WHO SAID laptops are a dying breed? Well, once upon a time, about five years ago – when people were buying tablets like the British buy sun cream in a heat wave – industry experts said laptops would soon perish thanks to the likes of the iPad, which piqued the interests of just about anyone who knew what a smartphone was (everyone, then).
“Who wants a cumbersome keyboard when you can simply prod the display instead?” the critics cried. Well, most people, it now seems. It’s 2017, and tech companies are still making laptops. Why? ‘Cos we’re still bloody buying ‘em.
Laptops aren’t going anywhere soon, and despite the more affordable and compact appeal of tablets, the idea of throwing away a sturdy physical keyboard, waving goodbye to a reliable clamshell design and compromising on a nice big display just isn’t in the interests of mainstream users.
Instead, we’ve seen tablets decline in sales of late and evolve with designs reminiscent of traditional laptop machines in order to survive. Just look at any high-end tablet on the market these days: fold-up physical keyboards a-plenty.
So, if you’re in desperate need to know which laptop is the best for you, here’s our list of the best devices out there, in no particular order. Instead, we’ve listed them by the type of user you are. Go forth and inform yourself.
For the true traditionalists: Dell XPS 13 (2016)
Available from £989 at Amazon
There’s a market full of funky laptops right now. From your 360-degree hinged ones, to your foldable keyboard ones, and even “I turn into a tablet” ones, too. But if it’s a no-fuss, good old clamshell laptop design you’re after, then the Dell XPS 13 is the machine for you.
It’s not only one of the most solidly built laptops we’ve ever tried, but it”s got a beautifully tiny bezel that makes you want to just hug it. That’s right, Dell managed to squeeze a 13.3in screen into the XPS 13’s 11in frame.
And it’s by no means all about the looks. On the inside there’s an Intel Core processor up to i7 alongside HD Graphics 620 and a 512GB SSD.
Dell’s lovely laptop is easily one of the best traditional laptops you can buy right now; the only thing you won’t love about the XPS 13 is the need to remortgage your house after forking out for it.
For those who want their laptop to be a tablet: Microsoft Surface Pro 4
From £749 at Microsoft
Okay, so it’s not strictly a “laptop” per se, but the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is still a decent laptop replacement in our eyes. It no spring chicken, though, and in fact, we’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of an updated device in the line for a while now, but that doesn’t go to say it’s not still a worthy contender.
For most tasks, including basic design work, the Surface Pro 4 will do the job well while providing a level of security, connectivity and visual fidelity that most convertibles, including those made for the enterprise, just can’t match.
With a starting price of £749 for the basic model, it’s about the same price as your above-average laptop, and with the added convenience of a fold-up keyboard, that makes it a much better travel companion. By far still one of the best 2-in-1 laptop/tablets you can get.
For gamers: Razer Blade Stealth
Available from £999 at Razer
With an Intel Kaby Lake Core i7 processor, the latest Blade Stealth is by far powerful and power-efficient enough to not only run all the Word documents you’ve ever opened in your entire life simultaneously, but it’ll also handle some pretty graphically intense games, too. All on a stunning 4K 12.5in IGZO LED-backlit multi-touch display.
On the inside there’s an Intel Core i7 processor with HD Graphics 620, up to 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. So much power for such a slim machine.
And if you’re REALLY in the mood, the Blade Stealth lets you change the lighting of each key on its keyboard, with more than 16.8 million colours to choose from. Just think of how many hours of your life you could waste doing that. You’d definitely be getting your money’s worth, that’s for sure.