Surface Pro 3
Best Windows 8 laptop and tablet hybrid
– Detachable keyboard base
– 12-inch, 2,160 x 1,440 pixel display
– Intel Core i3/i5/i7 CPU
The third generation of Surface Pro 3 is by far the best Microsoft tablet yet, if you’re after something that can function as a real laptop. The hybrid style is still in place, but this latest model has a 12-inch screen, rather than a 10-inch one. As well as giving you a more expansive display to work on, this makes typing easier.
While the keyboard base isn’t included, we think just about all Surface Pro 3 buyers should get hold of one. The kickstand is better this time around too. You can hold the screen at just about any laptop-style angle. So why isn’t it just a laptop? It also offers a digitiser stylus, turning it into a digital notepad, and it’s pretty handy as a giant web browser tablet too.
We don’t expect Microsoft to update the Surface Pro until much later in the year, so it’s a safe time to buy.
Price: £644 (£109 for the keyboard)
MacBook Pro with Retina display 15-inch (2014)
Best Laptop for Video Editing
– 15.4-inch, 2,880 x 1,800 ‘Retina’ display
– runs on quad-core Intel Core i7 processor
– Includes Intel Iris Pro graphics
If it ain’t broke… Apple decided not to change the MacBook Pro much this year. You got a slight CPU bump and all models now offer at least 8GB of RAM but otherwise the laptop remains pretty much the same. Those with the 2013 edition don’t need to worry about upgrading.
However, if you’re starting fresh, the MacBook Pro is probably the best choice for a great many creative professionals. It offers a fantastic ‘Retina’ IPS screen, plenty of power and the efficiency of OS X. It’s not really one for gamers, though. You can get a GeForce GT 750M card, but it’s a pricey upgrade and you can get much more powerful cards at the price.
Dell Latitude 13 7000 Series
Best 13-inch Windows Hybrid
– 800MHz, Intel Core M-5Y10 with 4GB RAM
– Detachable 13-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 IPS tablet
– Dual batteries, Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi
The Dell Latitude 13 7000 is one of the first Intel Core M products we’ve seen. Its 800Mhz Core M processor may sound slow, but it performs better than previous-generation processors and remains incredibly cool and quiet.
Battery life is excellent at over ten hours of mixed use, while the tablet segment on its own lasts six hours. If you do run out when using it as a tablet, just connect it to the keyboard segment, which has its own battery built in.
Overall, the Latitude 13 7000 is a great hybrid and a promising sign of what’s possible thanks to Intel’s new Core M processors.
Price: From £1,200
Dell XPS 15
Best 15-inch Windows Laptop
– 15.6-inch, 3,200 x 1,880 pixel IPS touchscreen display
– Nvidia GeForce GT 750M graphics
– Windows 8.1
A powerhouse of a 15-inch laptop, the Dell XPS 15 has the specs to make it the best high-end Windows laptop on the market. Built from high-quality aluminium and carbon fibre, it’s also just 17mm thick. The star attraction is the 3,200 x 1,880 pixel resolution display.
It also packs an excellent backlit keyboard and a decent pair of speakers with all the key connectivity boxes ticked. The Intel Core i7-4702HQ processor and beefy GPU ensure it has the performance to match the sleek look, even if the average 4 and half hour battery life is no match for the MacBook.
There’s multiple configurations available with a cheaper XPS 15 offering a smaller battery and a 1,920 x 1,080 pixel screen but if you go for the top version, you will not be disappointed.
Dell XPS 13 2015
Coming Soon – New ultrabook with super-slim screen
– 13-inch screen with 5mm thick bezel
– New 5th Intel Core i processor
– 1080p or Quad HD+ screens available
This upcoming 13-inch ultrabook stole the show at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The main reason why is that the bezel, which is the border surrounding the screen, is incredibly thin – it’s just 5.2mm.
This has two main benefits: one, it looks very cool and makes the screen appear larger than it really is; two, it means Dell has squeezed a 13-inch screen into the body of a smaller, 11-inch-style laptop.
The result is a very impressive-looking laptop – and that’s not all. Dell claims that it’ll last up to 15 hours on a full charge, which if true is hugely impressive. We haven’t reviewed this model yet, but it makes a good first impression.
Release Date: Out Now
Price: From £1,099
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2015
Coming Soon – Updated business ultra-portable
– 14-inch screen
– 17.7mm thick and 1.3kg
– 2,560 x 1,440 IPS touchscreen
Another laptop that’s coming soon is the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2015. This updated version of the popular ultra-portable fixes several unpopular changes from the previous version, while also updating it to the most recent Intel processors.
It will use Intel Core M processors and Lenovo claims it’ll last 10.5 hours. Among the changes is the return of the dedicated function keys above the keyboard and the extra mouse pointer buttons above the touchpad.
The X1 Carbon range has always been successful, so we expect this 2015 version to be worth waiting for.
Release Date: Out Now
Price: From £1,199
Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi
Coming Soon – New cheap hybrids
– 8.9-inch, 10-inch and 12.5-inch Windows hybrids
– Detachable tablets and keyboards with built-in batteries
– New, sleeker hinge design
Asus has always been a pioneer in hybrids – it launched the first hybrid Android tablets and has experimented with phone and tablet hybrids in the past. The upcoming Transformer Chi range of hybrids is yet more evidence.
It will come in a range of sizes and prices, with the top-end 12.5-inch using faster Core i processors and the two smaller ones relying and Intel Atom processors.
The key feature they all share is a new, streamlined hinge. Unlike previous Asus hybrids, the detaching hinge segment doesn’t rely on an unsightly plastic shroud to hold the tablet in place. This helps make them slimmer and more stylish.
Release Date: TBC
Toshiba Chromebook 2
Coming Soon – Google Chromebook with 1080p Screen
– 13.3-inch screen with 1080p resolution
– 1.3kg, 4GB RAM and 16GB flash storage
– Two USB ports, HDMI and SD card
The old Toshiba Chromebook was our pick of the best Chromebooks, but it’s soon to be replaced by the improved Toshiba Chromebook 2. It has all the things we liked about the original, but it’s thinner, lighter and has a better screen.
It’s coming in two versions: a 1,366 x 768 one with 2GB for £199 and a 1,920 x 1,080 version with 4GB for £249. It’s the 1080p version that’s caught our eye, however, as it uses a high-quality ‘IPS’ screen with bright, rich colours.
Screens are a traditional weakness for budget laptops and Chromebooks alike, so a good screen on such a cheap laptop makes it one to look out for.
Release Date: Q1 2015
Price: £199 to £250