I'm not completely sold on the 2-in-1 hybrid concept. A laptop that becomes a tablet when detached from its keyboard? Who really needs that? But if you're smitten by the idea, Toshiba's Portege Z10t is the best execution I've seen. It's not too big, it's not too heavy, and it packs some serious computational horsepower.
The eval unit Toshiba sent for review (the top-shelf Portege Z10t-A2111) is powered by a dual-core Intel Core i7-4610Y processor (with vPro support), 8GB of DDR3/1600 memory, and a 256GB SSD. It came with Windows 8.1 Pro, which adds some management features that business IT departments will appreciate.
The device weighs just over three pounds, with two-thirds of of its mass residing in its somewhat thick display. Most of the Portege's ports—one USB 3.0, a micro HDMI, and an SD card reader—are located in the display. So when you detach it from its keyboard dock, it becomes a truly full-featured tablet that doesn't need a lot of added-cost adapters.
The 11.6-inch IPS touchscreen display delivers a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels, which is adequate for an Ultrabook, but a far cry from the 2048x1536 resolution of Apple's iPad with Retina display or Lenovo's ThinkPad Yoga 2 Pro (3800x1200). Then again, the Portege's processor and storage specs crush Apple's tablet, and this model boasts an active Wacom digitizer that recognizes 1024 levels of pressure with an eraser feature. A pen holder is integrated into a corner of the tablet, so the pen won't be easily misplaced.
I also like the display's matte finish. It's Corning's Concore Glass, which doesn't reflect every object in front of it. A black border about an inch wide runs around three sides of the Portege's display. The dock side's border is slightly wider and features a mechanical button that toggles between the Windows Start screen and the desktop.
The aluminum keyboard is wafer-thin, except for a tall ridge along the back where its docking cradle is located. The cradle has a somewhat limited range of backward movement, probably because the display's weight would topple the combo over if you tilted it back too far. You can also mount the display backward in presentation mode, so that it faces away from the keyboard, but the two components won't make electrical contact this way—you'll need to run on battery power. There is no provision at all for using the display in the dock in portrait mode.
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