Is the world's best travel notebook dead? Ten years after Steve Jobs unveiled the world's MacBook Air, the laptop is on Apple's Back Burner – and some fear it will run out completely.
Rather than redesigning and upgrading the hardware, like all the tech giant's tent products, Apple has left the air to collect dust, and now the MacBook and the MacBook Pro are in the limelight. While they are more powerful, they are not so convenient for frequent travelers.
On the surface, the MacBook and MacBook Pro are measuring the air. They are similar in size and weight, but they lack the superskinny, sloping gradient design that makes the Air so easy to slide in and out of the carrier. It also lacks the "chiclet" keyboard of the Air with its quiet and spacious keys. The replacement "Butterfly" design was so prone to malfunctions and sticky keys that Apple revamped its warranty coverage for certain MacBooks. The smaller screens of these models, shorter battery life, higher prices, and designs that have barely changed in more than a decade, are not taken into account.
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Add everything and it's no surprise that Mac-loyal warriors around the world are seduced by lighter, sleeker, sexier and more powerful laptops – those running Windows and Chrome OS.
These five MacBook replacement devices are guaranteed to meet your work and play needs, whether you're bored in a business suite, shot down from PowerPoint slides in a hotel room, or seated on the Shinkansen. Based on a test that took us from New York to Los Angeles and Tokyo to Paris, these were the best of about a dozen new options – outstanding in their excellent portability, keyboard comfort, battery life and computing power.
If efficiency is your second name …
… get the Google Pixelbook.
Why We Like It: The super-sexy two-tone body with Gorilla Glass and brushed metal will not blur, no matter how often you unpack and package it at the airport. And at just 2.4 pounds (about 1 kilogram) you will not feel the Pixelbook in your carry-on luggage. There are first-class hardware in this laptop, including quad-core i7 processors and 16GB of RAM, for ultra-fast loading speeds and easy multitasking. In just 15 minutes, you can add two hours of juice to the nine-hour battery with Pixelbook's Quick Charger. Delete e-mails in laptop mode, use automatic tethering for your Pixel smartphone to work online without Wi-Fi, or flip the screen to watch movies in tablet mode. In addition to free security software, Google offers you 1TB of free online storage.
Caveat: Although Chrome OS has become a more flexible and versatile operating system, productivity tools such as Microsoft Office and Evernote, which are not owned by Google, still feel clunky on this browser-based platform. The crossover app provides a solid solution.
Weight: 2.4 kg
Size: 11.4 "x 8.7" x 0.4 "
Price: From US $ 999
If you want to turn heads …
… Get the Microsoft Surface Laptop.
Why We Like It: Call it the first laptop that gives the MacBook Air a chance at design money. The Surface Laptop comes in sharp colors like burgundy, cobalt blue and graphite gold, and the fabric trim around the keyboard is polished and sophisticated. (It's also comfortable on the wrists and easy to clean.) The battery lasts an impressive 14 hours, which means you can spend a half-productive week in the French countryside without needing a power outlet. However, be sure to update the hardware specifications as you customize your model. For pros on the go, the i7 CPU, 16 GB RAM and 1 TB solid-state drive are the best.
Reservation: The standard operating system Windows 10 S is cumbersome; It restricts you to Microsoft Corp Edge browsers and Office programs. Splurge on the Surface Laptop commercial edition, which costs US $ 300 more and ships with Windows 10 Pro instead.
Weight: £ 2.76
Size: 12.13 "x 8.79" x 0.57 "
Price: From US $ 799
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If you work frequently in tight quarters …
… get the Dell XPS 13.
Why We Like It: Adjectives like "slim" and "light" sometimes translate into a much too small screen. Not so with the redesigned XPS 13 from Dell Inc. It's five ounces lighter, 0.22 inches thinner, and about 45 percent smaller than the MacBook Air – and yet the 13.3-inch screen is identical thanks to "almost limitless" "InfinityEdge display, which you can order in the 4K definition of the touch screen, despite these tiny proportions, the XPS 13 does not feel flimsy: the body is made of aluminum with a blocky finish, and thanks to the small footprint, you can easily open the screen whether on a tray table or an airport shuttle bus.
Caveat: The built-in webcam is at the bottom of the screen rather than the top, which keeps the bezel thin, but at conference calls it leads to bizarre and unflattering angles. If you want to stay in touch with the office via video chat, be forewarned.
Weight: £ 2.76
Size: 12.13 "x 8.79" x 0.57 "
Price: From US $ 799
If you never, never disconnect …
… Get the Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon X1.
Why We Like It: Lenovo Group's ThinkPad Carbon X1, the sixth generation, is designed for businesses with an unprecedented 15-hour battery life. It also features the latest eighth-generation quad-core CPUs for faster performance, multiple inputs (USB-C, standard USB, Mini DisplayPort and HDMI), fingerprint authentication and sliding webcam coverage, a rich HDR screen and Stealthy Silent Keyboard This is a sleek, average productivity engine – it's shock-proof, temperature-resistant and vibration-resistant in case you get stuck in turbulence. Oh, and did we mention it's one of the first laptops with built-in Alexa capability? This means that it reads the headlines or gives you the local weather forecast when packing your suitcase.
Caveat: With its distinctive black exterior and the red TrackPoint mouse in the middle of the keyboard, the look looks a bit dated.
Size: 12,74 "x 8,55" x 0,63 "
Price: From US $ 1,367
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If you want the best bang for your money …
… Get the Huawei Magebook X Pro.
Why we like it: Do not overlook this Chinese manufacturer. Like its phones, Huawei Technologies Co's flagship notebook delivers significantly better performance for less than its competitors. Even with the latest generation 8th generation Intel Core i7 processor and a high-speed solid-state drive, the Matebook X Pro is $ 1,600 – $ 500 less than its biggest rival. Besides the price, there is a lot to love, including a super-low bezel, a 3K resolution touchscreen and four Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers that provide the best audio quality on any laptop we've tested. (In small hotel rooms, it's almost as if you have surround sound.) In addition, the oversized track pad clears the mouse, while a splash-proof, backlit keyboard eliminates the need for coffee on the red eye.
Reservation: Forgive the generic-looking aluminum alloy construction – along with the Gorilla Glass Touchscreen, it ensures longevity. The unlikely webcam, like the Dell XPS 11, is harder to justify.
The specifications: Weight: 2.92lbs
Size: 12 "x 8.5" x 0.6 "
Price: From US $ 1,199
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