These Are the Best Deals on Laptops and Tablets Right Now
Are you looking for a versatile solution for your portable computing needs? Thanks to advances in technology, you can take your pick from a wide array of laptops, notebooks or tablets with powerful features and flexible configurations.
Laptops and notebooks used to differ in the power levels available and number of features, but the two terms have come to be almost interchangeable. Both offer the features of a desktop PC in a compact package, although notebooks are often smaller and more lightweight than laptops. By packing the power of a desktop into a device you can carry in your briefcase or messenger bag, both laptops and notebooks untether you from your desk and give you freedom to work anywhere you wish.
The self-contained design of tablets does away with the external keyboard necessary for laptops and gives you more desk space to work, and even better, these devices tuck easily into just about any bag. With a longer battery life than laptops and the benefit of being “always on,” tablets are best for looking up information on the fly or doing work while you travel.
Breaking Down the Options
Many of today’s top brands offer a range of device types, some of which are built to convert between laptop and tablet configurations. Comparison research and shopping is highly recommended to not only find the right device for you, but at the price that best fits your wallet.
We’ve broken down the pros and cons of several of the latest devices, including their basic features, to aid you in your search.
Two standout offerings, the Chromebook laptop and the Pixelbook tablet, dominate the versatile devices available from Google.
Starting at $179, Chromebook models are made by a variety of manufacturers, including ASUS, Lenovo and HP. Chromebooks rely on Google’s Chrome OS and use Chrome as the main browser. Built for speed, these devices are entirely web-based, although newer models offer options for offline operation.
One perk of the Chromebook laptop is the availability of many of the same apps you use on your Android devices, but be warned that not all apps can operate on the Chromebook platform. This limits your ability to switch between devices as you work. However, Chromebook does have a touchscreen, allowing you to use a stylus and touch gestures as you would on a tablet.
Because the Chromebook comes with built-in virus protection and automatically updates its own software, you’re fairly well protected in terms of security. If you don’t mind being limited to working in places where reliable Wi-Fi is available and relying mostly on Google apps, you can get a lot done with this compact laptop.
One serious drawback of the Chromebook is the inability to use a regular printer simply by hooking it up to the device. Even though connectivity ports are available, you must go through Google Cloud Printing to generate paper copies of your documents. Add to this a shortage of internal storage space, and the Chromebook may not have enough versatility for heavy work use.
The Pixelbook tablet starts at $999 and is billed as a “high performance” version of Chromebook. If you’re looking for a device designed to do a little bit of everything without requiring a charge every few hours, Pixelbook could be the solution for you. It’s a versatile device built to operate as a laptop or tablet, and it can also be folded over in an inverted “V” shape to stand up while you follow a recipe, read a book or watch a favorite show. With up to 10 hours of battery life, you can move from work to entertainment throughout the day and never be tethered to your charger.
Google Assistant is integrated directly into the Pixelbook operating environment, with a built-in button to activate it whenever you like. Voice commands are becoming more common with mobile devices, and Google Assistant takes advantage of the power of voice-operated technologies to bring you hands-off functionality wherever you are. You can also purchase the Pixelbook Pen to write and draw while in tablet mode, making it possible to create images, take notes and do other detail work in ways you can’t with a standard notebook.
The thin 10.3-millimeter body doesn’t allow much room for storage, however. Unless you’re prepared to pay much more than the base price, you’re stuck with only 128 GB of internal space, and only two USB ports on the exterior. Reviewers have noted some lag in the operation of the Pixelbook Pen and report the audio is lacking when compared to similar devices.
In keeping with the current trend toward versatility, Lenovo has unveiled several models with unique features that set its devices apart from other brands.
The Yoga Tab 3 series is one of the most interesting in the bunch. Available in two standard models, a Plus model and a Pro model, this tablet includes a built-in projector for all your streaming media. Instead of holding the tablet, propping it up or using a third-party device to “cast” your favorite videos and shows to your TV, you can turn any room with free space on the wall or ceiling into a movie theater simply by dimming the lights and pointing the projector in the right direction.
It’s important to note, however, that the added weight from the projector makes the Yoga 3 heavier than other tablets of similar size. Some reviewers find the performance of the tablet to be lacking, and the two-speaker setup on low-end models could mean missing out on some of the nuances in the audio of your media.
The Yoga Tab 3 tablet runs the Android operating system, so if you’re familiar with other Android devices, you should have no problem getting started. Lenovo’s claim of “epic” battery life means more time to enjoy your favorite entertainment, and micro SD support allows you to expand the internal storage to meet your needs. Because this is a tablet and not a laptop, you’re limited to 128 GB in the Pro model and even less in the Plus and standard models.
If you prefer a hybrid of a laptop and tablet for more versatility and better specifications, devices in Lenovo’s Miix series start at $289.99 and run on the Windows 10 OS. Why is it called the Miix? Its standout feature is the ability to detach the screen from the keyboard and reattach it lying flat like a tablet. The multi-touch touchscreen works the same way as a tablet screen, making it easy to “miix it up” and transition from typing work to writing, drawing or watching videos.
Like the Yoga 3, the Miix has some limitations. The highest amount of storage available is only 512 GB, although the ability to expand the memory to 16 GB in the Miix 720 model may make up for it, depending on what functions you intend to use the most. Also, according to Lenovo, you should be able to get up to 10 hours of battery life for your activities, but reviews caution this may not bear out in real-life use. If this is the case, you could find yourself in need of a charge at inconvenient times, such as in the middle of a critical project or right before the climax of your favorite movie.
Offering both notebook/laptops and tablets, Samsung provides versatile options you can use for work, entertainment and creative pursuits.
In the Notebook 9 series, the Notebook 9 Pro is the top-of-the-line laptop offering. Current models start at $949.99 and include the S Pen, Samsung’s signature stylus. For use with Windows Ink and Samsung Air Command, the S Pen has its own built-in sleeve within the body of the Notebook 9 Pro. This puts the pen at your fingertips so that you can “jot down notes on the fly” and use quick shortcuts to expand the functionality of the device.
Like similar notebooks on the market, the Notebook 9 Pro may be used as a traditional laptop or folded up so that the screen lies flat like a tablet. You can also position it with the keyboard folded back face-down on your desk or prop it up so that it sits on the edges of the keyboard and screen. However you want to work, the Notebook 9 Pro has the versatility to accommodate many common tasks.
Storage is the main problem with this device. At its maximum, the Notebook 9 Pro only provides 256 GB for files and media. Audio quality is also less than optimal due to the position of the speakers underneath the device instead of in a front-facing setup. Reviewers of the model note difficulty with cooling, which can be a problem if you’re trying to multitask. It’s also not as light as other notebooks on the market, so you may want to look elsewhere if you want a device designed for easy portability.
Samsung’s tablets are frequently seen in the stores of top cellular providers, but you can also look on the brand’s website to find the Galaxy View with its option to connect to Wi-Fi in your home or on the go. Pricing for this unusual tablet begins at $549.99. This isn’t a tablet for tossing in your bag and taking on a plane for quick work as you zoom between destinations. Instead, it’s designed as a potential replacement for your TV. At a whopping 18.4 inches, the screen resembles a small flat-screen set, and the device has a built-in carry handle for easy transport from room to room for family viewing or over to a friend’s house for movie night.
The home screen of the Galaxy View is set up for quick access to popular streaming services, although you can also use the traditional Android interface to access other functions. A lack of connecting ports means you have to use another device if you want to stream media from the tablet to another screen, and the limited memory has the potential to slow you down when running multiple apps. You also have to be careful with the plastic kickstand, as reviews of the tablet point out that the material is a little flimsy. However, with up to eight hours of battery life and the option to resize and position apps on the screen as you wish, this tablet could be what you’re looking for if you’re in the market for an all-in-one media solution.
Perhaps best known for its disruptive innovations in the mobile market, Apple continues to offer portable devices with features and designs distinct from other brands.
The MacBook Air showcases Apple’s signature sleek laptop profile. Weighing just under three pounds, this extremely lightweight notebook packs in a high-end processor and a superior graphics card, providing speedy operation and a crisp display for working and consuming media. Apple’s website indicates the battery is capable of delivering up to 12 hours of work time and can support the device on standby for a full 30 days, giving you the flexibility to work in any location for as long as you want.
The SSD hard drive construction contributes to the slick operation of this notebook, but capacity is limited to 512 GB at the high end, meaning you’ll have to pay more than the starting price of $999 to get larger amounts of storage. If you go for this model, you’ll want to invest in more storage than you think you need because it’s not easy to upgrade or expand the device.
Software includes macOS and a number of familiar Apple apps for productivity, creativity and web browsing. When compared to Windows machines, however, fewer software titles are available for the MacBook Air. On the plus side, the notebook includes Thunderbolt 2 and USB 3 ports, allowing you to connect a number of peripherals to enhance your experience with the device.
If you prefer hand-held Apple technology in tablet form, you may want to try the iPad Pro. With prices starting at $799, this 12.9-inch tablet can be upgraded to include 512 GB of storage at half the weight of the MacBook Air. The backlit screen with support for multi-touch gestures is a familiar feature of Apple products and allows for a number of fluid interactions. When you need a more precise touch, you can pair up the iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil. This next-generation stylus provides control right down to the pixel, allowing you to take notes, draw pictures, add markups to documents and more.
The attractive, clear display supports both work and entertainment. You can switch from taking notes in meetings during the day to watching your favorite streaming TV shows at night, without missing a beat or worrying about loss of quality. However, this iPad needs a case if you’re planning to make it your go-to device. The construction is a little fragile, and you don’t want to risk damaging the screen as you travel from place to place.
Another drawback to note is the iPad Pro browser tends to default to mobile websites, despite its relatively large screen size. This can be frustrating if you want to replace your laptop with a tablet or if you’re trying to access the full functionality of your favorite sites.
As with the MacBook Air, make sure you get enough storage if you go for the iPad. There’s no way to expand if you run out of room, and upgrading to a device with more capacity may be cost-prohibitive.
For those familiar with Windows 10 and the most popular Microsoft apps, this brand offers several portable options with flexible designs for work and play.
If true versatility is what you’re looking for, check out the features of the Surface Book 2 la. Although the baseline price of $1,199 is higher than comparable models, the device includes some features other brands aren’t yet advertising. In addition to being compatible with the Surface Pen, Microsoft’s version of the interactive modern stylus, the Surface Book 2 can also be linked with Windows Mixed Reality headsets for an immersive gaming experience.
Available with either a 13.5-inch or 15-inch screen, the Surface Book 2 can be positioned like a standard laptop for typing work, folded flat for note-taking with the Surface Pen, angled back to get the keyboard out of the way or inverted on its edges when you want a clear view of the screen for watching streaming media. The battery gives you up to 17 hours of use before needing a charge, so you can take advantage of the powerful processor and graphics card to enjoy your favorite activities, including games, without interruption.
You’ll pay a fair amount for all the features of this Microsoft laptop. Top-of-the-line performance costs more, and the Surface Pen must be purchased separately. The starting weight of the laptop is 3.38 pounds, but adding more hardware can increase the load and make the Surface Book 2 a bit more difficult to transport than other notebooks on the market.
For tablet versatility with the power of a laptop, Microsoft offers the Surface Pro. Current pricing deals put the investment for a standard model at $799 instead of the usual $999, making this device a bit more budget-friendly than the Surface Book 2. The latest Surface Pro devices boot up quickly and operate at impressive speeds, thanks to a powerful updated core from Intel. You can use it for up to 13.5 hours on one charge, a decent battery life that gives you the freedom to work all day without being tied to an outlet.
However, some reviewers say the battery life is less than advertised and cite the low number of USB ports as a potentially frustrating limitation. The Surface Pro is compatible with the Surface Pen, so you may be able to get away without a lot of peripherals if you’re a fan of touch-screen functionality and don’t mind navigating with a trackpad.
Both the Surface Book 2 and Surface Pro function as “two-in-one” machines. You get the slim design and flat surface of a tablet when you want it and the convenience of a full keyboard when you need to transition between different types of work. With up to 1 TB of storage and 16 GB of RAM available, the Surface Pro is a viable contender for replacing standard laptops.
Choosing the Best Portable Tech for Your Lifestyle
You may not realize it, as you look for a laptop, notebook or tablet, but lifestyle really is your main concern. You will want to know if a device is:
- Small and light enough for easy transport
- Compatible with programs and apps you use regularly
- Powerful enough to tackle important tasks
- Affordable when equipped with the features you need
Devices fitting these requirements should also run a familiar operating system and be cross-compatible with the other technology you use for work and personal entertainment. While it’s possible to pair technology from different manufacturers, you get more functionality and accessibility when you stick with the same brand.
Explore what accessories are available to make working with a device easier, then consider if these are worth the additional cost and space necessary to transport them. Does the laptop, notebook or tablet operate just as well without any extra gear? Will investing in extras greatly increase what you can do with the device?
Consider these points as you compare device features and specifications, and focus on finding what’s best suited to your work and entertainment needs. Remember that a high price doesn’t always mean better quality, and a low price doesn’t indicate a less feature-rich device. Take a look at the models mentioned here, and peruse other offerings from brands you trust to discover just the right fit.