Best laptops to buy in 2014
Posted on 24 Dec 2013 at 08:00
We pick out the best laptops to buy in 2014 with our round-up of the seven hottest models
If you're searching for the perfect new laptop, then you're probably looking for a helping hand. With an ever-changing variety of touchscreen hybrids, multi-talented tablets, Ultrabooks and a whole host of standard laptops to choose from, we've selected our seven favourite models for 2014.
Asus Transformer Book T100
Fusing a 10.1in tablet with a docking keyboard, the Transformer Book T100 swaps the Android OS of its stablemates for full Windows 8.1 and puts Intel's new Atom platform, Bay Trail, at the helm. Intel's new quad-core Atom is twice as fast as the previous generation, and even has a little gaming power at its disposal. The T100 feels nothing like the netbooks of old.
The 1,366 x 768 IPS display isn't the brightest out there, but it's great for the money; the compact keyboard turns it into a usable netbook hybrid with nine hours of battery life; and there's even a copy of Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013 thrown in for free. If ever there was a tech bargain to be had, the Asus Transformer Book T100 is it.
Read our full, in-depth review of the the Asus Transformer Book T100
Apple Macbook Pro 13in with Retina Display
Apple's latest update to its Retina-equipped MacBook Pro 13in is perhaps the finest laptop that money can buy. It's not as slender as the best Ultrabooks - the newly slimmed-down model still weighs 1.55kg and measures 18mm thick – but, gram for gram, it crams in more power and all-round quality than any other laptop you care to mention. The arrival of Intel's Haswell CPUs gives graphics performance a much needed boost (a notable weakness of the previous generation), and battery life now soars over 11 hours.
Elsewhere, the Macbook Pro oozes class: the Retina display is stunning, and increased application support finally allows it to start delivering on its potential. Factor in a very welcome price cut, and it strides straight the top of our wish list.
Read our full, in-depth review of the Apple Macbook Pro 13in with Retina Display (late 2013)
Microsoft Surface Pro 2
The successor to the first Surface Pro made some essential changes to the formula. Physically, the 10.8in tablet hasn't changed a jot: the 920g all-metal body remains as strikingly chiselled and as weighty as it ever was, but the addition of a new two-position kickstand makes it far more usable on a desk, or on a lap.
Inside, a CPU upgrade - to Intel's Haswell tech - keeps performance spritely, while dramatically increasing battery life, and Microsoft has calibrated the Full HD touchscreen for better colour accuracy. Pressure-sensitive stylus input still comes as standard, and the range of optional accessories, such as the Touch and Type Covers, and the docking station, allow the Surface Pro 2 to masquerade as a laptop, tablet or desktop PC. All-in-all, a serious tablet, and a classy hybrid, for sensible money.
Read our full Microsoft Surface Pro 2 review
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro
The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga range was the first to nail the hybrid formula, and the IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro is the best of the lot. This Ultrabook shares the Yoga family's ability to contort from laptop to tablet and adopt a range of poses in between, but ups the ante with a high DPI touchscreen and an Intel Haswell CPU.
Physically, the Yoga 2 Pro is prettier than ever, with a slender, more curvy design, and although it has lost weight, it feels stiffer and sturdier. Performance from the Core i5 CPU and 256GB SSD is spritely. Battery life is decent at a touch short of eight hours.
The 13.3in, 3,200 x 1,800 display is unbelievably crisp, too, as well as bright and bold, but the high resolution can cause issues with some software. Such quibbles are easy to overlook, however. At £999 inc VAT, the Yoga 2 Pro delivers cutting-edge hardware for less than any of its rivals – it's a formidable Ultrabook.
Read our full Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro review
Dell XPS 12
The Gorilla Glass-clad Full HD touchscreen drips with vivid, saturated colours, and the range-topping model we tested delivered scorching performance thanks to a Core i7 CPU and nippy SSD. The arrival of Intel Haswell swells battery life to stunning levels: the XPS 12 lasted nearly 13 hours in our light use test.
If the asking price is too much, fear not - the cheaper Core i5 model with its smaller 128GB SSD delivers the XPS 12 experience for a touch under £1,000.
Read our full Dell XPS 12 review
The Asus N550JV is a high-powered laptop with a dash of glamour. Brushed metal covers the lid, and the detailing on the aluminium keyboard-surround makes for a laptop that looks to be worth every penny of the £1,000 asking price. Up front, a fine 15.6in Full HD touchscreen pampers the eyeballs, while Bang & Olufsen ICEpower audio serves up surprising levels of clarity with a little help from a coke-can-sized subwoofer.
Inside, a quad-core Intel Haswell processor and Nvidia GeForce GT 750M GPU join forces to serve up serious performance across the board, from spreadsheets to first-person shooters – this laptop is an all-round class-act. If you're looking to downsize from an old desktop PC, or replace a decrepit old laptop, the Asus N550JV should be top of your shortlist.
Read our full Asus N550JV review
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
Mixing business and pleasure can be a recipe for disaster, but Lenovo got it entirely right with its ThinkPad X1 Carbon. Achieving the ergonomic excellence we'd expect from a ThinkPad in a chassis that weighs 1.36kg can't have been easy, and the result is an Ultrabook to aspire to.
Breakneck performance partners with business essentials such as mobile broadband, TPM and a fingerprint reader, and the matte 1,600 x 900 display is both bright and colour accurate. The top-end model nudges the £1,600 mark, which is significantly more expensive than its consumer-focussed rivals, but it's a price worth paying. It's been around a while, but remains the best boardroom Ultrabook.
Read our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon review
Author: Sasha Muller
For more details about purchasing this feature and/or images for editorial usage, please contact Jasmine Samra on firstname.lastname@example.org
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