Standing out from the crowd
Stand-out machines? Acer's Timeline X 4820TG impressed us with its monumental battery life: 12 hours. That's for a Core i5 machine with a 14in screen - other notebooks we tested came nowhere near that.
HP Envy 17
The latest HP Envy 17 is a stonking multimedia machine, despite its MacBook Pro 'me too' looks. There's a Core i7, AMD Mobility Radeon HD 5850 discrete graphics, 4GB of memory, a 500GB hard drive and a Beats Audio sound system under the hood. It'll set you back around £1300, but a Blu-ray version will add £300 to that.
Dell's XPS 15 is cheaper, but an impressive performer, packing in Core i3, i5 and i7 processor options, Nvidia GeForce GT 420M or GT 435M graphics - the latter with 2GB of video memory - and 4GB of 1333MHz DDR 3 memory in dual-channel config. The graphics uses Nvidia'a cool Optimus technology to switch between discrete and integrated graphics smoothly and only when needed, the better to balance performance and battery life.
Dell XPS 15
Running the Core gamut from i3 right up to i7, the Toshiba Portégé R700 is a typical 13-incher. It's a bit chunkier than this once slim Air-alternative used to be, but it's not a bad performer, and it's available in a huge range of configurations to suit almost any pocket.
Toshiba Portégé R700
Finally, we were very keen on the Apple MacBook Pro 15in because it's so nice to use, looks the business and packs in a decent spec for what you pay. An don't forget how resilient that aluminium casing is to knocks and bumps.
Apple MacBook Air 13.3in 85%
Apple MacBook Pro 15in 85%
Dell Inspiron M101x 85%
Acer Aspire One D260 85%
Asus Eee PC 1215N 80%
Samsung N230 80%
Apple MacBook Air 11.6in 75%
Acer Aspire 5741 75%
Toshiba Portégé R700 70%
Samsung NF210 70%
The year's best... laptops
It would be great to have a similar article about business laptops, such as the Lenovo T410s, Dell Vostro 3300, HP ProBook/EliteBook, etc.
No mention of the Sony VAIO Z?
Quite surprised there's no mention of the refreshed VAIO Z. It's easily the best laptop released this year IMO. It includes everything most power users could possibly want, all in a tiny 1.5KG package...
Why didn't you mention the LENOVO X201s? That little beast is lightyears ahead of the competition! It may be expensive, but it really demonstrates what clever engineering can pack into a 12" form factor.
I'm bored. My eeepc901 has never gone wrong. How am I to find an excuse for a new toy^H^H^H work tool.
As quite probably the only laptop there with a sane screen aspect ratio, I have to agree with the 13.3" MBA as the de-facto winner. Wonders never cease.