It was an interesting year for laptops in 2015. Microsoft introduced its first notebook - the Surface Book. Top laptop maker Hewlett-Packard split, with one half, called HP Inc., dedicated to PCs, printers and accessories. Intel released its Skylake family of processors, which drove not just laptop innovation but also notebook battery life - in some cases reaching more than 19 hours.
What follows is a roundup of the coolest of the cool for each of the most important laptop categories: high performance, midrange, long battery life, best design, Chromebook, rugged, thin and light, workstation, 2-in-1 and gaming rig.
Microsoft unleashed its first-ever laptop computer in the form of the Surface Book in October, signalling its ambitions to become an all-out device kingpin that broadly challenges the likes of archrival Apple, as well as long-time hardware partners HP Inc, Dell and Lenovo.
With the introduction of the Surface Book, Microsoft isn't pulling any punches. The Surface Book will feature Intel's sixth-generation Core m, Core i5 and Core i7 processors. Surface Books have a starting price at $2,299 with key features that include 12-hour battery life, a discrete Nvidia GeForce graphics processor, and a 13.5-inch diagonal display that packs 6 million pixels.
The device is actually a 2-in-1 laptop that features a unique dynamic fulcrum hinge. The screen portion of the Surface Book includes the main CPU and the body includes the discrete Nvidia graphics. With this design, you can snap off the display and use it as a Surface-like tablet.
Apple MacBook (2015)
With its 12-inch MacBook (2015), Apple delivers a top-notch thin and light laptop that is extremely fast. While it may not feature the more powerful processor, Apple nails it with specs that matter the most. Long battery life, check. Premium look and feel, check. Speedy boot-up times, fast disk speeds and great everyday performance, check, check and check.
What makes the 0.51-inch thick MacBook truly unique is its groundbreaking design, including the use of a single USB-C port (using the USB 3.1 standard) that supports DisplayPort, VGA, HDMI and Ethernet protocols. Another MacBook first is the use of the Force Touch trackpad that brings new innovation to the trackpad such as pressing hard on a word to trigger a definition to pop up.
The Apple MacBook (2015) has a starting price of $1,999.
Dell XPS 13
The industrial designers at Dell are proud of this machine, having jammed a 13-inch display into a chassis that's only the size of a typical 11-inch laptop. They managed that by making the XPS 13's display virtually borderless. The ultra-thin XPS 13 runs on Windows 8.1, is available with processor upgrades, a backlit keyboard and with Windows 8.1 Pro for an additional $50. A touch display is also optional, and it can be had with up to 8 GB of memory and up to a 256-GB solid state drive. The Dell XPS 13 is priced at $1,499.
Next: HP, Toshiba and MSI