Nearly 60 percent of computers sold in 2011 were notebooks of one kind or another — desktop PCs, by contrast, accounted for less than 30 percent. Over the years, laptops have become generally slimmer, lighter and less power-hungry, and they will remain the staple tool of business workforces worldwide for the foreseeable future.
Articles about Laptops
Here's our pick from the laptops we've reviewed this year, which should suit a large variety of businesses.
Dell's visually pleasing Vostro 3750 is a good desktop replacement contender for small businesses. It delivers solid, if not spectacular, performance and reasonable battery life for a 17.3in. system with dual integrated/discrete graphics and a conventional hard disk.
The highly configurable Latitude E6420 ATG's ungainly looks are underpinned by a solid chassis design. The screen and keyboard are both good, as is the battery life. We'd prefer integrated USB 3.0 rather than a modular option though.
Toshiba has updated the Portégé R700 with new components but retained the old chassis design. We'd prefer a more solid lid section, but the R830 is an impressively portable notebook. Battery life is good, but the cost remains high.
Lenovo's ThinkPad W520 is a fast 15.6in. notebook with a high-quality display whose limited portability isn't helped by a brick-like AC adapter. If you do take the W520 on the road, its battery performance ought to be adequate.
When it's time to order new laptops, the New Laptop Checklist will help you avoid mistakes and oversights. We've created the checklist as an editable Excel worksheet and as a PDF. A sample version...
If you're after great industrial design or long battery life, this hulking desktop replacement is not for you. But if you value a wealth of configuration options and excellent performance, take a look at Eurocom's Panther 2.0. Just be prepared to rack up a hefty price tag.
Lenovo's ThinkPad T510 is heavy, but in exchange you get solid build quality and a large screen. The keyboard is well designed and although battery life isn't great, this notebook is likely to spend more of its time on the desk than on the move.
Sony's 13.3in. VAIO S doesn't stand out in terms of slimness, aesthetics or affordability. Although it's solidly built and performs well, some users may need to invest in a high-capacity battery.
We like the 13.3in. MacBook Air's slimline design, high-resolution screen, fast boot time and long battery life. If the price and one or two feature omissions don't put you off, it's a great notebook to use and to be seen using.
Lenovo's ThinkPad Edge 11" gives top-end netbooks a run for their money, offering a capable processor, decent hard drive capacity and a screen of reasonable size and resolution.
The 17.3in. ProBook 4720s is likely to be deskbound for much of the time, although it will deliver good battery life if necessary. One or two niggles aside, this jumbo notebook combines stylish looks and good performance with very attractive pricing.
The ThinkPad L412 is a chunky notebook and you'll need to add a few upgrades from the entry-level spec to get a business-ready configuration. Some may find the keyboard noisy and the ports are tricky to access, but Lenovo's use of recycled materials is admirable.
Toshiba's Portégé R700 is a well-made 13.3in. ultraportable, although the lid section is too flexible for our liking. Some may find the keyboard too spongy, and you'll have to spend more if you want an integrated optical drive. Battery life is good, though.
HP's EliteBook 8540p has a superb keyboard and is packed with top-notch features, including a couple of USB 3.0 ports. It's expensive, but you're paying for top-quality components and solid build. The standard battery is unlikely to see you through a full working day though.