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Best Windows 8 Laptops Tablets Convertibles and PCs
Though the 'humble' tablet is making inroads into the laptop and especially netbook markets with the likes of the Asus Transformer Prime, those who require the productivity potential of Windows' many programs or have a Windows games collection they want to play on the go still need a traditional laptop.
Whether you're after a cheap and cheerful netbook, hybrid convertible tablet/laptop, slender and stylish ultraportable/ultrabook or a desktop replacement for gaming or multimedia, you'll find what you need in our list of the best laptops available.
Laptop or Desktop?
For the average user, a laptop is probably the better buy. You get everything in one neat package, without needing to hook up too many cables, or wonder which bits work well with your computer. Of course, an all-in-one PC gives you the same benefits, but it doesn’t provide the portability that makes laptops so convenient.
So why consider a desktop at all? If you require a powerful machine for intensive usage like video editing or gaming, you’ll pay a lot more for an equivalent laptop than you would for a desktop PC. In fact, no matter how much money you throw at a laptop, you can usually get more powerful and more easily upgradeable desktop components, especially where graphics cards are concerned.
Laptop or Tablet?
Hybrid tablets like the Asus Transformer are bridging the gap between tablet and laptop, but only the most casual users will be able to get by with just a tablet. The main reason is Windows 7, which provides a more extensive software library than any other operating system. As they’re larger and have more room for their keyboards, laptops also offer a better typing experience. This should change when Windows 8 comes to market.
Types of Laptop
Laptops come in many different shapes, sizes, configurations and prices.
Netbooks are the cheapest and smallest laptops you can get. Screen size is usually 10in, though some netbooks offer 11in or 12in displays. The resolution of these screens is often lower than the 1366 x 768 minimum that’s standard for regular laptops, therefore offering less space to work with. Their relatively underpowered processors (usually Intel’s Atom) backed by just 1 or 2GB of RAM will just about cope with average workloads and HD video, but forget about intensive software or extensive multi-tasking. Only get one if you can’t afford better, though this may change with the latest Atom generation powering Windows 8 devices.
Ultraportables, as the name suggests, are small laptops that are light enough to easily carry around all day. With screen sizes from 11 to 15in, their footprint is usually not much larger than an A4 page. Ultrabooks are a sub-category of ultraportables. The Ultrabook brand was created by Intel, and guarantees a relatively thin machine with decent performance and battery life in excess of five hours. This is probably the best laptop for most folks, as it combines portability with performance.
Desktop replacements are large and usually somewhat bulky laptops. With screen sizes from 15 to 18in, these are the best choice if you’re looking for something to replace your desktop PC. If you mostly use your computer at home rather than on the go, bigger can be better, as a larger screen should make for more immersive entertainment.
How Much Should You Spend?
Netbooks can be had for under £250, while a gaming laptop can set you back over £3,000. However, for the average user, there’s no need to go over the £500 mark to find a laptop that will serve for all the basics and more. Even premium Ultrabooks can easily be found for under £700 these days, though if you want special features or outstanding quality (e.g. an IPS screen) it will cost you quite a bit more.