This year we’ve seen all kind of amazing new products shown off at CES, including a room-scale gaming experience without a VR headset, razor-thin HDTVs with unbelievably lifelike picture quality, and of course, drones and autonomous vehicles galore. But perhaps the most exciting things shown off at CES 2017 are new iterations of a device we all know and love: the good old fashioned laptop. Here’s the best.
Let’s start with the laptop that earned our Best in Show award for CES 2017. When you first lay eyes on the Samsung Chromebook Plus, it looks like any other laptop. But once you get your hands on it, it becomes something else entirely. This is a Chromebook that might replace your Windows laptop – and your Android tablet.
What sets the Samsung Chromebook Plus apart is its support for the Google Play store, and in fact, all Android apps. That’s right — this is the first laptop built with Android in mind from the very beginning. The versatile 2-in-1 features a built-in stylus with digitizer, full accelerometer support, and new context menus to bridge the gap between apps designed for mobile, and apps designed for laptops.
Add to that an immersive 2,400 x 1,600 display, a weight of less than 2.5 pounds, a keyboard that’s a joy to use, and it exceeds expectations set by its incredibly low price point of $449.
Under the hood, the Samsung Chromebook Plus features 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage space, a 360-degree hinge, and a custom-built ARM hexa-core chip called the OP1. The Chromebook Pro features an Intel Core M3-6Y30 with a base clock of 900Mhz, though its pricing is announced.
The Dell XPS 13 was easily our favorite laptop of 2016, with its premium build, impressive performance, and modest price point. After spending some time with its latest sibling, the Dell XPS 2-in-1, we think it’s poised to become our favorite of 2017. Already, it’s earned our coveted Best in Computing award for CES 2017, and it’s easy to see why.
It’s tough to discern the XPS 2-in-1 from the XPS 13, aside from a slightly different hinge. But once you get a look at the internals and the impressive touch screen, it’s clear that this isn’t just another iteration. This is a vast improvement over an already impressive computer. Featuring a familiar aluminum-and-carbon-fiber chassis, the XPS 2-in-1 integrates a 360-degree hinge, and offers support for a stylus.
Inside, the XPS 2-in-1 boasts 7th-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processors, depending on specs, with integrated Intel HD 615 graphics, up to 1TB of storage space, up to 16GB of RAM, and a 13.3-inch Full HD, or QHD+ InfinityEdge touch display.
The Lenovo ThinkPad is one of those product lines that has a reputation for reliability, but doesn’t often turn heads. This year, Lenovo managed to change that without sacrificing the ThinkPad’s characteristic reliability, and understated style.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon features an ultra-light, super-thin chassis, weighing just 2.5 pounds and coming in at just over half an inch thick. In addition, Lenovo manages to pare down the bezels around the ThinkPad X1 Carbon’s display, cramming a 14-inch screen into a system that is smaller than most other systems featuring a 13-inch display.
This isn’t a complete re-design, it’s a subtle refresh, and a welcome improvement to an already impressive product. ThinkPad adherents will be pleased to learn that the X1 Carbon lives up to the ThinkPad legacy, providing a workhorse with powerful hardware, but now in a surprisingly svelte and stylish package. Add to that a base price of $1,349, and it should give competitors a run for their money.
Samsung introduced a handful of new notebooks at CES. One of the most interesting, aside from our Best in Show pick, the Chromebook Plus, was the Notebook 9. It’s a relatively straightforward update to the existing Samsung Notebook line, a 15-inch general use laptop with a light, portable design, and surprisingly powerful internals.
The Samsung Note 9 features a 7th-generation Intel Core i7-7500U processor, along with 16GB of onboard memory, and a discrete Nvidia 940MX graphics card. Somehow, Samsung has managed to cram all that power into a 15-inch system that weighs an astonishing 2.73 pounds.
It’s big, light, and features enough horsepower for modest gaming performance. You don’t often see such features in one system, but the Notebook 9 manages to pull it off in style.
If you’re familiar with the 13-inch Spectre x360, you might expect the similarly-branded EliteBook x360 to share much of the same DNA. But the EliteBook x360 doesn’t strike us as a carbon-copy or sibling – it’s an upgrade.
The EliteBook x360 features an elegant, silver unibody chassis like the Spectre, but manages to keep it a little classier by maintaining a uniform finish across the board. This whole thing is silvery-white, aside from the display and matte-black keyboard.
HP is stepping up security with a set of biometric sensors, including a camera compatible with Windows Hello, a fingerprint reader, and a unique display technology which emulates a privacy screen — making it difficult for anyone at your local coffee shop to do some shoulder surfing and snatch a peek at sensitive information on your screen.
With a 7th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM to start, and a 1080p display, the EliteBook will retail for $1,250 once it hits the market later this year.
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Moving on to another new entry in the HP lineup, the HP Spectre x360 15-inch builds on the previous 13-inch model by offering up a larger display, more powerful internals and of course, the signature Spectre x360 build quality.
The key to the 15-inch model is the diplay. Not only is it spacious, but it only comes in one resolution: 4K. That dazzling screen comes at a cost though, as the HP Spectre x360 is notably heavier than its predecessor, weighing in at 4.4 pounds to the 13-inch model’s 3.26lb.
It’s hefty, but you do get some extra battery power from those extra ounces. Even with the 4K display, HP claims the x360 will still get about 12 hours of battery life. On top of that, the x360 sports a 7th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and don’t forget — it’s a 2-in-1. So you’re getting a 15-inch 4K tablet in addition to a sleek, if hefty, laptop.
Speaking of hefty laptops, gaming laptops have a reputation for size and weight. Those discrete graphics cards and extra cooling hardware must go somewhere, right? Asus aims to buck that trend with the latest refresh of its popular Republic of Gamers lineup.
The GL502 can be kitted out with a 7th-generation Intel Core processor, an Nvidia GTX 1060 or 1070 GPU, and features a nearly peerless display. The monitor on the GL502 features a 120Hz refresh rate, with support for Nvidia’s G-Sync, meaning your games are going to be buttery smooth, no matter how fast your hardware is pumping out those frames.
It’s also worth mentioning that the GL502 is one of the smallest VR-ready laptops, weighing in at 4.85 pounds, and just under an inch thick. It also features signature Asus ROG styling, a black chassis with RGB lighting to bring some flare.
The Dell Inspiron 7000 Gaming was a pleasant surprise in 2016, an affordable gaming laptop with a relatively solid chassis capable of solid — if moderate — gaming performance. The 2017 model takes those successes and builds on them by improving overall performance, and adding some much-needed customization options.
The 2017 model can be configured up or down to fit your needs and your wallet. You can choose from a 7th-generation Intel Core i5 or Core i7, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 or 1050 Ti, and you even have three different display options to choose from — 1080p, 1080p with touchscreen, or a big, bad 4K display.
All the way down the line, you can custom-tailor your Dell Inspiron 15 7000, with several options for storage space, RAM, even your choice of operating system. Well, as long as you want Ubuntu or Windows 10. Best of all? It starts at just $800.
Unlike it’s small, svelte cousin, the ThinkPad, the Lenovo Legion Y720 eschews any attempt at subtlety. This is a monstrous laptop, and it’s built like one.
This 17-inch laptop sports a 7th-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU, 16GB of RAM, and a built-in Xbox One receiver. But this isn’t just a gaming laptop. This is a VR gaming laptop. Despite featuring a 1080p or 4K display, and Dolby Atmos speakers, the Lenovo Legion is designed to be a mobile VR station. In addition to being VR ready out of the box, the Lenovo Legion has another interesting feature, it does something called “VR upscaling.”
That means the laptop can take a non-VR game, and fit it to your VR headset automatically, giving you an immersive, 360-degree experience even when you’re playing a standard video game — like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. To accomplish this, the Legion outputs the game to a lower resolution, but fits it to your entire field of view when using a VR headset.
The incredibly large, unbelievably priced Acer Predator 21 X takes the “gaming laptop” concept to a luxuriant and truly massive conclusion. Let’s get to the elephant in the room first: the Acer Predator 21X costs $9,000. It is not a product that Acer likely expects to fly off store shelves. The Predator 21X is the definition of a halo product.
It features every possible luxury you could want on a gaming laptop. A full-on mechanical keyboard, a curved 21:9 display with 120Hz refresh rate, a 7th-generation Intel Core i7-7820HK, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 with 16GB of RAM, and 64GB of system memory. It’s like Acer went to a computer hardware store, grabbed the highest-end components it could find, and crammed them all into a laptop roughly the size of a small elephant.
One small catch? It does weigh 20 pounds. This is not a portable laptop, this is something that will sit on a desk for much of its life, and given the immense price tag, it’s doubtful anyone would be willing to risk putting this in a backpack. Even if you could find one to fit it.
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