A laptop is arguably the most important piece of business equipment you own. Whether you own a small business, work for a huge corporation, or just freelance part time, you almost certainly do your most pressing business on a laptop. If you’re in the market for a new laptop for business use, here are five of our top picks. Whether you need simple laptop or a high-octane machine, there’s something on this list that will suit your needs and your budget. Read on to see our picks, and don’t forget to pair your new laptop with a designer laptop bag.
1. HP Chromebook 11 (Verizon LTE)
Check out the Verge’s review of this little laptop in the player above.
While Chromebooks do have some major limitations, they’re super cheap and actually well-suited for certain types of business work on the go. If you primarily need a business laptop for updating or checking your Google Docs, using a remote desktop program, or checking your email on the go, this is a solid model to consider. It has limited onboard storage, but you can always store documents and files in the Cloud. Do note that you’ll need to balance the low cost of the laptop with the ongoing cost of having an LTE data plan.
With a sturdy build and the ability to work anywhere with an LTE connection, it’s no wonder this lightweight Chromebook scored an Editor’s Choice badge from PC Mag.
Price: $269 (16 percent off)
- Chrome-specific function keys
- Great for those who travel a lot
- Decent array of Chromebook apps
- Available with multiple keyboard accent colors
- LTE performance and quality will vary depending on where you live/travel
- Fairly limited port selection
- Display is better on the Chromebook Pixel
- Sound quality is not amazing
- Keyboard is slightly cramped, may not appeal to those with bigger hands
2. Lenovo Thinkpad E545 20B20011US 15.6-Inch Laptop
Lenovo Thinkpads have a great reputation as rugged, durable laptops for business use. They have some great built-in features that make them ideal for people who travel for business frequently, or for those who are simply a bit accident-prone. If you drop your laptop, the hard drive automatically stops spinning as a preventative measure against data loss.
The keyboard is also spill-proof, so you don’t have to panic if you spill your morning coffee all over your laptop. The display is large enough to be comfortable for most people to use, though that somewhat larger display does impact battery life when compared to smaller laptops on the market.
Price: $377.99 (24 percent off)
- Antiglare LED-backlit display
- Has DVD-RW Drive, which is important for some business uses
- Ample hard drive space for most business needs
- Spill-resistant ThinkPad keyboard
- Active Protection System (APS) stops hard drive when device is dropped to protect your data
- Battery life is a few hours short of “all-day”
- Webcam only does 720p, which may be a concern if you Skype frequently for work
- Somewhat heavy
- Some professional may prefer a machine with more RAM
- DVD optical drive may not appeal to all lines of work
3. Apple MacBook Pro 15.4-Inch Laptop With Retina Display
Whether you’re looking for your first Mac or just the newest in a long line of Apple computers, the MacBook Pro is ideal for nearly all business uses. Designers, writers, and execs all use MacBooks for their daily tasks. Macs are also great for those who work in the music industry, or in another creative line of work. MacBook Pro models are a great choice for those who want a business laptop that will age gracefully. This laptop is large, has a brilliant display, and will likely last for years before you need to replace it.
- Reliable and likely to last for years
- 8 hours of battery life
- Available in multiple configurations to suit your needs
- Includes high-speed transfer port
- No CD/DVD drive
- No Ethernet port
- Not all apps in the Mac App Store are Retina-ready, or ideal for your line of work
- Some users have complained that case “creaks”
- Extremely difficult to mod/upgrade the parts
4. Lenovo Thinkpad T440s
Check out a review of this business laptop in the video above.
The Lenovo Thinkpad T440s has gotten top marks from Computer Shopper, as well as scoring the title of “Best Business Laptop” from the Wirecutter. If you’re looking for a durable, sensible laptop that’s good for all-around business use, you can’t do much better than this model.
Price: $994.75 and up, depending on options selected
- Durable, rugged design
- Fingerprint reader and spillproof keyboard
- Nice warranty program
- Battery life should be about eight hours, depending on tasks performed
- Hot-swappable rear battery
- Computer Shopper noted multimedia was a bit slower on this model, as opposed to competing models
- May be expensive than some people want to budget for
- Not quite as rugged as the Panasonic Toughbook
- Keyboard has a few placement quirks
- LenovoEMC Storage Coordinator program may cause router issues over time
5. Microsoft Surface Pro 3
Check out the Verge’s review of the Surface Pro 3 above.
The Surface Pro 3 may be a tablet, but it’s powerful enough to hold its own with most laptops. If you’re looking for a 2-in-1 option, this devices gives you the portability of a tablet, but the form factor of a laptop when you need it.
Engadget gave this tablet an 8.0., and it also got a solid review from David Pogue on Yahoo! Tech. Pogue’s only caveat was that you are unlikely to want to splurge on this tablet if you only want to replace an existing tablet, rather than replace both a tablet and a laptop.
Overall, if you’re looking for a great business tablet than can easily work as well as a laptop, this is a device worth splurging on. There’s also a ton of different storage options to choose from, which is a nice perk for those who need more onboard storage.
Price: $779 and up, depending on options selected
- Comes with Surface Pen (but not keyboard)
- Runs full Microsoft Office Suite
- Up to nine hours of battery life
- Many compatible accessories
- Type Cover is expensive
- Processors run the gamut from Intel Core i3 to Core i5 and i7
- Somewhat heavy, especially with cover attached
- Some users find customer support is lackluster
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