Quite the engineering feat, the Dell XPS 13 manages to cram a vibrant and sharp display into an 11-inch chassis, making it one of the most compact Ultrabooks yet. (You can barely see the razor-thin bezel.) This 2.8-pound laptop also delivers fast performance, thanks to its Core i5 processor and SSD. Starting at $799, the non-touch-screen version of this machine lasted nearly 12 hours on a charge, giving you plenty of endurance. Dell also sells a version with a sharper quad-HD touch display, which is even more vibrant. Overall, the new XPS 13 is the best ultraportable for the money.
Although the new 12-inch MacBook is sleeker, the MacBook Air 13-inch is a better deal overall. This 3-pound aluminum ultraportable lasted 14 hours on the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which is well above the category average. Although the screen resolution could be sharper (it's just 1,440 x 900p) the Air's comfortable keyboard, superfast flash storage and sub-$1,000 price tag make it one of the best laptops on the market.
Never before has $200 bought a laptop this good. The Asus Eeebook X205TA runs a full version of Windows 8.1 and comes with free one-year subscriptions to Office 365 and 1TB of cloud storage on OneDrive, along with solid quad-core Atom performance, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard flash storage. The X205TA offers one of the best screens on a notebook in this price range fitted in a slim and sleek body. The best part? The X205TA's 12+ hour battery life is almost double the length of low-cost competitors.
Lenovo's ThinkPad T series line of business laptops have long been known for their powerful performance, long battery life and superior usability. The 14-inch ThinkPad T450s builds on that rich tradition, offering a gorgeous, 1920 x 1080-pixel touch screen; a durable, MIL-SPEC-tested design; and the most responsive keyboard on the market. With more than 15 hours of endurance with the extended battery, this lightweight powerhouse lets you get your work done in style, anywhere at any time.
This gaming laptop doesn't need a light show -- it is the light show. The Alienware 17 is back in all of its customizable backlit glory. This time around, the machine has been updated with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M GPU, making it a beast when it comes to churning out high frame rates. But if you need a little more oomph, there's the optional Graphics Amplifier, which brings in the big guns in the form of a desktop GPU. Combined with the gorgeous 1080p display and powerful Core i7 processor, you've got a laptop that can talk the talk and walk the walk.
The larger version of the T100, one of the best 2-in-1 bargains around, the ASUS Transformer Book T200 offers an 11.6-inch display as well as a detachable full-size keyboard with a built-in hard drive bay, so you can add extra storage. Powered by a 1.59-GHz quad-core Intel Atom Bay Trail Z3795 processor and 4GB of RAM, the T200 is more than powerful for everyday tasks such as email and document writing, and lasts about six and a half hours on a charge.
If you want a lightweight, stylish laptop that's easy to use and tote around, the new $329 Toshiba Chromebook 2 is a solid choice. Running Chrome OS smoothly, it lets you check emails, stream music, watch videos and browse the Internet on a stunning 1080p, IPS screen that makes it look like you should have paid much more for this Chromebook. The Chromebook 2 also packs an Intel Celeron processor, strong Skullycandy-tuned speakers and will offer nearly 8 hours of battery life on a single charge -- all at a great value.
The 12.5-inch ThinkPad X250 crams the power and versatility of a high-end productivity system into a 2.8-pound laptop with 15+ hours of battery life. Features like a high-res 1,920 x 1,080 display, comfortable keyboard and speedy Intel 5th Generation Core Series CPU help you get work done. A full array of ports, including Ethernet and an SD card reader, means that you don't have to compromise on functionality to gain portability.
If you want to crunch video, look no further than the updated 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display. This laptop combines a gorgeous Retina Display (2,880 x 1,800 pixels) with new, faster flash storage and optional AMD Radeon R9 M370X graphics for serious eye candy and serious power. Apple also added a Force Touch trackpad to offer timesaving gestures and worked on efficiency to squeeze out an extra hour of rated battery life.