Business notebooks are designed for users in small-to-medium and even large companies who want systems that will be used mostly by a mobile workforce. These laptops need to endure the bumps and bruises of business travel while remaining and light and mobile as possible. Important features include a fast processor, high-capacity hard disk and long-life battery but things like additional security options and extended warraties are just as important in the world of business.
Communications features like a built-in Ethernet port for wired connectivity and and multiple wireless technologies like 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, a cellular modem and Bluetooth for short-range connectivity round out the feature set you’ll find here. Prices range from several hundred to thousands of dollars. If you are having trouble finding the right business laptop for yourself or your workforce then this list is a great place to start your search.
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 student.
Lenovo’s latest and greatest ultraportable business notebook, the 12.5-inch ThinkPad X230 strikes the near perfect balance between serious performance and mobility. With the latest Intel Ivy Bridge processors and more than 8 hours of battery life this is quite possibly the best work laptop on the market.
There is so much to love about this tiny titan among business notebooks — like the fact it fits on a coach-class tray table with room to spare — that we will just focus on our two primary complaints. Both of the “cons” to this ultraportable laptop are compromises that Lenovo was forced to make for its business clients.
First, the touchpad in quite small and difficult to use compared to the TrackPoint … but many enterprise customers demanded that Lenovo include a touchpad. Second, the super-small X230 really sould come with a solid state drive (SSD) as standard rather than the cheaper and heavier traditional hard drive … but Lenovo needed to provide businesses with an option for a low-cost storage solution.
The bottom line is that if you’re looking for a small laptop capable of handling big business then the Lenovo ThinkPad X230 really belongs at the top of the list.
The Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook is a unique hybrid of a premium consumer laptop and a thin-and-light business notebook. Loaded with your choice of either an Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processor and a blazingly fast solid state drive, this little laptop might just give Apple a run for its money. Since the XPS 13 features a nearly borderless 13-inch display, this Ultrabook actually takes up less space on a desk (or in a backpack) than the 13-inch MacBook Air. Although the display on the XPS 13 is limited by a resolution of just 1366 x 768, the screen is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass making it almost impossible to scratch … a GREAT feature for both a careless business pro or a student.
Our only real complaints about the XPS 13 are the lack of a SD card slot (an almost unforgiveable sin at the $999 starting price) and the fact that the Gorilla Glass covering makes the screen more prone to reflections and thus text is sometimes more difficult to read.
Many business professionals with years of experience are probably doing a double take and saying, “You have to be crazy to put a Mac on a list of top business laptops!” In reality, 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. The same things that make the MacBook Pro one of the best multimedia laptops are the same things that make it a powerful business notebook for companies who care about graphic design and a quality presentation. Granted, the things that traditionally hurt Apple — like poor support for legacy hardware and an OS that isn’t Microsoft Windows — still make a MacBook a poor choice if your business has a major investment in old hardware or Windows software.
A brand new addition to the world of Ultrabooks, the business-class ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook combines the famous ThinkPad durability with the thin and light features of the Ultrabook category. The carbon fiber roll-cage and MIL spec toughness make this a standout laptop.
We criticized the X1 Carbon pretty heavily in our review because it lost a few nice features from the old ThinkPad X1 (like the optional slice battery) and the ThinkPad X230 is a less expensive portable business laptop — just not an “Ultrabook” — with better features. However, the new glass touchpad surface on the X1 Carbon is better than anything else on the market; better than the touchpad on a MacBook Pro and better than every notebook PC touchpad we’ve used to date.
Despite losing points for price (starting at $1,399 in August) and a few missing features, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is the best business-oriented Ultrabook we’ve seen to date. If you want a sexy laptop that is built to business standards and has an AMAZING touchpad then the X1 Carbon is probably your best option.
Lenovo’s 14-inch T-series ThinkPads have long been considered among the best business notebooks ever made. In fact, when you mention the term “business laptop” to many IT professionals the first image that pops into their minds is a ThinkPad.
The latest-generation Thinkpad T430 continues this exceptionally high standard for excellence but some traditional ThinkPad fans might have a few valid complaints.
At the heart of the argument is the T430’s new keyboard — a departure for Lenovo as they switched to the increasingly popular “Chiclet” style with extra spacing between the keys. While the new keyboard has great tactile feedback compared to most keyboards of this type, the key travel isn’t as long. Additionally, the Home, End, PgUp, PgDn, Insert and Delete keys are spread out all over the keyboard instead of being clustered in a nice organized group.
As we said in our review, the ThinkPad T430 is still “the king of 14-inch business notebooks” but ThinkPad traditionalists will say the keyboard isn’t changing for the better.