It’s not in Las Vegas, but the all-digital CES 2021 event has no lack of exciting new products to check out. This year, a deluge of new laptops has been launched, ranging from new work-from-home gear to powerful new gaming laptops.
So far, the biggest laptop trends are commercial laptops for remote workers and experimental new form factors for mobile computing. Powered by the upcoming and exciting new components from Intel, Nvidia, and AMD, laptops have never been so interesting.
Here are the ones I am most impressed by from CES 2021, and those that I can’t wait to get in for a full review.
The ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga has a couple of awesome things going for it. Not only is it the thinnest ThinkPad ever made at just 0.45 inches thick, but it’s also the most durable, thanks to the titanium lid. The combination of elements makes for one of the sleekest laptops I’ve ever held.
The 3:2 aspect ratio also makes it a ThinkPad unlike any other. The increased vertical space makes this 13.5-inch screen feel so much bigger than it actually is.
The one downside of the reduced size is that you lose your HDMI and USB-A ports by being this thin, but the Thunderbolt-only ports match what you get in competitive laptops like the Dell XPS 13 or MacBook Pro 13-inch.
Of course, on the inside, it has all the ThinkPad trademarks, such as the iconic TrackPoint nub and the curved keycaps. The screen should be familiar as well, though this one comes in a taller 3:2 aspect ratio, which is another point in its favor in my book.
Read more about the ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga
HP describes this as a “pull-forward” 2-in-1, meaning the screen can be locked into a more comfortable position as a tablet. HP experimented with this design with the Spectre Folio, a consumer product from a couple of years ago that I was fascinated by. The leather housing and the ability to pull the screen over the keyboard all worked better than it should have.
But this time around, HP has made a number of changes, all for the better. It uses a darker vegan leather, has a taller 3:2 aspect ratio screen, and — most interestingly — it boasts a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2. ARM processors are becoming more and more common, especially in higher-end commercial laptops like the HP Elite Folio.
Read more about the HP Elite Folio
The original Samsung Galaxy Chromebook was one of the most exciting Chromebooks announced at CES last year. It was a gorgeous laptop, but it wasn’t exactly practical. The 4K AMOLED screen was a killer on battery life, and the price of $1,000 was more than anyone wanted to pay for a Chromebook.
But the sequel is far more balanced. It has just a 1080p screen, and the screen technology is now QLED, which is great for extending battery life. The price has also been dropped to $699, which is still expensive, but a far more realistic price for a premium Chromebook. The Pixelbook Go has long been the best Chromebook, but the Galaxy Chromebook 2 may have a serious chance at dethroning it.
Read more about the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2
CES 2021 was absolutely full of exciting gaming laptops — you’ve got interesting updates like the new Razer Blade with a 1440p 240Hz screen or the new Alienware m15 R4 which is the first laptop to support HDMI 2.1.
But those are all just minor updates. I was looking for something brand new, and the gaming laptop that grabbed my attention was the Predator Triton 300 SE. It doesn’t look anything like a Predator laptop or even like a gaming laptop at all. It uses the brand-new lower-powered 35-watt processors from Intel, which is how Acer squeezed these internals into a 14-inch laptop. Paired with a 120Hz screen and RTX 3060, it’s representative of a new era for thin-and-light gaming laptops.
Read more about the Acer Predator Triton 300 SE
Speaking of gaming laptops, there’s one more that I couldn’t avoid mentioning because of its sheer innovation. The laptop itself, which is called the ROG Flow X13, might not look all that intuitive on the surface. It’s a 13-inch 2-in-1, not what you’d typically assume is a gaming laptop — and on its own, it isn’t really one. It only has an Nvidia GTX 1650 inside.
But, when you pair that up with the ROG XG Mobile, Asus’ tiny new external GPU, it transforms into a powerhouse gaming PC. At least, that’s the idea. External GPUs are nothing new, but Asus has designed the smallest external graphics enclosure I’ve ever seen. It’s not much larger than a book, largely because it uses a mobile RTX 3080 rather than a desktop one. Asus also engineered a custom proprietary PCIe interface that connects the graphics card directly to the CPU and has twice the bandwidth of Thunderbolt. That means you’re not gonna lose all of that performance you paid for.
It’s a wild idea. But hey, wild ideas are what CES is all about.
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