Best Laptop for the Road Warrior

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The term “Road Warrior” used to be synonymous with boxy, old-fashioned business laptops designed specifically to give a mobile corporate workforce the tools they need to get the job done from anywhere. That made perfect sense back in the days when even the concept of notebook PCs was still considered new (and expensive).

Today, however, a mobile workforce can easliy stay connected and do basic business with a tablet or even a smartphone. So why do modern road warriors need laptops? Because sometimes work demands more than just replying to email or accessing a website. Serious content production; HD video conversion, high-resolution photo editing, on-site 3D modeling, and complex applications that do number crunching on a scale far beyond the capabilities of a tablet processor are just some of the reasons that mobile professionals still demand notebooks.

While the laptops in this list need to endure the bumps and bruises of business travel they also have to reamin as thin and light as possible. Important features include a fast processor, high-capacity local storage (road warriors can’t always rely on the cloud) and long-life battery when you’re away from a power outlet. Things like additional security options and extended warraties are just as important in the world of business, but the best laptop for one road warrior isn’t necessarily the best choice for every road warrior. That is why we’ve selected our top pick and four honorable mentions.

If you don’t see the perfect notebook in the list we’ve provided, be sure to seek out buying advice in our “What Notebook Should I Buy?” discussion forum. Our forum members, moderators, and staff will graciously offer their insight in helping you pick the best laptop for your business needs.


#1 Lenovo ThinkPad X240


Lenovo’s latest and greatest ultraportable business notebook, the 12.5-inch ThinkPad X240 raises the bar on what was already widely considered the best lightweight laptop for business; last year’s ThinkPad X230. This workhorse combines fourth-generation Intel processors and Windows 8.1 functionality with more than 8 hours of battery life to deliver the best work laptop on the market.

If you’re looking for a “real laptop” with solid computing power that can still fit on a coach-class tray table with room to spare then this notebook belongs at the top of the list.

The 12.5-inch notebook features a 20.3mm thin form factor that weighs in at less than three pounds. This means it’s not that much bigger than a 10-inch tablet but much more useful if you need to run serious applications and office suites. Add the full HD display option with touch, a backlit keyboard and a complete set of ports that provides full connectivity without the need for added dongles or docking stations.

Even if you don’t pick the touchscreen option, the large touchpad on the X240 is nearly identical to the touchpad on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon … the same touchpad that we called, “as close to perfection as a touchpad surface gets.”

The bottom line is that if you’re looking for a small laptop capable of handling big business then the Lenovo ThinkPad X240 is nearly impossible to beat.

#2 Acer Aspire S7


The updated Acer Aspire S7 is the ideal Ultrabook. Acer has taken last year’s well-built albeit flawed ultraportable and turned it into a true top-tier notebook for businesses and consumers. Increasing the capacity of its 4-cell battery and making the move towards Intel’s new fourth-generation Haswell processors, the old endurance problems that plagued the first generation Acer Aspire S7 are no longer an issue.

While Acer was quick to rectify the Aspire S7’s faults, the company also held onto the device’s best features. The unique white metallic chassis design returns with an improved keyboard and even faster performance; all while retaining its incredibly thin form factor.

With key improvements to performance and battery life along with a unique sophisticated design the Acer Aspire S7 has become one of the most appealing ultrabooks on the market.

Read the Acer Aspire S7 Review

#3 Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display


While the idea of using a Mac for business used to warrant a double take, Apple has managed to gain an impressive foothold in the world of business — even among larger, enterprise-class businesses — thanks in no small part to the trends of “consumerization” and “bring your own device (BYOD).”

The simple reality is that an increasing number of companies are slashing traditional IT department budgets. One of the results of those slashed budgets is that many of those companies care less about the software or hardware being used and they “just want something simple that works.” On the flip side you find many startup businesses with entrepreneurs who aren’t burdened by decades of legacy hardware and software … and those small businesses “just want something simple that works.”

This is where Apple comes in. While it might seem strange that we aren’t recommending the Appla MacBook Air for road warriors, the Retina Display technology has quickly become the measuring stick by which all other notebook displays are judged. To that end, we recommend either the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display (if you want the ideal combination of screen, processor and graphics) or the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display if you absolutely need a smaller and lighter laptop.

Read the Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display Review

#4 Samsung ATIV Book 6


After releasing the exceptionally well made, albeit excessively expensive Samsung ATIV Book 9; the Korean manufacturer brings forth a more modest offering with the Samsung ATIV Book 6. This 15.6-inch notebook offers a premium notebook experience at an affordable price; featuring a 2.4 GHz Intel i7 processor, AMD HD 8770M GPU, and a vibrant 15.6″ display complete with touch-controls for around $1,200 (at the time our review was written).  

The Samsung ATIV Book 6 isn’t as slim as an Apple MacBook Pro, nor is it as powerful as competing gaming-oriented devices, but the Samsung ATIV Book 6’s strong build design and solid specs make it a noteworthy premium notebook alternative.

The ATIV Book 6 lost out because it isn’t the thinnest or lightest, but it is thinner and lighter than “most” mid-range notebooks and delivers fantastic value.

Read the Samsung ATIV Book 6 Review

#5 HP EliteBook Revolve 810


Windows 8 ushered in a slew of new hybrid notebook designs, but HP returned to basics with the EliteBook Revolve 810’s classic rotating hinge design. It would be easy to see the business oriented Revolve as a regression, but there’s a certain elegance to its simplicity. With a strong portable design and mSATA SSD, the EliteBook Revolve focuses on providing a solid level of usability in its versatile form factor.

As a business focused device, the HP EliteBook Revolve 810 delivers on most fronts. The 1.9GHz Intel Core i5 processor and 128GB mSATA SSD ensure that users will be able to tackle most computing functions with relative ease, while the machine’s durable portable design easily shrugs off the wears and tears of travel. 

Easily the most notable weak point for this machine is its lack of media focus. The 1366 x 768 display resolution is less than what consumers would expect at this price point … but the Revolve 810 delivers a great experience for those Road Warriors who don’t demand 1080p resolution.

Read the HP EliteBook Revolve 810 Review

 

Want to find out more about how cloud computing can help to ease your work life? Check out the “Working in the Cloud” series to learn more.

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