Laptops struggled hard in 2023. For the first time in years, we saw a decline in units sold — and what felt like a general lack of momentum in the space. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t a few that really got me excited. The three laptops listed below show just how adventurous laptop manufacturers are getting, and my top choice really pushes that to the extreme.
So, while these aren’t exactly the best new laptops to come out in 2023 that everyone should go out and buy, they do show off some serious innovation in engineering and design.
Want to see the rest? Check out our full list of the most innovative tech products of 2023!
Ah, the dual-screen laptop. It was a concept killed off before it had a chance to see the light of day. I’m talking about the Surface Neo, of course, the announced-then-canceled project from Microsoft, which featured two screens that could be used in various modes. After years of silence, Lenovo came around this year and revived the idea with the Yoga Book 9i, the most successful of the company’s experiments in years. I knew it was something fresh the first time I saw it at CES earlier this year.
So, what’s so innovative about two screens attached at a hinge? The answer is in all the ways the designers at Lenovo take advantage of that concept. For starters, you can use it in a few different laptop modes, either with the virtual keyboard or different configurations with the excellent detachable keyboard accessory.
Things get really fun when you use the foldable “origami stand.” Using strong magnets, the stand folds up so that you can actually use both screens of the Yoga Book 9i in tandem — either side by side or stacked vertically. This is where the Yoga Book 9i starts to really feel fresh, allowing Windows to handle the two screens as it would two external monitors. Now, you could do that with a standard laptop and a portable display, but having it all in one package is pretty tidy. The vertical mode is neat too, if a bit impractical. But if you want to watch a YouTube video while keeping the other screen free to use, for example, it’s great. It’s nothing special in performance, battery life, or other basic laptop features — but it doesn’t throw them aside to chase its unique design either. It’s surprisingly competent.
The most surprising thing about the Yoga Book 9i is that the price isn’t too over-the-top either. There’s just one configuration (with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage), and it costs $2,000. Not cheap exactly, but it’s nice to see some legitimate innovation that isn’t an excuse to be extremely overpriced.
HP is late to the game on laptops with foldable screens. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold is already in its second generation, and the Asus Zenbook Fold 17 evolved the design in 2022. But the HP Spectre Foldable PC may have perfected the formula. Reducing the thickness of the device to 0.33 inches makes it far more usable and portable than its competitors, which is key to the convenience of using such a device. Beyond that, there’s a new mode that’s hard to describe, but it lets you attach the detachable keyboard to the bottom of the device when in laptop mode. It adds even more ways to use this interesting concept by attempting to push the envelope in new ways.
The only problem? Its ridiculous price of $5,000 makes it almost impossible to recommend. That’s the price of innovation, I suppose, but as the Yoga Book 9i shows above, it doesn’t always have to be that way.
I know what you’re thinking. A Chromebook, really? Well, yes. But not just any old Chromebook — the HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook is unabashedly the best Chromebook ever made. It brings a handful of high-end features to the world of Chromebooks that we’ve never seen before, including an 8-megapixel webcam, Thunderbolt 4 connectivity, a 14-inch 2,560 x 1,600 screen, a haptic feedback trackpad, and even an RGB-backlit keyboard. It’s the complete package, and a bold mark of confidence from HP in the platform of Chrome OS. And lastly, there’s the specs. A Core i5-1235U, 16GB of RAM, and 256GB SSD might sound like a typical Windows laptop — but for a Chromebook, it’s as premium as it gets.
Now, none of that might sound like first-ever innovation — and you’re right, it’s not. But in terms of innovating on the Chrome OS platform, this is the biggest leap forward we’ve seen in many years.
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