We live in a world where smartphones are ubiquitous, tablets are commonplace, and even smartwatches are no longer novel. But through all these advances, the humble laptop has endured, and for good reason. When it's time to actually do something – whether it's editing photos, writing a lot of email, composing documents, or staying in touch with colleagues and family – your laptop is often the ideal device for the job.
It is not & # 39; Not to say that there has been no progress in the world of laptops or laptops. We no longer have to deal with inch-plus-thick clunks that weigh up to seven kilos and last less than two hours away from an outlet. The modern laptop is lightweight, elegant, efficient, lightweight portable and powerful enough to get most computer tasks done.
Calling "the best laptop" is a little different than naming the best phone or tablet. The needs of laptops can vary widely. Some people need to do intensive video editing and should pony up for a professional machine. Others just need a reliable keyboard and a few windows, so something less powerful will do. Some may want a super lightweight laptop that can sometimes double as a tablet. Some want a portable gaming machine that can run all the latest titles. Here we talk about the best product around: a traditional laptop that will work well to do the most for most people, and even strive to handle more intensive tasks sometimes.
There are many good options in the Windows PC world, complete with the latest processors and designs, but Apple's MacBook range has been plagued with problems with keyboard reliability, making them hard to enthusiastically recommend. Still, if you want to buy a macOS laptop for known or compatible reasons, we have a choice for you.
This guide does not include gaming laptops; If there is something you are looking for, we have our own guide for it. This article will be constantly updated as new laptops are released and reviewed, so be sure to check back if you are not in the market right now.
Dell's XPS 13 is the best general notebook available right now. It has a very compact and portable design, a reliable keyboard, a great trackpad, excellent performance and a wide range of configurations at different price points. It can handle almost any type of productivity work you may need to do, whether it's notes in class all day or stumbling through email in an office. It can also handle photo editing and even easy video editing from time to time.
Dell has used the same design on the XPS 13 for many years, so it looks pretty familiar. But the latest model finally addressed the biggest problem with the XPS 13's design: webcam placement. Dell used to put the webcam under the screen, which would provide terribly unflattering angles for video calls. For the 2019 update, Dell finally moved the camera up to the top frame above the screen, and it works just as well as any other laptop. It's a surprisingly good-quality camera, and while it doesn't support Windows 10's face recognition sign-in system, Dell provides a fast and easy-to-use fingerprint scanner built into the XPS 13's power button.
The XPS 13 starts well below $ 1,000, but our recommended configuration will probably cost a little more than that. It includes a four-core Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage and a 1080p without a touch screen. To get a touch screen, you have to pony up hundreds more for the high-end 4K screen, which is one of the drawbacks of XPS 13. Many people will do well without paying for the touch screen, but in our test we thought it was very convenient to have. The other thing that is not worth paying for is the higher end Core i7 processor: the XPS 13 is a thin and lightweight computer, which means it will not be able to easily cool more powerful processors and negate their benefits. (This advice basically applies to all laptops in this segment.)
One benefit of having a touch-free display is longer battery life. In our tests of the 4K panel, we saw over eight hours of use between the charges. If you use the 1080p display, you can expect even longer battery life.
Overall, the XPS 13 is just a good balance between all the things that make a great laptop, with very few compromises to get there. Dell will probably be relaunching its XPS line in the near future, but until that happens, you really can't go wrong with the mature and skilled XPS 13.
If you're looking for a laptop Mac and can't or won't consider a Windows PC, the best option available now is the latest version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro. This model has two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports (which sets it apart from the more expensive four-port models) and a four-core Core i5 processor. Our recommended configuration has 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage and is priced at just under $ 1,500.
The MacBook Pro is more expensive than Apple's laptop, the MacBook Air. But it justifies that cost with much better performance and quieter operation, without adding too much weight or bulk to the design. It is capable of handling many browser tabs, virtual desktops and frequent multitasking, and can hold its own with photo and light video editing. As with the XPS 13, it is not worth spending more to upgrade to the higher end processor; As long as you get a four-core Core i5 chip, you'll be fine.
Pro also contains the touchpad, a touch screen strip directly above the keyboard that replaces the traditional row of function keys. Touchscreen views are decidedly mixed, and many owners find it no more useful than the old function keys to adjust the screen brightness and volume. There are some nice things you can do about it through third-party apps, and we don't think that existence is enough to make MacBook Pro think.
However, the Pro keyboard is another story. The Pro still has the extremely low profile butterfly switch keyboard that you can find on the previous model and every other MacBook you can buy right now, but it has been revised with the "new material" and dust shield that Apple introduced in later iterations. This has the effect of making the keyboard a little quieter to type on, but these changes are primarily to improve the reliability of the keyboard, so it is less likely to succumb to fixed or double keys because a small piece of dust was placed in the switch.
In response to years of reported keyboard problems, Apple now offers a four-year warranty and free repair service for all customers experiencing the following problems with their MacBook's keyboard:
- Letters or characters repeat unexpectedly
- Letters or characters do not appear
- Keys feel "sticky" or do not respond consistently
We applaud Apple for recognizing the problem and providing support to customers affected by it. But without a clear answer on whether it has considered the basic design that causes these problems, it is quite possible that the problems will recur over time. That means you probably have to go through the process of fixing your laptop when the keyboard fails at some point, which is a hassle, even if it's free.
If you don't like Dell's XPS 13 or new MacBook Pro, there are many other laptops to choose from. Some may be better options if you are a gamer or an artist who wants something to draw on, while others are even more lightweight and portable than the top choices.
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