Here's why 2-in-1 PCs are destroying the iPad and Android tablets

Don't be fooled by fans of iPads and Android tablets -- it's much easier to get real work done on a Windows-powered 2-in-1 PC than it is on Android or iOS-powered hardware.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

Over the years I've used countless different form-factors of computing devices, and I still believe that there are no better devices for getting work done on than the desktop and laptop. But if it's a tablet you want, 2-in-1 systems powered by Windows 10 leave iPads and Android slates eating their dust.

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I've been through my phase of working on the iPad and a selection of Android tablets, and yes, contrary to what some people claim, you can get work done on them. I know because I've done a lot of work on them. But the dirty secret that fans of the iPad and Android tablets won't tell you is that you have to work a lot harder because you're fighting a number of limitations.

Here's the problem. What I've typed so far for this article, I could have easily done on any tablet. It's mostly been a stream of consciousness, and all that requires is a keyboard, a word processing app, and a display. It's easier if I have a high-quality keyboard, but at a pinch I could use an on-screen keyboard.

The problems start when I want to do research, or fact-check something, or pull a link or a quote from somewhere, such as this link to data showing how iPad sales have declined. That's when things start getting messy on an iPad or some Android-powered beast. Switching apps is a pain. Switching tabs in a browser is a pain. Entering data into a spreadsheet requires painstaking concentration, and the scope for messing things up is high. And if I have to access information from a video or audio clip, then the whole thing falls apart rapidly because some apps -- YouTube, I'm looking at you -- are rubbish at keeping their place in media files.

Split-screen support on newer tablets makes this better, as long as you can restrict yourself to two apps. Beyond that, it's just a Band-Aid over a really nasty, festering wound.

Multitasking is where 2-in-1 Windows systems really shine, and it's got less to do with the hardware and more to do with the fact that Windows is the operating system that's powering them. Despite almost a decade of continual improvement, iOS and Android still can't come close to Windows in terms of raw usability (I suppose the same could be said of Linux or MacOS, but we don't have 2-in-1 systems powered by these operating systems). Not only do you get the ability to run full applications, but you can run several of them side-by-side, and switch between them effortlessly.

Huawei MateBook 2-in-1

iOS and Android just weren't designed to do this, and the more Apple and Google try to shoehorn these features into their platforms, the more their platforms move away from their core values of simplicity, and the more the platforms start to feel like a mishmash of paradigms. If you don't believe me, consider how simple the iOS settings app was back when the platform was called PhoneOS, and now look at what a labyrinthian quest finding anything has become. There's only so far that you can bolt new features onto a simple menu system before it becomes clumsy and awkward to use.

And the bottom line is that I no longer have any faith in Apple to be able to scale simple paradigms to account for increased complexity. The iOS Settings App or System Preferences in MacOS is no easier, no better, and no more logical than Control Panel in Windows.

On top of that, the newer 2-in-1 systems switch so well from tablet mode to keyboard mode that it actually feels like you're running two different systems, and get the flexibility of having a tablet without compromising the versatility of a small notebook system.

I understand why buyers, both consumer and enterprise, flocked to the iPad and Android tablets a few years back. It's because there really wasn't anything to compare with them that ran Windows. But now that we have Windows 10 powered 2-in-1 PCs that come in at a cheaper price point than the iPad, it makes sense why they're selling so well. It's because people are going back to what they know works.

When it comes to portability, Windows 10 on 2-in-1 PCs is a near perfect match.

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