The 2014 Laptop - Part 1

Finding THE LAPTOP, the one that will be with you for a while, that will fulfill all your expectations can feel overwhelming. There are a huge number of brands with a world wide variety of specs. But we want to be of help and put together a small list of answers for the questions that matter most.

There is no perfect laptop that works for everybody. Most shoppers opt for a notebook with a 15-inch screen. But if portability is your chief concern, you'll want a 13- or 14-inch laptop that weighs less than 5 pounds. And you'll likely prefer a beefier system with powerful discrete graphics. Whatever your needs, we've identified the best laptop in each category to narrow your search.

The Best 13 inch Laptop: Apple MacBook Air

Apple MacBook Air

With a lightweight, 3-pound aluminum frame and blazing fast flash storage, the MacBook Air 13-inch is equal parts performance and portability. It benefits from an updated Intel processor, but sticks to a tried and true design that doesn't need to change. The killer feature is the Air's long battery life. This ultraportable lasted more than 12 hours on the Laptop Mag Battery Test. Throw in a comfortable keyboard, industry-leading touchpad and a reasonable sub-$1000 price tag and you have the best laptop on the market today.

The Best Chromebook: Toshiba CB35-A3120 Chromebook 2

Toshiba CB35-A3120 Chromebook 2

If you want a lightweight, stylish laptop that's easy to use and tote around, the new Toshiba Chromebook 2 is a great choice. Running Chrome OS smoothly, it lets you check emails, stream music, watch videos and browse the Internet on a stunning 1080p, IPS screen that makes it look like you should have paid much more for this Chromebook. It has a nice design and good boot times and battery life from Haswell-based processor (nearly 8 hours of battery life on a single charge). The Chromebook 2 also packs an Intel Celeron processor, strong Skullcandy-tuned speakers all at a great value. The Toshiba can successfully act as the primary computer of a home user or student, particularly if you have near-constant access to Wi-Fi.

The Best Gaming Laptop: Alienware 17 (2014)

Alienware 17 (2014)

The Alienware 17 is now more powerful and beautiful. Alienware's gaming notebook has received some significant upgrades, including a faster Core i7 processor and a blazing Nvidia GeForce GTX 880M GPU. The laptop's rich 1080p display and bevy of keyboard lighting effects continue to impress, as well as the excellent audio system. Among all gaming laptops, the Alienware 17 offers the best combination of design, audio and pure power.

Best Windows Laptop / Ultrabook: Dell XPS 13

Dell XPS 13

One of the fastest ultraportables is also one of the best looking. The lid on this 3.3-pound, 13-inch ultraportable is a sleek aluminum, but turn it over, and you're treated to a slick carbon fiber case. Inside is a soft-touch deck that's comfortable on your palms, and a bright and crisp 1080p display. With a Haswell processor and a 128GB SSD, the XPS 13 is powerful enough for any task, and its 8.5-hour battery life will see you through the day. Those looking for a svelte and sexy ultraportable that also hustles will love this Ultrabook.

The Best Laptop/Tablet: Asus Transformer Book T100TAM

Asus Transformer Book T100TAM

An update to one of the best 2-in-1 bargains around, the ASUS Transformer Book T100TAM builds on the success of the Transformer Book T100 by delivering a more premium metal design and faster quad-core Intel Bay Trail processor. Sleek and versatile, lightweight and compact with a 10 inch detachable tablet and the MS Office Home & Student 2013- Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote is already priced under $400. You get 11 hours of battery life thanks to the ASUS Super Hybrid Engine II power management- the portability of a detachable tablet and the productivity of a notebook as well as perfect wireless. You can switch back and forth between tablet and laptop modes as much as you want throughout the day- and it is one of the lightest machines both as a tablet and a notebook. If you want something that performs the daily things efficiently in a compact and small size, Transformer Book is a great hybrid machine to get as it offers some of the best value for money on the market for a hybrid.

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