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Need to work from the road? Here’s the 5 best laptops with LTE

On the lookout for a 4G LTE laptop that you can use with a data plan from your provider to get extra-fast wireless? Sure, you could just tether any old laptop to your phone, but maybe you want avoid the tethering route and are looking for laptops with LTE built in. If you have an unlimited data plan and aren’t afraid to use it, we’ve got those hard-to-find laptops for you.

Manufacturers have a few reasons to avoid making too many laptops with LTE/4G compatibility. They require complicated contracts with specific data providers that computer buyers may or may not use, so there’s automatic niche marketing that tends to lower profits. Outside of the U.S. things are a bit simpler and a broader range of laptops come with high-speed data capabilities, here it can be difficult to find solid options.

Here are the top 4G LTE laptops for you to consider.

Microsoft Surface 3 ($500+)

Microsoft-Surface-Pro-3_

Are we cheating by starting with a machine that’s technically a hybrid/tablet? We don’t think so – Microsoft finally got the Surface line right with the 3, and the result is a surprisingly powerful hybrid that can easily act as a laptop replacement for business purposes. Also keep in mind that it is far more likely for a tablet hybrid to come equipped with LTE/4G capabilities than a traditional laptop, since they have a closer bond with the mobile world.

The Surface 3 comes with a 10-inch touchscreen display, Windows 10, and an Intel Atom quad-core processor with Burst speeds up to 2.4GHz. The RAM is stuck at 4GB, but you can choose between 64GB and 128GB of hard drive space.

Of course, you could also consider a powerful tablet like the iPad Pro. But the Surface 3 has more native support for Windows and Microsoft functions, which is particularly handy in a business situation – plus the price is lower. Also keep in mind that the LTE package is only available for the Surface, not the more powerful Surface Pro.

Read: Microsoft may launch new Surface Pro 4, Lumia phones at Oct. 6 event

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Panasonic Toughbook 54 ($1,300+)

Panasonic-Toughbook 54-front

With optional 4G LTE multicarrier capabilities, this Panasonic machine is great for those whose jobs take them far afield where ordinary Wi-Fi falters, but they can still depend on good old data plans. The Toughbook 54 is so semi-ruggedized that you could never mistake it for an average work computer – like other Toughbooks, it comes with a built-in handle for toting like a suitcase, a back-lit keyboard for working away from reliable lights, and optional capabilities for dedicated GPS, etc.

Read: Panasonic’s Toughbook 54 is the smallest semi-rugged notebook yet

The laptop sports a 14-inch HD display, an Intel Core i5, 11 hours of battery life, RAM ranging from 4 to 16GB, and hard drives ranging from 128GB to 500GB. There’s are also a whole lot of options for swappable ports and drives that allow for a lot of customization.

There are, however, a couple downsides. First, the latest Toughbooks do not yet come with Windows 10, only Windows 8. Second, Toughbooks are usually sold via commercial and government contracts, so you’ll have to root around in Panasonic’s website to configure your own product and find a recommend supplier to order just one from (take a look at the Online Resellers section).

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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon ($1,150+)

Lenovo-ThinkPad-X1-Carbon

You could be forgiven for thinking that the ThinkPad X1 Carbon isn’t a 4G/LTE machine, but if you make it through the ordering process and search the customization features, you can indeed find a way to order it with LTE capabilities. The Carbon has a reputation as a useful ultrabook, and if you are searching for lightweight work laptops with LTE then it is certainly worth a closer look.

Read: Lenovo ThinkPad X 1 Carbon review

The display is a 14-inch screen with options for increased resolution or touchscreen capabilities. Processors include Intel Core i5 and i7, while RAM is offered up at either 4GB or 8GB. Storage provides options up to 512GB of SSD, and the battery is rated for nearly 11 hours of use. Of course, with a price that quickly flies beyond $1,000 for additional capabilities, you may need to pick and choose features with care.

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HP EliteBook Folio 1040 ($1,230+)

HP EliteBook Folio 1040 G1_left

Thanks to deals with Qualcomm, HP is able to offer 4G/LTE options for a number of its work computers. The whole Elite series is eligible, but lets take a look at the Folio 1040. This is business ultrabook that pushes toward the features (and size) of more traditional laptops with LTE, so if you need more power and are less concerned with portability, start with the Folio line.

The specs are similar to the ThinkPad. Inside we have Intel i5 to i7 processor options, a 14-inch screen with options for a touch screen, and 8 GB of RAM. Storage is offered up to 512GB SSD. Give the other Elitebook options a browse too, if you are looking for different specs. Note that there is not yet an online EliteBook including Windows 10, so you’ll have to do some OS upgrading on your own.

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Asus Chromebook C300 ($230)

If the prices so far have made you scooch back in your chair, then the Chromebook C300 may be for you. This cheap little ultrabook gets the job done – as long as it’s a pretty simple job that uses a lot of cloud computing.

In addition to the Chrome OS, this laptop includes a 13-inch screen, a dual-core Celeron processor (2.16GHz to 2.41GHz), 2 to 4GB of RAM, and options for either 16GB or 32GB of storage. There aren’t a lot of bells or whistles, but at this price range it’s difficult to do better. Just remember to choose the LTE option when you buy – you’ll need a Verizon plan to take advantage of the 4G capabilities.

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