By Dan Ackerman
A laptop is an indispensable tool for just about everyone, from remote workers to students to content creators. But one size – or style – does not fit all.
Your choice of laptop is incredibly personal. Like a pair of glasses, it’s highly visible and says a lot about you. Price, design, and functionality are all going to be important factors in deciding what to buy.
We're going to highlight some choices from across the price spectrum, showing off good/better/best options, in this case using HP laptops as an example.
We're starting with the HP 15, which takes center stage when looking for affordability and functionality. I’m glad that HP now has a product that sits below the mainstream Pavilion line for when you absolutely, positively need a Windows laptop for under five hundred bucks. In fact, this model is just $329 right now.
In this price range, I might normally suggest a Chromebook, but sometimes you need a full Windows machine. For example, if you need to run local software instead of cloud-based apps, or your school or work requires the Windows OS.
This HP 15 can hit such a good price because it has a quad-core AMD Ryzen 3 CPU and 8GB of RAM, which is really the minimum you want for running Windows 11. But it also has a decent-sized 256GB SSD, which I wouldn’t necessarily expect at this price. You also get a decent set of ports and connections -- two USB-A, one USB-C and HDMI out. So you can hook up an external display, a webcam, or a storage drive to expand the system and make it more useful.
This is a laptop that’s going to be fine for web browsing, video conferencing, watching streaming video, working on docs and other everyday tasks. The 15-inch screen has full-HD resolution, although the webcam only is 720p, so that’s an example of why you’d want to trade up if you’re on-camera a lot.
See the HP 15 at Micro Center.
It’s amazing how much power you can get in a laptop for under one thousand dollars right now. I found an HP Pavilion 15-inch with a new 13th-gen Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD, all for 850.
That makes this a great laptop for not just everyday use, but also Photoshop, content creation, and more. Like the basic HP 15, the Pavilion model fits a full-size keyboard and a numberpad in. Both this and the HP 15 above can be charged through their proprietary barrel ports or via USB-C.
Besides an overall nicer design, it's also got a touchscreen and Intel Iris Xe graphics, which means you can do some (very) basic gaming on it. The only thing it's missing from my mid-range wishlist is a full HD webcam.
See the HP Pavilion 15 at Micro Center.
Past the Pavilion, Envy is HP's higher-end line, adding a nicer design and more features (HP also makes premium laptops under the Spectre name). Like the Pavilion, this HP Envy x360 has a 13th-gen Intel Core i7, 16GB of RAM and 1TB SSD but it adds an HD webcam -- and right now it's $1,099.
Why is it called the x360? Because this is a hybrid 2-in-1 laptop, which means it can fold its touchscreen back 360 degrees to become a tablet.
You can also fold the screen halfway and set it up in what I call a kiosk mode, which is great for watching videos, or even flip it upside down in a table tent mode. And of course, in tablet mode, it's a note-taking device, a sketchpad, and an e-reader.
Of all the different ways you can design a laptop-tablet hybrid, I think this 360-degree hinge used here is the most universally useful, because it doesn't compromise the basic clamshell experience. Think of this as a full-time laptop and part-time tablet, which is how most people use 2-in-1 hybrids.
See the HP Envy x360 at Micro Center.
Remember, your choice of laptop is more than just a functional decision; it's a statement of your style and requirements in the digital age. Whether you're a student, a professional, or a creative seeking the ultimate tool, there's a laptop out there to satisfy your computing needs.
See our wide range of laptops at Micro Center.
These are all great options! I especially love the first one, one of the best values we have.
I agree @Rye_Bread however my preference is the 3rd option. The build quality is evident from the moment you place it in your hands.
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