This page is a collection of all the notebook reviews we've completed so far in 2015. It contains not only traditional notebooks, but also 2-in-1 hybrids that can be converted from tablet to notebook and back again.
Apple MacBook Air (2015)
Earlier we reviewed the Apple MacBook, and although it was undeniably easy to take with us on the go, it was tougher to work on everyday. The Air variant is a little bigger, but it retains a strong set of connections and a keyboard soft enough on fingers to use for hours at a time.
Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Series
Dell’s 15.6-inch Inspiron 15 7000 Series notebook is a computer for a home that doesn’t want (or require) a traditional desktop PC. It’s also rather slim considering its size, and at 2.13kg is not overly heavy to lug around when portability is needed. The highlight of our test model’s configuration is a 4K (ultra-high definition) screen -- but why would you want such a screen?
Lenovo ThinkPad T550
Occasionally, reviewers are sent versions of notebooks that don’t really show off the best that the manufacturer has to offer. The Lenovo ThinkPad T550 is one such example, with the basic spec that was sent to us being merely a curtain raiser for what this laptop is about.
HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1 Special Edition
HP’s EliteBook Folio 1020 G1 Special Edition notebook has a 12.5in screen and weighs 1.04kg. That size and weight combination is a point of emphasis for this laptop, in addition to a strong build quality. Construction materials include magnesium-lithium alloy and carbon fibre, and there is a spill resistant keyboard with a drain installed to help counter those early morning coffee spills.
Asus ZenBook UX305F (UX305FA-FC029H)
Finding the right laptop should be about feel and comfort as much as it is about specs. For many of us, the specs don’t matter that much. What we value most in a Windows-based laptop is easy portability, good keys, connectivity features, and something that can run basic tasks without much hassle. It could be said that the Asus ZenBook UX305 is appealing because of these factors.
Apple MacBook (early 2015)
The MacBook is informed as much by the tablet category as it is by notebooks. It is light at 920 grams and, at its thickest point, it is 13.1mm. That makes it thinner than the original iPad. It’s also thinner than the Microsoft Surface 3 when it is bundled with the mechanical keyboard.
HP Elite x2 1011 G1
Despite being a two-piece hybrid device that can be used as both notebook and tablet, HP’s Elite x2 feels more like a heavy notebook of old when you first pick it up and start using it. It’s of a small size (11.6 inches) and it has the sturdy build that HP is known for in its business laptops, but it could stand to be lighter given that it runs one of Intel’s silent-running Core M processors.
Dell Latitude 12 5000 Series (E5250)
Dell's Latitude E5250 won't look like anything special to most people. It has a square design, a dark, single-colour paint scheme, and its thickness is perhaps a little too much for people who are used to Ultrabook-style offerings. But it's a business laptop, and business laptops are designed primarily for function, rather than fashion. When you start using it, that's when you realise it's one of most practical portable computers on the market.
HP Spectre X360
Premium presentation and build quality make the 13.3-inch HP Spectre x360 (13-4009TU) immediately eye-catching. Its all-silver styling, polished bits, and raised ‘Hewlett Packard’ lettering on the lid, all make it look like a product that’s costly. Depending on what’s installed in its belly, it definitely will be expensive. The model we’re looking at here has a top-end configuration for a top-end price, and is aimed at those of you who want the swiftest performance from your tablet-convertible product.
Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi
For those of you who like the idea of having a tablet and notebook in one physical device, the Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi is a neat example of what you should be looking for. It’s a 2-in-1 device with a firm tablet-first design that runs Intel’s Core M CPU. That CPU allows the tablet to be thin, silent, while at the same time providing a decent balance of performance and battery life -- or so it should.
If you happen to be in the market for an inexpensive gaming laptop, look out for Gigabyte’s G3 at MSY stores. It’s a 13.3in model with a configuration that includes an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M graphics adapter, and it should handle many modern titles well at medium image detail.
Dell XPS 13 (early 2015 model)
Dell’s Early 2015 version of the XPS 13 has undergone some changes compared to last year’s model, with the most notable change being a screen frame that’s only 5mm thick at the sides and across the top. It’s an efficient use of space that makes this 13.3in laptop one of the most compact on the market for its screen size, and it looks beautiful to boot.
HP’s high-performance consumer laptop is the one called Omen. Specifically, it’s a 15.6-inch laptop that’s made to entice the gaming crowd, though it doesn’t look like a big and bulky gaming laptop. Instead, a thin chassis with a wedge design gives the Omen an airy feel while housing components that can easily run many of the latest games.
Acer Aspire R13
Acer’s Aspire R13 is designed as a convertible laptop that can also be used as a tablet. Its screen flips all the way around on its hinge to facilitate the laptop-to-tablet transformation, and it’s a design that’s neat and to the point. But we did notice a few issues that are disappointing for a product with a $1999 asking price.
Asus Transformer Book Flip (TP500LN-CJ035H)
Even big notebooks such as the Asus Transformer Book Flip TP500LN-CJ035H are getting the hybrid treatment these days. This isn’t much of a surprise coming from Asus. It was Asus, after all, that transformed an 18.4in screen for its all-in-one desktop system into an Android tablet. This time around, the TP500LN is a 15.6in notebook that has a 360-degree hinge so that it can be used in more ways than just a notebook.
The Alienware 13 certainly is a powerful kit when compared to other laptops of a similar form factor, mainly because it packs a discrete graphics adapter that can be used capably for a variety of games, and it can be maxed out with 16GB of RAM and up to two solid state drives (SSDs). Furthermore, it has been designed as product that can be used as a main gaming system, rather than a fill-in, because it makes use of Alienware's Graphics Amplifier technology.
Toshiba Portege Z20t
The last time we saw a 2-in-1 Toshiba Portege (the Z10t back in August 2013), we had a few concerns: its keyboard dock was unreliable during our tests, its battery life was short, and we found its configuration to be too noisy for our liking. Fast forward a couple of years and the Z20t is a brand new beast that rectifies a lot of what was questionable about the Z10t.
Dell Precision M2800
When you get a workstation like this, it's because you want to be able to work wherever you are, with the files and software that you need for the job. For this reason, the Precision M2800 we're reviewing here comes kitted with a Core i7-4810MQ CPU, 8GB of RAM, and both integrated and discrete graphics adapters.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2015 model)
Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook is back, and its design has largely reverted back to a business-classic status that should please long-time fans of the brand. Primarily, the Adaptive keys that left us scratching our heads a little on the last model are gone, with real F-keys now adorning the top row of the keyboard. Furthermore, the Caps Lock key, which disappeared in favour of double-tapping the Shift key on the 2014 model, is now back on this 2015 model. On the inside, the X1 Carbon now moves to a 5th generation Intel Core i5 CPU, and a slightly bigger battery capacity has been installed.
HP Envy X2
There's a strangeness to the HP Envy X2 (15-c001tu) that's hard to overcome. This mostly comes from its detachable keyboard, which features a touchpad on the right side, rather than below the keys. But there are other things, such as the size of the tablet itself, which is 15.6 inches, and the design, which looks a little like a novelty HTC smartphone (once someone in the office pointed that out to us, we couldn't stop seeing it).
Lenovo ThinkPad Helix 2
To put it simply, the Lenovo ThinkPad Helix 2 is an 11.6in Windows 8-based tablet that ships with a keyboard base so that you can get some work done. It’s a product that’s different to many of the 2-in-1 devices that populate the market, primarily because the tablet doesn’t rely on a secure attachment to the keyboard, it just rests in it.