There seems to be two big ways to get some attention for your new PC at CES 2017. One is to make a bold, powerful gaming system like the triple-screen Project Valerie from Razer. The other is to bring a new two-in-one hybrid that blurs the line between laptop and tablet. These flipping, folding, transforming touchscreen laptops were everywhere at the show, from inexpensive Chromebooks to high-end business hybrids.
The most eye-catching was Dell’s XPS 13 2-in-1, a hybrid offshoot of the popular XPS 13 laptop, known for its micro-thin bezel around the screen. But perhaps a bit more interesting are Dell’s two new hybrids from its business Latitude line. The Latitude 5285 is a Surface-a-like, but with a trigger button on the bottom that pops the kickstand out when you press the edge down on a table. Meanwhile the Latitude 7285 (because Dell always goes for really memorable names that will stick with you) is the first Dell system to work with a custom wireless charging pad.
Lenovo and HP both showed up here at CES with a mix of consumer and business hybrids. The Lenovo Miix 720 is about as close as we’re going to get to a next-gen Surface Pro until Microsoft decides to release one (and yes, the clip-on keyboard comes with it). The ThinkPad X1 Yoga get a modest spec update, but remains a favorite because of its stunning OLED screen option.
Bucking the thin-at-all-costs trend, HP actually made its Spectre x360 high-end 15-inch hybrid a touch thicker than last year’s model, in order to add a 23 percent larger battery, which is a trade-off I’m happy to make. However, I’m generally a bigger fan of the EliteBook business line, and HP also introduced the EliteBook x360, which is slim and more than a little Mac-like.
But my overall favorite hybrid was also my favorite Chromebook. The Samsung Chromebook Pro is a slightly upscale Chrome OS laptop, with a 360-degree, 12.3-inch touchscreen and an all-metal body. The Pro has an Intel processor, while an otherwise identical Chromebook Plus version runs off an ARM chip.
A tiny stylus comes tucked away in the base, but the real winning feature here comes from the close collaboration with Google to make this a showcase for new Chromebook features. This is one of the first Chromebooks to support Android apps from the Google Play store, which opens up a huge new world of available software, from games to photo editing, and comes closer to closing the gap between Chrome OS and Android.
And if you’re looking for something with a bit more oomph than your average hybrid, the other big CES laptop trend was gaming laptops, from basic budget boxes to wild, oversized moonshots.