Laptop Design Trend Highlights

 

Tablets, smartphones, and other handheld devices have been changing the game in positive ways. They’re great for shopping online, checking your emails, and if you’re not a hardcore gamer they may even satiate your gaming desires too.

But personally, no handheld device could replace my console. Just like no smartphone, or tablet could substitute a well built, superbly designed laptop.

And with the new features being implemented, not only do our lappies have new and innovative ways to improve user experience, they’re matching hand-held devices in terms of appeal as well.

The year’s almost out. That being said, there has been a slew of laptops that took the market by storm. More importantly, these are laptops that I think are worth talking about, devices designed to offer great PORTABILITY and PERFORMANCE in one.

Without further ado let’s recap some of the most well-designed laptops from some of the biggest names in the industry.

Laptop Designs (2016 Highlights)

Dell XPS 13

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Wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t kick this review off with a Dell laptop. The company’s had a pretty good reputation with myself, and the market on a whole. Needless to say, that’s anything but a coincidence.

With the XPS 13, they’re truly living up to our expectations and giving the competition a run for more than their money.

Thin and light, this model is a prime example of how the new wave of laptops being efficient while capturing wide appeal in the same breath.

The XPS 13 effortlessly flaunts top of the line design. With a 13 inch screen squeezed into an 11-inch frame — this concoction sounds a bit ‘out there’ but rest assured the manufacturer pulled it off and then some.  

Blessed with great visuals as one would expect, the impressive display complements the machine’s overall aesthetic appeal. What’s more, the Dell XPS 13’s sleek build makes portability a breeze.

Graced with Intel’s Skylake processor you’re getting remarkable power and memory for your money.

After all the praises this thing has been showered with, you might think the XPS will cost you an arm and a leg (literally) but that’s really not the case, as it actually comes at a great starting price.

And what are you getting?

The best Ultrabook — scratch that — the best Windows laptop — the BEST laptop out right now.

Sure, I could’ve saved the best for last, but as you’ve probably noticed I really couldn’t help myself.

DELL XPS 13 Specifications

  • CPU – Intel Core i5 – i7
  • Graphics – Intel HD Graphics 520/Intel Iris Graphics 540
  • RAM – 4GB – 8GB
  • Screen – 13.3 inch FH, 1,920 x 1,080/QHD+ 3,200 x 1,800
  • Storage – 128GB – 256GB

Asus ZenBook UX305

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If you like MacBook but hate the price, then Asus probably had you in mind when they made this one. Why? You’re getting the same quality (arguably) as the MacBook) and at the fraction of the price.

The ZenBook UX305 is thin and light, graced with a vibrant display. Best of all the screen is glare-free, so you can enjoy the gorgeous display without the risk of going blind.

Unfortunately, the graphics are a no-no, and the speakers aren’t going to get anyone excited.

To be blunt, what you have here is a Windows alternative to the rose-tinted MacBook. If that sounds like something you’d go for, then look no further.

The ZenBook looks like the MacBook’s long lost twin brother. But a peek into its features shows a world of difference between two machines that are otherwise identical.

You might appreciate the ZenBook for its purple-tinged aluminum design. No one’s going to complain about the sweet display, and if you like stuffing your PC with unnecessary files the storage was designed for a digital hoarder.

The fanless design gets two thumbs up, and I could almost write the manufacturer thanking them directly for that extended battery life.  

Lastly, that low price is an eye-catcher if I ever saw one.

Asus ZenBook UX305 Specifications:

  • CPU – Intel Core M3-6Y30 – M7-6Y75
  • Graphics – Intel HD Graphics 515
  • RAM – 8GB
  • Screen – 13.3 inch, FHD, 1,920 x 1,080/QHD+ 3200 x 1800 – IPS display
  • Storage – 256GB – 512GB

Toshiba ChromeBook2

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Never thought I’d ever include a Toshiba on a list like this, after the complete nightmare I went through with the Toshiba Satellite. Using the touchpad felt clunky, and I never got into it.

That being said, I can’t ignore the beauty of the ChromeBook2. I’m not sure if they’ve won their place back in my heart, but let’s just say they’ve convinced me enough to at least include this model as a 2016 highlight.

Almost inarguably one of the best looking AND performing Chromebooks, offering users a smooth experience and a lot of power to play with thanks to the Core i3 processor.

Many will feel right at home with the Chrome OS, and be flattered by the vibrant 1080p screen.

EXCEPT there’s a catch. That screen glare is nothing to play with. The Toshiba Chromebook is a bit on the pricey side, but that sharp display will have you grinning from ear to ear. Plus, you’re getting a pretty fast machine that’ll practically save you from Windows’ typical shortcomings.  

If you’re familiar with the Chromebook Pixel then you know it’s all about performance. Let’s just say the Toshiba ChromeBook2 isn’t far behind.

Toshiba Chromebook2 Specifications:

  • CPU – Intel Celeron – Core i3-5015U
  • Graphics – Intel HD Graphics – HD Graphics 5500
  • RAM – 4GB
  • Screen – 13.3 inch, 1920 x 1090
  • Storage – 16GB eMMC

Razer Blade Stealth

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What the manufacturers wanted to accomplish here was a great (versatile) performing laptop with mind blowing aesthetics. They even went as far as trying to have this laptop dabble in the gaming arena. The Razer Blade Stealth is inarguably a great machine, and if the aesthetics aren’t top of the line then I don’t know what is.

I’m just not sure if ‘gaming’ should be your sole purpose for seeking out this machine. Put it this way, if all the PC master race guys had was the Blade Stealth, they’d be a lot less talkative when it comes to online forums and other platforms.

What you SHOULD be getting this baby for is the enthralling display. Not to mention the battery life is a good look.

The charger is less exciting — due mostly to its size and weight. I’m not even exaggerating, carrying this thing around is damn near a chore.  

Price-wise, it’s not terrible, although not everyone will be happy to get up off that cash. But if you’re in it for the display and its flimsy attempt at facilitating gaming doesn’t phase you — I doubt you’d have much to complain about.

Can’t forget the Intel Kaby lake processor. That thing packs enough power to put a smile on the face of any enthusiast.  

Another key feature that adds a bit of personality to this machine is the keyboard. More specifically, its ability to change the lighting in keys. You have a few options. What I mean by a ‘few’ is 16.8 million colors to choose from.

Craving better graphics? Go ahead and attach the Razer core external GPU for augmented performance whenever you have zero plans to move around. A cool addition, yes, but there’s some stuff you’ll want to know about this option.

The Software setup will have you on the verge of a headache. And there’s an astounding lack of support with competitor laptops.

When it comes down to it, the price of the Razer is good compared to competitors. And although the gaming capacity will break the heart of any member of the PC master race, the Razer Blade Stealth is FAR from a bad deal.

Razer Blade Stealth Specifications:

  • CPU – Intel Core i7
  • Graphics – Intel HD Graphics 620
  • RAM – 8GB – 16GB
  • Screen – 12.5 inch, QHD+ 2560 x 1440 – 4K 3840 x 2160, IGZO LED-backlit multi-touch
  • Storage – 128GB – 1TB

Samsung Notebook9

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What have we got here? Only one of the best Ultrabooks currently available to mankind. The Samsung Notebook 9 boasts a full core 15 Skylake processor that makes it surpass the MacBook Air power-wise.

Won’t tell you this bad boy is dirt cheap, but you can have it at a reasonable enough price. There’s a reason the saying ‘you get what you pay for’ doesn’t get old. It’s because a lot of the times it’s actually true.

One of the things money can’t get you with the Samsung Notebook 9, though, is a decent battery life. Also, the micro sized video ports may rub you the wrong way.

Aesthetically, this Ultrabook isn’t winning any competitions. But if you’re in it for efficiency and overall great design, you really can’t lose here.

On top of that, you’re getting gorgeous display to go with a solid performance and experience. In other words, Samsung went the extra mile to give you bang for your buck.

With awesome screen resolution and a price that’s definitely on the upside, the only thing dragging this baby down is the battery life.

Samsung Notebook9 Specifications:

  • CPU – 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-6200U
  • Graphics – Intel HD Graphics 520
  • RAM – 8GB
  • Screen – 13.3-inch, FHD 1920 x 1080, LED anti-reflective display
  • Storage – 256GB

Microsoft Surface Book

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If your ideal laptop design looks like something out of a sci-fi movie, you’re going to love this one. The Surface Book offers seamless tablet separation and as you can already tell by the photo it’s easily one of the best-looking machines on this list.

Call me shallow but I almost placed this thing on the list for the aesthetics alone.

Except I didn’t. The Surface Book isn’t pure looks with nothing to back it up.

Going with a peculiar 3:2 aspect ratio and 13.5-inch screen, the Surface Book is far from the norm when it comes to Ultrabooks. But one look at this thing and you’ll see the ingenuity behind the design.

What Microsoft cooked up here is one of best convertible designed laptops ever made — hands down.

This is the most powerful and thinnest Windows 10 computer you’re going to find out there.

Trust me, I’ve looked.

Microsoft has essentially reinvented the Notebook’s 40-year-old paradigm with their efforts on this machine. While the Surface Book doesn’t live up to promises regarding its battery life, the flat design and washed out silver color will have you overlooking that in a heartbeat.

Microsoft Surface Book Specification:

  • CPU – Intel Core i5 – i7
  • Graphics – Intel HD graphics 520, Nvidia GeForce graphics
  • RAM – 8GB – 16GB
  • Screen – 13.5 inch 3000 x 2000 PixelSense Display
  • Storage – 128 GB – 256GB PCle3.0 SSD

HP Specter Notebook

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Let me tell you straight off the bat, the HP Specter packs a wallop in the power department. Not only does it gush with power and performance, but it’s not too shabby either. It’s chic enough to make up for the spongy trackpad (for most people) even though no one is going to be stoked about the short battery life.

If you prioritize style you’ve probably already fallen in love with the HP Specter. I can hardly blame you. Between the Godly appearance, and waves of power that stomps the competition — I really can’t see much to be upset about.

We haven’t even started on the price that makes it a threat to competitors.  

The HP Specter comes with an optional Intel core i7 configuration and boasts a trio of USB-C ports. A capable and mean machine with otherworldly features, it doesn’t just perform as you expect — it looks great doing it!

Even if you’re looking for more than a 1080p screen — that pales in comparison to the top of the line design and above average power this baby brings to the table.

HP Specter Notebook Specifications:

  • CPU – Intel Core i5 – i7
  • Graphics – Intel HD Graphics 520
  • RAM – 8GB LPDDR3 SD RAM
  • Screen – 13.3 inch FHD – 1,920 x 1,080
  • Storage – 256GB – 512GB

Samsung Notebook7 Spin

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Even if you don’t fall in love with the Samsung Notebook 7 Spin, there’s one thing you’ll appreciate about it. It’s not a tablet pretending to be a laptop.

Instead, it actually FEELS like a standard laptop with all the essential ergonomics you’d expect. And folding it into tablet mode doesn’t compromise this in any way.

That being said, it boasts a superior build.

There is a lot of fuss about the HDR display, with some people damn near succumbing to heart attacks at the thought of this ‘spectacular’ feature, and others almost bashing it as being ‘bland’ and ‘overhyped’.

In my honest opinion, the effect is way too subtle to be fussing over. It’s also not ‘terrible’ by any means and Samsung does get kudos for innovation.

While the keyboard doesn’t impress like, say, the glorious ones designed by Apple, it still doesn’t get in the way of enjoying the countless other things the Notebook Spin has going for it.

The touchscreen action is neat, and you do get 12 GB of RAM. The Nvidia GPU even allows for a bit of gaming (and I do mean a BIT). If you’re trying to go into hardcore gamer mode with the Notebook Spin, you’re probably better off going for something else.

The screen is 1080p, but you still get a hardcore 2 in 1 machine at a not-too-bad price.

Samsung Notebook Spin Specifications:

  • CPU – 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6500U
  • Graphics – Nvidia GeForce 940MX, 2GB DDR3L/Intel HD Graphics 520
  • RAM – 12GB – 16GB
  • Screen – 15.6 inch Full HD 1920 x 1080, LED with touch panel
  • Storage – 1 TB HDD – 1TB HDD, 128GB

HP Specter X360

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HP has served up a solid performer with the HP Specter x360. They hold no punches, gracing this machine with a snappy keyboard, and multicore processing. The graphics are up a few levels as well.

One of my favorite features about this baby is the long lasting battery. It’s not only in for the long haul, exceeding the 8-hour mark, but it charges with impressive speed as well.

USB-C quick charging gets your laptop ready for use in no time, taking the x360 from 0 – 90 in roughly 90 minutes. On the downside, there’s not much here outside of a standard USB port, so don’t get too excited about that.

You’re practically stuck with USB-C — a feature that techies may fawn over. But this may suck for the less technically inclined folk out there.

The HP Specter x360 does come with a Kaby lake processor, which is a good look. But the thick bottom of the device doesn’t compliment the look and feel of an otherwise effective machine.

HP Specter x360 Specifications:

  • CPU – Intel Core i5 – i7
  • Graphics – Intel HD Graphics 620
  • RAM – 4GB – 16GB
  • Screen – 13.3
  • Storage – 128GB – 512GB

MacBook Pro 2016

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Another one of my favorites. I’ve been waiting to delve into the specs of the MacBook Pro and now that I’m here, I’m going to enjoy every minute of it.

In the aesthetics department, this thing is a God among junk. Its frame is thin, and light so you won’t pull a hamstring taking it along for a ride.

In terms of audio quality, the speakers are somewhere between stellar and amazing.  

I’m not saying Apple got EVERYTHING right this time round. For one, the processor is still slow.  

While the price is high (and I’d be lying if I said the same about the performance) that doesn’t have to be the end of the world. It will come down to what the particular buyer is going for. If you’re all for glitz and glam with okay performance, then this is your ticket to MacBook heaven.

Arguably Apple’s best-looking machine, they really came out swinging with this update. Namely, with the upgrade to the Skylake M processor.

If portability and style ever coexisted in one machine, it would be the MacBook Pro 2016. That Touch Bar is by far one of my favorite features I’ve ever seen on any laptop.

Blessed with an aluminum unibody design, and retina display, the MacBook is home to familiar features that enthusiasts will adore.

I should mention that the 3.5mm headphone jack and USB-C port are the only connector ports.

But that’s a hardly a deal breaker.

Like I said, if you’re going more for that rose-gold finish, and top of the line aesthetics, take another look at that image above, and look no further.

If you’re looking to broaden your horizons. Here’s some info on the MacBook Pro in comparison to the MacBook Air (Apple’s most cost-effective) machine out right now.

MacBook Pro 2016 Specifications:

  • CPU – Intel Core m3 – m5
  • Graphics – Intel HD Graphics 515
  • RAM – 8GB
  • Screen – 12 inch, 2304 x 1440, LED-backlit IPS display
  • Storage – 256GB – 512GB

Lenovo Yoga 900

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Really refined work here in the Lenovo Yoga 900. Another 2 in 1 convertible with display that’ll take your breath away.

I’ll tell you from the jump that the keyboard is a bit shallow, and the display drivers come with their fair share of drama. And to be blunt, that may get in the way of some that breathtaking display I mentioned before.

If you recall the Yoga Pro 3, the words “great design, but weak performance” may come to mind. Good news is, the Yoga 900 sought to correct that mess and actually did.

Partly by integrating more powerful Intel core I series processors and a larger battery — significant features that help it dominate the market. This thing will fight it out with most Ultrabooks and Microsoft’s latest Surface Book

The extra power shows in its weight and build, but it still pulls off a sleek enough frame, seamlessly allowing you to shift into tablet mode.

If you’re interested in a thinner and lighter convertible machine go right ahead and check out the Yoga 900S.  

Lenovo Yoga 900 Specifications:

  • CPU – 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6560U
  • Graphics – Intel Iris Graphics 540
  • RAM – 8GB – 16GB
  • Screen – 13.3 inch QHD+ 3200 x 1800 IPS display
  • Storage – 512GB – 1TB

Conclusion

While none of these products are perfect, the boost in performance and aesthetics have a great deal of people excited. Not all the manufacturer’s stayed true to some of the bold promises made but they still managed to swoon consumers for the most part.

With designs incorporating more glitz and glam than ever, while still managing to craft effective machines, one can’t help but look forward to what’s in store for 2017.

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