Got a need for a new notebook? Don't cop out with a completely boring, staid beige box; you can find a bunch of out-of-left-field, amazing devices if you look around a little. Here are what we think are the most interesting laptops that you can buy this year.
Gizmodo’s Tech Buying Guides, presented by the new ASUS Transformer Book Chi featuring the Intel® Core™ M processor. Buy the Transformer Book Chi now from $1299 on the ASUS e-Shop and authorised ASUS resellers.
Why It's Interesting: The new $1799 MacBook uses a brand new low-power Intel Core M processor which means it doesn't need an internal fan to exhaust heat. That means it can be incredibly thin, thin enough that it needs an entirely different keyboard to previous MacBooks Pro and Air and an entirely new Force Touch trackpad. It also has a one-size-fits-all USB Type-C jack, which handles power as well as absolutely everything else.
Our take: The latest crazy-thin Apple computer — a tiny 12-inch laptop with a incredible high-res display. So tiny you could practically stuff it into a large purse. So thin that it required Apple to create an entirely new type of ultra-shallow keyboard and touchpad so you can actually use it for work. So minimalist that it only includes a single I/O port — a do-it-all USB Type-C jack that’s clearly the future, but requires dongles for now.
Why It's Interesting: The $1499 XPS 13 is a straightforward laptop, but it does that job very well. Its screen is almost entirely edge-to-edge — this is what Dell calls its "infinity" display — and it's thin and light enough to compete squarely with the Apple MacBook Air. Dell also quotes an incredible 15 hours of battery life despite a Core i7 processor and bright screen; this is the future of everyday computing rather than a particularly funky alternative.
Our take: Are you thinking of buying a Windows laptop? Don’t, until you’ve read this review. The new Dell XPS 13 isn’t perfect, but it’s freaking incredible for the starting-at AU$1499 you’ll spend to bring one home. If you want a high-quality ultraportable Windows laptop at an incredible price, the Dell XPS 13 is the one to get.
Why It's Interesting: The $1299 Transformer Book Chi is a proper 2-in-1; it's a tablet with an entirely detachable keyboard dock. The two are connected with a rotating hinge that includes a couple of strong magnets, so there's no need to unlock a clip — just pull the two apart whenever you need to. The T300 Chi stands out because it's running a top-of-the-line Intel Core M-5Y71 processor that has a fair bit of grunt but doesn't need a fan, and its 12.5-inch display has a beautifully crisp 2560x1440pixel resolution.
Our take: So you want a laptop that turns into a tablet. No kidding! Plenty of people are jazzed by the idea of having a slate for sharing, plus a solid keyboard for typing. And the new Asus T300 Chi sure looks like a great pick: from just $1299 you get a great looking PC that — both halves combined — is thinner than a MacBook Air.
Why It's Interesting: The $2399 Spectre x360 is a 2-in-1 tablet / laptop that gives you the choice of conventional computing in regular laptop mode, but then flips into a tent or rotates all the way around to become an oversized tablet. It's not lacking for power with a Core i7 inside, but it's still super-skinny and made of milled aluminium with a crisp responsive backlit keyboard.
Our take: Milled aluminium. All-day battery life. Intel Core i5 and i7 processors. A bitchin’ keyboard, and a large, clickable trackpad with excellent multitouch response. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think I was describing a MacBook Air. I’m not — I’m talking HP’s Spectre x360, a gorgeous premium convertible PC that starts at just $1499.
Why It's Interesting: The $2099 Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro follows that same flip-it-around ethos as HP's Spectre x360, but does so with a beautiful watchband-style hinge. It also trades the Spectre's gutsy Core i5 or i7 processors for a less power-hungry Core M, meaning it can stay fanless. Like other Lenovos, it's built incredibly well and is more than sturdy enough for the demands of any workday or school-day task.
Our take: The $2099 Yoga 3 Pro is, when you pick it up and type on it and use it, an amazing piece of computing hardware. The new Core M CPU is surprisingly powerful given its utterly miniscule power output, and the integrated GPU is no slouch compared to previous Intel offerings. All of this, in a design that doesn’t get hot and burn your lap, is a pretty attractive package.