Representatives from stalwarts like Dell, HP and Lenovo were on hand with a selection of laptops, desktops and convertible machines to demo. Our picks were the Lenovo Yoga Book and the Dell XPS 13. Both are compact and highly portable 2-in-1 machines that can be used as either a traditional laptop or – by folding the screen back all the way – a powerful tablet computer. The Dell’s build quality was second to none, with an excellent keyboard, uncannily vivid screen and surprising lightness (barely 1.2kg). Lenovo’s offering, however, wowed us with its note-taking ability, including a captive keyboard that can be toggled to an A5 writing surface and – its party trick – a bundled pen that can write on both paper and OneNote simultaneously.
Elsewhere, Virtual Reality technology was being demoed with the HTC Vive. Attendees were encouraged to don the immersive goggles and two Wii-style nunchuck controllers and play a round of Space Pirate Trainer. The most talented Virtual Space Pirates were rewarded with Real-World Prizes and, needless to say, Bear IT swept the board.
Also on display were powerful gaming rigs from Alienware and HP Omen; multiplayer gaming on the Xbox One with the new Halo games; and escape rooms featuring the consistently impressive Microsoft Surface line of tablet and laptop computers. The main message we took away from the event was that two-in-one portable computers have truly reach maturity and the mainstream manufacturers are doubling down on their efforts to provide machines that can be used by anyone, anywhere, anytime. Windows 10 plays a big part in this and while we were impressed with what we saw, only time will tell whether the marketplace agrees.