Posts Tagged: Best

The best laptops

Whether it’s in anticipation of back to school season or you just need a new machine for work, a new laptop may be near the top of your shopping list right now. Given we’re still dealing with the global chip supply shortage, you might find yourself concerned about rising prices or what might be in stock. The good news is, companies are still making a ton of new laptops, and there are plenty of models for you to choose from.

What to expect

You probably have an idea of your budget here, but just so you know, most laptops with top-of-the-line specs can cost you around $ 1,800 to $ 2,000 these days. That doesn’t mean you won’t find a good system for under $ 1,000 — a grand is the base price for a lot of premium ultraportables in the 13-inch category, with chips like Intel’s Core i3 or i5 series. And if that’s too expensive, you’ll still have respectable options in the $ 600 to $ 800 range, but they might come with older, slower processors and dimmer screens. I’ve included our favorite budget-friendly model in this roundup but we have a list of more-affordable laptops that you can check out as well.

After working out how much money you want to spend, the laptop’s operating system is usually the first thing you have to narrow down. As always, the decision is slightly easier for people who prefer MacBooks. Now that Apple has brought its M1 chip to its whole lineup — your only real considerations are budget, screen size and how much power you need.

Over on Team Windows, however, the shift to ARM-based chips hasn’t been as smooth. Though Apple has been able to bring huge increases in battery life while maintaining (and in some cases improving) performance with its own silicon, PC makers have been limited by Windows’ shortcomings. Microsoft released Windows 11 last year, and it’s supposed to run better on ARM-powered machines. Since the first of these laptops, like Lenovo’s ThinkPad X13s or 10w tablet, haven’t been available for review yet, we can’t tell how well the system runs. Of course, you can upgrade to Windows 11 on existing ARM-based PCs, but for now, it’s still safer to stick with an Intel or AMD processor.

Dell XPS 13
Devindra Hardawar / Engadget

Let’s not forget there’s a third and fairly popular laptop operating system: Chrome. If you do most of your work in a browser (lots of online research, emails and Google Drive), then a Chromebook might be a suitable, and often more affordable option.

As for other things to look out for, it’s worth pointing out that a couple of laptops coming out this year are doing away with headphone jacks. Though this doesn’t seem to be a prevalent trend yet, it’s a good reminder to check that a machine has all the connectors you need. Most laptops in 2022 offer WiFi 6 or 6E and Bluetooth 5.0 or later, which should mean faster and more stable connections if you have compatible routers and devices. While 5G coverage is more widespread this year, whether you need support for that depends on how much you travel.

Where you plan on taking your laptop also helps in deciding what size to get. Many companies launched new 14-inch machines in the last year, straddling the line between ultraportable and bulkier 15-inch offerings. For most people, a 14-inch screen is a great middle ground. But if you’re worried about weight, a 12- or 13-inch model will be better. Those that want more powerful processors and larger displays will prefer 15- or 16-inch versions.

Engadget picks

Best overall: MacBook Air M1

Apple MacBook Air M1
Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

As a Windows user, I find myself reluctant to name a MacBook the best overall laptop. But I can’t deny that Apple’s transition to its own Silicon has made its machines better. The MacBook Air M1 even outperformed many PCs while maintaining a fanless design. Though the current model is two years old at this point, it’s still one of the best laptops around. You’ll get blazing fast performance, a great keyboard and excellent battery life, along with a nice Retina display.

Our main gripes with it are the low-res 720p webcam and the fact that it only has two USB-C ports. But if you’re already living a largely wireless life, that shouldn’t bother you too much. Plus, thanks to its ARM architecture, the M1 MacBook Air can also run iPhone and iPad apps.

If you can wait a little longer, the MacBook Air is overdue an update and Apple’s new model is likely to deliver even better performance. But if you need a new machine right now and want a bit more power than the M1 Air has to offer, then consider the 14-inch MacBook Pro with an M1 Pro chip. It’s more expensive, but will smoothly handle more intensive tasks like video editing and also packs an onboard SD card reader. The M1 Pro still lags more-powerful NVIDIA and AMD systems, though, so if you need something for 3D rendering, you may need to turn to a Windows machine.

Buy MacBook Air M1 at Amazon – $ 999

Best Windows: Dell XPS 13 Plus

Dell XPS 13 Plus
Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

The best PC has long been Dell’s well-rounded XPS 13 series and I still recommend it to anyone that doesn’t want a Mac. Yes, the new XPS 13 Plus lacks a headphone jack, and we haven’t got one in to test yet. But the XPS 13 is a well-rounded machine and still one of the best-looking PCs out there.

Like its predecessors, the XPS 13 Plus offers a lovely OLED screen with impressively thin bezels and packs a roomy, comfortable keyboard. It also features a new minimalist design that looks more modern. I’m not sure about the row of capacitive keys at the top in lieu of traditional function keys, but I’m confident that the laptop’s 12th-gen Intel Core processors will provide a healthy performance boost from the last model.

If you’re not sure about the changes Dell has made to the XPS 13, or if you definitely need a headphone jack, the older generations are still solid options. There’s also the Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro series, which feature beautiful OLED screens and sharper webcams in thin and light frames. I also like Microsoft’s Surface Laptops, and the most recent edition offers great performance and battery life, albeit in an outdated design.

Buy XPs 13 Plus at Dell – $ 1,299

Best for gaming: Razer Blade 15 Advanced

For its 2022 refresh, Razer has added updated components along with a few design tweaks like larger key caps to the Blade 15.
Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Gamers should look for machines with responsive screens and ample ports for their favorite accessories that can best help them defeat their virtual enemies. My colleague Devindra Hardawar goes into more detail about what to consider in his guide to buying a gaming laptop, which you should read to learn about different CPUs and GPUs, minimum specs and more. Our favorite gaming laptop is the Razer Blade 15 Advanced, which has an Intel Core i7 processor, and an NVIDIA RTX 3070 graphics for $ 2,500.

It’s the most expensive item on this list, but you also get a 15-inch quad HD screen that refreshes at 240Hz. Different configurations are available, depending on your preference, including a Full HD 360Hz and a 4K 144Hz version. The Blade series is also one of the most polished gaming laptops around.

Those looking for something cheaper and more portable should consider the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14, which was our favorite model last year. The main reason it got bumped down a notch is because the 2022 refresh is almost $ 600 more expensive. It’s still a solid gaming laptop though, with an excellent display, roomy trackpad and plenty of ports in spite of its thin profile.

Buy Blade 15 Advanced at Razer – $ 2,500

Best Chromebook: Lenovo Flex 5 Chromebook

laptop
Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

Our favorite Chromebook is Lenovo’s Flex 5 Chromebook, which Engadget’s resident Chrome OS aficionado Nathan Ingraham described as “a tremendous value.” This laptop nails the basics, with a 13-inch Full HD touchscreen, a fantastic keyboard and a 10th-generation Intel Core i3 processor. The 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage may sound meager, but in our testing the Flex 5 held up in spite of this constraint. It’s also nice to see one USB-A and two USB-C ports, eight-hour battery life and a 360-degree hinge that makes it easy to use the Flex 5 as a tablet. That’s a bonus, especially now that Chrome OS supports Android apps.

Though the Flex 5 is almost two years old by now, it’s a solid deal at around $ 400. In fact, you can sometimes find it on sale for as little as $ 300, making it a great option for someone looking for a basic browser-based machine on a tight budget.

Buy Flex 5 Chromebook at Amazon – $ 430

Best budget: HP Pavilion Aero 13

HP Pavilion Aero
Daniel Cooper / Engadget

If you’re looking for something under $ 800, your best bet is the HP Pavilion Aero 13. For around $ 750, you’ll get a Full HD screen with a 16:10 aspect ratio and surprisingly thin bezels, as well as a comfortable keyboard and spacious trackpad. Importantly, the Aero 13 provides relatively powerful components compared to others in this price range, with an AMD Ryzen 5000 series processor and Radeon graphics. Plus, it has a generous array of ports and enough juice to last you the entire work day and then some.

Buy Pavilion Aero 13 at HP starting at $ 739

Best convertible: Microsoft Surface Pro 8

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8, photographed on a roof deck with the keyboard folio attached.
Dana Wollman/Engadget

For those who need their laptops to occasionally double as tablets, the Surface Pro series is a no-brainer. Compared to notebooks with rotating hinges, tablets with kickstands are often much slimmer and lighter. The Surface Pro 8 is the most recent model and it features Microsoft’s sleek new design with a thinner profile and minimal bezels. The Pro 8 also has a 120Hz display that makes scrolling long documents or spreadsheets feel much faster, and you can drop the refresh rate down to 60Hz if you want to conserve battery life.

We also like Microsoft’s Type Covers for its Surface Pros, though it’s worth noting that they’ll cost you an additional $ 100 to $ 180. Those who want to doodle or sketch on the display may appreciate the Surface Slim Pen 2’s haptic feedback.

Unless you’re bent on sticking to Apple’s ecosystem, in which case an iPad Pro would suit you best, the Surface Pro 8 is arguably the best convertible laptop around.

Buy Surface Pro 8 at Amazon – $ 1,600

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

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The best work-from-home and office essentials for graduates

After they’re done celebrating their academic accomplishments, your grad might already have a new job or internship lined up, or they may be very close to a new opportunity. If so, they’ll want a few essentials that will ease them into the working world, whether they’re dealing with a daily commute or logging on from home. Here are a few gift ideas that they’ll appreciate regardless of where they find themselves doing most of their work.

LARQ Bottle PureVis

A LARQ Bottle PureVis on a desk next to someone working on a laptop.
LARQ

Carrying a reusable water bottle on your commute is a smart idea, but what’s even smarter is a bottle that cleans itself. The LARQ Bottle PureVis claims to neutralize up to 99.99 percent of odor-causing bacteria using UV-C light, which means there’s less chance of it stinking up between refills. Either press the button at the top to trigger the clean, or simply wait; it automatically cleans itself once every two hours. The PureVis model also has thermal insulation that can keep drinks either cold or hot.

If they don’t mind cleaning their bottle, however, the Contigo Autoseal transit mug is a more affordable alternative. It’s wide enough to fit most cup holders and it has a handy Autoseal button which lets them drink out of the bottle when held down. As a bonus for coffee aficionados, both an Aeropress and a drip filter cone fits nicely over it, so you can brew your cup of joe directly into the mug. — Nicole Lee, Commerce Writer

Buy Bottle PureVis at LARQ – $ 95Buy Contigo Autoseal at Amazon – $ 20

Everlane Renew Transit 

The Everlane Renew Transit backpack worn on one shoulder by a female model.
Everlane

A good backpack is essential for commuting, especially if your grad has to tote their laptop back and forth each day. One of our favorites is the Everlane Renew Transit Backpack thanks to both its exterior 15-inch laptop sleeve and assortment of interior and exterior pockets. It also has two water bottle holders and a pass-through strap that attaches to rolling luggage, so they can use it as their main travel pack during their next trip. And, as a bonus, it’s made from 100 percent recycled polyester, has a water-resistant finish and comes in three neutral colors that will pair well with any outfit. — N.L.

Buy Renew Transit bag at Everlane – $ 85

LumeCube Edge Desk Light

A man adjusting the position of the LumeCube Edge lamp next to a computer monitor.
LumeCube

Even if your graduate already has an upgraded webcam, bad lighting can prevent them from putting their best face forward when virtually speaking with colleagues. The LumeCube Edge Desk Light can fix that with its multiple brightness and warm-light settings, plus a bendable neck that makes it easy to adjust the light’s position. Since it’s quite flexible, they can use it for other things, too, including note-taking and live streaming. And we know they’ll appreciate its built-in USB-C and USB-A charging ports, which will let them conveniently power up their phone, earbuds and more while getting all of their work done. — N.L.

Buy LumeCube Desk Light at Amazon – $ 120

Logitech MX Anywhere 3

The Logitech MX Anywhere 3 sits atop a notebook next to sunglasses and a tablet.
Logitech

Today’s office life is more on-the-go than ever, with workers switching between home, office and maybe the occasional coffee shop in between. But being mobile doesn’t mean having to settle for an unresponsive trackpad. The MX Anywhere 3 is a comfy mouse that can easily slip into a bag, though not as easily as it connects via the included receiver or Bluetooth. And it really does work anywhere — including on glass surfaces. — Kris Naudus, Commerce Writer

Buy Logitech MX Anywhere 3 at Amazon – $ 80

27-inch Dell UltraSharp U2720Q monitor

Dell Ultrasharp U2720Q monitor.
Dell

An external monitor is essential for anyone who works from home most of the time. Not only is it ergonomically better than hunching over a laptop all day, but the additional screen real estate is invaluable, too. We especially like the Dell UltraSharp U2720Q thanks to its 4K screen resolution, adjustable height stand and array of ports that they can use to charge their laptop as well as other accessories. It comes with an HDMI socket, two USB-C connections, a DisplayPort, a 3.5mm headphone jack and two USB-A ports. One more feature that’s especially useful if they plan on coding: the monitor can rotate 90 degrees so it can be used vertically as well as horizontally. — N.L.

Buy 27-inch UltraSharp U2720Q monitor at Dell – $ 380

Anker PowerCore Slim 10K

A hand gripping a cellphone that's connected to the Anker PowerCore Slim 10K portable power bank via a cable.
Anker

Anyone with a busy schedule can appreciate the convenience of a portable battery pack – you’ll never have to worry about an unexpected dead phone, tablet, pair of earbuds or another essential gadget. One of our favorites is Anker’s PowerCore Slim 10000PD because it has a lightweight design and yet packs a 10,000 mAh battery inside. That’s enough to charge a smartphone up to three times, and it won’t take up too much space in your bag. Plus, we like that it comes with a couple of Anker’s safety features like overcharge protection and temperature control. — N.L.

Buy PowerCore Slim 10K at Amazon – $ 27

Logitech C920S Pro HD

The Logitech C920S Pro webcam atop a monitor.
Logitech

In the age of Zoom calls and Google Meet video conferences, webcams have become essential. Like many of us, graduates have probably relied on their machine's built-in camera until now, but that just won't cut it if you're video conferencing multiple times a day and also care about looking good. An external webcam can make all the difference — our favorite is the Logitech C920s Pro HD webcam, which has 1080P video quality, autofocus capabilities and decent white balance adjustment. It also has a large 78-degree field of view plus a lens cover that will help protect your privacy when it’s not in use. On top of that, it has a solid pair of built-in microphones, and you can adjust settings like autofocus, brightness and contrast via Logitech’s Camera Settings companion app. — N.L.

Buy Logitech C920S Pro HD – $ 70

Microsoft Surface Ergonomic Keyboard

A man sitting at a desk in front of a computer with his hands on the Microsoft Surface Ergonomic Keyboard.
Microsoft

The grad in your life probably wrecked their hands and wrists writing all those term papers on a dinky laptop keyboard, so why not get their working life started off right with something better? The Surface Ergonomic Keyboard is a treat to type on, thanks to its soft but responsive keys and split design that places your hands in a more natural position. The soft Alacantra wrist rest is pretty great too, and it certainly makes this a classy addition to a work area for under $ 100. — K.N.

Buy Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard at Amazon – $ 130

Google Nest Audio

The Google Nest Audio smart speaker sitting on a blue table.
Engadget

When setting up a home office, audio isn’t always first and foremost on your mind. But when it comes time for your grad to start work, they’ll wonder how they lived without it. A Nest Audio is great for setting reminders like when it’s time to do laundry or check the mail, turn on lights remotely when it gets dark and, of course, play music or podcasts as they work. If they’re not into the Google ecosystem, an Amazon Echo is also a great gift with the same capabilities. — K.N.

Buy Nest Audio at B&H – $ 100Buy Echo at Amazon – $ 100

  

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

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Before the pandemic shut down theaters throughout the US and other parts of the world, the first Sonic film went on to gross $ 319 million globally. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is currently on track to beat those earnings having grossed approximately $ 141 million globally.

As with the first movie, timing appears to have been a significant factor in Sonic 2’s early success. Its main competitor at the box office was Sony’s much-maligned Morbius, which saw a drastic 74 percent drop in ticket sales from its opening weekend last Friday. It only earned $ 10.2 million in additional domestic revenue after a $ 39 million debut. What we can say, people love Idris Elba

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