Laptop Mag's CES 2015 Awards: Best Mobile Technology
CES 2015 turned out to be a huge show for super-slim laptops. We saw a 2-in-1 hybrid thinner than the MacBook Air, and an ultraportable that somehow shoehorned a 13-inch screen into an 11-inch chassis. Meanwhile, thin is also in for tablets, thanks to Dell's gorgeous design, while LG proved that curves are here to stay for smartphones. Intel got into the miniaturization act, too, with a powerful Windows PC on a stick.
We also got a taste of a future in which tactile feedback may not even require screens. Of all the mobile products we poked and prodded at the world's biggest tech showcase, these are the devices and innovations that earn our Top Pick Awards of CES 2015.
Top Laptop: Dell XPS 13
Thanks to its use of one of the thinnest display bezels ever, Dell was able to cram its 13-inch XPS 13 notebook into an 11-inch body. The device's QHD touch screen is simply gorgeous, as is its aluminum lid and carbon-fiber keyboard deck. While touch models start at $1,299, a nontouch, full HD version with a Core i3 processor and 128GB SSD is a more affordable $799. Dell promises a fantastic 15 hours of battery life for the starting configuration and a still-great 11 hours of juice for the touch version. Bonus: Dell finally added an SD Card slot to the design.
Top 2-in-1 Laptop: ASUS Transformer Book Chi T300
It's thinner and sharper than the MacBook Air, more practical than the Surface Pro 3, and more affordable than both. ASUS' impressively versatile Transformer Book Chi T300 measures just 0.65 inches thick yet packs a powerful Core M processor in a fanless design. Thanks to neodymium magnets, the Chi T300 is a cinch to detach from its base, so you can fully enjoy the available QHD display. When it's time to work, the comfortable clamshell design makes this hybrid a more practical partner than the Surface's awkward keyboard cover. The best part? The $699 starting price.
Top Tablet: Dell Venue 8 7000
The Dell Venue 8 7000 sports super-slim edges and a stunning 2560 x 1600 OLED display, and those aren't even the coolest things about it. Available now for $400, this mega-tablet packs Intel's RealSense depth camera, which takes photos while offering precise measurements and a bevy of neat editing options. The Venue 8 7000 finally makes it cool to take photos on a tablet. Its extra features, like MaxxAudio speakers and a zippy Intel Atom processor, are icing on the cake.
Top Gaming Laptop: MSI GT80 Titan SLI
With dual Nvidia 980M cards and four 128GB SSDs, MSI's latest gaming laptop is a beast. But the GT80 Titan SLI is also the first in its class to feature a mechanical keyboard. If that weren't cool enough, the laptop's touchpad transforms into a digital number pad with a simple touch. To sweeten the pot even further, MSI is instituting an upgrade program, allowing gamers to swap out their GPUs when Nvidia inevitably rolls out its next graphics powerhouse. With so many powerful specs and novel features, it will be nigh impossible to slay this titan.
Top Smartphone: LG G Flex 2
LG's curved phone sequel is sexier and faster than the original, but it's also a heck of a lot tougher. The self-healing back can shrug off scratches and nicks in as little as 10 seconds, while the chemically treated screen is 20 percent stronger than Gorilla Glass 3. And what a gorgeous display it is; LG's 5.5-inch P-AMOLED panel delivers rich hues and wide viewing-angles. Add in Qualcomm's sizzling Snapdragon 810 CPU and the same great 13-MP camera found inside the LG G3 — complete with laser focus and OIS — and you have a very compelling flagship.
Top Mobile Accessory: Zolt Laptop Charger
Your notebook may have shed some pounds over the years, but your AC adapter has held onto its heft, often adding a pound of bulk to your bag. Weighing just 3 ounces, the $79 Zolt Laptop Charger makes your power brick feel more like a power pebble. In addition to charging any major brand of notebook, including MacBooks, the Zolt offers two USB ports for juicing your phone and tablet. A mobile app lets you prioritize one device over another.
Top Mini PC: Intel Compute Stick
Intel's latest PC is the size and shape of a USB flash drive, but runs full Windows 8.1 on its quad-core Atom processor. Simply plug the $149 Compute Stick into the HDMI port on your TV, attach a microUSB cable for power, and you have a lightweight home theater system or low-end desktop. Computers on a stick, like meat on a stick, have been around for a while — in the form of no-name Android devices for the computers. But with its new offering, Intel is taking the category from street meat to filet mignon.
Top Enabling Technology: Ultrahaptics
You've probably heard of — and felt — haptics, but the sensation your phone or tablet gives you when you type or game is nothing compared to the veritable magic that is Ultrahaptics. This U.K.-based startup's technology leverages tiny speakers to buzz your hands with ultrasonic pulses, giving you the sensation of tactile feedback in midair. For now, Ultrahaptics is limited to a demo kit that consists of a laptop, Leap Motion controller and a grid of transducers, but the company's innovation could find its way inside everything from laptops and cars to home appliances.