HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE: Notebooks For All Shapes & Sizes

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notebooks

So someone needs a laptop, huh? Never fear, here are the best laptops currently on the market, for almost any person, at any price point. So go ahead and pick one already!

HP Stream – From $229

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The HP Stream represents great value.

Think of it as a Chromebook with the added flexibility of the Windows ecosystem. Not only will it run the full Microsoft Office suite, as well as pretty much any Windows app (slowly), but it’ll also let you connect to your favourite web apps, like Gmail or Google Docs, with the speed you’d find on a Chromebook.

As the name suggests, the HP Stream is built for simple tasks. It can’t do too much at once, it won’t play games beyond anything 2D, and if you’re planning on using a heavy app like Photoshop consistantly, look elsewhere. But for the essentials it’s a great buy, and it’s basically the Netbook that we wish was possible in 2011. Great for a student or person on a budget who just wants to take notes in Word, or run a web app.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 – From $979.00

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This is getting a bit more pricy, but the latest Microsoft Surface Pro is seriously cool. Not only can the included stylus offer precision for note-taking in OneNote and any other app, but it’s a full Windows laptop with a touchscreen. And on top, the available keyboard accessory is seriously awesome for productivity when compared to other tablets like the iPad. Windows 8 is still a bit of a mess, and there aren’t many tablet apps on the Windows Store, but in terms of being a laptop it’s great. And presumably Windows 10 will be a free update when it comes out later on the year, which should clean things up considerably.

MacBook Air – From $1,099

overview_hero_hero_2xThe MacBook Air goes beyond it’s price in terms of value. OS X is better than ever, and the combination of a great processor and the SSD means the MacBook Air works well with almost any task, excluding some video-heavy tasks like gaming or video editing. It’s designed to be super thin and light, though it’s still incredibly durable, with premium unibody case. Plus you’ll get iWork and iLife for free from the Mac App Store. Great for a student with a summer job, or for anyone in need for a machine that lasts all day, and with style. Though doesn’t have a touchscreen.

MacBook Pro with Retina Display – From $1,599.00

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The MacBook Pro with Retina Display is seriously great, though it’s still a little expensive. It doesn’t have the best graphical abilities, so don’t expect to be playing the latest games on it, but beyond that it’s an awesome all-rounder notebook for people who need just a bit more power than an Air. It performs surprisingly well, thanks to Flash storage and a great processor, and even throwing some complex video rendering at it hasn’t seen caused a single issue. The design is sleek and relativly thin, and that screen, gosh darn, that screen.

Plus, again, OS X is a great desktop OS, with focused design, a great selection of quality apps, and untouchable stability. I haven’t had a forced shutdown all year. Plus you can dualboot Windows 8 without issue.

Obviously it’s up to you, but I love this notebook to bits. It won’t replace a Mac Pro or dedicated editing workstation, but still can potentially hold the title of being your sole computer.

ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook – From $1,799.00

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I’m told by fellow editor Stewart Wilson that this is the coolest non-convertible Windows laptop, and I can’t disagree. Running Windows 8, the X1 is super thin and light, though the battery life sometimes lets it down.

Other than that it’s a business laptop that doesn’t look like a business laptop, in that it actually looks good. Though Lenovo does drastically kill it in terms of pricing, with an added few hundred dollars added to the Australian tag. The screen is low-res too, unless you pay $1,999.00 for a touchscreen, which is weird, and the performance seems on par with the MacBook Pro, rather than being better than it.

In the end though, if you want a great Windows laptop, this one is a solid choice.

Lenovo Yoga Pro 3 – From $2,099.00

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There’s been a lot of debate about whether the Lenovo Yoga Pro 3 is better than the Surface Pro, but a lot of people point to its nice laptop-esc formfactor as a big plus for the system. The only thing that freaks me out is the use of Ashton Kutcher in it’s press images, but other than that it seems to be the Windows ‘convertible’ of choice for the moment.

Plus it works as a tablet and a laptop, which might impress some people. Though if you don’t need all that and just want a good Windows laptop, maybe go for the X1.