Picking out a laptop isn’t easy. It’s hard to really understand whether or not a computer is right for your needs until you’ve actually used it for a while.
Maybe it’s a bit more clunky than you thought when you carry it in your bag during a commute. Perhaps the screen is too reflective for your liking when you’re watching Netflix.
And worst of all, what if the battery life is much shorter than you expected?
We’ve researched some of the best laptops on the market and combed through reviews to at least give you some of the best options to choose from.
If you want a Mac laptop with a better screen, check out the MacBook Air with Retina display. There's a $US300 difference between the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro of the same size, and the extra cash gets you a faster processor with better graphics, a sharper screen, and more ports such as an extra Thunderbolt port and a spot to plug in an HDMI cord.
Price: Starts at $US1,299
Dell's new 13-inch Windows laptop comes with an impressive 3,200 x 1,800 touchscreen with an 'infinity display,' which basically means it has really thin side bezels. It's a great option if you want to stick with Windows but want something that's as thin and light as a MacBook Air. The company claims it will provide 12 hours of battery life, although it's too soon to know for sure since the notebook just launched. It's $US100 cheaper than the 11-inch MacBook Air and $US200 cheaper than the 13-inch version.
Price: Starts at $US799
The ThinkPad X240 is a little heavy, but if you're usually using it at a desk for work it's an excellent business laptop. It has a comfortable keyboard and a fingerprint sensor to keep your information safe. Based on reviews from ZDNet and PCMag, Lenovo offers plenty of different configuration options and a set of two batteries that can last for 15 hours on a single charge. The only downside is the screen isn't as sharp as what you'd get on a competing device, since it only has a resolution of 1,366 x 768.
Price: Starts at $US854
Toshiba's newest Chromebook is among the best out there. It has a beautiful screen, great battery life, and it feels comfortable in your lap. The design is sturdy enough to withstand being tossed in your bag during commutes without getting scraped up. If you mostly use your laptop for doing light work and browsing the web, this is a great choice.
Price: Starts at $US250
Dell's Inspiron 17 5000 Series is an affordable general-purpose Windows laptop with a sharp screen, solid performance, and long battery life, according to PCMag's review. Although it's relatively cheap at $US449, its aluminium design makes it look more attractive than your typical sub-$US500 notebook. Try this one if you need a Windows laptop that offers better performance than the HP Stream but don't want to spend too much money. There's also a touchscreen model if you want to spend an extra $US200.
Price: Starts at $US449
You don't have to spend a ton of money for a new Windows laptop. The HP Stream comes as cheap as $US200, and includes a free one-year subscription to Microsoft Office Personal. For a $US200 laptop, the HP Stream is pretty good: The keyboard is decent, the battery life will get you through a day or two with mixed usage, and it's so light I nearly forgot I had it in my bag. If you really don't want to invest much in a laptop, opt for the Stream or a Chromebook. But if you choose the Stream, you'll have to sacrifice high-quality audio and a sharp display.
Price: Starts at $US200
If you're looking for a dirt-cheap Chromebook with a great screen and long battery life, go for the Acer Chromebook 13. It's one of the few Chromebooks in its price range that comes with a 1080p full HD screen (Toshiba's does, but the HD version is $US50 more than Acer's). Engadget's review says it lasts for a long time on a single charge. If you're in the market for a Chromebook, this is a worthwhile choice.
Price: Starts at $US292
Lenovo's Yoga 3 Pro is one of the company's thinnest and lightest laptops yet. The screen is gorgeous, according to CNET's review, and it comes with a flexible hinge that lets you bend the screen all the way back. The downside, however, is that the battery life isn't very long. Consider this one if you want a nice-looking laptop that can accommodate different form factors. If you plan on using it a lot for presentations and think you'll be near an outlet most of the time, this might be a good choice.