Laptops are one of those few devices you keep for the long run. Unlike smartphones or tablets, notebooks can cost twice or even three times as much as a mobile device and often last three to five years before you need to upgrade. Like any other big gadget purchase, it's crucial to pick out the best machine on the market.
However, in the lieu of Intel's new Broadwell-U chip packed into many of the machines we saw at CES 2015, as well as more Nvidia Maxwell GPU-toting gaming laptops on the way, it's also important to keep an eye what's just around the bend.
Each laptop is unique in its own way, with eye-catching qualities like gorgeous displays, notable features – like a mechanical keyboard – or a list of components that makes us simply drool.
The machines highlighted below are new releases we've only had a short time with, newly announced units that have piqued our interest, or laptops we've only heard about through rumors and reports. With that in mind, here are the hottest laptops yet to come.
Retina MacBook Air
Starting with the most anticipated laptop of the year, we're hoping (and hearing) that Apple will finally add one of its Retina screens to the MacBook Air. A sizable number of Utltrabook competitors have already upgraded to beyond-HD screens, including the Quad HD Dell XPS 13, 2160 x 1440 resolution Surface Pro 3 and the Samsung Ativ Book 9's sharp 2,560 x 1,600 pixel panel.
A Retina MacBook Air seems like a no brainer since Apple's entire product line from the iPad Mini 2 to the iMac 5K already features the Cupertino company's patented high-definition display technology.
According to a few early reports, such a machine will launch in the first quarter of 2015 with a 12-inch display to replace the current 11-inch model, while the 13-inch option will remain. Both models will also purportedly come equipped with one of Intel's latest Broadwell-U processor and a new buttonless trackpad allowing for an even thinner design.
Dell XPS 13 (2015)
Through an amazing feat of engineering, Dell has somehow fitted a 13-inch laptop into an 11-inch notebook chassis. The Dell PS 13's design even tops the MacBook Air, which has long been considered the OG Ultrabook. Senior editor Juan Martinez got some hands on time and wrote, "80% of the XPS 13's upper panel is actually made up of screen. That is 11% more real estate than the MacBook Air 13, despite being 23% smaller than the MacBook."
Aside from the svelte profile, everything about this laptop feels premium from the Gorilla Glass screen, aluminum bezels to the carbon fiber palm rests. The thin and light machine also has some impressive specs behind it as well including a Quad HD (3200 x 1800) resolution and a Broadwell-U processor.
On paper, the Dell XPS 13 looks like a strong contender for our compendium of the best Ultrabooks and we can't wait to get some more time to thoroughly review it.
Lenovo LaVie Z HZ750
Lenovo (with a lot of help from NEC) has pulled out all the stops to build the Lenovo LaVie Z as a laptop that's even lighter than some tablets. Claimed as the world's lightest 13-inch convertible notebook at just 2.04 pounds, the HZ750's design hews closely with the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro with a hinge that allows the screen to rotate backwards a full 360-degrees.
Being thin and light isn't the only thing this remarkable convertible laptop has going for it. At CES 2015, we were blown away with the HZ750's lighter sibling, the HZ550, which at the time was running a full Windows experience on a 13.3-inch 1,920 x 1,080 IGZO screen with a brand new Broadwell Intel Core-i5 processor humming under the keyboard.
Acer Chromebook 15
We've got high hopes for this laptop, as its the world's first 15-inch Chromebook. Additionally, the Acer Chromebook 15 is also the very first to be powered by a Core-i3 chip from Intel's new Broadwell-U line of processor. Add in a 1080p screen to round out the package and this looks like a great, affordable notebook for students. Parents with younger and more accident-prone tikes might want to also check out the Acer Chromebook C740.
Acer has promised the its latest 15-inch model will have an all-day battery life, as we've come to expect from all Chromebooks. While we haven't got a chance to check out the machine ourselves, we've got high hopes this large-screen Chromebook will add another wrinkle to the affordable laptops market.
MSI GT80 Titan
We've reviewed some big gaming laptops. After lugging around the enormous, 12.06-pound Alienware 18, we thought notebooks couldn't possibly get any bigger. Well MSI proved us wrong, and threw a full mechanical keyboard inside its MSI GT80 Titan. This is literally the closest thing you can get to a foldable typewriter.
Jokes aside, the MSI GT80 Titan is one of the most capable gaming laptops currently out. Aimed squarely at hardcore PC gamers, the MSI GT80 isn't to be taken lightly – this is a fully capable mobile gaming rig equipped with two Nvidia GTX 980M GPUs in SLI.
- We've tested some of the best laptops in the world