CES 2021 is in the books, and speaking of notebooks, there were a wide range of laptops worthy of attention shown off this year. And while some were very weird — including one for the streamer who needs three webcams — a few have us very excited to review them.
So, we’ve collected the 5 best laptops of CES 2021, which come from HP, Asus, Samsung and Lenovo. These include the thinnest ThinkPad ever, a 5G convertible with all-day battery life and a laptop built for the work-from-home life (which doesn’t seem to be ending any time soon).
1. HP Elite Dragonfly Max
HP’s taken the already great Elite Dragonfly and pushed the elegant business laptop to its logical conclusion — especially for this moment and the work from home lifestyle — as the perfect laptop for web conferences. Meet the HP Elite Dragonfly Max.
That starts with a 5MP webcam so you can be seen clearly on calls and make crystal-clear video recordings (since Google and other services downgrade video on calls to 720p sometimes).
Your audio will also sound great, thanks to a four-mic array that will pick your voice up clearly even if you’re not talking directly at the laptop. Background audio suppression tricks will then take out the ambient noise around you, so roommates and outdoor traffic don’t cover up your words. On top of that, you’ve got an always-on low blue-light filter, which will help reduce eye-strain.
And that’s on top of all the standards and basics: 11th Gen Intel Tiger Lake CPUs, an eye-catching blue 2.5-pound design and vPro security.
2. Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2
Maybe too much of a good thing is actually bad. Last year’s Samsung Galaxy Chromebook sported a gorgeous 4K AMOLED display and a rail-thin design, which was instantly muted by its mediocre 5 hours and 55 minute battery.
Enter the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 and its QLED Full HD screen. We need to see for ourselves if QLED can match last year’s OLED display. But in terms of presentation, we like the new all-over paint job over last year’s design which left the edges of the device an unpainted silver. We’re not too hurt by the lack of 4K on this year’s model as UHD content doesn’t really exist outside of Disney Plus and Netflix Premium accounts. And that change, plus a slightly thicker chassis (going from 0.4 to 0.6 inches) should be enough to get a much better battery life. Samsung has rated the Galaxy Chromebook 2 for lasting up to 14 hours on a single charge.
On top of that, its starting price is much lower, going from $999 to $549. Though that comes with one other downgrade: going from a Core i5 processor to a Celeron CPU (there is a $699 Core i3 config available).
3. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga
The reliable ThinkPad is a line with a lot of prestige that doesn’t get a lot of flash. It’s why we’re excited to see a new design go for a thinner and more portable look.
The convertible Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga is made of actual titanium and breaks Lenovo’s own records with its 0.45-inch thick chassis, which feels surprisingly sturdy. And if that’s not impressive enough, its 2K 13.5-inch touchscreen, which supports Dolby Vision, should be enough to make you “Whoa” like Keanu.
Of course, this is still a ThinkPad, so you’ve got a comfortable keyboard made for typing long projects, 11th Gen Intel Tiger Lake processors, Intel Evo and vPro.
We can’t wait to test it out on our battery test, to see how much endurance Lenovo packed in. With a screen this sharp and a chassis this thin, there is reason to wonder.
4. Asus ZenBook Pro Duo 15 OLED
With the giant ScreenPad Plus touchscreen, Asus looks to win where Apple faltered with the Touch Bar. And this year’s iteration of its Duo laptops find ways to make the ScreenPad even better, by tilting it up on the far end to meet the bottom of the screen, and increasing its brightness to 400 nits.
The tilted secondary screen helps in two ways. Not only will you almost have one giant continuous display, but the opening created by the lifted ScreenPad Plus increases cooling airflow. Its primary 15-inch OLED screen is no slouch either, with a 93% screen-to-body ratio, multiple color accuracy certifications and and TÜV Rheinland certification, which translates to low blue-light levels.
We’ve got to test the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo 15 OLED for ourselves to see if it’s worth the likely high price of admission (Asus has yet to announce pricing, which is always a sign that it won’t be cheap).
While the 15-inch ZenBook runs on 10th Gen Intel CPUs, Asus also announced a 14-inch model that runs on 11th Gen processors.
5. HP Elite Folio
In search of ultimate portability? The HP Elite Folio is aiming to be a compelling Surface Pro rival. Its 5G connectivity and Gen 2 Snapdragon 8cx processing platform could enable you to take it anywhere to get things done.
It’s not a detachable, but its easel-style screen lets you turn the screen into a canvas for writing and drawing, or move it forward for display mode fore easier movie viewing or Zoom calls.
HP’s claim of 24.5 hours of battery life is cool, but it’s only for local video playback — so we’re curious about how our long our web surfing-based battery test can go on the Elite Folio.
The only other reason for concern is that this is Windows 10 on ARM, which hasn’t gone as smoothly as the Apple silicon conversion process. We look forward to seeing how the HP Elite Folio works in hand.