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Best travel laptops 2018-2019-2020 Reviews

Best travel laptops 2018-2019-2020 Reviews 25%off  best laptop 2018 under 500

Best travel laptops 2018-2019-2020 Reviews -welcome everyone to our latest guide of 10 best travel laptops 2018-2019. Just a few years ago, it wasn’t easy to carry around a PC, and even if you could, its battery life couldn’t last for more than 2 hours. However, times have changed, and now one can easily carry around their lightweight notebook that comes with a long battery life. Well, if you’re looking for a new best budget laptops 2018 then you’re at the right place. I know the title seems to be little confusing so let me elaborate a little bit here. What makes a laptop the travel laptop is its lightweight body, ultra-portable design, and super-long battery life. In case you have to move frequently due to your work or leisure, I believe the budget shouldn’t be an issue because most of the best travel laptops aren’t really budget friendly.

Best laptops-For many travellers, the need to travel with a laptop has dramatically decreased. As smartphones have become more powerful, most of the tasks that required a kilogram or two of laptop a few years ago can now be done with that little device in your pocket. For watching movies or anything else requiring a larger screen, tablet computers like the iPad Air are generally cheaper and lighter. Portability, battery life, storage space and of course price are some of the key considerations when buying a travel laptop.

Having a suitable laptop for all your needs while traveling can make your trip a lot more enjoyable and stress-free. Carrying a lightweight machine will not only reduce the weight of your laptop while traveling but also the overall weight you’re carrying with yourself. Thanks to advanced technology, there are laptops on the market that weigh as less as 1.5 pounds and that too with a super-slim design. Also note, these machines are not only portable and lightweight but also powerful enough to handle just about anything including tasks like writing, gaming, watching movies, photo editing, etc.

What to look for in a Best Travel Laptop?

Weight is a crucial factor, and you should always look for a machine that weighs less than 4 pounds and if you’re serious about it then look for something that’s less than 3 lbs. Another thing is the battery backup which is critical while traveling because chances of finding a plug while traveling are very less. Size is yet another important thing to be considered while buying a travel-friendly laptop and we highly recommend a 13-inch laptop or even smaller. These types of mini laptops are easy to carry in any backpack or suitcase that you’re taking with yourself. You should also look for decent performance since you will be wasting a lot of time if it’s slow for your needs. You should also decide on OS, as you will see machines here that run on both, Windows as well as Mac OS.

 Best Travel Laptops in 2018-2019

1. Apple MacBook MLHE2LL/A Best Travel

Apple MacBook

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If you’re looking for a new travel laptop, then you surely need something that is ultra-portable. The new Apple MacBook isn’t something that you can compare with any other Apple laptop. The 12-inch device is here to end the confusion of people between MacBook Pro and Air. It’s a combination of both, and of course, it comes with a Retina display. It’s little over-priced for many, but that’s the price you have to pay if you want the latest product from Apple. While most of the consumers were confused between 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook, this new MacBook comes with a 12-inch display. It was launched in 4 different colors that include Gold, Silver, Rose Gold and Space Gray. Its specifications are Intel Core M3 processor, 8 GB LPDDR3 RAM, 256 GB Flash storage and Intel HD 515 graphics. If we talk about its audio quality, it’s even louder than the classic Apple MacBook Pro which makes it one of the best laptops for traveling. Despite its high price, we highly recommend it to bloggers, writers and business users that need a laptop while traveling.

  • Intel Core M3 Processor
  • 8 GB RAM
  • 256 GB SSD
  • Intel HD 515 Graphics

2. Dell XPS 9360-3591SLV Best Travel Laptop

Dell XPS9360

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While most of the best travel laptops cost somewhere around $1000, the Dell XPS 9360 will cost you over $1300. It’s one of the best lightweight laptops of 2017 weighing only 2.7 pounds and it also as thin as the laptop can get, yes 0.6 inch. Now don’t think that this notebook is all about its looks and design, but it also packs some of the most powerful specifications available. Its 13-inch QHD touchscreen display features a resolution of 3200 by 1800 pixels which is a lot better than the Retina display. Its power components include 7th generation Intel Core i5-7200U processor, 256 GB SSD, 8 GB LPDDR3 RAM and Intel HD 620 graphics. It’s an expensive option for many, but it’s a complete package of power, portability, lightweight and an excellent display. It also includes a backlit keyboard that gives you a luxurious and comfortable typing experience. Other than travelers, we also recommend this PC to writers and businessmen.

  • 7th generation Intel Core i5-7200u Processor
  • 8GB RAM
  • 256GB SSD storage

3. HP Spectre 13-v021nr Best Travel Laptop

HP Spectre 13-v021nr

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HP Spectre laptops are known for their premium, and top-notch design and the HP Spectre 13-v021nr is not an exception. It isn’t a budget laptop either in case you’re wondering, and it comes with high-end hardware as well such as 6th generation Intel Core i7-6500U processor, 256 GB NVMe SSD, 8 GB LPDDR3 SDRAM and Intel HD 520 graphics. In most of our reviews, we usually neglect a thing or two, but we couldn’t find a single drawback on this model, and that’s the reason we highly suggest it to users who have to travel frequently. Its 13-inch full HD IPS display along with BrightView technology as well as Gorilla Glass is amazing while watching videos and playing games. On top of that, it comes with quad speakers by none other than Bang and Olufsen. For travelers, that need a full package of latest technology and power, this is exactly what you need. Overall, with its 7 hours of battery backup, it can last for almost half of the day on low brightness making it one of the best travel laptops.

  • 6th Generation Intel Core i7-6500U
  • 8 GB LPDDR3 SDRAM
  • 256 GB PCIe NVMe SSD

4. Apple MacBook Air 13 Best Travel Laptop

Apple MacBook Air

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The Apple MacBook Air 13 is one of the first lightweight and ultra-portable laptops. It can be considered as the best choice for a travel-friendly laptop, and after the release of Apple’s new MacBook it has gotten pretty cheaper and can be affordable for people with an average budget. It’s as good as it gets and features a super-thin aluminum body as well as top-notch performance. It’s currently priced at around $900 and features an extended battery life of 12 hours. Its specifications are Intel Dual Core i5 processor, 4 GB of DDR3 RAM, 128 GB Flash Drive and Intel HD 5000 graphics. There’s also a newer model available of MacBook Air, but when it comes to design, it’s the same, and that’s why we prefer the older model, and it’ll save you some serious bucks. It’s powerful enough to run most of the latest programs, but if you want latest components and even faster performance, then you can purchase the latest model. As far as the weight is considered, it weighs less than 3 pounds, and even kids can hold it single-handedly. All in all, it’s a powerful machine that comes with super quality hardware and longest battery life.

  • Dual-Core Intel Core i5
  • 4 GB of 1600 MHz LPDDR3 RAM
  • 128 GB PCIe-based flash storage

5. Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Best Travel Laptop

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

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If you’re looking for a something that weighs less than 2 pounds, then the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is what you need. It’s sturdy, well-designed and convertible PC manufactured by Microsoft itself. It has managed to attract customers worldwide, and its basic model will cost you around $700. Due to its thin design and extraordinary features, we usually recommend it to artists. It includes all the required hardware within the tablet and its keyboard which is also known as “Type Cover” can be attached when you need to use it with the keyboard. It comes with Intel Core M processor, 128 GB SSD, and 4 GB RAM. The 12-inch display features PixelSense technology and resolution of 2736 by 1824 pixels. Its battery life is too good for a laptop of such size, and according to Microsoft, it should last up to 9 hours while watching movies. Also note, you’ll have to buy its Type Cover separately, and it comes with Windows 10 Professional. Overall, it’s a super portable PC that’s designed to perform and is surely among the best travel laptops of 2017.

  • Intel Core M processor
  • 4 GB RAM
  • 128 GB SSD

6. HP ENVY 13-ab016nr

HP ENVY 13-ab016nr

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Not everyone prefers an HP laptop for their traveling needs, but the HP Envy 13 is yet another one of our best options. While there are many expensive and high-budget notebooks for travelers, this one surely isn’t one of those. It’s among the best laptops under $700 and comes with the configuration of Intel Core i5-7200U processor, 8 GB LPDDR3 SDRAM, Intel HD 620 graphics and 256 GB SSD. Its 13-inch full HD display has a resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels. It’s designed using the minimum plastic, and aluminum alloy material covers most of the machine. Its design is very similar to Apple’s MacBook, and it even feels remarkably similar. It boasts a backlit keyboard which gives you a comfortable typing experience even in dark rooms. Its battery life of 14 hours is something to discuss, and it comes with all the latest ports including USB 3.0. Overall, I am sure travelers will be impressed by its design and performance, making it the best value for money.

  • Intel Core i5-7200U Processor
  • 8 GB LPDDR3 SDRAM
  • Intel HD Graphics 620
  • 256 GB PCIe NVMe M.2 Solid State Drive

7. ASUS ZenBook UX330UA-AH54

ASUS ZenBook UX330UA

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The ASUS ZenBook UX330UA is one of the very few premium laptops ever manufactured by ASUS and with its portable design and 10 hours of battery backup it’s certainly a great choice for travelers. It’s also a budget travel laptop that can be used for all kinds of tasks and it’s a perfect package for work and entertainment PC. The only issue few people had about this machine was its freezing issues, and I believe that’s totally from Windows side and has nothing to do with the laptop. It features a fingerprint sensor, Harman Kardon speakers, ASUS Golden Ear and Corning Gorilla Glass 4. Its configuration includes Intel Core i5-7200U processor, 8 GB DDR4 RAM and 256 GB SSD. It boasts 13-inch full HD display with 1920 by 1080 pixels and ASUS surely could have used LED display instead of LCD. It weighs about 2.6 pounds and is surely one of the lightest laptops around. One can use it for their work, studies and entertainment purposes and easily carry around with them anywhere.

  • Intel Core i5-7200U 2.5GHz
  • 8GB DDR3
  • 256GB SSD

8. Acer Aspire S 13

Acer Aspire S 13

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Weighing only 3 pounds and measuring at less than 0.6 inches, the Acer Aspire S 13 is surely an excellent choice for travelers on a budget. It has Intel Core i5-6200U processor and 8 GB LPDDR3 RAM. Its price is a lot lesser than most of the high-end travel notebooks listed above, and it offers almost same specifications. 13 hours of battery life is another plus point for travelers, and on top of that, you’re getting a performance that can be compared with Apple’s MacBook Air. For such a lightweight and compact laptop, it includes many ports such as USB 3.1, USB 3.0 and HDMI port. It also features an adjustable backlit keyboard that’s designed amazingly and looks incredibly cool. While testing it in our lab, we even ran some old games like Warcraft 3, Counter Strike and Minecraft, and they were running smoothly with good frame rates. It comes with 256 GB SSD so if you’re looking to save your time while loading, you have got that already. Interestingly, it’s available in two colors, black and white and you can go with whatever suits you.

  • 6th Generation Intel Core i5-6200U Processor
  • 8GB LPDDR3 Memory
  • 256GB SSD

9. Samsung NP900X3L-K06US

Samsung NP900X3L

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The Samsung NP900X3L-K06US is an amazingly slim and compact laptop that can be a good choice for users who have to travel frequently. Equipped with powerful 6th generation Intel Core i5 processor, 256 GB SSD and 8 GB RAM. It includes a battery life that will survive for more than 10 hours without a plug. Existing customers have praised its lightweight design, great display, and comfortable keyboard. Its 256 GB SSD might be an issue for those who like to store their movies and TV shows, and to them, we recommend buying an external HDD. It’s powered by the reliable specification and hence delivers the best performance possible. We mostly never recommend Samsung laptops, but they have done a great job on this one, and we believe this one was specially designed for travelers. It weighs only 2.5 pounds and measures at half an inch making it one of the best travel laptops of 2017. Overall, it’s very smooth to operate and comes with 13-inch Full HD display.

  • Intel Core i5 Processor
  • 256 GB SSD
  • 8 GB RAM

10. ASUS ZenBook Flip UX360CA-DBM2T

ASUS ZenBook Flip

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The ASUS ZenBook Flip packs powerful 6th generation Intel Core M processor and 8 GB RAM. It sports a 13-inch touchscreen full HD display with a resolution of 1920 by 1080. It comes with 512 GB of SSD which is excellent considering its 3 pounds weight. The same goes for battery life as it can easily last up to 10 hours on a single charge. While many laptops under $700 aren’t travel-friendly, the ZenBook Flip by ASUS can be carried around with ease. Tasks like watching full HD movies, playing casual games and editing some videos can be easily done on it without any lags. A definite drawback of this machine was the lack of backlit keyboard which is a must in any machine that costs over $500. Anyways, we can’t complain much as other features work well and it’s among the best budget travel laptops. It also has Intel HD 515 graphics which may not be the best one on the market but will surely handle your intensive tasks like graphics designing and movie making.

  • 6th generation Intel Core M
  • Intel HD 515 Graphics
  • 512 GB SSD
  • 8 GB RAM

So these are our recommendations for best travel laptops, and you can buy any one of these with confidence. We have tested all these notebooks for weeks, and they were able to survive throughout all our tests. I know you can almost carry any laptop with yourself while traveling including those that weigh around 6 pounds but those wouldn’t be travel-friendly laptops and could be damaged in your luggage. I guess that’s all for now and feel free to let us know what you think.

Asus Chromebook Flip (C302CA-DHM4)

MSRP
$499.00
Lowest Price$459.99
$459.99

+Free Shipping
  • Pros

    Convertible hinge design. Lots of storage and RAM. Full HD screen. Metal body construction. Two USB-C ports. Warranty includes damage protection. Bright and clear display. Backlit keyboard.

  • Cons

    Legacy connections require adapters. Pricier than other chromebooks.

  • Bottom Line

    The Asus Chromebook Flip (C302CA-DHM4) might be more expensive than the average chromebook, but its rich selection of features makes it well worth the extra money.

The Asus Chromebook Flip (C302CA-DHM4) ($499) is priced to compete with entry-level Windows laptops, yet has the look and feel of a premium offering. Its metal body construction, backlit keyboard, beautiful screen, and long battery life make it a very attractive alternative to yet another plastic laptop. Although ostensibly an update of the Chromebook Flip\n” data-commerce-image=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/4160oT2-xWL._SL75_.jpg” data-commerce-smallimage=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/4160oT2-xWL._SL75_.jpg” data-commerce-largeimage=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/4160oT2-xWL.jpg” data-commerce-mpn=”C100PA-DS03″ data-commerce-upc=”889349652732″ data-commerce-ean=”0889349652732″ data-commerce-providerid=”14″ data-commerce-canonicalvendor=”Amazon” data-commerce-priceoverride=”” data-commerce-ctatext=”” data-commerce-vendoroverride=”” data-commerce-cached=”y” data-commerce-productid=”B01N31SJLI” data-zdcserendered=”true”>$299.97 at Amazon, one of Asus’s earlier convertible laptops, this iteration is all new, and an excellent evolution of the chromebook in general.

Why buy a laptop?

Total computing portability is enticing enough, but what other benefits can a laptop offer?

Energy use

Laptops typically use much less power than a desktop PC. They have a low annual running cost.

Size

A laptop will take up much less space in your home or office than a desktop PC.

Range

There are several categories of laptop, to suit a variety of needs, though these categories are not clearly defined. Generally speaking you have ultraportables, all-rounders, multimedia powerhouses, student/budget and gaming laptops.

Performance

Many laptops can match the power of mid-range desktop computers, even in the ultraportable category. Key factors for performance include:

  • CPU (central processing unit) brand and family (e.g. Intel Core i7, or AMD A-Series)
  • CPU frequency (known generally as speed, measured in gigahertz, e.g. 3.2GHz)
  • storage type – SSD (solid-state drive) is the fastest kind of drive. Unlike a HDD (hard disk drive) it has no moving parts. It is sometimes referred to as Flash storage. As with hard drives, the capacity and speed of SSDs can vary greatly.
  • memory – RAM, or random access memory, is the temporary storage used by programs when they’re running. Generally, 4GB (gigabytes) of RAM is considered the starting point for a laptop or desktop computer, but these days 8GB is becoming more common. Tablets and other mobile devices may use much less if they’re running on mobile operating systems such as Android or iOS. For laptops, adding more memory may be useful for programs that can make use of larger amounts or memory, or for running more programs at the same time.
  • GPU (graphics processing unit) – this handles much of the computational load in creating and displaying images, reducing the load on the main CPU. Some larger laptops will have a separate (discrete) graphics processor or card, while others will have a graphics chip incorporated on the motherboard with the CPU.

Peripherals

Laptops come with a screen, keyboard and trackpad built in, though you can usually plug in external devices to use the laptop as a desktop computer.  Desktop PCs don’t always come with these, so adding them on could incur extra costs. If may also want to regularly use your laptop as a desktop PC by plugging in an external display monitor plus keyboard and mouse.

Software

Laptops can run full Windows, macOS (formerly OS X) or Linux, giving you access to all the mainstream programs you need. Most tablets run iOS or Android, which may not include your preferred programs, while Microsoft’s Surface tablet range runs the full Windows OS.

Upgrading

So, a slim and powerful laptop that you can take anywhere sounds about perfect, right? Well there’s one notable drawback. Upgrading most laptop components is difficult and for the average person this may be impossible, as the slim body of a laptop leaves no room for adding extra components and many parts are built in permanently and not designed to be replaced. Apart from RAM, usually the only way to upgrade/expand the capabilities of a laptop is to add devices to it externally, such as extra storage, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi plug-ins.

What types of laptops are available?

Laptops tend to be classified into several groups. The terms ‘laptop’ and ‘notebook’ tend to be used interchangeably as a general description, but you can break these down into smaller categories, though they’re not always mutually exclusive – for example, an ultraportable can also be convertible:

  • Notebook (aka laptop): The general term for a full-sized laptop that strikes a balance between portability and functionality. These can vary greatly in overall size and specification – processor speed, storage capacity, memory (RAM) and screen size. They can vary greatly in price from low-cost budget models to high-performance productivity and gaming laptops.
  • Ultraportable: Thin, light laptops designed for mobility (also sometimes called a subnotebook). Maintaining a super-slim profile means they have to cut out some features such as built-in CD/DVD drive and reduce the number of connection ports. The smallest models weigh about a kilogram. An Ultrabook (note the capital U) is a specific type of ultraportable, which meets specifications set down by Intel. Among their strong points is strong security and anti-theft protection built in at the hardware level. Although the MacBook Air is regarded as the inspiration for the Ultrabook class, it’s not actually an Ultrabook.
  • Netbook: Small, inexpensive laptops that run off the low-powered Intel Atom processor. These have been largely phased out, to be replaced by tablets, Ultrabooks and ultraportables.
  • Chromebook: A notebook or ultraportable laptop that runs Google’s unique operating system called Chrome. Chrome OS looks like the Chrome web browser and can only run apps downloaded from the Chrome Store.
  • MacBook: Apple’s laptop computers come in three families – the ultra-thin MacBook and MacBook Air models, and the high-performance MacBook Pro in 13-inch and 15-inch sizes.
  • Convertible: These combine the features of a laptop and a tablet. They’re also known as 2-in-1 laptops. They can quickly switch between touchscreen tablet mode and traditional keyboard mode, transforming in a variety of ways, including detaching, sliding, twisting and fold-back mechanisms. Most models now use the foldback or detachable screen mechanisms.

So which one should you buy?

Within each brand’s laptop family are usually several similar models that vary in power, capacity and a range of other features. Picking one that suits your needs can be a bit of a pain though. Do you go for a budget unit with limited capabilities, a high-powered top-end laptop that can play the latest games without breaking a sweat, or something in between?

That’s a question only you can answer, but first it’s a good idea to narrow down how you intend to use your laptop. If you want to take it with you on-the-go a lot, you’ll want something thin, light and easy to carry – an ultraportable (including Ultrabooks). If you want something to give you all the power of a desktop computer while being transportable with relative ease, go for a multimedia powerhouse such as a gaming machine. Most other laptops fall somewhere in between. Here’s a broad guide to entry-level, mid-range and high-end models:

  • Entry level: These low-cost laptops are relatively low-powered, but quite capable of most general computing tasks like web browsing, email and general word processing. They can handle most basic multimedia tasks – like video streaming – and are best suited to casual users and younger students.
  • Mid-range: Aimed at regular computer users, families, students and business people. Mid-range computers can run most software and games, but may struggle a bit with high-end functions like video editing and games that require fast graphics processing.
  • High-end: For serious computer types that like to push their systems with intensive computing tasks like editing video and audio, 3D rendering and high-end games, these are obviously the ones to go for.

Windows, Mac or Linux?

Ask a room of techies whether you should go with a Windows, Mac or Linux laptop and you’ll start a heated debate that no-one will win. All three systems have their good and bad points, but it’s important for you to choose a side before you start, because it affects your software choices and possibly your hardware decisions too. This is definitely the case with macOS (formerly called OS X), which only runs on Apple’s Mac family.

Here’s a look at the pros and cons of each:

  • Windows software has the lion’s share of the market, with the widest range of programs available. Though Windows 7 is still popular on older PCs, new Windows computers will come with Windows 10, which is designed to work across a wide range of devices including tablets and which comes with touchscreen support built-in.
  • macOS is designed to work specifically with Apple hardware, providing tight integration that offers advantages in ease of use and consistency across programs. Many programs for Windows have macOS versions and many macOS-only programs offer file-format compatibility with Windows programs. You can install Windows on Macs using macOS’s built-in installer utility called Boot Camp. This will let you run Windows natively on the Mac hardware without any software emulation, to give you full performance. You can also run Windows OS and programs using virtualisation software such as Parallels Desktop for Mac, VMware’s Fusion or Oracle’s Virtual Box. These programs let you install other operating systems such as Linux. Whether you use Boot Camp or a virtualisation program, you’ll need to purchase the Windows operating system separately.
  • Linux is generally free, as are most Linux programs, and it can run on a wide range of PCs as an alternative to Windows. There are many flavours of Linux, with the most popular being Ubuntu.

In some cases, you may have to side with a particular system to use specific programs. It’s a good idea to look into each alternative and spend some time with them all before deciding.

What to look for

CPU (central processing unit)

This is the brain of your computer. The number of cores, processing power and price range is a good indicator of the overall level of CPU power on offer. Laptops generally use low-power-consumption CPUs for better battery life. Be careful in comparing the Intel family of CPUs with those from AMD – their main competitor – as quoted speed figures aren’t directly comparable. Likewise with the sub-families of each brand – for example, Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 are increasingly high performance even at the same quoted figure in GHz; likewise with the new M series processors.

RAM (random access memory)

A lack of RAM will slow your computer when performing multiple or labour-intensive tasks, like image processing. Look for a minimum of 4GB (gigabytes) even in a budget system, but ideally aim for 8GB for most general-use laptops.

Screen quality

A small screen means a smaller laptop that’s generally going to be lighter, but large screens are better for graphics, gaming or watching movies. More laptops aimed at the high-end market have high-resolution screens.

Storage space

Don’t underestimate how much space you’ll need. Make sure you have enough room for all your current programs and files, as well as the fast-growing collection of videos and music that most people now tend to accumulate.

If you want a lot of onboard storage, look for a laptop with a hard disk drive (HDD), with s 1TB (terabyte) hard drive as a starting point, but preferably double that. However, you may want to sacrifice storage space for speed and go with a built-in solid-state drive (SSD) if you want higher performance. An SSD is much faster than a hard drive and having one can lift the overall performance of a laptop considerably, and thus extend its useful working life. If you need extra storage, you can always plug in a portable hard drive or a high-capacity external hard drive.

Many laptops, especially slimline ultraportable models, come with either a 128GB or 256GB SSD, though we consider 256GB the better starting point for a laptop these days. A major selling point of ultraportables is they are slim and light, which means it’s best not to skimp on RAM (memory) or storage capacity upfront, because you can’t usually upgrade later. Look for upgrade options at time of ordering and spend a bit extra upfront to give the laptop a longer useful lifetime.

Cooling

Computer components can run hot, especially within the confines of a compact laptop case. Check for hot spots under the laptop after it’s been on for a while, especially when working hard. These hot spots can get annoying if you’re using your laptop where the name would suggest.

Graphics card

Many laptops will have the graphics processor built into the motherboard (called “on-board graphics”), rather than on a separate (“dedicated”) graphics card. High-end models may have a dedicated graphics card which has its own video RAM.

Power supply

Often called “the brick”, this is the block and cord that you use to plug your laptop into a standard wall socket. If you have to take this with you for recharging, it can add considerably to your overall weight.

Battery life

Having a long working time between charges is particularly important for an ultraportable. After all, they lose portability points if you have to also carry the power supply unit and cable with you to charge it. Ideally you want to have a full day of working on-the-go without having to plug it in, but this will depend on what else you have plugged into the laptop drawing power from it.

You really don’t want to have to to carry the external power supply unit and cable with you. Our battery life tests look at both light-usage and heavy-usage scenarios, to give you an idea of the best and worst results you are likely to get, though for most people the average daily use will be somewhere in between.

If you intend to be mobile much of the time then a long battery life and quick recharge time is important, so we also record two charging times for each laptop, with the laptop switched on – up to 80% capacity and to 100% capacity. It’s useful to note that charging speed usually drops considerably once you get past 80%. In some cases it can take as long or longer to get the extra 20% top-up as it does to get to 80%.

Wi-Fi

These days the Wi-Fi speed is important because fewer laptops come with a built-in ethernet port for plugging into your local wired network. If this is the case, you may be able to purchase a USB-to-ethernet adapter of the same brand or a third-party alternative. In either case, look for a laptop that supports the latest Wi-Fi standard, 802.11ac. This is backwards-compatible with previous standards including the previously most popular 802.11n but is much faster.

USB-C connectivity

Connectivity on laptops these days is all about USB-C, the new low-profile standard that is becoming common on more models. A USB-C plug is slimline and easy to use (there’s no ‘right way up’), but it’s appearance can be deceptive, as the same-shaped plug is used for several different standards – USB 3.1 Gen-1 and Gen-2 and Thunderbolt 3.

Most common USB-C ports you encounter will be either USB 3.1 Gen-1 which is rated at 5Gbps (gigabits per second) the same speed as USB 3.0, or USB 3.1 Gen-1 (10Gbps). But then there’s the blazingly fast Thunderbolt 3 standard, which is nominally eight times faster at 40Gbps.

Most models will have the slower USB-C ports but high-performance laptops may have Thunderbolt 3 ports. You can plug a plain old USB-C device into a Thunderbolt 3 port but don’t expect any increase in speed. Plug in a Thunderbolt 3 device, such as an external SSD, and you have the fastest connection in town.

Even if you don’t have the Thunderbolt 3 version of this connection, USB-C is still a good thing to have, rather than just the old USB 3.0, because it’s becoming widely adopted on computers and plug-in devices and expected to soon become the dominant connection port, eventually replacing USB 3.0.

One of the keys to USB-C’s swift adoption is its versatility – the same port can transfer both power and data at the same time and it’s quite versatile. You can mimic a whole range of other ports – including USB 2.0/3.0, SD card, HDMI, ethernet and more – using a USB-C adapter.

However, try to stick with the manufacturer’s cables where possible and avoid cheap third-party cables and chargers or you may risk damaging your computer and peripherals. Use only certified USB-C (see usb.org) and Thunderbolt 3 (intel.com.au) cables.

High-Quality Design

The body of the Chromebook Flip\n” data-commerce-image=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41LBkDN-S3L._SL75_.jpg” data-commerce-smallimage=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41LBkDN-S3L._SL75_.jpg” data-commerce-largeimage=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41LBkDN-S3L.jpg” data-commerce-mpn=”C302CA-DHM4″ data-commerce-upc=”889349471715″ data-commerce-ean=”0889349471715″ data-commerce-providerid=”14″ data-commerce-canonicalvendor=”Amazon” data-commerce-priceoverride=”” data-commerce-ctatext=”” data-commerce-vendoroverride=”” data-commerce-cached=”y” data-commerce-productid=”B01N5G5PG2″ data-zdcserendered=”true”>$459.99 at Amazon is all aluminum and glass, making it look like a silver Apple MacBook Pro$1,499.00 at Apple Store on a smaller scale. Two hinges allow the lid to rotate 360 degrees, so you can use the Flip in Laptop, Stand, Tent, or Tablet mode. The last three modes hide the keyboard to give you unobstructed access to the touch screen. The laptop measures 0.53 by 11.96 by 8.26 inches (HWD) and weighs 2.43 pounds. That’s quite a bit smaller and lighter than the Acer Chromebook 14\n” data-commerce-image=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/518PvURfFsL._SL75_.jpg” data-commerce-smallimage=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/518PvURfFsL._SL75_.jpg” data-commerce-largeimage=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/518PvURfFsL.jpg” data-commerce-mpn=”NX.GC2AA.007″ data-commerce-upc=”888863602995″ data-commerce-ean=”0888863602995″ data-commerce-providerid=”14″ data-commerce-canonicalvendor=”Amazon” data-commerce-priceoverride=”” data-commerce-ctatext=”” data-commerce-vendoroverride=”” data-commerce-cached=”n” data-commerce-productid=”B01CVOLVPA” data-zdcserendered=”true”>$277.00 at Amazon, our latest top pick. You should have no trouble using it on your couch, on a commuter train, or on an airline tray table.

The 12.5-inch full HD touch screen is a highlight. It displays bright, accurate images, with a wide-angle view you can share with a few close friends. Touch sensitivity is quick, fast enough for most Web games. The touch screen will serve you well when Android for Chrome OS support is rolled out later this year. Chrome OS now has a tablet mode, which the Chromebook Flip switches into automatically when you turn the scren beyond 180 degrees. The stereo speakers on the left and right side panels can fill a small- to medium-size room with clear sound and music.

The full-size backlit keyboard is comfortable to use during extended typing sessions. Most less-expensive chromebooks, like the Acer Chromebook R 13\n” data-commerce-image=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41eEwaFa20L._SL75_.jpg” data-commerce-smallimage=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41eEwaFa20L._SL75_.jpg” data-commerce-largeimage=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41eEwaFa20L.jpg” data-commerce-mpn=”CB5-312T-K5X4″ data-commerce-upc=”888863964727″ data-commerce-ean=”0888863964727″ data-commerce-providerid=”14″ data-commerce-canonicalvendor=”Amazon” data-commerce-priceoverride=”” data-commerce-ctatext=”” data-commerce-vendoroverride=”” data-commerce-cached=”n” data-commerce-productid=”B01LXYG77O” data-zdcserendered=”true”>$375.50 at Amazon, the Asus Chromebook C202SA-YS02\n” data-commerce-image=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/31inMpRxCFL._SL75_.jpg” data-commerce-smallimage=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/31inMpRxCFL._SL75_.jpg” data-commerce-largeimage=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/31inMpRxCFL.jpg” data-commerce-mpn=”C202SA-YS02″ data-commerce-upc=”889349335253″ data-commerce-ean=”0889349335253″ data-commerce-providerid=”14″ data-commerce-canonicalvendor=”Amazon” data-commerce-priceoverride=”” data-commerce-ctatext=”” data-commerce-vendoroverride=”” data-commerce-cached=”n” data-commerce-productid=”B01DBGVB7K” data-zdcserendered=”true”>$220.01 at Amazon, and the Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Chromebook\n” data-commerce-image=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41eEwaFa20L._SL75_.jpg” data-commerce-smallimage=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41eEwaFa20L._SL75_.jpg” data-commerce-largeimage=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41eEwaFa20L.jpg” data-commerce-mpn=”CB5-312T-K5X4″ data-commerce-upc=”888863964727″ data-commerce-ean=”0888863964727″ data-commerce-providerid=”14″ data-commerce-canonicalvendor=”Amazon” data-commerce-priceoverride=”” data-commerce-ctatext=”” data-commerce-vendoroverride=”” data-commerce-cached=”n” data-commerce-productid=”B01LXYG77O” data-zdcserendered=”true”>$375.50 at Amazon come with more basic keyboards that may be smaller or lack backlighting. The Chromebook Flip’s is laid out like the one on the MacBook Pro, though the function keys in the top row are customized to Chrome OS specs, with Forward and Back commands, as well as larger-than-usual Ctrl and Alt keys. The wide, one-piece touchpad is responsive and supports multitouch commands.

Asus Chromebook Flip (C302CA-DHM4)

Chock Full

The 4GB of RAM and 64GB of eMMC flash storage in the Chromebook Flip are respectively two and four times as much as you’ll see in most chromebooks costing $200 to $300. The extra RAM helps you keep several tabs active simultaneously, while the extra storage, though a lot less than you’ll find in a Windows laptop, is sufficient for downloading some video or music files for when you can’t be online. You can also use the microSD card slot to expand local storage (up to 512GB), and Google includes two years of 100GB cloud storage to help keep your files safe. There are 802.1ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 for wireless connectivity, and Trusted Platform Module (TPM) security, in case you need it for business applications.

Asus Chromebook Flip (C302CA-DHM4)

There are two USB-C ports on the laptop: one on the left side and one on the right. Both can be used for external drives or connecting to an external monitor, though you’ll need to buy a DisplayPort, HDMI, or VGA adapter for that (none is included). You’ll also need an adapter for drives using USB Type-A, currently the most common interface, but USB-C is likely to become the more prevalent standard in a year or two. The included AC adapter occupies one of the two USB-C ports while charging, leaving one free. Asus protects the Chromebook Flip with a one-year warranty with accidental damage protection (even if you caused it).

Speed Racer

The Chromebook Flip is equipped with an Intel Core m3-6Y30 processor with Intel HD Graphics 515 instead of the typical Celeron or ARM (mobile) processors. Those are usually less expensive, but occasionally leave you wanting for performance. As a result, the system feels faster than other chromebooks. A trio of 1080p video streams ran smoothly while I used a half-dozen other tabs to view websites, check email, and stream music, and so on. A 4K video (displayed at 1080p) played alone only occasionally paused for buffering.

Related Story See How We Test Laptops

Battery life is good. The Chromebook Flip lasted 10 hours, 23 minutes, on our rundown test. It’s a longer time than we saw from the Lenovo N22-20 Touch Chromebook (9:09), though some chromebooks outlast this Flip, like the Acer Chromebook 15$199.00 at Acer (14:17), the CTL J5 Chromebook\n” data-commerce-image=”” data-commerce-smallimage=”” data-commerce-largeimage=”” data-commerce-mpn=”” data-commerce-upc=”” data-commerce-ean=”” data-commerce-providerid=”12″ data-commerce-canonicalvendor=”Amazon” data-commerce-priceoverride=”” data-commerce-ctatext=”” data-commerce-vendoroverride=”” data-commerce-cached=”n” data-commerce-productid=”GXM1006891″ data-zdcserendered=”true”>$259.00 at Amazon (12:21), the Asus Chromebook C202SA-YS02 (12:05), and the Acer Chromebook 14 (11:50).

The Asus Chromebook Flip (C302CA-DHM4) is appealing if you want (quite) a bit more than a run-of-the-mill chromebook, and are willing to pay for it. It’s still priced in line with entry-level Windows laptops. For example, the 11-inch Lenovo Yoga 710$699.99 at Lenovo comes with Windows 10 and the same CPU and RAM, but its screen is 11 inches, there are no USB-C ports, and it’s $50 more expensive. Compared with other chromebooks, the Chromebook Flip has premium styling and construction, 4GB of memory, plenty of expandable storage, an attractive full HD screen, a 2-in-1 convertible form factor, and accidental damage protection—all for a bump of $100 to 200. It can give you the entire Internet, including desktop sites and plug-ins that don’t work or display too small on your Android or iOS phone or tablet. For those reasons, this Chromebook Flip replaces the Acer Chromebook 14 as our Editors’ Choice for chromebooks.

HP Spectre x360 13 (2018)

Editors’ Rating:

excellent

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Starting Configuration Price
$1199.00

Lowest Price$1,199.99

HP$1,199.99
  • ProsFast performance. Slick, modern design. Slim build. 4K display with sharp image quality. USB-C with Thunderbolt 3 plus USB 3.0 ports.
  • ConsBattery life is only average on the 4K model. Requires USB-C adapters for video out.
  • Bottom LineWith a stylish look, a super-slim build, a gorgeous 4K display, and serious speed, the latest version of the already-great HP Spectre x360 is our favorite high-end convertible laptop.

The original HP Spectre x360 was a hit when it debuted back in 2015, and we liked the 2016 model even more. It’s back again this year, keeping much of what we love, but adding a refined design and a super sharp 4K touch screen. In addition to the UHD display, the latest HP Spectre x360 13 (starts at $1,199; $1,599 as tested) packs USB-C with Thunderbolt 3, plenty of fast SSD storage, and a chic new color scheme. Given the upgrades to what was already our top choice for high-end convertible laptops, the 2017 model is an easy Editors’ Choice pick.

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Ghost in the Shell

Retaining the slim shape of its predecessor, the new Spectre x360 13 adopts the stylish aesthetic of the non-convertible HP Spectre 13. On our test unit, this means a very modern anodized aluminum body with a steely gray and copper color scheme. The copper trims the edges of the system and is used as an accent in several places. HP uses the same design approach with the 15-inch Spectre x360\n” data-commerce-image=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51VtZdjnFlL._SL75_.jpg” data-commerce-smallimage=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51VtZdjnFlL._SL75_.jpg” data-commerce-largeimage=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51VtZdjnFlL.jpg” data-commerce-mpn=”Z4Z37UA” data-commerce-upc=”190781159063″ data-commerce-ean=”0190781159063″ data-commerce-providerid=”14″ data-commerce-canonicalvendor=”Amazon” data-commerce-priceoverride=”” data-commerce-ctatext=”” data-commerce-vendoroverride=”” data-commerce-cached=”y” data-commerce-productid=”B01N218SA6″ data-zdcserendered=”true”>$1,577.00 at Amazon we tested earlier this year, and it looks really sharp in both cases. HP offers two less expensive x360 models ($1,199 and $1,349) that use silver trim around the edges instead.

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A true ultraportable, the Spectre x360 13 is seriously slim and light. The same was true of the first iteration, and its only slimmed down from there. The 2015 model measured 0.63 by 12.79 by 8.6 inches (HWD) and weighed 3.26 pounds, the 2016 model was 0.5 by 12 by 8.6 inches and 2.8 pounds, and this year’s version is minimally slighter at 0.5 by 12 by 8.5 inches and 2.8 pounds. This compares well with the Lenovo Yoga 910$1,199.99 at Lenovo (0.56 by 12.72 by 8.84 inches, 3.01 pounds) and the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1$999.99 at Dell (0.54 by 11.98 by 7.8 inches, 2.7 pounds), and means it’ll barely register in your briefcase, shoulder bag, or backpack. Overall, the new design and color scheme with the slender profile make for a killer look.

Convertibility is where the Spectre x360 separates itself from the Spectre 13. The laptop is able to fully transform into a Windows 10 tablet thanks to its hinge. Some systems are a bit too big, thick, or unwieldy to be used as in Tablet mode (the Samsung Notebook 7 Spin\n” data-commerce-image=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51vGTCU5vFL._SL75_.jpg” data-commerce-smallimage=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51vGTCU5vFL._SL75_.jpg” data-commerce-largeimage=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51vGTCU5vFL.jpg” data-commerce-mpn=”NP740U3L-L02US” data-commerce-upc=”887276171821″ data-commerce-ean=”0887276171821″ data-commerce-providerid=”14″ data-commerce-canonicalvendor=”Amazon” data-commerce-priceoverride=”” data-commerce-ctatext=”” data-commerce-vendoroverride=”” data-commerce-cached=”y” data-commerce-productid=”B01I4H1PSQ” data-zdcserendered=”true”>$647.00 at Amazon comes to mind), but since the x360 is so thin and small, it feels natural to hold that way. This makes it easier to carry around in one hand, good for quickly showing off a design to a colleague nearby, or handing over to a coworker to get a better look at some data. You can also flip it into Tent or Display mode to show off the screen on a desk or table to a gathered group, though the 13-inch screen is a bit small to see if you’re too far away.

I brought the Spectre x360 on multiple trips with me, and can say it’s very well suited to plane travel. Between its weight and thickness, it’s easy to bring in a carry-on or under-seat bag, and its convertibility is perfect for an airplane tray. My preferred method is rotating the keyboard face down on the tray with the screen pointed out toward me from the front, since I can view it at a good angle without it butting up against the seat back in front of me. If you think you can get away without the convertability, there are some even slimmer and lighter options out there, like the Asus ZenBook 3 Deluxe (UX490UA)\n” data-commerce-image=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41PbmNQnb-L._SL75_.jpg” data-commerce-smallimage=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41PbmNQnb-L._SL75_.jpg” data-commerce-largeimage=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41PbmNQnb-L.jpg” data-commerce-mpn=”UX490UA-XS74-BL” data-commerce-upc=”889349674734″ data-commerce-ean=”0889349674734″ data-commerce-providerid=”14″ data-commerce-canonicalvendor=”Amazon” data-commerce-priceoverride=”” data-commerce-ctatext=”” data-commerce-vendoroverride=”” data-commerce-cached=”n” data-commerce-productid=”B071YZMV4Q” data-zdcserendered=”true”>$1,620.38 at Amazon and the Microsoft Surface Laptop, but I do find the Spectre’s form shifting (and nice build) useful for travel.

The keyboard cuts a fairly low profile, which prevents it from feeling awkward when you grip the backside of the laptop in Tablet mode. Despite the thin build, the keys still feel good to type on, offering more travel than, say, the Razer Blade Stealth‘s keyboard, which feels a bit shallow. The keyboard offers satisfying feedback, like last year’s model, but the new color scheme avoids the previous gray-on-gray keycap lettering issue, which made it hard to read in some instances. The keys are also backlit with white lighting, and you can toggle the lights on or off as needed.

The touchpad tracks very smoothly, and while it’s not too tall because of limited space, it’s nice and wide and still feels roomy. The Bang and Olufsen speakers provide admirable volume and sound quality, particularly given the laptop’s size. It’s no home theater setup, of course, but you can comfortably play video or music and hear it across the room, with little to no distortion at maximum volume.

Our review unit has a 13.3-inch 4K display with touch capability, while both the $1,199 and $1,349 versions feature 1080p full HD touch screens. The picture on the 4K screen is seriously sharp with rich colors. The resolution isn’t necessary on a display this size, but it’s a pretty drastic difference in clarity when compared with a 1080p screen of similar size. The resolution adds to the expense, but the extra clarity is obvious, and you can enjoy 4K content in native resolution. Plus, you get extra space to view and edit full HD videos with room for for toolbars and editing windows. The 4K resolution does make some menus and their text appear quite tiny, so you might want to pump up the scaling so you don’t have to squint through each task.

You don’t get a ton of connectivity options given the X360’s size, but the essentials are covered. The left panel holds the Power button, a USB 2.0 port, and the headphone jack, while the right side has the Volume rocker and two USB-C ports, each with Thunderbolt 3 and capable of charging the laptop. There’s no base video ports like HDMI or DisplayPort, but with adapters for the USB-C ports you can connect any display you’d like. One more USB 3.0 port would have been useful so you can connect an additional peripheral, but again, an adapter in the USB-C port should have you covered. At the same time, including any USB 3.0 ports at all is appreciated, given some of the recent super-thin laptops that limit you to USB-C only, like the latest Apple MacBook\n” data-commerce-image=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51IPj3z9%2BBL._SL75_.jpg” data-commerce-smallimage=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51IPj3z9%2BBL._SL75_.jpg” data-commerce-largeimage=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51IPj3z9%2BBL.jpg” data-commerce-mpn=”MLHC2LL/A” data-commerce-upc=”636983057191″ data-commerce-ean=”0888462687683″ data-commerce-providerid=”14″ data-commerce-canonicalvendor=”Amazon” data-commerce-priceoverride=”” data-commerce-ctatext=”” data-commerce-vendoroverride=”” data-commerce-cached=”y” data-commerce-productid=”B01EIUEQVQ” data-zdcserendered=”true”>$1,199.00 at Amazon.

For storage, there’s a 512GB SSD on board, which means very speedy boot and load times. All three models have SSD drives: our test unit and the $1,349 version offer 512GB capacities, while the least expensive $1,199 model has 256GB. The same holds true for memory: The two most expensive versions include 16GB of RAM, while the entry-level unit gives you 8GB. For wireless connectivity, the Spectre x360 uses dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2. HP offers a base one-year warranty, with up to three years depending on configuration.

Spectral Speed

Despite its small size, the x360 is quite fast. The 2.7GHz Core i7-7500U processor, SSD, and 16GB of memory make for snappy load times across the board. The PCMark 8 Work Conventional test shows a score slightly low than similar competition, mainly because the 4K display is more demanding that most. That does reflect some power loss in real-world use, but it’s fairly negligible in day-to-day work. The multimedia scores back up those claims, showing fast times that compare favorably with the competition. Since the processor (and by extentsion, the integrated graphics) is the same as in last year’s Spectre x360 13, the performance numbers are virtually identical, save for where the 4K screen adds extra strain.

The Types Of Laptops Most Suited To Travel

Laptops come in many different shapes and sizes, from monstrous, 17-inch models that can fully replicate the desktop experience to tiny, 7-inch models that are essentially useless for productivity. When it comes to travel, three distinct types stand out as the best options: Ultrabooks, Chromebooks, and 2-in-1s.

Manufacturers design Ultrabookswith a focus on power and portability, two of the most essential needs for any traveling professional. Ultrabooks are slim and lightweight, and they have a high degree of processing power and an extremely long battery life. It is not uncommon to find Ultrabooks that allow for upwards of 10 hours of HD movie playback. To achieve such a compact and lightweight form, most manufacturers don’t include a CD-ROM drive in their Ultrabooks. In order for a company to market their laptop as an Ultrabook, it must meet a set of stringent specifications set forth by Intel.

Chromebooks share some similarities with Ultrabooks, though the two are vastly different. Unlike Ultrabooks, Chromebooks don’t have a high degree of processing power, though they do often share a portable form. Chromebooks are budget-friendly, long-battery laptops that are ideal for web browsing, movie viewing, and basic productivity, such as using a word processor. This makes them great travel laptops for consumers who just want to watch movies and keep abreast of happenings on social media. Another major difference worth noting about Chromebooks is that they use the streamlined Chrome OS. As with Ultrabooks, Chromebooks often sacrifice CD-ROMs for a more compact, easily portable form.

2-in-1s, sometimes referred to as convertibles or hybrids, are probably the most versatile laptops. These bridge the gap between traditional laptops and tablets. 2-in-1s come in two different styles: foldable and detachable. Foldable models have a screen that rotates all the way around until its back touches the back of the keyboard, in which configuration they look very much like tablets, albeit thicker and more cumbersome. Detachable models have a screen that completely detaches from the keyboard, making them practically identical to a tablet when detached. There is some overlap between 2-in-1s and the previous two styles, since 2-in-1s can also fall into the Chromebook or Ultrabook category.

What To Look For In A Travel Laptop

As with any laptop purchase, the right model for one user may not be the right choice for another. Every user will place different demands on their PC, hence they will need to look at different specifications. Despite this, there are two things that are important to every person looking for a travel laptop: battery life and size. These are the two most essential properties to consider when looking at the different models available. Once you have found a few different models that meet your needs for battery life and portability, you can begin to look at other features you may desire.

When it comes to portability, you must balance a compact form with your productivity needs. Carrying around a laptop in your backpack or briefcase with a small 10.1-inch screen sounds great in theory, but such a small screen can hinder productivity. For example, if you need to look at intricate schematics, a small screen can be very problematic. Smaller laptops also have smaller keyboards, which can result in slower typing and more typos. For the average user, a travel laptop with a 12- to 13-inch screen is generally the perfect size. These are large enough to allow for unimpeded productivity, yet small and lightweight enough for easy transport.

Finding a model with the a long battery life is often a balancing act between processing power and price. The more processing power a laptop has, the shorter the battery life will generally be, unless your are willing to pay a lot of money, in which case you can find a powerful laptop with an exceptionally long battery life. The goal is to find a travel laptop with an acceptable amount of processing power and a reasonable battery life. Just remember, most manufacturers’ battery life claims are under ideal conditions, such as video playback only with no additional processes running. A laptop with a marketed battery life of 10 hours, will probably get six hours of real-life usage.

Helpful Tips To Extend Your Laptop’s Battery Life

Buying a laptop with a long battery life is just the first step. There are many additional settings you can tweak to ensure you are making the most efficient use of the power you have. A laptop’s screen is one of its biggest power draws, and keeping your screen set to maximum brightness all of the time is one of the surest ways to quickly drain your laptop’s battery. Dimming your screen brightness to match your surroundings has a two-fold benefit. Not only doesn’t it significantly increase your battery life, but it can also help reduce eye strain. Setting your PC to automatically turn off the display after a few minutes of inactivity will also help extend your battery life.

Turning off unnecessary hardware and software can result in significant battery life improvements, too. If you aren’t currently using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, turn them off. You can do this individually in your computer’s settings, or just click the airplane mode button, which will turn off both simultaneously. Closing any unused applications is also helpful. To make your life a little bit easier, adjust your laptop’s startup settings so that only necessary applications launch when you turn on your device. This way you won’t have to manually close every infrequently used program every time you start your computer.

Another easy tweak to improve your battery life is to adjust your power plan. Laptops generally come with three power plan levels: high performance, recommended, and power saver, but these can be further tweaked for total customization. For example, you can set your laptop to immediately enter battery saver mode once your battery level hits 90 percent, rather than the default setting of 10 or 15 percent. You can also adjust things like the maximum processor state and video playback settings when on battery, all of which can affect how long your laptop’s battery lasts.

How Much Should You Spend?

Although all ultraportable laptops may look sleek, there are a few key differentiators between models. The first to consider is price. There’s a huge difference between a system that costs $300 and one that costs $1,300, even if they boast the same brand name, and similar looks and features.

At the low end are entry-level systems, which generally run $500 or less (sometimes less than $200). For many casual users, this is the only price range worth looking at, but there are some caveats to keep in mind. The construction materials, processing power, display resolution, and storage capacities are usually lower on inexpensive ultraportables, as they’re built for basic web browsing, word processing, and media viewing purposes. Entry-level ultraportables make solid systems for younger family members to use for homework or watching movies around the house, since they are both highly portable and relatively inexpensive. Value is a big factor in this category, as plenty of budget ultraportables can entice you with a low price. If you’re not careful, you may find yourself let down by a system that’s only a bargain because its manufacturer cut too many corners. That said, the spec floor has risen in this category. As faster base parts become less expensive and more common, cheaper systems with decent build quality are more capable of completing day-to-day tasks.

Midrange systems are better, but also cost more—between $500 and $1,250. Materials and specs that were once exclusive to high-end ultraportables are now the norm in midrange systems, including features such as full HD (1,920-by-1,080) or QHD (2,560-by-1,440) resolutions, touch displays, metal chassis, and more. Battery life and storage have improved as well, making it easier to get better bang for your buck in this price range. You’ll still have to compromise in one or two areas such as storage capacity, port options, and resolution compared with the high-end systems, but for most shoppers, this price range represents the best mix of price and performance.

At the top of the price ladder are premium systems, which we categorize as anything costing $1,250 or more. With these high-end systems come choice materials, cutting-edge components and features, and top performance that will speed up photo editing and other productivity tasks. Here, you’ll also see 3K- or 4K-resolution displays, quality sound hardware (often from familiar brands like Bang & Olufsen), spacious and speedy storage, and other exciting features, all while the system’s form factor remains slim and compact. This pricing tier yields the best overall user experience, the most features and port options, and the fastest internal hardware, but not every premium system is created equal, and when you’re spending this much money, do you really want second best?

The Best Ultraportable Laptops of 2016 - 10/2016 Update (Asus Zenbook 3)

Choose Your Power Wisely

For smooth performance and a good user experience, you’ll want to be choosy about your processor. Even in a less-expensive system, the average processor is more capable than ever of handling routine tasks, but if you need speed, select carefully. At the top of the heap are Intel’s Core i5 and Core i7 processors, which can be found in midrange and premium models. Most ultraportables will utilize the latest Intel 14nm chips, the 7th Generation Core CPUs code-named “Kaby Lake.” These processors, Intel’s fastest and least power hungry to date, are typically paired with 8GB of memory, though some premium systems boast up to 16GB of RAM.

A few middle-of-the-pack models will opt for processors in Intel’s Core M line. These m3, m5, and m7 CPUs are capable but low-powered, intended to bridge the gap between more expensive Core i5 and i7 chips and the Intel Atom processors you find in inexpensive Windows tablets. The design of a Core M CPU allows for processing power that approaches that of Core i5 chips, but with lower power consumption and no need for cooling fans. This results in slimmer laptop designs, quieter operation (no fans mean no fan noise), and longer battery life, often extending past 8 hours. Core M–equipped systems are a good choice if you want the most portable ultraportable. They aren’t usually less expensive, though, and you may find yourself paying more than you would for something that’s more powerful, but also slightly thicker and heavier. You’ll have to find the right balance of physical design and performance to fit your needs.

Aside from Intel’s near-ubiquitous CPUs, you will see a few less-expensive systems featuring processors from other manufacturers, primarily AMD. While AMD chips support the same range of uses as Intel chips, from web browsing to video editing and gaming, they aren’t as common in ultraportables. If you aren’t sure about the model used in the system you’re considering, take a look at our reviews (particularly the results of our benchmark tests) to see how it will fare in real-world conditions.

Finally, at the low end are Intel’s Atom and Celeron processors. These budget processors are both inexpensive and energy-efficient, but power users may find themselves frustrated by slow performance, limited RAM allotments (1GB to 2GB), and 32-bit software support instead of 64-bit. You will definitely feel a difference in performance speed, but you can probably make do if you’re a casual user.

Pay Attention to Graphics

Also important is the graphics processor. Ultraportable systems almost exclusively rely on integrated graphics, such as Intel’s HD Graphics 620. This level of horsepower is usually enough for streaming media and maybe editing the odd photo, but not for substantial gaming. If you want to do more with media and perhaps some gaming, you’ll need a discrete graphics card, like the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070. These cards require more power and cooling, and as such are generally only seen in bulkier gaming laptops or desktop-replacement notebooks. There are some rare exceptions like the Razer Blade, but by and large these systems are not suited to gaming. Don’t expect the integrated graphics to suffice for playing much more than a few less-demanding games on lower detail settings.

The Best Ultraportable Laptops of 2016 - 10/2016 Update (New Razer Blade Stealth)

Space is Everything

Speedy hardware is all well and good, but you also need somewhere to keep all your digital stuff. For most ultraportables, this means a solid-state drive (SSD). These compact, flash-based storage devices are less prone to data loss from damage because they don’t have any moving parts, which is ideal for systems doing a lot of traveling. Some SSDs use a connection standard called M.2, which is smaller than traditional SATA connections—and smaller connectors allow smaller designs—but both are serviceable. Some (but not all) of these M.2-connected drives use a PCI Express (PCIe) connection for faster data transfer (and thus faster overall performance).

While SSDs are the most common for ultraportables, you will see two other storage options used on less-expensive systems. A few use an embedded MultiMediaCard (eMMC), a form of solid-state storage that is often identified as an SSD in product specs but is actually a memory card (like an SD card). As such, it’s a little slower and a lot smaller in capacity (32 to 64GB) than a standard SSD.

Finally, some systems still use good-old-fashioned spinning hard drives. These drives are less expensive than SSDs, and they offer substantially more room for your files—you will often see hard drives with capacities of 500GB or more. You won’t get the same speedy performance as you do with an SSD, but there’s something to be said for lots of storage space.

Related Story See How We Test Laptops

Picking Your Pixels

As for a more visible portion of the laptop, the screen, ultraportables are available with a wide range of display options. These include an increasingly varied array of resolutions, from standard high definition (1,366 by 768) to full HD and even Ultra HD or 4K (3,840 by 2,160). Lower-resolution screens are most frequently found in entry-level systems simply because they’re the least expensive option. They work well enough for reading and typing text, and YouTube usually defaults to something lower than full HD anyway, so less discerning users can get by just fine.

Full HD screens are standard on most midrange systems, and are still used in a fair number of premium ultraportables. These displays offer support for 1080p video and are better equipped for multitasking, since you can fit more readable text and two side-by-side windows onto a 13-inch screen. This is a sharp, true HD resolution, generally ideal for most daily uses.

Ultra HD is currently the resolution of choice for high-end ultraportables. As 4K screens have four times the resolution of a full HD display, you can fit a lot onto them. The sheer number of pixels requires more power, however, and 4K-equipped systems usually see a significant drop in battery life compared with similar full HD systems. There’s also the question of content. Although 4K TVs and displays are becoming increasingly common, there still aren’t a lot of places to stream 4K video, and gaming in 4K is presently more than most ultraportables’ GPUs can adequately support without a drop in performance. At the present, these displays are best suited to uses like photo and video editing, but they do look stunning.

The other feature to watch for is touch. While touch-capable displays were uncommon just a few years ago, they’re now pretty ubiquitous in ultraportable systems, even in the entry-level and business categories. Windows 10 includes some baked-in gesture controls and touch-friendly features, which helps promote its use. Touch technology is also often more useful on a bus or train where you may not have a mouse, making it a good match for ultraportables. Even if you don’t regularly use touch in your day-to-day computing and don’t plan to incorporate it, it may be worth having just so you don’t regret the decision down the road.

The Best Ultraportable Laptops of 2016 - 10/2016 Update (HP Spectre x360)

Two Laptops in One

More and more ultraportables are being released as what we call convertible hybrids, or 2-in-1s. These “mash-ups” let you enjoy both laptop and tablet functionality, thanks to hinges and swiveling joints that let you bend the display back around to use without a keyboard, though the systems don’t come apart the way detachable-hybrid slates do. The best-known systems of this type are in Lenovo’s Yoga line, but many other manufacturers have developed similar designs in recent years.

These convertible devices are laptops first, but they aren’t limited to the traditional clamshell design. Because they feature specialized hinges and touch screens, you can also prop them up like a tent, or turn the keyboard facedown so the screen is better positioned for watching a movie or giving a presentation. The one point of concern is that every extra-flexible hinge or rotating joint also presents a new point of failure for the display, and while they are relatively rare, screen issues occur with convertible designs more than with standalone laptops.

The Big Value: Chromebooks

Depending on what you do with your computer, you might find a chromebook to be one of the best values in ultraportables. A chromebook is a bare-bones laptop that runs Google’s Chrome OS, and thus limits you to using web apps and, as of models released in 2017, Android apps as well.

This means that you won’t have access to traditional Windows software, so if that’s central to how you work and play, a chromebook isn’t for you. But if you use a web-based email client like Gmail or Outlook.com for communications, something Google Drive for doing your work, and spend most of your time watching videos on YouTube or playing web games, and you don’t expect your needs to change anytime soon, chances are you’ll get along just fine with a chromebook. And considering that computers of this type are extraordinarily affordable right down the line (with most costing $300 or less), you could outfit your family with three or even four for about what you’d pay for a high-end ultraportable.

The Types Of Laptops Most Suited To Travel

Laptops come in many different shapes and sizes, from monstrous, 17-inch models that can fully replicate the desktop experience to tiny, 7-inch models that are essentially useless for productivity. When it comes to travel, three distinct types stand out as the best options: Ultrabooks, Chromebooks, and 2-in-1s.

Manufacturers design Ultrabookswith a focus on power and portability, two of the most essential needs for any traveling professional. Ultrabooks are slim and lightweight, and they have a high degree of processing power and an extremely long battery life. It is not uncommon to find Ultrabooks that allow for upwards of 10 hours of HD movie playback. To achieve such a compact and lightweight form, most manufacturers don’t include a CD-ROM drive in their Ultrabooks. In order for a company to market their laptop as an Ultrabook, it must meet a set of stringent specifications set forth by Intel.

Chromebooks share some similarities with Ultrabooks, though the two are vastly different. Unlike Ultrabooks, Chromebooks don’t have a high degree of processing power, though they do often share a portable form. Chromebooks are budget-friendly, long-battery laptops that are ideal for web browsing, movie viewing, and basic productivity, such as using a word processor. This makes them great travel laptops for consumers who just want to watch movies and keep abreast of happenings on social media. Another major difference worth noting about Chromebooks is that they use the streamlined Chrome OS. As with Ultrabooks, Chromebooks often sacrifice CD-ROMs for a more compact, easily portable form.

2-in-1s, sometimes referred to as convertibles or hybrids, are probably the most versatile laptops. These bridge the gap between traditional laptops and tablets. 2-in-1s come in two different styles: foldable and detachable. Foldable models have a screen that rotates all the way around until its back touches the back of the keyboard, in which configuration they look very much like tablets, albeit thicker and more cumbersome. Detachable models have a screen that completely detaches from the keyboard, making them practically identical to a tablet when detached. There is some overlap between 2-in-1s and the previous two styles, since 2-in-1s can also fall into the Chromebook or Ultrabook category.

What To Look For In A Travel Laptop

As with any laptop purchase, the right model for one user may not be the right choice for another. Every user will place different demands on their PC, hence they will need to look at different specifications. Despite this, there are two things that are important to every person looking for a travel laptop: battery life and size. These are the two most essential properties to consider when looking at the different models available. Once you have found a few different models that meet your needs for battery life and portability, you can begin to look at other features you may desire.

When it comes to portability, you must balance a compact form with your productivity needs. Carrying around a laptop in your backpack or briefcase with a small 10.1-inch screen sounds great in theory, but such a small screen can hinder productivity. For example, if you need to look at intricate schematics, a small screen can be very problematic. Smaller laptops also have smaller keyboards, which can result in slower typing and more typos. For the average user, a travel laptop with a 12- to 13-inch screen is generally the perfect size. These are large enough to allow for unimpeded productivity, yet small and lightweight enough for easy transport.

Finding a model with the a long battery life is often a balancing act between processing power and price. The more processing power a laptop has, the shorter the battery life will generally be, unless your are willing to pay a lot of money, in which case you can find a powerful laptop with an exceptionally long battery life. The goal is to find a travel laptop with an acceptable amount of processing power and a reasonable battery life. Just remember, most manufacturers’ battery life claims are under ideal conditions, such as video playback only with no additional processes running. A laptop with a marketed battery life of 10 hours, will probably get six hours of real-life usage.

Helpful Tips To Extend Your Laptop’s Battery Life

Buying a laptop with a long battery life is just the first step. There are many additional settings you can tweak to ensure you are making the most efficient use of the power you have. A laptop’s screen is one of its biggest power draws, and keeping your screen set to maximum brightness all of the time is one of the surest ways to quickly drain your laptop’s battery. Dimming your screen brightness to match your surroundings has a two-fold benefit. Not only doesn’t it significantly increase your battery life, but it can also help reduce eye strain. Setting your PC to automatically turn off the display after a few minutes of inactivity will also help extend your battery life.

Turning off unnecessary hardware and software can result in significant battery life improvements, too. If you aren’t currently using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, turn them off. You can do this individually in your computer’s settings, or just click the airplane mode button, which will turn off both simultaneously. Closing any unused applications is also helpful. To make your life a little bit easier, adjust your laptop’s startup settings so that only necessary applications launch when you turn on your device. This way you won’t have to manually close every infrequently used program every time you start your computer.

Another easy tweak to improve your battery life is to adjust your power plan. Laptops generally come with three power plan levels: high performance, recommended, and power saver, but these can be further tweaked for total customization. For example, you can set your laptop to immediately enter battery saver mode once your battery level hits 90 percent, rather than the default setting of 10 or 15 percent. You can also adjust things like the maximum processor state and video playback settings when on battery, all of which can affect how long your laptop’s battery lasts.

How do you choose a laptop from the hundreds on the market? Here are our top 10 tips.

Laptops offer brilliant portability, but less flexibility than a desktop once you’ve made your choice.

You could just decide upon a budget and grab whatever a big manufacturer such as Dell or HP is selling for that price, but what if the machine doesn’t do what you want? What if the keyboard or screen isn’t right, or it doesn’t have all the ports you need? You can’t just swap out your keyboard or plug in an expansion card as you can on a desktop PC.

For this reason you need to think carefully about what you need your laptop for before you hand over your cash. In this buying guide, we’ll cut through some of the confusion by taking you through the different kinds of laptop available, providing an overview of the different specifications you’ll come across.

When you’re done, read our best laptop round-up.

Video: How to choose a laptop

1. Pick a size

There’s no best laptop overall; it really depends on your own requirements and budgets, and size will play a big part in that.

Laptops tend to be divided into categories based on the diagonal size of their screens, in inches. This is because a laptop’s screen size also determines the overall size of its chassis. A laptop with a huge 17-inch screen will be fantastic for work and gaming, and is likely to feature a decent-sized keyboard to make typing easier, but will be far bigger and heavier than a 13-inch model.

image: http://ksassets.timeincuk.net/wp/uploads/sites/54/2017/02/GL552VW-7-1-1.jpg

Asus ROG GL552VW
Gaming notebooks are technically laptops, but they aren’t particularly portableYou need to think carefully about whether you’ll be travelling with your laptop or using it only at home; there isn’t much point buying an ultra-light 13-inch model (£700 approx) if you’re going to use it on a desk at home most of the time. Likewise, a 17-inch powerhouse (around £650) makes a good replacement for a desktop PC, but is unlikely to fit in a rucksack.

A 15-inch model (around £300 to £500) offers a decent compromise between ease of use and portability: as long as it weighs around 2kg or less, you probably won’t mind taking it on the train. If you want something super-lightweight, opt for a laptop with a display of 11-13 inches.

2. Screen resolution

The size of the screen isn’t everything; resolution should also be taken into account. The minimum resolution you’ll generally find is 1,366 x 768 pixels. This is fine for the majority of tasks. It’s even possible to work on two applications side by side with this many pixels, especially since so many modern web pages reformat themselves to suit the available screen space.

 

DEll XPS 13
The Dell XPS 13 has a high-resolution 13.3-inch screen, which means you’ll have to scale it up to see it clearly

On laptops with smaller screens, a larger resolution doesn’t always mean more space. When a laptop has a greater number of pixels in a small area, the operating system has to scale everything up, or else text and icons would be too small to see properly.

Go-Anywhere Computing

With thinner, lighter, and more powerful ultraportables available now than ever before, there’s something in the category to suit anyone’s needs. No matter your preferences for brand, display, or feature set, there’s a variety of options to choose from across a range of form factors and prices. Below are 10 of the top ultraportables we’ve tested. Be sure to also check our overall laptop favorites, as well as our top picks for work and play, and if you’re on a budget, the best low-cost laptops.

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