During the holidays, you might find yourself stressing about what is the best laptop for the gift that one special person in your life. The selection is so large, it is difficult to break them all down—even if that special someone is you. (Hey, no judgment here.)
So, to help you make the right choice, we have compiled a list of options at different price points. All are recommended by our testers. Feel free to choose the one that best fits your budget.
Go to Consumer Reports’ 2016 Holiday Gift Guide for updates on offers, expert product reviews, tips on shopping, and much more. Be sure to Check our Daily Gift Guide, and sign up for a e-newsletter with top picks, trusted product reviews, the latest news from CR.
Asus VivoBook E200HA-US01
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At about $200, this Asus is a bargain. It is the latest operating system from Microsoft (Windows 10 Home) pre-installed and a battery life that extends to more than 15 hours. And with 2 GB of RAM, it has enough memory for surfing the web, posting messages on social media, and streaming movies.
But there are a few pitfalls. If you are looking to do a lot of gaming or use of task-heavy software such as Photoshop, it is probably best to keep looking. And with 32 GB of storage, you may need to resort to flash drives or a service like Dropbox to archive your files.
Microsoft Surface 3
The Microsoft Surface line is all about delivering the best of both worlds for those who want a laptop and a tablet. With this third generation of the 2-in-1 model, the manufacturer offers a lot of value at a good price.
Thin and light, the 10.8-inch 4G-capable computer has an excellent display with a built-in kickstand. The full-fledged Windows operating system is a step up from what you’ll find in similar priced Windows RT or Chromebook. And the battery lasts 10 hours.
The stylus and keyboard cover will cost you nothing extra. But, hey, you can always choose that during the post-holiday sales.
The HP Spectre x360 13t
This 13.3-inch convertible notebook has a lot of power under the hood. Thin and light (2.8 pounds), with a life expectancy of more than 20 hours, it can follow you anywhere. And overall performance are excellent.
The touchpad supports multi-finger gestures, the touch-screen display scored very well by our testers, and the backlit full-sized keyboard flips back to use the device as a tablet.
Microsoft Surface Book
This $1,500 laptop received a very good score from our testers for its performance. In fact, it is one of the fastest models to pass through our labs. With a 128 GB solid-state hard drive (which uses less power and access data faster than a traditional hard drive and 8 GB of memory (enough for most activities, including demanding software such as Photoshop or Final Cut Pro), it is a smart choice if you have the money.
The 13.5-inch touchscreen can be detached from the keyboard and can be used as a tablet. The battery lasts up to 15 hours. (Hopefully, a day not more than that.) And for those who want to get a little creative, the notebook comes with a pen that lets you draw on the screen.
If you’re fond of the more demanding rate—as, say, the video game Overwatch—you can also spring for the optional Performance Base. In that case, the entire set will cost you closer to $2,000.
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