Laptops aren’t created equal and the thinner and lighter variety of ultra-portable laptops are becoming increasingly more powerful while adding functionality, battery life as well as variety of surprise features users have come to expect.
What is quickly becoming standard in laptops that redefine portability today is faster SSD drives, standard USB 3.0 ports for faster transfer, higher resolution and pixel dense displays, thinner profiles, better battery life and premium materials have become the norm.
Laptop buyers have a lot of great choice today because we have more efficient processors, operating systems that are more user friendly as well as many 2-in-1 device options that aim to offer the best compromise between tablet and PC form factors.
Let’s check out some of the more compelling portables of the season.
Sparing no expense on power and functionality while managing to keep things slim, the HP Spectre x360 is a 13- inch Ultrabook that delivers flexibility at its finest. It features a 360-degree hinge that lets you convert it from laptop to tablet and anything in between.
This convertible laptop offers the performance you need for everyday tasks and has a 13.3″ touchscreen display, a 2.4GHz Intel dual-core processor with 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD for storage.
The HP Spectre X360 13-4101DX is the ideal solution for those who demand more from their portable devices. The Spectre x360 gives you extreme flexibility and functionality thanks to the 360-degree hinge that lets you convert it from a laptop to a tablet.
But, it doesn’t stop there. The hinge lets you move the 13.3-inch Radiance Infinity LED-backlit touchscreen display to any position so you can use it as more than just a laptop or a tablet.
Fold it flat to 180 degrees for an easy way to collaborate on a project with someone or keep going and swing it around to create the perfect angle for watching Full HD videos and movies. And what’s entertainment without sound? The Spectre x360 features 2 Bang & Olufsen speakers for an incredibly immersive sound experience. Spectre x360 has built-in 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0. Wireless-AC works in the 5GHz band offering speeds ranging from 433Mbps up to several gigabits per second.
Considered to be Microsoft’s vision of what a perfect laptop should be, the Surface Book is the latest evolution to the Surface line and the most cohesive representation of a 2-in-1 device that has all the features and power of a desktop replacement as well as the ability to shape-shift into a digital clipboard or tablet.
The Microsoft Surface Book is a creative workhorse that adapts to your methods of productivity. Whether using touch, a Pen, or a mouse, this innovative laptop delivers versatility with enough power for all your creative needs.
Its 13.5-inch PixelSense display detaches easily to become a thin, light tablet that works perfectly with OneNote and Surface Pen.
Power at its disposal includes a 6th Gen Intel Core i5-6300U processor with up to 8GB of RAM. Intel HD graphics 520 with optional discrete graphics chip provides additional support for intensive creative tasks like photo and video editing and a stunning 13.5-inch PixelSense display with 3000 x 2000 resolution detaches easily from the keyboard to become a thin, light tablet that works perfectly with OneNote and Surface Pen.
The Surface Book is an option worth considering if touch functionality and the ability to draw is necessary as well as the need for a high-end processor and GPU in a portable device.
While the MacBook Air remains the most popular line of OS X powered notebooks in the market, the smaller and more premium MacBook 12” points to where technology is headed. Sporting a bright 12-inch Retina Display, this super-slim and light MacBook is frequent traveller and road warrior’s delight.
Running the latest Mac OS El Capitan, the MacBook is super quiet thanks to an insulated and fanless construction. This device offers incredible mobility with a light and compact design measuring 13.1mm thin and weighing a mere 0.92kg (2.03lb.). It also features a Force Touch trackpad with no moving parts but which can simulate vibrations and clicks. A new QWERTY keyboard design actually features larger keys that are also much thinner.
This laptop has actually innovated with the used of a USB-C port, which provides charging, speedy USB 3 data transfer and video output in a small, reversible design that’s one-third the size of other USB ports.
USB Type C is now being adapted by Google for its Nexus phones as well as its Pixel C tablet and could be the new standard leading to even thinner and lighter devices.
While easily one of the most portable notebooks in the market right now, the MacBook is no slouch when it comes to general computing tasks it features a 5th generation Intel Core M processor, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of SSD storage and 9 hours of battery life for all-day use at work or at school.
PC users or anyone shopping for a comparable subportable notebook experience will appreciate Dell’s 13-inch laptop, which is cleverly housed in an 12-inch enclosure. It has all you need to stay productive on the go.
This slim laptop boasts a classy machined aluminum body in silver finish and strong Gorilla Glass screen. It comes preloaded with Windows 10 and features a Full HD display for crisp text and images, and 128GB SSD storage.
The diminutive size of the Dell XPS 13 might hint at a low-powered processor, but it features the latest 6th Generation Intel Core i5-6200U (3M Cache; Up to 2.8 GHz).
These are the very latest Intel Skylake processors which feature speed and power but also improve on battery consumption. You can read more about this class of processor in our overview here.
The Dell XPS 13 with its 13-inch Infinity Display mounted on what is essentially a 12-inch notebook frame, makes this device quite unique and one of the most powerful and portable notebooks in the market today. Ideal for students, small businesses and BYOD applications, the non-touch version of the Dell XPS 13 has all the specs and functionality to run Windows 10.
At 12.9-inches, the iPad Pro dwarfs all iPads before it, and even makes some subportable notebooks look small by comparison. The larger expanse of screen offered by this tablet is also the most advanced display Apple has ever made.
While the iPad Pro isn’t a laptop per-se, it is nearly as large as many 13-inch Ultrabooks and when paired with a Smart Keyboard, it looks and feels a lot like a laptop replacement but will all the qualities and advantages of a tablet.
Despite its larger size, it is thin enough and weighs just as much as the original 2010 iPad, which is a remarkable feat in and of itself.
While the large size takes some getting used to, the gorgeous and ultra-detailed display is simply something you easily immerse your eyes and mind into.
The larger display size manages to have two applications open at a reasonable, readable size. If you do a lot of research or note-taking, this is a big help.
The Smart Keyboard is designed for the iPad Pro and once it is set up, it works great. I do have some reservations about the way it folds out when it converts from cover to keyboard. It feels like I am sometimes wrestling with a paper map and two weeks with the device hasn’t made it easier to deploy, especially in crowded situations.
Typing on the Smart Keyboard is just fine, keys are responsive and spaced well enough apart that it is easy for your mind to map them and I’ve been able to type quite fast on with the Smart Keyboard. I also like that since they are fabric, the sound is quite muted so you can type quietly in libraries, press conferences or airplanes.
The best thing about this Smart Keyboard is that it is so thin and light, that having it permanently installed on the iPad Pro is a no brainer.
These are the latest laptops and 2-in-1 devices that redefine what portability is all about.
By Gadjo Sevilla, Smartphones, tablets, and computers
Gadjo is a veteran journalist covering consumer technology, lifestyle and business. He has written for international newspapers, magazines and online publications. He is founder of Canadianreviewer.com as well as an avid photographer, visual artist and VW enthusiast. Connect with Gadjo on Twitter at “@GadjoSevilla”