It’s not just a new year, but a new decade. There’s never been a better excuse to swipe the old off your desk to make way for the new. Well, new-ish. CES 2020 was inundated with a number of concept laptops that point to a proposed dual-screen, foldable (and possibly keyboard-less) future for the market. But, like many of the devices on the show floor, those are all still in the prototype phase. That leaves the immediate future of the notebook market to traditional devices that won’t do much to shock the system.
That doesn’t mean that there aren’t a number of quality laptops hitting store shelves in the first year of the neo-roaring ‘20s. The industry’s major players appear more focused on iteration in the short-term, but these minimally updated products still offer enough upgrades to coax the most committed into entertaining a switch to ring in the cyber roar. We’ve collected five of the best options set to hit the market this year, including some that interested parties can already get their hands on.
The notebook widely considered to be the tops in portability and performance for years isn’t slowing down. Dell announced their latest iteration of the XPS series at CES with minor tweaks that will keep it in contention for the crown in the new decade. The processing power gets a bump with the addition of Intel’s new 10th generation Core mobile processors while retaining its bezel-free display. That crispness can be enjoyed for a longer amount of time thanks to improved battery life.
That plays into its association with Intel’s Project Athena initiative, the follow-up to the “Ultrabook” development campaign which initially pushed the specs that made the XPS so popular. Tapping into the next step in Intel’s quest to push notebook innovation should keep the XPS as a trendsetter in the market in 2020 and beyond.
While the MacBook Air remains the more affordable option for those wanting to buy into the Apple marketplace, the MacBook Pro is still the best device for performing the tasks most associated with Apple devices. Audio, video and image processing professionals will likely once again dig the Pro’s tools for those industries, but there is currently little detail regarding what those improvements might be.
Apple attended CES for the first time in 28 years in 2020, but that presence didn’t include much discussion about it’s 2020 product line. But that doesn’t mean we won’t see a new MacBook Pro this year. The key evidence pointing toward that is a filing with the Eurasian Economic Commission uncovered by 9to5Mac. The filing hints at the release of a 13-inch MacBook Pro that incorporates the improved Magic Keyboard utilized by last year’s 16-inch model. New versions of both could be on the horizon, with both running MacOS 10.15.
The HP Elite Dragonfly debuted late last year to rave reviews, with some pointing to it as the top challenger to the Dell XPS’ crown. It’s LTE connectivity and lightweight design immediately made it popular among business circles and anyone else that finds themselves constantly on the go. So it should come as no surprise that HP unveiled plans for the second generation of the Dragonfly at CES.
The next iteration of the 2-in-1 device will pack in 5G connectivity, upping its wireless speed up to 100 times faster than current cellular connections. It also includes the next generation of HP’s proprietary privacy technology, Sure View, which produces a privacy screen when viewing the Dragonfly’s display off-center. Perhaps most exciting, though, is it’s integration of Tile technology, making it the first notebook with a built-in tracker. It’s literally a laptop that is very hard to lose.
The X1 Carbon has been an exercise in marrying sleek design with top-notch durability for years now. The additional security tools, including a webcam shutter, introduced in the 2019 model up the value of one of the best performing productivity-minded notebooks going. But, with some small adjustments, the 2020 iteration of Lenovo’s popular laptop adds better customization to the package.
The 2019 model allowed users to choose between 1080p and 4K displays, though the 4K display impacted the notebook’s battery life. This year’s model packs in more display customization, allowing users to choose touch or non-touch displays up to 4K quality. Certain customizations also include Lenovo’s screen privacy software, PrivacyAlert, which disguises the display when viewed off-center. Couple that with the jump to 10th generation Intel processors and you have a package worthy of carrying the X1 Carbon name when it arrives later this year.
HP must be doing something right to land on our shortlist twice, but that’s what happens when you find a way to fit a 15-inch display into the body of a 14-inch notebook. The next edition of the Spectre x360 is much more than just technological yoga, but that remains a huge selling point for the device in an age when compact design is heavily celebrated.
Packed inside are the tools to deliver top-tier processing, including an NVIDIA GeForce graphics card and 10th generation Intel processor. And it can keep that power running for a long time with its purported 17-hour battery life. That lifespan might take a hit if you opt for its optional 4K OLED display, but all of it together rivals any other notebook in its class. Especially when it takes up a little less real estate.
Brian Bell is a queer freelance writer covering tech, pro wrestling, esports, games, comics and TV. Co-host of the Mr. Videogames Super Show podcast. Find and follow him on Twitter @WonderboyOTM.