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The best laptops of 2016

(Apple.)

The laptop landscape changed at the end of 2016, with the introduction of the new MacBook pro’s. With that in mind, here are laptops worth a look this year.

Best new laptops: the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro. The new MacBook pro’s have arrived with much fanfare. Not only because they are already a very long time in coming, but because the new lower-end MacBook Pro is offered as a replacement for the widely used (but ageing) 13-inch MacBook Air. So, it is a great reset of Apple’s popular laptop line-up, and the market in general.

The new MacBook pro features a thinner chassis, the best Retina display yet (with support for more colors), updated processors, and Apple’s new “Butterfly” of the keyboard, all while maintaining the weight of the 13-inch MacBook Air, which is approximately 3 kilos. The more expensive MacBook Pro model adds a faster processor and the Touch Bar — which, in fact, moves a touch display on a part of the keyboard. It has a lot of potential but is a work in progress as we wait for the big players such as Adobe and Microsoft to provide support.

For now, Apple offers a convenient Touch Bar shortcuts for apps like Safari and Photos and the first Touch-ID for a Mac, allowing you to unlock the MacBook Pro with a quick fingerprint scan. The 15-inch Pro (also a sporty Touch Bar) adds quad-core processing power, the discrete AMD graphics chips (for things like video editing), and a surprisingly totable weight of only 4 pounds.

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The MacBook is a setting with many loyal followers. So the redevelopment will be a welcome change for most, despite the usual bugs and glitches that come in the first instance, with a product redesign. The price will be off-putting for some, but, let’s be honest, the new MacBook redesigns have never cheap. The entry of the 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,499, the 13-inch Touch Bar version at $1,799 and the 15-inch MacBook Pro at $2,399.

Best Deal: HP Chromebook 13 G1. Chromebooks have in the past been ignored by most consumers. But that may change. They are cheap, fast, stable, and to prevent the constant, annoying update burglaries that plague Windows and Macs. Think the Chromebook is a laptop with Android. OK, so Chrome OS does not support all of the apps that Android does, but core apps are there, such as Google Docs, Google Play Music, photo editors, social apps, and basically anything you access online, such as Skype or Microsoft Office.

The Chromebook HP 13 G1 is a surprisingly high-quality, all-metal design with a very-high-resolution-display. But it starts at just $499. And note that Chromebooks from Dell, HP, Toshiba, Acer, Lenovo, and Asus are often under $300. The Toshiba Chromebook 2 is a great deal starting from € 269, – and Dell offers a good high-end Chromebook for $429.

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The best all-around consumer laptop: HP’s Spectre series. HP is making a slow but steady foray into Apple’s sacred turf. HP premium consumer laptops now offer excellent quality and drool-worthy aesthetics. The Spectre (minus the x360 suffix of the other model) is impossible tight just 0.4 cm. A combination of aluminum and carbon fiber yield of a spring weight of 2.45 lbs. And it offers both a good display and fast processors, laptops as thin and light as the Spectre usually equipped with a slower Intel Core M chips). A standard configuration comes with a solid 7th generation Intel Core i7 processor, 256 gb solid-state storage, a 13.3-inch 1,920-by-1080 (non-touch) display, USB-C ports, and 8 gb of RAM. The battery life is not fantastic, but most users can probably expect 6-7 hours. The prices for the Ghost starts at a reasonable $1,149.99.

The 13.3-inch Spectre x360, is based on the same ultra-thin design motif as the Spectre, has a touch display that can be rotated 360 degrees, an extra-large trackpad, and the lower price. The battery life is good, a full day’s use on one charge (based on an average workload). The Spectre x360 with a 7th generation Intel Core i5 chip, 8 GB memory, 256 GB solid-state storage, and a 13.3-inch 1,920-by-1,080 touch display is $1,049.99.

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The best business laptop: Dell XPS 13 (end of 2016). The XPS 13 may be the best balance of size, weight, performance and battery life. To keep the weight down (about 2.7 pounds), Dell uses generous amounts of carbon fiber in addition to aluminum. And a near-bezel-less-display allows Dell to squeeze a 13.3-inch chassis in dimensions, which is closer to a 12-inch laptop. Performance is good for an ultra-thin design with configurations that are equipped with the latest 7th generation of Core i7 processors. The battery life is good. While the display with a high-resolution version (3,200-by-1,800 pixels) provides between six and eight hours on average, the lower the resolution of the screen configuration can last more than 10 hours. Prices start at $799.99.

Best luxury laptop: Microsoft Surface Book. Microsoft is the duke of detachables, that are between the keyboard of the display/tablet component. The Area Book is not cheap, but Microsoft has come closer than anyone to the holy grail of a tablet that can convert to a full-fledged laptop via the ingenious “Dynamic Fulcrum Hinge.” Notable specs include a 3,000-by-2,000 resolution of the screen, 6th Generation Intel Core processors, and a detachable base with a large keyboard. The most powerful Surface Books are very pricey, well above the $2,000. But there are deals at retailers such as Best Buy where you can often for $1,299.99.

 

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