The portable benefit of the laptop has made it a popular computer option since the first models hit the market two decades ago. But now, laptops are not just popular for the crowd on the move. They have begun to replace the desktop as the primary computer for the home. In fact, many homes now boast more than one laptop with dad, mom and junior often each doing their own work on their own machine.
It’s easy to grab that laptop and move from the bedroom to the living room but there is still the problem of where to rest the computer. There are some are skilled at typing, gaming and working while resting the laptop on its namesake, the lap. But for most, you want somewhere to put it while you use it. And why shouldn’t the place you rest your laptop be just as portable? Thus, the rise of the laptop cart — a rolling, compact piece of furniture featuring a small base and desk-like attachment where you can place your laptop and, if necessary, notes, a phone or even a beverage.
Laptops aren’t exclusive anymore. Gone are the days of spending at least $1,000 to get a good, portable computer. Now, you can find a variety of inexpensive options on the market including laptops with the latest operating systems and programs as well as slimmed down machines that give you the basics you want. When you want a compact computer by your side, it’s now easy to find laptops under 300 to fit your needs.
Touch screens are pretty much here to stay in most electronics on the current market. They’re in smartphones and tablets, and they pretty much make life easier than devices from the past.
Though, touch screens aren’t only used in tech gadgets smartphones and tablets nowadays. They’re now making a big ‘comeback’ in laptops. If you just take a look at the current laptop market today, you’d see that we weren’t kidding about touch screens making a ‘big’ comeback in standard laptop computers!
Touch Screens And Windows 8
Laptops have actually been manufactured with touch screens as early as 2002, an era where Microsoft first pushed their Tablet PC initiative, promoting products that essentially allowed people to tap, sketch and draw directly onto a laptop’s screen with a stylus. Even though it was marvel at the time, those particular products ultimately were ‘funneled’ into very limited markets, failing to achieve the popularity that Microsoft initially wanted.
Nowadays, and long after Apple changed the landscape of the tablet market, touch screens are so much integrated with electronic-related technology that it’s impossible to think about gadgets without touch screens. With the release of the controversial Windows 8, Microsoft has returned to promoting Tablet PCs as a viable tool to use in today’s fast moving world.
Windows 8 is pretty much a touch-oriented operating system. Its tile-based GUI works much more responsively when used in a touch-oriented environment than in a traditional computer environment. That’s pretty much the main reason why touch screen laptops are becoming more popular, since Windows 8 practically requires touch to shine as an operating system.
Buying A Touch-Ready Laptop – Getting Started
Now that Windows 8 is essentially the world’s most popular touch-oriented OS (for computers, anyway), many laptop manufacturers are now creating laptops with touch screens. These laptops are so prevalent in the market nowadays that they’ve actually dropped down in price faster than most people expected.
Before, it was expected to buy a touch screen laptop that cost over $2,000 USD. Nowadays, you can easily get a touch screen laptop for less than $500 USD. You can even get a touch screen laptop with a digitizer that lets you draw and write directly onto the surface of the laptop’s screen. The price for those laptops? They now only set most people back a little under $1,500 USD.
Windows 8 allows people to work differently than they would in a traditional computer environment on a regular basis. Instead of relying on mouse-oriented gestures, touch gestures shine here. You can pretty much do anything that you can do on a tablet and smartphone on a touch screen laptop. The difference here is that you now have an entire, full-fledged Windows computer to use.
Are They Worth Buying?
To address the new market of people looking for more out of tablets and smartphones, many laptop manufacturers are making touch screen computers that are pretty much adjustable. Some are convertible, meaning that they can rotate the screen around and atop the keyboard to more or less transform into a tablet.
Others make laptops with completely removable screens, so the screen itself can be used as a tablet. Even Microsoft is more or less making laptops with a tablet form factor, as demonstrated in their Surface Pro tablets that work like ultrabooks (high-end laptops) in tablet form.
Touch-based control pretty much works better on a GUI designed around touch control. In other words, you’re not going to get far using a touch screen laptop with Windows 7 or a non-touch oriented Linux OS.
So, touch screen friendly operating systems like Windows 8 and several touch-supported Linux distros simply work better for touch. If you’re looking to get a touch screen laptop, that reality is unavoidable—you have to get an operating system that’s designed for touch screens.
That fact can make a laptop with a touch screen not worth buying for most people—and, that sentiment is completely fine to have. For people that do want to switch to a touch-oriented environments, there are plenty of choices available on the market nowadays.
What Should You Buy?
So, who makes the best touch-ready laptops ? To be completely honest, asking that question is pretty much completely subjective. One person might like one manufacturer better than the other. Some people even carry grudges over from using their previously made products! Ultimately, you should just side with a laptop that works best for you.
Now that these laptops can fit anyone’s budget (as long as they save), there’s a lot to choose from on the current market. Here, we’re going to take a look at some of the most popular laptops featured in many touch screen laptop reviews on the web.
• Asus VivoBook X202E-DH31T. This ultrabook-like laptop has a responsive touchscreen without compromising its budget friendly price.
• HP Spectre XT TouchSmart Ultrabook. This laptop is pretty much an ultrabook in specs, complete with an HD screen, responsive touch screen and an even more reasonable price for the whole package.
• Sony VAIO Pro 13. While some reviewers didn’t prefer certain aspects of its design, it’s a great touch screen ultrabook that’s good for travel.
• Dell XPS 12. This popular Dell offering is a convertible laptop, joining both ultrabook level specs into a tablet form factor.
• Toshiba KiraBook. Toshiba’s new luxury ultrabook is high resolution, highly responsive and well rated by many reviewers.
• Vizio CT15T-B0. This laptop isn’t as loaded in specs as the others, though the high definition touch-display is better than comparable laptops.
• Lenovo ThinkPad Helix. This detachable ultrabook-tablet hybrid is favored for its incredible Lenovo keyboard and responsive touch features.
Ready To Buy?
There are many laptop reviews out there, so you probably won’t have a difficult time choosing the right one for your own needs. The current market, even though older than most think, is still evolving as touch technology gets more refined by the year. Touch is pretty much here to stay—and it’s thanks to great technology like touch screen tech making that possible.
The idea that computers can be made portable really only became popular in the 1990’s, around the same time that personal computing in general become popular among a mainstream audience. At first, although they were called “portable”, in practice they were anything but. With a considerably thick size along with a weight that prevented you from carrying it by hand for very long, it was probably closer to a desktop (ironically) than what we know today as portable computer.
Initially and for the rest of time until today, these portable machines adopted the now common term “laptop”, like a desktop that you place on your lap. This term has retained its high amount of usage among popular culture even today, but ever since the term was coined, we’ve had other words introduced into the English language that are more or less synonymous.
Trimming the Fat
As laptops became progressively smaller and thinner, PC makers and the general public began adopting the term “notebook”, used to describe a laptop that’s a little bit smaller than usual, but with all of the same functionality. Other than a slight difference in size, there’s no real difference in regards to notebook vs laptop; they are often used interchangeably even if they technically have a minor difference.
One special category of laptops, however, has a clearly defined term that has a significant difference from a laptop or notebook. With the release of the Eee PC from ASUS (and other similar devices) back in the day, people began using the term “netbook” to describe a notably small laptop that emphasizes extreme compactness and mobility, considered by many to be best lightweight laptop variant. Nowadays, in 2013, netbooks aren’t quite as popular as before, but people nonetheless continue to desire the same kind of portability when they’re always on the go.
As we approach the middle of the 2010 decade, we’re starting to see the merging of two different worlds of computing. In the realm of mobile computing in general, smartphones and tablets have become immensely popular. Tablets in particular have gained a lot of utility as of late as a very convenient and comfortable portable device for content consumption. For a lot of people, tablets have replaced laptops as their main computing device. However, laptops have remained as the go-to type of machine for productivity more intensive applications and games.
So, in order to address the trend towards tablets for most computing needs, many companies have started to merge the idea of laptops and tablets. These new hybrid units can act as both a laptop with full keyboard and as a standalone tablet with a slick touch interface. Not all modern computers are doing this though; many machines are instead a laptop with touch screen, coinciding with the release of operating systems like Windows 8 with their touch-centric user interface. At some point, though, it is predicted that hybrid tablet/laptop designs will become much, much more prevalent as the decade goes on.
Whether it’s a tablet/laptop hybrid or an ordinary notebook, they all come from a handful of well-known brands including Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer, ASUS, Apple, and more. As far as who makes the best laptops, it mostly comes down to personal preference since they all largely offer the same kind of functionality. As long as their machines include some form of Windows, you can likely run all of the applications that you desire.
The main difference between these brands is style and build quality. Apple, for example, puts a lot of effort into design and form. People like that their products have a simple and stylish look to them while retaining solid build quality. Meanwhile, companies like Lenovo focus more on productivity and utility rather than stylish looks, but nonetheless have solid build quality. Dell, HP, and Acer, while having decent build quality, are more focused on having one-size-fits-all products. They’re still more than adequate regardless, but those looking for premium quality need to keep these details in mind.
In more recent years, Microsoft has also entered the mobile computing space with their Surface tablets, which run the full Windows operating system and have the tablet/laptop hybrid design. Similar to Apple or Google, they’re focusing on simplicity and sleekness while combining the convenience of a tablet with the productivity of a full laptop. It’s certainly not the lowest-cost laptop you can find, but it does offer great build quality with more than enough horsepower to even play a few games.
Looking Towards the Future
It’s difficult to predict even 5 years out what the computing industry will be like, but the previously mentioned trend of convergence is a given. It wouldn’t be unrealistic to say, for example, that desktops in the future will be a thing of the past, replaced by powerful tablet/laptop hybrids that can hook up to a big monitor. However, with the enthusiast PC market where people like to build their own machines, this may not become entirely true. It may be the case, then, that desktop PCs become more of a niche market.
Whatever the case, given that tablets and smartphones are only going to become more powerful, it doesn’t take a visionary to see them slowly start to overtake ordinary PCs. Even now, mobile computing is a massive, growing industry that’s currently in the middle of its heyday. It’s going to be interesting to see where we’ll ultimately end up.
While a continual increase in horsepower for personal computing is almost an inevitability, it’s not the only factor to consider when looking at what’s coming next. Soon we’ll start to see a lot of our devices become more consolidated, making all of our lives a bit easier. Right now we have to manage quite a few different types of devices, and there’s a growing need to unify all of this technology. It’s impossible to tell which companies are going to do this first, or who’s going to do it best, but it’s very likely to happen regardless.
More and more, those pursuing a higher education need a laptop that’s dependable, lightweight, and easy to carry. It’s certainly still possible to get through college with only pencil and paper, but it’s difficult to argue against the speed at which you can take notes with an actual laptop. Not only that, but college courses are becoming increasingly dependent on online-based systems where students can submit assignments without using paper. To this end, it is becoming absolutely essential to own a portable computer of some kind, and the more portable it is, the better. Luckily, it’s a fantastic time to be looking for ultra-mobile devices since nearly all PC manufacturers are moving towards slim, sleek, and simple designs..
A great example of this is the recent trend towards tablet/laptop hybrids. Right now these hybrid models are a bit more expensive than plain laptops, but they offer a ton of functionality and convenience that wouldn’t go unappreciated by college students. Especially among this kind of audience, having both a laptop’s productivity and a tablet’s ease of use for consuming content means that it’s an all-around win, both in terms of utility and in terms of cost. More specifically, since a hybrid unit can act as both kinds of devices, this means that less money has to be spent on getting two separate devices. They’re among the best laptops for college students that money can buy.
Within the last year or so, Microsoft has entered the PC market with their own hybrid product that has received a lot of positive reviews. Called the Surface, it’s a mobile device that can act as both a tablet (complete with slick touch screen interface) and as a touchscreen laptop with a full keyboard. Either way, it runs Windows, which is what’s on the vast majority of computers today.
There are two different models available. The regular Surface 2 tablet is $449 and runs Windows RT, which is basically Windows 8 made to run on a different kind of processor. This bit is important, though, because Windows RT cannot run most of the regular Windows desktop applications. You are limited to what’s on the Windows Store as well as the bundled Office RT suite. For a lot of people, this may not be an issue since media consumption and Office work comprise the majority of needed functionality. However, the lack of ability to run regular desktop applications may be a deal-breaker for long time Windows users, student or otherwise.
To this end, Microsoft also has available the Surface Pro 2, which runs at $899 and includes the full Windows 8.1 operating system, with support for both Windows Store and regular desktop applications. One important thing to note is that, as opposed to the regular Surface 2 model, the Pro includes an actual keyboard so that you can do nearly anything that a regular PC can. While a little bit on the pricey side, the Pro 2 is more ideal for college students since note-taking on a physical keyboard is significantly faster in most cases than a touchscreen keyboard.
ASUS Transformer Book
Microsoft isn’t the only one going towards the whole convergence trend. ASUS, known for its Transformer series of mobile devices, has the Transformer Book T100, a 10-inch tablet that can also act as a laptop with Windows 8.1 installed. One of its most significant benefits, besides hybrid functionality, is the promise of 11 hours of battery life. Battery is an extremely significant factor for college students, especially since lectures can last a number of hours. A good laptop should last through the whole thing without having to recharge, and that’s something that some of the latest ultraportable devices excel at.
The T100 in particular sports a latest-gen quad core Atom processor. While it doesn’t pack as much of a punch as the Surface 2’s Core i5 processor, it’s still more than adequate for all but the most intensive PC games. It’s also a decent tradeoff for the fact that it still runs the full Windows 8.1 operating system while retaining a lower price than a regular Surface 2 tablet at $399. Essentially, what it trades off in performance it gives back in utility and value. This makes ASUS one of the best brand of laptop when it comes to bang for your buck, and one of the best laptops for students.
Apple MacBook Air
For those who are willing to spend a bit of money on a nice, lightweight laptop, look no further than the MacBook Air. Apple has always been known for a high standard of build quality and design that other computer manufacturers have struggled to mimic, and the newest MacBook Air is no exception.
At only 2.38 pounds for the 11-inch model, it’s likely one of the lightest laptops you can find. It starts at $999, which is a bit on the pricey side compared to a Surface tablet (for example), but it makes up for it with rock-solid stability and design. It may not have the hybrid functionality of the other two mentioned laptops/tablets, but what it does have is a tightly designed package with a simple-to-use and responsive operating system.
Some people may be turned off by the fact that it runs Mac OS X. In which case, it’s possible to use Boot Camp in order to install Windows in case you want to play some of the latest games or use applications that only work on Windows. Either way, the MacBook Air is more than up to the task with its 4th generation Core i5 processor (similar to the Surface 2 tablets) and all-flash storage.
There are many more laptops and/or tablets to choose from on the market, but the ones mentioned here are among the best of the best at the moment. Which one you choose as the best laptop to buy will depend on your budget and personal preference, but no matter which one of these you pick, you will most likely be very satisfied with your purchase. They’re all made to a very high standard on all fronts, and it will only get better as time goes on.
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