20 Laptops with the Longest Battery Life 2018-2019-2020 Buying Guide.
The Best Battery Life Laptops of 2018-2019 25% OFF
Laptops with the Longest Battery Life 2018-2019 -What’s the point of owning a laptop if it doesn’t have a good and long lasting battery life? In that case you’d be better with your desktop. Here in this article, we will be reviewing 10 of the best laptops with longest battery life 2018-2019. With increasing traffic on roads, having a laptop with good battery life is very important these days as almost every professional has to travel to their office or work and plenty of the work can be done while traveling. It’s also useful while they are on a vacation or business trips. These days with everything becoming online, you can’t stay away from the Internet for long and will have to check the progress from time to time. It’s extremely frustrating looking for a plug to connect your laptop while you’re working or watching a movie. Most of the recently launched laptops do come with attractive features but not with long lasting battery life and that’s what makes it very difficult to find the best laptop with long battery life. That is why we recommend a notebook with at least 5 hours of backup and here you’ll find the most reliable laptops of 2017.
- Apple MacBook (2017) Review and Ratings
- Dell Latitude 12 7000 (7280) Review and Ratings
- Dell XPS 13 (Late 2016, Kaby Lake Core i5) Review and Ratings
- HP EliteBook x360 1030 G2 Review and Ratings
- Lenovo ThinkPad T470 Review and Ratings
What to look for in the Best Battery Life Laptop?
Laptops with the Longest Battery Life 2018-2019 -Of course the battery life which is certainly one of the most important aspect of any laptop and there are number of things that affect a battery life such as its size, display, processor, etc. Lately there are many brands that claim their laptops come with 5 hours and 7 hours of battery life which is very similar to car brands that claim the mileage of their cars. There are very few laptops on the market that deliver the battery life as stated by the manufacturers and here at BLW we test each laptop personally. Mostly batteries are measured with “cells” which is a lot better than “hours” because what you do on your machine does matter a lot when it comes to battery usage. Anyways, let’s have a look at the reviews of 10 best laptops with longest battery life in 2018
Laptops with the Longest Battery Life 2018-2019
Our Verdict: The XPS 13 may not feel as fresh as it did nearly two years ago, but new “Kaby Lake” CPU options, plus a battery boost, enable impressive battery life. Its comfy keyboard, solid shell, and trim lines make it a hard-to-ignore option, even versus laptops that weigh a little less. Read Our Review
Our Verdict: Today’s top detachable 2-in-1, Microsoft’s updated Surface Book is a stunner, packing improved graphics, a Core i7 CPU, and longer battery life. It’s great for getting work done, but you’ll need to work a bunch to pay for it: It starts at $2,399. Read Our Review
Our Verdict: A business-minded rotating 2-in-1 that gets the essentials right, this Portege is a strong convertible with crossover appeal for home users in its lower-end configurations. Read Our Review
Apple MacBook (2017) Review and Ratings
Our Verdict: Apple’s updated MacBook gets a performance and battery boost, plus a somewhat better keyboard. It remains impressively slim, with an excellent screen, but we still want more than that one port. Read More…
- What We Liked…
- Improved performance and keyboard compared to previous-generation MacBook
- 15-hour battery life
- Excellent Retina display
- What We Didn’t…
- Still just one USB port (a Type-C that won’t fit most existing peripherals)
- Noisy keyboard
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Apple MacBook (2017) Review
By July 14, 2017reviewed
Introduction, Design & Features
Apple’s June 2017 WWDC event was jam-packed with more announcements, product updates, and new-hardware teases than any conference, keynote, or product launch event in the company’s recent history. Alongside a macOS update called “High Sierra” (which was just starting to trickle out to beta testers as we wrote this), a Siri-packing HomePod speaker system, and the powerful, pricey iMac Pro (the latter two should arrive at the end of the year), Apple announced significant updates to its iMac lineup. That includes the Apple iMac 27-inch with 5K Retina Display$1,799.00 at Apple Store that we just looked at, along with Intel 7th Generation “Kaby Lake” updates to its MacBook Pro and MacBook laptop lines.
We’re looking at the latter here, in the form of an update to Apple’s smallest laptop, the 2-pound, 12-inch MacBook. Aside from new Kaby Lake chips (all low-voltage Y-Series chips, not the more powerful U-series offered in ultrabooks and the MacBook Pros), Apple has also thrown in faster solid-state drives (SSDs). And it’s swapped the “butterfly” switches found in its previous-generation MacBook keyboard for second-generation versions, the same that can be found in the 2016 redesign of the Apple MacBook Pro$1,499.00 at Apple Store.
The design remains otherwise identical, which has its pluses and minuses. This remains one of the sleekest, lightest laptops around. But there’s still just one USB Type-C port, and it still does double duty as the charging port. So you can’t charge the laptop while having something else plugged in without buying an adapter or a hub of some kind. Also, other companies are getting increasingly good at copying Apple’s design. Both the Asus ZenBook 3 and the Huawei MateBook X$956.63 at Amazon are dead ringers for this laptop in terms of physical design, and the latter manages to jam in both a much more powerful Core i7 processor, an extra USB Type-C port, and a very reliable fingerprint reader integrated into the power button.
The MacBook faces stiffer competition than ever on the light-laptop front, and the keyboard, while improved over the previous model in terms of feel, is now much louder if you’re a fast, heavy-fingered typist. But Apple has an impressive ace up its sleeve that almost no other laptop in this weight class can match: 15 hours of battery life in our video-rundown test. Follow us below to see if the new MacBook impresses in other areas, as well as which similarly compact (and less expensive) Windows laptop lasts nearly as long when away from the power plug.
Design & Features
While the MacBook’s looks have remained the same for a couple of years now, there’s no denying its attractive, impressively thin design.
Whether it’s sitting dead-center on a roomy desk, or perched on your knees during a cramped commute, the MacBook is about as eye-catching as laptops get. It’s available in gold, Space Gray, and silver, as well the decidedly pinkish Rose Gold version that we looked at in 2016.
That said, of late, Windows laptop makers have been giving Apple some serious competition on the pretty-portable front. HP’s Spectre 13 sports a distinctive copper-colored hinge, and it is actually slightly thinner than the MacBook, at 0.41 inch. And the Asus ZenBook 3, while it unabashedly copies Apple’s exterior design, is available in a head-turning blue-and-copper color scheme that may appeal to those who want something that stands out from the single-tone Apple crowd.
The MacBook’s dimensions and weight haven’t changed since the 2015 model, but at 0.52 inch at its thickest point and weighing just 2.03 pounds, the 12-inch MacBook is still an impressive feat of engineering. It’s not alone on that front anymore, though, as LG’s Gram line of laptops, which debuted after the 2015 MacBook did, are about as thin and light. That includes the 2017 version of the LG Gram 13$1,099.00 at Amazon, which is just a few hairs heavier than the MacBook (at 2.07 pounds) despite its larger 13.3-inch screen, which includes a touch layer. Also, the latest 13.3-inch Samsung Notebook 9 that we first saw at CES 2017 weighs even less, at 1.8 pounds. That makes the 12-inch MacBook a little less impressive than it was a couple years ago. But make no mistake: It’s still among the thinnest and lightest laptops around, and its chassis is more rigid than most other laptops in the 2-pound weight range.
Speaking of the 12-inch screen, the combination of edge-to-edge glass, a 2,304×1,440-pixel native resolution, and IPS technology for excellent viewing angles come together as one of the MacBook’s best features. The bezels are also fairly slim, without having to relocate the Webcam from its top-of-the-bezel perch, as Dell did with its Dell XPS 13. Still, we’d like to see something better than a 480p camera for FaceTime chats on a laptop that starts at $1,299.
Beyond that are the much-talked-about input devices. The “Force Touch” trackpad incorporates pressure sensors and haptic feedback, forgoing an actual physical click. This takes some getting used to, but it’s at least a decent alternative to the typical touch pad. Plus, you get the benefit of Apple’s macOS-specific pressure sensitivity, which lets you tap or press to select an item, then press harder to trigger a second action. For example, force-clicking on a document in Finder opens a preview of it, or on an address in Safari brings up a map. Or you can press harder or softer to adjust forward or rewind speed in music or movies in QuickTime.
It takes some practice to learn not to press too hard when selecting an item (i.e., to avoid force-clicking by mistake), but once you get the hang of it, it’s clever and convenient. And in a general sense, cursor control is as spot-on here as ever, feeling smoother and more precise than on pretty much any Windows-based laptop’s pad. Though again, Windows laptops have gained ground here, thanks to the Microsoft Precision Touchpad program, which unifies drivers and features across an increasing number of premium laptops.
Typing on the backlit keyboard is a somewhat improved experience versus previous-model MacBooks. With this update, Apple moved to a second-generation version of its “butterfly” key switches, which first debuted in its late-2016 MacBooks, like the Apple MacBook Pro (13-Inch, 2016)$1,499.00 at Apple Store. In case you haven’t had fingers-on time with one of those laptops, this primarily means that while there’s a fair amount of tactile feel when depressing the keys, there’s very little in the way of actual physical travel.
Compared to the key feel on the 2016 MacBook, the keys here feel slightly different, with a less sticky-feeling bottoming out and bounce-back. But there’s no improvement in key travel compared to that laptop, at least that our fingers could discern. And what we were most surprised about was just how loud the keyboard can get when typing. If you press the keys lightly, and type slowly, they’re fairly quiet. But when we started typing faster, our fingers hit the keys harder (likely because they’re used to more travel in the downstroke), and the typing noise became quite pronounced, almost akin to what we’re used to hearing from a clacky mechanical keyboard.
This might get better over time, as your fingers adjust to the keys and strike them more softly. But if you’re not a delicate typist, you probably wouldn’t want to use this keyboard in a setting like a quiet library. Heck, you may even get shushed by fellow patrons in a quiet coffee shop.
For all that, we don’t dislike the MacBook Pro’s new keyboard. Its unique feel is oddly compelling, which makes us feel we’d get used to it after some time using it as our daily driver. The real question is why anyone should have to do that. But if you’re an Apple die-hard, that’s increasingly becoming the case, as only the aging MacBook Air still sports the company’s previous-generation keyboard.
As noted earlier, the MacBook has a single USB Type-C port, housed on the left edge, near the back…
This also doubles as the power jack, which means you can’t charge the MacBook and use a wired peripheral or external storage at the same time without some kind of adapter. Apple will be happy to sell these adapters to you, but they aren’t included in the box. USB Type-C is certainly more common today than it was a year or two ago, but it’s still nascent on the peripherals front; most stuff ships with an ordinary USB Type-A connector. We don’t want Apple to ditch USB Type-C port altogether, by any means, but considering that the power pack also uses this connector, it’s cumbersome in practice that the company didn’t see fit to add a second USB Type-C in this refresh.
Note also that, while Apple lowered the prices of its USB Type-C adapters for a few months late last year after the launch of its USB-C-only MacBook Pros, those prices have now gone back up. The company’s USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter, for example, which adds a USB Type-A port and an HDMI output via the USB Type-C port, sells for $69. But you can certainly find reliable, less-expensive adapters elsewhere. Accell’s USB-C to HDMI 2.0 Adapter, which lets you plug the MacBook into a 4K, 30Hz display, sells for a more palatable $35, though it doesn’t bring the extra USB ports of the pricier Apple adapter.
One place where the physical ports haven’t been compromised for thinness is in audio. You still get a standard headphone jack on the right edge, also near the back. So, at least, you won’t have to resort to Bluetooth headphones or speakers.
Components & Options
Apple sent us the $1,299 entry-level MacBook for review, which is built around a dual-core, 7th-Generation “Kaby Lake” Intel Core m3 processor. That chip has a 1.2GHz base clock, can boost as high as 3GHz for short periods, and comes backed by 8GB of RAM. Also under the hood is a 256GB PCI Express-bus-based solid-state drive, which Apple says also gets a speed boost over last year’s model.
And it seems Apple delivered on the speedier storage front. We tested the 2016 MacBook using the Blackmagic Design drive testing app and saw sequential-read speeds of about 930MB per second and sequential writes of about 670MB per second. On the 2017 model, we saw read performance jump to around 1,350MB per second, and write speeds increase to about 1,040MB per second. That’s speedy compared to most boot drives, even if we’ve seen much faster performance from the fastest internal drives. Samsung’s SSD 960 Pro$289.99 at Amazon, for instance, is an M.2 SSD that roughly doubled those speed numbers in our testing.
That said, as we’ve seen from testing and actually using many very fast drives, there isn’t a lot of real-world advantage (or difference in general computing “feel”) when using an extremely speedy drive, compared to “just”a Serial ATA-based SSD that can only manage around 500MB per second reads and writes.
If you want more in the way of performance and storage, you can also opt for Core i5 (starting at $1,599) or Core i7 (starting at $1,749) models of the MacBook, with a 512GB SSD, and up to 16GB of RAM (a $200 extra over 8GB configurations). But keep in mind that even though the higher-end processors here have “Core i” in their name, these are still low-wattage Y-Series processors targeted at quick, short tasks. These chips used to be called “Core m5” and “Core m7” in previous chip generations. So don’t think of them as the kind of CPUs you’d want to use for things like 4K video editing or the like. For those kinds of tasks, you’ll definitely want to step up at least to a MacBook Pro.
And while the $1,299 model we tested is the best overall value, it’s still expensive for what you get on a raw-components basis. Unless you place a serious premium on the pixel-dense screen, you can get better general performance from laptops like the LG Gram 13 or Asus ZenBook 3 for around $1,000. And the former, as we’re about to see, even matches the MacBook’s excellent battery life.
Dell Latitude 12 7000 (7280) Review and Ratings
Our Verdict: It’s not exactly sleek, but the Latitude 7280 is a fast slab of an business ultraportable with a fine combination of durability, speed, and—especially—battery life. Read More…
- What We Liked…
- Rugged, all-metal chassis
- Strong Core i7 performance, in test model
- Outstanding battery life
- Three-year warranty is standard
- What We Didn’t…
- Pricey, as tested
- Battery is not user-replaceable
- Touch pad is tight
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Dell Latitude 12 7000 (7280) Review
By April 20, 2017reviewed
Introduction, Design & Features
With the latest iteration of its business ultrabook, Dell has shrunk the case a bit, moved to Intel “Kaby Lake”/7th Generation core silicon, and added an optional IR Webcam that lets you log in to the machine using your face. “Ultrabook,” though, would suggest to you that this is a trim, slim business slice that’ll barely plump your laptop bag. Not quite.
Despite the fact that the dimensions and weight are a bit reduced from the previous-generation Dell Latitude E7250, the Latitude 12 7000 (7280) isn’t an ultrabook that exudes sleekness. It is, after all, a business machine, and one that packs lots of ports. Plus, this 12.5-inch ultrabook boasts stellar build quality and ruggedness to stand up to the wear and tear that road warriors are sure to heap upon it. Its battery will also get you through the longest of work days on a single charge.
The Latitude 7280 line starts at $1,029 but quickly scales up from there. (Our test configuration rang up at $1,850 at this writing.) Dell offers four baseline models of the Latitude 7280, which you can customize on Dell’s Web site.
The entry-level $1,029 model is a light hitter, featuring a Core i3 CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB solid-state drive (SSD), and a three-cell (42-watt-hour) battery. The next model up costs $1,169 and steps you up to a Core i5 CPU. The $1,349 model bumps you up to a slightly faster Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a four-cell (60-watt-hour) battery. The default configuration for the high-end model costs $1,619 and features a Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, and the same four-cell battery.
All models, by default, feature a 12.5-inch display with a 1,366×768 native resolution and integrated Intel graphics. It’s not a touch screen. You can upgrade the display to an full-HD panel (1,920×1,080 resolution) and add touch support. The other areas where you might upgrade include adding more memory (up to 16GB), increasing the capacity of the SSD, and upgrading the Serial ATA SSD inside to a faster one using PCI Express and the NVMe protocol.
Our $1,850 test configuration takes the Core i7 baseline model and adds three upgrades: a 256GB SATA SSD, a 1,920×1,080 display that also includes an IR Webcam, and a what Dell calls a “palmrest upgrade,” which brings in a fingerprint reader, a Smart Card slot, support for contact-less Smart Card, and Thunderbolt 3. (All that, clearly, extends well beyond the palmrest.)
Now, make no mistake: A price approaching $2,000 is a princely sum to pay for a 12.5-inch ultrabook, particularly one that isn’t all that sleek or thin and lacks a touch screen. It’s not built to turn heads, as much as it’s built to survive drops. The rugged, magnesium-alloy case should hold up to life on the road. Your data is kept safe, too, by a number of security features; TPM file encryption is standard, and vPro for remote management is offered on the two higher-end configurations. Dell also backs the Latitude 7280 with a standard three-year warranty with onsite service after remote diagnostics; Lenovo, for example, skimps on the ThinkPad X260 with only a one-year warranty of carry-in or depot service.
We’ve got good battery news and bad battery news. Let’s start with the bad: the battery is sealed into the case and, thus, not easily replaceable. The good news is it runs and runs and runs. Battery life is key for any ultrabook, and the Latitude 7280 delivers; it topped 15 hours on our battery-life test, which is wildly good.
The Dell Latitude 7280’s chief competitor among business ultrabooks is the ThinkPad X270. (We looked at the previous-generation Lenovo ThinkPad X260$881.10 at Lenovo, which earned an Editors’ Choice and a rare 5-star rating; we just got in the X270 for testing and review.) The Latitude 7280 and ThinkPad X260 are nearly identical in terms of size and weight and offer many of the same features, though we favor the ThinkPad X260’s keyboard and touch pad. (It also has a pointing stick, if you are into that kind of thing.) Its battery is also user-replaceable.
Design & Features
Where some ultrabooks ditch the ubiquitous USB Type-A ports to cut a thin profile, the Latitude 7280 is built more like a little slab, with both types of USB port onboard. It features a magnesium-alloy enclosure that offers a solid, rugged feel. We noted little to no flex in the lid or the keyboard deck. The chassis provides a reassuring toughness to survive daily commutes and long road trips.
It measures 12 inches wide by 8.2 inches deep and 0.7 inch thick. It weighs 2.9 pounds, the same weight as the ThinkPad X260. It’s looks a bit thicker than it is because it perks up at a bit of an angle on two long, rubber feet that run nearly the width of the laptop…
These extra-long feet provide a good grip on your desk or airplane tray table, while also doubling as a comfortable grip for your fingertips when carrying the laptop with the lid closed. Soft-touch paint on the lid and keyboard deck lends a luxurious feel, as well.
The 12.5-inch display is LED-backlit and, in our test unit, featured a 1,920×1,080 resolution and an anti-glare surface. The default resolution on Latitude 7280 models is only 1,366×768; we recommend upgrading to one of the 1,920×1,080 options for a crisper image and larger effective workspace on the smallish screen.
The display upgrade on our test system also included an IR Webcam. Along with Windows Hello, Windows 10’s facial-recognition feature, the IR cam lets you simply place your face in front of the system to log in. In testing, we found it easy to set up Windows Hello and subsequently quicker and easier than typing a password. But we think most users will use the fingerprint reader on the right edge of the laptop’s wide wrist rest. As we mentioned earlier, the fingerprint-reader upgrade also adds a Smart Card reader and a contactless Smart Card reader (via NFC). So, depending on the security needs of your office or organization, one of these may be a handy (or with some government agencies, mandated) addition.
Depending on the configuation you opt for, you can get a Smart Card reader compliant with FIPS 201, and an NFC module with FIPS 140-2 Level 3 encryption. (FIPS stands for Federal Information Processing Standards.) FIPS 140 is a cryptography standard employed by the U.S. government for protection of sensitive data; federal agencies that make use of products employing cryptography must use gear that complies with FIPS 140. FIPS 201 is its equivalent for identity verification. If you’re dealing with the need for these kinds of compliances, we suspect your IT department is on top of the purchasing game, or you have defined guidelines for what to buy.
The full-size keyboard features keys with good travel and backlighting. Dell didn’t have to abbreviate any of the keys on this 12.5-inch laptop (well, barring the trimmed-down arrow cluster, common in laptops this size), and the keys are whisper-quiet to type on. The touch pad is a tad undersize, measuring 4 inches wide by 2 inches deep. Had Dell incorporated the mouse buttons into the surface of the touch pad as virtual buttons, there would have been room to make the touch pad larger.
A major reason why the Latitude 7280 isn’t as thin as some other ultrabooks is that it holds on to the older USB Type-A port, while some of the slimmest have ditched that partly or wholly in favor of thinner, more versatile Type-C ports. (They’re versatile in the sense that you can plug them in in either direction, and some of them support system charging; less so, from the point of view of compatible devices.) You get both kinds on this system. You’ll find a USB 3.1 Type-A port on either side of the system and, in our test unit, a USB Type-C port with Thunderbolt 3 on the left edge.
Thunderbolt 3 delivers transfer speeds up to 40Gbps; USB 3.1 tops out at 5Gbps. That said, this isn’t a charging port, so it’s mainly useful for USB Type C devices and any Thunderbolt docking or high-speed external storage you may want to connect. Also on the left edge is an HDMI port (full-size!), the power drum connector, and the Smart Card slot…
On the right edge, you’ll find an Ethernet jack, the audio jack, a MicroSD card slot, and security lockdown slot…
The lock slot is the square notch near the rear. It works with the Wedge locks from Noble Locks. This is a different animal than the much more common Kensington-style cable lock.
On the whole, this is a very complete set of connectivity for any ultrabook, and especially for one with a relatively small screen, like this one.
Dell XPS 13 (Late 2016, Kaby Lake Core i5) Review and Ratings
Our Verdict: The XPS 13 may not feel as fresh as it did nearly two years ago, but new “Kaby Lake” CPU options, plus a battery boost, enable impressive battery life. Its comfy keyboard, solid shell, and trim lines make it a hard-to-ignore option, even versus laptops that weigh a little less. Read More…
- What We Liked…
- Near two-day battery life in this configuration
- Good mix of current and future-looking ports
- 1080p touch display now a $100 add-on option
- What We Didn’t…
- Oddly placed Webcam still isn’t ideal for video chats
- No fingerprint reader or Windows Hello-enabled camera
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Dell XPS 13 (Late 2016, Kaby Lake Core i5) Review
By November 8, 2016reviewed
Introduction, Design & Features
When the Dell XPS 13 first broke cover at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show nearly two years ago, Dell’s then-new killer ultraportable stood out as a smartly crafted, slim-and-light traditional laptop. That was in a market that, at the time, was focusing more on convertibles and detachables.
A couple years down the line, Dell has continued to make minor changes to the laptop, updating processors from “Broadwell” to “Skylake” (see our review of the late-2015 Dell XPS 13 with Skylake Core i5$829.00 at Amazon) and adding a gold color option with beefier Intel Iris integrated graphics. (Check out the Dell XPS 13, 2016 Gold Core i7 With Iris$1,699.99 at Dell.) Now, the company is updating the XPS 13’s processor generation yet again, to Intel’s latest chips meant for ultralight laptops, the 7th-Generation Core “Kaby Lake” CPUs. Here specifically we’re taking a look at a $1,149, 2.5GHz Core i5-7200U-based model with a 1080p non-touch screen and a fast 256GB NVMe-equipped boot drive.
The now-familiar chassis remains the same, weighing in at 2.7 pounds, with the still-attractive slim “Infinity Edge” bezels around the 13.3-inch display. The model Dell sent for review also has a new Rose Gold chassis, which costs an extra $50 over the standard silver shell. And both the wireless chip and the battery have been given a boost. The former is in the form of a 2×2 Killer 1535 Wireless-AC chip, while the battery has grown from 56 watt-hours (Whr) in the previous model to 60Whr in XPS 13 models that pack Intel’s latest CPUs. While Dell has kept the “XPS 13” name the same for retail purposes, this model is known internally as model 9360, while the previous generation was 9350. When trying to differentiate between generations, knowing that may be helpful.
Can the new, thrice-updated XPS 13 compete with the best of today’s best ultraportables, such as the spectacular, copper-accented HP Spectre 13$888.88 at Amazon and the Apple MacBook-like, two-pound Asus ZenBook 3$720.00 at Amazon? Follow us below as we find out.
Design & Features
The sole aesthetic change with the new XPS that we’re looking at here is the “Rose Gold” shell, which replaces the previous non-rose, but still gold color option that we looked at in early 2016 with a Core i7 and stepped-up Iris graphics. The gold shell is a $50 additional cost; it was factored into our review configuration’s $1,149 asking price.
That means you can get this same system in standard silver for $1,099. As far as the color goes, how it looks varies depending on what kind of lights you’re under. In sunlight or bright lights, the hue indeed looks a little rosy. But in dimmer light, it looks more like a soft, pastel-like copper or brass. We like it just fine, but are still partial to silver (or maybe just to the $50 savings for choosing standard silver).
As for the rest of the laptop’s aesthetics, as well as its mostly great input devices, we won’t cover those in detail here. They haven’t really changed, and we’ve covered these details in previous reviews. (For our detailed thoughts about the keyboard, touch pad, and soft-touch wrist rest, see our initial Dell XPS 13 review from early 2015.)
The port selection hasn’t changed up, either. But that’s largely a good thing, because unlike the new Apple MacBook Pro$1,499.00 at Apple Store, which goes all-in with future-looking, dongle-necessitating Thunderbolt 3, Dell delivers a good mix of the old and the new here. On the left edge lives a power jack, a Thunderbolt 3 port, a USB 3 port, a headset jack, and a button you press to illuminate LED indicators that show you remaining battery life.
On the right edge, you get a handy SD-card slot, another USB 3 port (which delivers always-on power for charging devices), and a Kensington-style cable-locking notch.
In an ideal world, it would be nice to have a second Thunderbolt 3 port here, but given that most existing devices still use older rectangular USB connectors (which this system has two ports for), the XPS 13’s connectivity is a solid mix. You’ll just need to pick up an adapter for the Thunderbolt port if you want to plug into external displays. Dell, of course, sells those as well, including a $45 USB-C-to-DisplayPort adapter. But if you don’t expressly need DisplayPort connectivity, the $75 model DA200 adapter may be a better bet. It adds both VGA and HDMI ports, as well as a USB 3.0 Type-A port and an Ethernet jack, all powered off the single Thunderbolt connector. This adapter doesn’t have great reviews on Dell’s site at the moment, with some buyers complaining of HDMI issues. But we plugged the adapter into this XPS 13 review unit and an HDMI port on a TV, and our mirrored desktop showed up on the display without any issues or display artifacts.
Dell offers the XPS 13 with both a 1080p matte display (which is what came in our $1,149 review unit) or a 3,200×1,800-resolution display for a few hundred extra. (More on the configuration options shortly.) The 1080p screen is fine for productivity purposes given the 13.3-inch size of the panel. The matte coating in our configuration keeps reflections to a minimum. Viewing angles aren’t an issue, and the screen gets plenty bright. (Dell rates it for 400 nits.) It’s a fine screen, and one we wouldn’t mind at all using as our daily driver. That said, when looked at side-by-side with the 500-nit Retina screen on the new 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro we just tested, or the OLED panel in the new Alienware 13, the 1080p XPS 13 panel looks a little dull. Bottom line, the screen here is very good, but not quite the best of what’s available in other cutting-edge machines. But as a workhorse machine that you’ll sometimes use to watch a movie or do some light gaming, we don’t think that’s a problem, especially given systems with better screens cost several hundred dollars more.
Dell’s slim “InfinityEdge” bezels are, of course, present here, as they have been in previous versions of this design. We love the look of the near-bezel-free display, but it leads to the one persistent problem with the XPS 13’s design. The 720p Webcam is located below the screen, in the lower left, below the circular Cortana logo. That means awkward low-angle, up-the-nose angles for video chats. This can be helped somewhat by propping the XPS 13 up on a few books, but we’d really like Dell to find a way to move camera back where it belongs: above the screen.
HP EliteBook x360 1030 G2 Review and Ratings
Our Verdict: A superior rotating 2-in-1 for business, the x360 emphasizes collaboration features, battery life, pen input, and max mobility in a classy 13.3-inch machine you’ll be proud to carry. Read More…
- What We Liked…
- Business-calling-specific keys, audio features
- Superlight design
- Full-size ports
- Long battery life, plus quick-charge function
- Robust performance, in our maxed-out test configuration
- What We Didn’t…
- Keyboard feels decent and clicky, but slightly shallow
- Tinny, low-impact audio for anything but speech
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HP EliteBook x360 1030 G2 Review
By April 18, 2017reviewed
Introduction, Design & Features
So many consumer and business laptops nowadays look, in profile or general demeanor, like Apple’s iconic MacBook AirBest Price at Amazon—tapered silver slices—that it has become cliche to call something a “MacBook Air clone.” And while HP’s new flagship business 2-in-1, the EliteBook x360 1030 G2, does share the same profile, size, and complexion as Apple’s long-running laptop icon, to call it that would sell this machine short.
Indeed, you might say that the comparison, were you to make it, might give more undue credit to the aging Air than to the EliteBook. Why? The EliteBook x360 is something of a showcase for 2017’s business laptops. It shows how slick and thoughtful hardware design, security-minded detail, and attention paid to how business users really work can merge into a machine that’s more than the sum of its parts.
The EliteBook line has long been HP’s showcase for its lean, purpose-built laptops for business productivity. The clamshell models typically offer lots of legacy ports, solid construction, and, in later years, slim-yet-rugged designs in the EliteBook Folios. (See, for example, our review of the EliteBook Folio 1040 G3Best Price at Amazon.) This latter line is notable for its optional inclusion of a built-in visual-security feature that makes the screen hard to read by snoopers.
HP has also experimented with 2-in-1s in the Elite line, rolling out a Microsoft Surface Pro-style Windows detachable, the Elite x2 (most recently reviewed as the HP Elite x2 G1 (1012)$995.65 at Amazon.) The Elites have come far beyond the business battlewagons of years past. There are clamshell-style, ultraportable EliteBook models, detachable Elites, and now the EliteBook x360.
Indeed, the model under review today is a seemingly inevitable evolution: a 360-degree-rotating 2-in-1. It was selling at its debut for $1,899 in our specific, well-stacked test model, with lesser versions starting at $1,299. It’s along the lines of Lenovo’s Yogas, as well as models by Dell (in Latitude, Inspiron, and XPS 2-in-1 flavors), Asus (in its various Flip laptops), and Acer (its Spin machines). The rotating 2-in-1, even the business-specific kind, is ground well-plowed at this point, in models like the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga$1,682.10 at Lenovo (offered with the option for a brilliant OLED screen), the Lenovo ThinkPad P40 Yoga$1,348.29 at Amazon (a 2-in-1 workstation model), and Dell in myriad Latitude 2-in-1 models.
What can the rotating EliteBook offer that these others cannot? Each has its strengths, many of them the same as the x360’s. But this model, in sum, offers a refined hardware design, ruthless trimming-down for lightness, pen-input support, great battery life and performance, and some advanced, thoughtful business security features. Let’s take a look.
HP claims that the 13.3-inch-screened EliteBook x360 is the thinnest business-centric 2-in-1 convertible on the market at the moment. Given that it’s 0.6 inch thick, and 2.8 pounds, if that isn’t true, it’s close.
It’s a very trim design, considering that the original Spectre x360, with a 13-inch screen, weighed in at 3.3 pounds. In a demo that HP hosted introducing the EliteBook x360, it likened the 14.95mm thickness of the laptop to that of an AA battery. That’s at the thickest point. It seems as apt a comparison as any, though it sells short just how light the EliteBook x360 feels in hand until you heft it.
The body is done up in a silver finish with diamond-cut accents. It’s a single-piece design of the much-flogged “unibody” kind, dominated by aluminum. This is the signature look of HP’s recent EliteBooks, like the matte-black materials that define Lenovo’s ThinkPad family. There’s a slight taper from the rear to the front that you can see in profile.
The lid is clean metal and ultramodern, with the now-familiar, modernized HP logo that makes us say, “Um, does that say ‘HP,’ or “Liji’?”…
The lid is quite rigid, thin but exhibiting almost no flex when torqued at the corners. Nice.
The screen on this unit did not benefit from the same extreme bezel-reduction effort that trimmed much of the fat off the edges of the 2017 version of the Spectre x360 13, or from competing machines such as the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1$999.99 at Dell. The bezel is 11mm wide on the sides and 18mm thick on the top edge, though one of the benefits is that the Webcam is in its proper location above the panel, not below (a much-maligned compromise in the recent Dell XPS 13 models). The wider bezel also affords a good-size no man’s land for your thumbs when gripping the EliteBook x360 in its tablet mode, without swiping or tapping the touch screen by mistake.
The panel itself is intriguing on a couple of fronts. HP notes that a 4K version will be available down the road, but for review we received a 1080p (full HD) version with a Corning Gorilla Glass top layer, covering the screen edge to edge. It’s a reflective, glossy screen with excellent viewing angles and reasonable color depth. We liked it better than the Sure View screen on the EliteBook 1040 G3 we tested last. This panel is what HP terms “UWVA” (for “ultra-wide viewing angle”), functionally equivalent to the wide-angle viewing we’ve seen from many IPS screens in laptops of its class. We can’t vouch for the same qualities in the eventual Sure View version, however.
As we wrote this in early April, the EliteBook x360 was available for sale with just this panel, but a version with HP’s optional Sure View integrated screen filter was just about to come onto market in mid-April. (The price premium for Sure View was not immediately available.) Sure View, which we first saw earlier this year in the EliteBook Folio 1040 G3 model we tested, is an HP-specific technology for deterring screen eavesdropping by the passenger in the airplane seat next to you, or your co-worker in your open-plan office. (HP uses the term “visual hacking” for this; to us, that sounds like it gives the spy or busybody too much credit, but hey.)
At the press of a button, Sure View makes the screen look essentially blank unless you’re sitting in a narrow field of view in front of it, of about 35 degrees on either side of the centerline. (Per HP, it suppresses 95 percent of the visible light coming from the panel if you are outside the privacy cone.) It’s an effective feature and perhaps a game-changer for frequent travelers who deal with sensitive medical, corporate, personnel, or financial data.
Note that use of the SureView feature will levy a slight battery-drain penalty. (HP claims 16.5 hours of runtime on the EliteBook x360, but 13 with SureView enabled.) And we weren’t as keen on the quality of the screen on the Sure View EliteBook we reviewed as we are of the more ordinary panel on this one. So be sure you’ll use it before you opt for it.
Features & Connectivity
Where the EliteBook x360, alas, collides with its strong competition in the ThinkPad line is in the keyboard. The vertical travel on this spill-resistant board is 1.3mm, with a linear press all the way down. The feedback is good and clicky, with soft “real” clicks that don’t rely on haptic feedback like on Apple’s 2016 (non-Air) MacBookBest Price at Amazon. It’s actually a rather good board for a laptop this thin.
The thing is, Lenovo’s ThinkPad 2-in-1s have it beat, to our fingers, on overall feel. Also, it lacks the ThinkPad Yoga X1’s ability to have the keyboard recess when rotated into tablet mode, leaving the back of the “tablet” a more or less smooth expanse. Here, like on most 2-in-1s, you have a keyboard on the back of your tablet in that mode.
Still, if you want to go this trim on your laptop or 2-in-1, something has to give, and an engineer can allow for only so much key travel before adding thickness. HP’s is one of the best designs in a laptop or 2-in-1 this thin that we’ve tried, but it’s still a product of its natural constraints.
The overall layout of the EliteBook x360 keyboard is smart and conforms to norms, though we’ll quibble about HP’s half-size up/down arrow keys nested between the two full-size left/right arrows until eternity ends or a design change happens, whichever comes first. As this is a 13.3-inch-screen laptop, the layout lacks a number pad, as you’d expect. But HP made intelligent choices here in its layout. (Also, in our test unit, an NFC hotspot was embedded in the touch pad.)
Also on the keyboard deck is the fingerprint reader, in a recessed square below the right-arrow key. In the case of this hardware, the fingerprint matching is done on the sensor itself. This biometric data is encrypted on that hardware, using keys specific to that individual sensor. Setting it was easy, and it worked well. The Webcam, meanwhile, adds another biometric layer by working with Windows Hello for face-recognition logins.
HP dubs the keyboard in the EliteBook x360 a “premium collaboration keyboard,” and we have to give the company credit for a distinct focus on business communication in the design here. In the upper right portion is a set of dedicated keys geared toward using the EliteBook x360 as a speakerphone or Skype station. (They comprise buttons for mute/unmute mic, share screen, answer call, and hang up call.) These buttons debuted in the EliteBook Folio.
These buttons are paired with four speakers tuned for business communications and spoken-word applications. The speakers vent out the underside, as you can see below. We tried them with some loud rock, soul, and ambient, and were underwhelmed by the music performance. The speakers are ostensibly tuned by Bang & Olufsen for spoken-word applications. But the audio impression with music was not a bang, but a whimper. The maximum volume level seemed too soft with most kinds of media, and music sounded generally hollow and tinny. Voices, however, were unerringly clear.
Also on the (literal) flip side, the mics internal to the chassis are designed for clear conference calling. If you open the EliteBook x360 180 degrees (i.e., flat) and position it at the center of your conference area, the mics will optimize for that mode and work as well as any speakerphone. This functionality is optimized for use with Skype for Business.
The mix of connectivity on a machine this lean is surprisingly good, with HP balancing legacy and forward-looking ports in what, to our eyes, seems just the right mix. On the left edge, you get an always-on USB/charging port, the single audio output jack (headphone/mic), a SmartCard slot, the volume rocker, and a power button…
On the right edge is a MicroSD card slot, a USB Type-C/Thunderbolt port, a security-cable lockdown notch, and full-size HDMI and USB 3.0 ports (plus the power jack)…
On its consumer devices, HP noted to us that it didn’t see the need for full-size video output, which could be handled via dongle when needed. But the full-size HDMI here is an elegant solution for presentations, carrying both audio and video over one wire without a dongle or a mini-to-big-port adapter.
The other key input factor here that we haven’t yet discussed is the addition of pen input to the EliteBook with this model. Our test configuration included HP’s Wacom-based active pen in the box. (Some x360 configurations, such as ours, include it; it’s a $59.99 option if not in the box.) The pen itself has more substance than many we’ve used, and because HP does not provide for a niche inside the laptop to store it, the pen can be thicker and more grippable. It’s more in line with Microsoft’s active pen for its Surface Pro 2-in-1s than the passive sticks we’ve seen on some other models.
Lack of an internal storage slot does mean the pen is more likely to get lost, so HP provides a flexible loop you can stick on the edge of EliteBook x360 (a ghastly violation of its clean lines, if you ask us), or a flexi-insert that slides inside the Smart Card reader slot (not ideal, but better, as you can remove it when you’re leaving the pen behind). The pen has a good handfeel and glides well over the screen. It works with various apps with pen support, along with those on a Windows Ink submenu you can pop up from the taskbar for basic sketching, handwritten digital sticky notes, and the like.
As befits a fleet-style laptop like this for business, HP covers it with a three-year commercial warranty. A host of warranty upgrades and damage-insurance plans are available.
Components & Core Software
We received for testing an $1,899 version of the EliteBook x360. This unit had the full-HD (1,920×1,080) “EWVA” display panel we mentioned earlier, with HP’s active pen included in the box and in the price. Note that in many SKUs of the EliteBook x360, the pen is included, but not all; you’ll want to check that detail if you’re considering one of these units.
The CPU choice was a leading-edge Intel “Kaby Lake”/7th Generation chip, the Core i7-7600U, levying a bit of a premium for its support for vPro. This is the maxed-out chip choice for this model; HP offers units starting with Core i5 Kaby Lake chips. Likewise, the main system memory is filled to the brim; the CPU was backed by 16GB of DDR4 memory.
These prime parts were complemented by a nicely apportioned 512GB PCI Express SSD as the boot drive for the included Pro version of Windows 10. The storage choices on the EliteBook x360 are strictly SSD, and strictly M.2. (This 2-in-1 is far too trim for a hard drive.) All of the configurations, as you’d expect, are reliant on Intel HD Graphics from the CPU; discrete graphics is not an option.
HP outfits its EliteBooks with a load of business-collaboration and security-minded software. It’s impossible for us to go into depth on all of the angles, but some are too intriguing not to dig into. One is HP WorkWise Office, a utility that covers a host of disparate but useful things. Via a related WorkWise iOS or Android smartphone app, you can add a proximity logon/lock to your x360, with the EliteBook automatically going into a locked state when you wander a certain, customizable distance away from the machine with your smartphone. The app unlocks the EliteBook when you get back into range.
We found it easy to set up in Android; phone and laptop link via Bluetooth and a short wizard process. That said, the app repeatedly disconnected from the laptop and had to be re-paired each time, until we realized we had to tweak the app’s settings, telling it to stay connected whenever our Huawei Mate smartphone took a nap. That setting ought to have been on by default.
This WorkWise feature can also incorporate tamper detection, alerting you if the machine was moved or opened while you were away. (Big-brother-flavored hint to HP: In version 2.0, how about snapping a pic of the transgressor with the Webcam when this happens, and zapping it over to the phone app?) WorkWise also incorporates a PC dashboard for monitoring internal temperatures, as well as an automatic printer-driver install function, logical given HP’s primacy in printers. (You scan a QR code on an HP printer using the app in your phone to trigger easy driver setup.)
Another security-minded feature included is HP’s third-generation version of its SureStart technology, which affords protection at a BIOS level against rootkit attacks. It reverts your BIOS to an earlier safe state if changes to it look inappropriate and would lead to a no-start condition.
Two other onboard services are worth noting. One is HP SureConnect, which acts as a self-healing feature to diagnose Wi-Fi problems beyond the abilities of the Windows network troubleshooter. The other is HP’s Velocity software, which acts as a sort of quality-of-service layer for video/audio, specifically for Skype for Business (optimized for that), prioritizing packets of that traffic for the best-possible A/V experience.
Lenovo ThinkPad T470 Review and Ratings
Our Verdict: The T470 is tops among midsize business or college-bound laptops. It delivers durability, configurability, and a wealth of features—plus the best laptop keyboard money can buy. Read More…
- What We Liked…
- Durable design
- Excellent keyboard and screen
- User-swappable (and hot-swappable!) battery
- Very good performance and battery life
- Attractive price
- What We Didn’t…
- No option to upgrade to discrete graphics engine
- Ho-hum Webcam
Buy It Now
Lenovo ThinkPad T470 Review
By July 11, 2017reviewed
Introduction, Design & Features
With the arrival of the Lenovo ThinkPad T470$783.20 at Lenovo, the standard-setting business portable just got a skosh thinner, a little lighter, a bit faster, and just generally better all around.
This new build isn’t a huge departure from the 2016-vintage ThinkPad T460$1,099.95 at Amazon it replaces, which is a good thing: The ThinkPad T470 retains the best-in-class build quality, unsurpassed keyboard, and oh-so-welcome swappable battery of its predecessor. New for 2017 are the latest Intel Core-i processors (in the 7th Generation “Kaby Lake” line), a slightly tweaked chassis, support over newfangled USB for Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, and a few other enhancements.
At under $900, the starting price for the T470 base model is attractive, and configuring in a faster CPU, a better screen, and other key niceties still nets out to a reasonable cost if you’re selective. On our test build, the extras totaled out to a $1,288 final price at this writing, available direct from CDW and a little more or less from other resellers. That’s not bad for a laptop that can likely withstand daily use for five-plus years if you take care of it. The ThinkPad T series is made for long-term use, and even in Computer Shopper’s own parent-company offices, lots of employees pound away the day on a mixture of ThinkPad T laptops going back to the ThinkPad T440, four generations ago. If that’s not a testament to the line, we’re not sure what is.
Like a little black dress, the look of the matte-black ThinkPad T470 never goes out of style. If it’s a prom dress you’re after, you’re looking at the wrong laptop. Unlike the skinnier ThinkPad T470s$1,079.10 at Lenovo we reviewed a few weeks before this model, which comes in silver or black, there’s still just that one hue for the ThinkPad T470: matte black. It might not be the trendiest-looking laptop available, but the “rubberized” finish is impervious to smudges and fingerprints. And honestly, anyone considering a mainstream T-series machine is not looking for trendy. This is a line whose design thrives on it being staid.
The chassis contours are also familiar T-series, with squared-off edges and nary a curve or a taper in sight. The case measures 20mm thick, which makes it marginally thinner than the ThinkPad T460$1,099.95 at Amazon (22mm) that preceded it, though still chunkier than the ThinkPad T470s$1,079.10 at Lenovo we reviewed a few weeks before this model (18.8mm, tapering to 17mm; it’s in essence the slimline version of the T470). The ThinkPad T470 chassis also has fewer screws than on the T460 model’s, making it easier to service for IT departments that still do that kind of thing.
As for weight, the ThinkPad T470 comes in at very reasonable 3.6 pounds with the removable three-cell battery inserted or 3.9 pounds with the extended six-cell pack. That makes it 3 ounces lighter than the outgoing T460 model, but heavier than the 2.9-pound ThinkPad T470s. All considered, the ThinkPad T470 isn’t the thinnest or lightest 14-inch ultrabook on the market, but it’s still under an inch thick and perfectly portable. Opting for the extended battery also gives the machine a nice lift at the rear, as you can see below.
In case you’re wondering, why not just go for the skinnier model (itself an excellent business ultraportable), opting for the ThinkPad T470 over the “s” variant nets you that user-swappable battery, which is a rare and welcome thing among ultrabooks these days. Turning over the T470, we were happy to see the familiar outlines of the battery in its bay. We almost wept…
Moreover, the battery is not just user-replaceable, it’s hot-swappable. The ThinkPad T470 incorporates an internal three-cell battery in addition to the removable battery, along with a technology that Lenovo dubs “Power Bridge.” When the removable battery starts to run low, you can swap it out for a fresh pack without powering down the machine or plugging in, since the internal battery will keep the laptop going. And when the laptop is on AC power, the internal battery charges first, so it’s always ready to go.
If you are purchasing a spare battery, we recommend you opt for the six-cell. (The three-cell is the standard issue.) Yes, it adds bulk, but it protrudes from the bottom of the device just enough to put it at a comfortable angle for typing, and it provides a convenient handgrip to boot, as you can see here…
The battery flexibility alone is worth having the ThinkPad T470 on your short list if you are a serious business traveler, but the T470 design also has durability as a selling point. The lid is made of a magnesium hybrid that’s lightweight yet strong, while the bottom of the clamshell is glass-reinforced plastic. The machine meets or exceeds the standards for eight MIL-STD 810G military certification (a.k.a. “MIL-SPEC”) tests for exposure to humidity, vibration, sand, mechanical shock, altitude (operating at 15,000 feet), low temperature (kept at -4 degrees F for 72 hours), high temperature (cycles of 70 to 140 degrees F), and temperature shock (a swing from -4 degrees F to +140 degrees over two hours). Then Lenovo engineers layer on their own tests for dust, bumps, electrostatic discharges, drops, and things being dropped on the lid, among other hazards.
Features & Display
We’ve used—and praised—a lot of ThinkPad keyboards over the years, but in terms of feel, the keyboard on the ThinkPad T470 might be the company’s best effort yet.
As before, the island-style keyboard is spill-resistant, able to withstand a few ounces of water without damage to the unit. If you are a heavy touch typist, you’ll appreciate the rock-solid feel; there’s no flex in the middle, as we’ve experienced with some keyboards. Key plunge (the amount of up-down travel) is spot on, while the size, spacing, and ever-so-slightly cupped shape of the keys makes for fewer mistakes as your fingers move from one to the next. The only slight difference we perceive from previous ThinkPad keyboards is less audible feedback as you press a key. Of course, some users may prefer this near-silent keyboard, especially if you are prone to typing in meetings or after-hours with someone trying to sleep in the same room.
In short, the island-style keyboard is the best we’ve used on a business laptop (really among all laptops, barring the few freakish, huge gaming laptops with true mechanical keyboards), and the new version seems a bit quieter than the one on the previous model. The all-new touch pad is roomy and responsive, and the classic TrackPoint pointing nubbin is there for the dozen or so humans left who are adept at using it…
For you hunt-and-peck typists, you’ll appreciate the backlight that delivers a soft white light through the letters on the key tops. Speaking of key tops, we also appreciate the “multimedia Function keys,” where the primary task of the top row of keys is to control actions such as volume/mute, screen brightness, toggling to an external display, and turning off Wi-Fi, versus being F-keys first. No need to bother with a Fn-key combo unless you actually need F11. We also love the microphone mute button—a lifesaver when you’re on a conference call from home and the dog starts barking—as well as the tiny LEDs embedded in the corners of that mic mute key, the speaker mute key, and the Caps Lock key to show when those are activated.
We mentioned the TrackPoint pointing stick, nestled between the G and H keys; it has its own set of dedicated left/right buttons above the touch pad. The ThinkPad T470 does feature an all-new touch pad versus what is on the ThinkPad T460. The roomy, single-piece pad (which has mouse buttons integrated into its lower corners) is a Microsoft Precision Touchpad that aims to standardize which gestures do what on Windows machines, such as the handy three-finger swipe: move your fingers up (toward the keyboard) to switch to “task view” to see thumbnails of all currently open applications, or down to see the Windows desktop. And instead of making use of third-party drivers, as with a touch pad sourced elsewhere, the drivers are built in to Windows 10; hence, any needed updates are delivered in the normal course of updating the OS.
The ThinkPad T470 can be ordered with one of three 14-inch screens. (All are LED-backlit.) The base model comes with a 1,366×768-pixel twisted-nematic (TN) panel. While we like that resolution for a 14-inch screen (less squinting and zooming for those of us over 40…er, make that 50!), we would spend the extra $70 and step up to the 1,920×1,080 in-plane switching (IPS) panel, as on our test unit. Not only do you get full 1080p resolution for watching HD video or more easily using two windows side by side, the IPS panels have much wider viewing angles so you don’t have to worry about a color and/or brightness shift if viewers are seated off-center. If you are a fan of Windows 10’s touch abilities, spend another $50 for the touch-enabled 1080p IPS panel that Lenovo offers.
The screen on our unit exhibited excellent brightness and clear, sharp text. Colors popped, and video looked terrific. In short, it’s a top-notch panel that’s a pleasure to work on. We were also impressed with the sound system in the ThinkPad T470. The twin 2-watt speakers offer surprisingly good stereo separation for a laptop, plus plenty of volume for sharing presentation audio with a group assembled around a conference table. As with most laptop speakers, the bass response is lacking, but we didn’t notice any clipping or distortion even at top volume. Oh, and note another reason to opt for the extended six-cell battery: It lifts the bottom-mounted speakers off the desk surface just enough to create fuller sound.
The one mediocre component in the multimedia suite is the 720p (a.k.a. 1-megapixel) Webcam. It’s serviceable enough, but images are notably low-res compared to the multi-megapixel video you can get from your phone.
Connectivity & Components
As for connectivity features, the ThinkPad T470 delivers everything you are likely to need. Yes, the VGA port went away a couple of iterations ago, but for video connectivity you get an HDMI-out port and a multipurpose USB Type-C/Thunderbolt 3 port. The latter offers faster throughput for the latest peripherals (really, only relevant in that sense for getting the most out of an external SSD or RAID array) and also supports delivering video output up to 4K resolution on Thunderbolt-equipped external displays.
The Thunderbolt port also features Lenovo’s “anti-fry protection.” When using the Type-C port to charge phones or other devices, intelligent circuitry inside the ThinkPad T470s monitors voltage levels and prevents poorly designed third-party chargers and accessories from sending incorrect voltages that could damage the ThinkPad.
Rounding out the list of standard ports/slots are three traditional (Type-A) USB 3.0 ports (one of them powered, for charging connected devices even when the laptop is off), an Ethernet jack, a headphone/mic combo miniplug jack, and an SD/MMC memory card reader. Lenovo offers an optional SmartCard reader for businesses that need it. (One might wonder why these are still around in this age of biometric security, but it’s common for government buyers to mandate this level of security.)
How do the ports break out around the edges? The layout on the left edge is the USB-esque rectangular Lenovo power jack, a USB 3.0, and the Thunderbolt Type-C port, as well as the spacer for the SmartCard slot…
The right edge is home to the other two USB 3.0 ports, the HDMI out, the Ethernet jack, the SD slot, and a notch for attaching a security lockdown cable…
Our test unit came with a 256GB solid-state drive (SSD) for onboard storage, which is the lowest-capacity drive Lenovo offers on this model. The other two choices are a 512GB SSD (a bargain at $90 extra, down from Lenovo’s too-high initial upgrade price of $320) or a 1TB SSD (a reasonable $230 upsell when on sale, as opposed to the listed non-sale price of $570). Lenovo is putting a stake in the ground that a mainstream business notebook should have an essentially crash-proof SSD, and we can’t disagree. But we do miss being able to configure in copious, cheap onboard storage in the form of a traditional hard drive. Then again, we also miss having an optical drive and/or a second hard drive in a swappable bay like in the way chunkier T-series models of yore, so we’re clearly showing our age.
Other key connectivity features include dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1 wireless connectivity, plus the option for a 4G wireless broadband chipset ($180) built in. For security, the T470 comes standard with discrete Trusted Platform Module (TPM) circuitry to help handle authentication and encryption chores, plus Lenovo offers an optional fingerprint reader (a $20 uptick). The latter is a fancy new “Match in Sensor” reader, where the identifying points of the fingerprint image are stored on the chip in the sensor module itself, not on the host machine, for faster response and reduced hackability.
The goal for laptop manufacturers and buyers alike is “all-day” battery life, defined not as 24 hours of running time but as lasting through an eight-hour workday or longer.
We don’t count systems that can reach that mark by swapping batteries—removing a spent one and snapping a spare into place. Still, as you shop, it’s worth looking for laptops with removable batteries that at least give you the option of buying a spare, as virtually all notebooks used to. Having inaccessible internal batteries is the trend with more and more laptops nowadays. (The few that still offer removable batteries tend to be business-centric machines.)
At this writing in mid-2017, our single-battery record holder was the Lenovo ThinkPad X260$881.10 at Lenovo business ultraportable, when equipped with its 72-watt-hour swappable battery. It endured for over 23 hours of runtime in Computer Shopper’s standard battery test. (That consists of looping an MP4 video on constant playback with screen brightness at 50 percent and volume at 100 percent until the battery dies.) Another seminal Lenovo ThinkPad business machine, the Lenovo ThinkPad T460$1,099.95 at Amazon, was the second-place model, also tested when using a specific oversize swappable battery (Lenovo’s “extended battery”). The ThinkPad T460 cranked out a whopping 21 hours and 30 minutes of runtime when we tested the latest version with its biggest battery in late 2016.
Note, though, that the above models have recently been supplanted by the ThinkPad X270$881.10 at Lenovo and ThinkPad T470$783.20 at Lenovo. These newer models also posted epic run times, if not as long as the models they are replacing. But because the newer models are the ones you’ll increasingly find in stock online and in stores, and stock of the previous models will dwindle, we’re listing the newer ones below.
Other recent long-enduring machines include the Microsoft Surface Book (2016)Best Price at Amazon, which is a detachable 2-in-1 model that we tested in Core i7 trim. It hauled along for a bit more than 19 hours in our video-playback test, thanks to its two integral batteries, one behind the detachable screen portion and one in the keyboard base. Just a few minutes shy of that machine, and still above 19 hours, was Lenovo’s 360-degree-rotating flagship 2-in-1, the Lenovo Yoga 910$1,199.99 at Lenovo.
Now, these are extreme endurance machines. We’re starting to see, however, a bunch of premium mainstream machines clustering in the 14-to-16-hour range. These include the most recent versions we’ve tested of the HP EliteBook x360 1030 G2, the Dell XPS 13$829.00 at Amazon (the “Kaby Lake” Core i5 model we tested in late 2016), and the Apple MacBook (2017). Also in the same range, we’ve recorded some lusty battery numbers from a few “Cherry Trail” Intel Atom-based detachable 2-in-1s, like the Asus Transformer Mini T102H$378.46 at Amazon.
Because the Transformer is primarily a Windows tablet, not a true laptop, we’ve left it out of the list below. There are so many extremely long-lasting laptops these days that we’re being increasingly strict about what makes the cut, lest this list turn into an unwieldy top 25.
Battery Types & Tech
Two main types of laptop batteries are in use today. The more common lithium-ion batteries tend to come in traditional cylindrical or rectangular cell shapes; lithium-polymer, in contrast, is more expensive and can be shaped freely to fit into smaller spaces inside a notebook. Bigger laptops tend to rely on big, heavy blocks of lithium-ion. The 2-pound Apple MacBook was an early pioneer (in the original 2015 MacBook$1,195.69 at Amazon) in packing its frame with thin sheets of lithium-polymer, filling every nook and cranny and yielding, in that laptop’s case, over 15.5 hours in its 2017 “Kaby Lake” Core m3 iterationBest Price at Amazon we tested most recently.
Battery capacity is typically measured in watt-hours (Wh). If you find one laptop advertised as having a 45Wh battery and another with a 37Wh, you can assume the former will last longer—if they have similar specs, including processor, screen size, screen type, maximum brightness, native resolution, and type of storage. However, it’s rarely the case that all those things (or even most of them) line up across devices. It’s almost impossible to make an apples-to-apples battery-life comparison of, say, a 13.3-inch, 1,366×768-resolution Core i3 laptop and a 15.6-inch, 4K-resolution Core i7 system. That’s why lab-based, authoritative testing and reviews like ours are crucial when assessing battery claims. There are just too many slippery factors.
Even there, sometimes similar systems will surprise you. As an example, back in 2015, the HP Stream 11 and Asus EeeBook X205TA were both Windows compacts meant to compete with Chromebooks, with 11.6-inch screens, small solid-state drives, and nearly matching batteries (37Wh and 38Wh, respectively). But the EeeBook’s Intel Atom tablet-grade CPU was more battery-friendly than the Stream’s Celeron processor, so the Asus lasted 12:21 to the HP’s 9:23 in our tests. That’s not always a reliable yardstick, though: In contrast, the also-similar, Celeron-based Acer Aspire One Cloudbook 14 surprised us by lasting just shy of 14 hours, and that with a much larger (though fairly dim) 14-inch screen. So: testing, testing, and testing.
Indeed, processor differences can have a large effect in otherwise similar systems. (So can screen resolutions; more on that in a bit.) That’s why units with low-power-consumption, less muscular CPUs like Atoms and Celerons can deliver very good battery life even while the system is inexpensive. Likewise, Intel’s Core M processor line (which has been partly subsumed into the Core i5 and Core i7 line, in chips with “7Y” in the name, starting late 2016) is built to eke out extra battery life compared to fuller-fat Core i3, i5, and i7 chips. We’ve seen some impressive results from Core M—more than 12 hours, for example, out of the Core m5-based Yoga 900S$949.00 at Lenovo.
To reiterate: It’s worth checking individual reviews for any model you are considering. The power-draining interplay of battery size, hard drive, processor, and display make it hard to predict actual battery life without formal testing.
Tips: Extending Battery Life
So, how can you squeeze more minutes from a battery that’s running low, or buy a machine whose options keep battery life in mind? Checking out formal reviews that feature defensible battery-life testing is key, but these usage and shopping tips will help, too.
BE SELECTIVE. When they are not in use, switch off power-sapping features you don’t need, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and keyboard backlighting. Activating a laptop’s “power save” or “eco” mode may automate some of these settings. All of these draw energy to some degree, sometimes even if you think they’re not; for example, if the Wi-Fi is not connected to a network, it’ll likely be polling constantly for a connection, which still takes juice.
TAKE IT EASY ON THE BRIGHTNESS AND AUDIO. Dial down the screen backlighting—something between 50 and 60 percent is usually perfectly legible indoors, but offers considerable savings over full brightness—and reduce or mute the sound, especially if your laptop has loud speakers.
ONE THING AT A TIME. Reduce the number of apps or processes running in the background; multitasking is a strain on your battery.
OPT FOR A LOWER-RES SCREEN. Sure, that 4K (3,840×2,160 resolution) display on a recent-model laptop looks great, especially with the brightness cranked all the way up. But unless you have eagle-like vision or you’re watching movies with your face just a few inches from your screen, you won’t actually see all the detail those tiny pixels are pushing. And a 4K panel has four times as many pixels as a 1080p (1,920×1,080) panel; those extra pixels are a serious drain on battery life. Sticking to 1080p (or even 1,366×768) will let you go much longer between pit stops at the power plug, all else being equal.
SKIP THE TOUCH SCREEN. Of course, if you opt for a 2-in-1 convertible, you can’t ditch the touch screen; touch is in these machines’ very nature. But if you’re in the market for a traditional laptop that offers both touch and non-touch displays (like the Dell XPS 13), going with a non-touch model may add significantly to battery life. As convenient as it can be to reach out and tap a dialog button or scroll down a Web page with your finger on a screen, adding touch to a screen means a whole other layer of always-on electronics that are constantly waiting for your finger to tap or swipe the glass. If you use touch only occasionally, it’s not worth the drain on battery life—especially if battery longevity is one of your main priorities.