro 8 has 11th Gen Intel silicon inside, which means you can run all the software you need without having to worry about compatibility.
Don’t forget that you’ll need to budget at least an extra £160 for the keyboard, as this isn’t included in the price (an another £120 if you want the Surface Pen as well) but this turns it into a stupendously usable touchscreen machine.
It’s light, versatile and works just as well as a tablet as it does a detachable 2-in-1 laptop. It’s the king of Windows touchscreen machines.
Read our full Microsoft Surface Pro 8 review for more details
Key specs – Processor: Intel Core i5-1135G7 or Core i7-1185G7; RAM: 8GB, 16GB or 32GB; Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB SSD; Screen resolution: 2,880 x 1,920; Weight: 881g
2. Asus VivoBook Slate 13 OLED (T3300): The best budget touchscreen laptop
Price: £500 | Buy now from Currys
The VivoBook Slate 13 OLED is a remarkable device. In many ways it’s just like the Microsft Surface Pro 8 but it costs half the price, comes with keyboard and the stylus bundled in. Moreover, it has a stunning OLED display that looks absolutely amazing. This is one great machine to watch Netflix on.
The catch is that performance can’t match the more powerful Microsoft device. Instead of being powered by an Intel Core or AMD Ryzen CPU, the Slate 13 OLED is powered by an Intel Pentium Silver N6000 backed by a mere 4GB of RAM and only 128GB of slow eMMC storage.
Still, it’s largely a match for the pricier, smaller Microsoft Surface Go 3 and if you intend on sticking to running basic apps, web-browsing and watching movies and TV on it, it will serve you just fine.
Key specs – Processor: Quad-core Intel Pentium Silver N6000; RAM: 4GB; Storage: 128GB eMMC; Screen resolution: 1,920 x 1,820; Weight: 785g (1.39kg with keyboard cover and kickstand)
3. Microsoft Surface Laptop Go: The best touchscreen laptop for students
Price: From £549 | Buy now from Microsoft
Although touchscreens are, in general, better suited to 2-in-1 covertible and detachable laptops, they do add a little extra usability to a regular laptop, too, and the Surface Laptop Go is a great example.
Not only is it a beautifully made thing but it comes in at a price that’s scarcely believable given the superb build quality. This truly is just like a scaled down Surface Laptop with a gorgeous aluniminium chassis and a sumptuous 12.4in 1,536 x 1,024 resolution 3:2 aspect ratio touchscreen. The fact that it weighs a mere 1.1kg means it’s a great laptop for taking with you on your travels as well.
The catch, as usual with cheaper machines, is that the internal componentry is a little down on raw power compared with Microsoft’s latest Surface Laptop 4. Even here, though, the Surface Go cuts corners in the right places, with a small 64GB of eMMC storage in the cheapest model, but a 10th Gen Intel Core i5 chip powering things along at a fairly decent lick.
For touchscreen laptop afficionados on a budget, this makes it a better bet than the Surface Go 3 and even the Asus VivoBook Slate 13 OLED, although the latter does come with a more vibrant OLED screen.
Key specs – Processor: Intel Core i5-1035G1; RAM: 4GB or 8GB; Storage: 64GB eMMC or 128GB/256GB SSD SSD; Screen resolution: 1,536 x 1,024; Weight: 1.1kg
4. Acer Chromebook Spin 713: The best-value 2-in-1 Chromebook
Price: £649 | Buy now from Argos
The Acer Spin 713 is a touchscreen 2-in-1 Chromebook that fully justifies its reasonable asking price. Its metal chassis is sturdy, well put together and looks fantastic, while the 13in display works superbly well across clamshell, tablet and tent modes. We love its 3:2 aspect ratio, too, as it makes it much more comfortable to view windows side-by-side and work across multiple web apps simultaneously.
The touchpad is flawless, picking up movements and gestures effortlessly, and although the keyboard isn’t absolutely the best it’s still comofortable to type on. Image quality on the 2,256 x 1,504 resolution touchscreen is superb, with the only downside being how reflective it is – with bright lights behind you, you may struggle to see what’s on the screen.
Performance-wise, the Intel Core i3 CPU backed by 8GB of RAM in the model we tested held up well, with the laptop only slowing down when running several demanding applications or handling multiple Chrome tabs. If you do require a bit more muscle, however, the Core i5 model, which also comes with double the storage at 256GB, has recently had a price drop, making it better value even than the Core i3 machine.
Read our full Acer Chromebook Spin 713 review for more details
Key specs – Processor: Intel Core i5-1135G7; RAM: 8GB; Storage: 256GB eMMC; Screen resolution: 2,256 x 1,504; Weight: 1.45kg