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Review: Tablet-PC Hybrids A Study In Trade-offs


LOS ANGELES (AP) â¿¿ Since Windows 8's debut in October, there have been a range of hot-looking devices that try to combine elements of tablets and traditional PCs. These hybrids seem as if they would be great both for relaxing with an e-book and for writing stories when I occasionally need to snap back into work mode.

But trying out three tablet-PC hybrids running Windows 8 has convinced me that the good old laptop still reigns for creating documents quickly and accurately. It's still superior for working at a desk, table, counter, or on your lap. And it has the best possible mix of battery life, processing power and compatibility with legacy software.

Unfortunately, where the hybrids worked well as tablets, they fared poorly as document-creators, or the other way around.

I don't think I'm alone in wanting a be-all, end-all machine that bridges the gap between tablets and PCs. The three hybrid computers that I tried didn't meet my needs. They show promise if you're willing to give up typing speed for something compact, or if you don't mind a heavy tablet that you'll have to look down at in your lap. Just be aware of these constraints before you buy.

â¿¿ Iconia W510 by Acer Inc. ($750).

The white and metallic Iconia W510 is an instant attention-grabber with its slender profile and detachable screen, which on its own weighs less than an iPad, at 1.27 pounds. In detached mode, small speakers on either side of the screen create a muted, if tinny, stereo sound effect. It's a comfy couch companion when all I want to do is check email and watch Netflix videos.

Unfortunately, the W510's guts didn't match its pleasing exterior. Repeated software updates and spotty Wi-Fi connections led me to put the machine down in frustration at times. I wasn't able to diagnose the Wi-Fi problem fully, but other devices worked fine on my high-speed home network.

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