Lenovo Flex 2 15
Price: $530 | Size: 15.6″ | Battery life: 6 hrs. | Weight: 5.1 lbs.
The highlights: Real computing power at a rock-bottom price.
The details: For the typical laptop user, the Lenovo is a serious bargain. The machine comes loaded with Windows 8.1, an Intel processor, quality speakers, and a backlit keyboard—everything you need to work, browse the web, and watch video. You can also pivot the touchscreen backward and use it as a stand-up tablet.
Best for: All-around use
HP Chromebook 14
Price: $300 |Size: 14″ | Battery life: 9½ hrs. | Weight: 4 lbs.
The highlights: Boots up instantly, automatically backs up your data, and never gets viruses.
The details: This laptop runs Google’s Chrome operating system, which consists mostly of a web browser and apps. You’ll need a web connection to get the most out of the HP, but you can edit spreadsheets and other docs when you’re offline. Plus, if the machine crashes, log on to your Google account, and your stuff will be there.
Best for: Light use
Apple Macbook Air
Price: $999 |Size: 13″ | Battery life: 12 hrs. | Weight: 3 lbs.
The highlights: A lightweight machine with impressive battery life, this Mac is easy to tote around all day long.
The details: This super-portable laptop combines an efficient processor with a wedgelike body that measures just 0.11 inches at its thinnest point. The machine comes loaded with a variety of Mac apps, such as iPhoto and iMovie, but perhaps its best attribute is the battery. Apple promises up to 12 hours of web surfing.
Best for: Travel
Price: $800 |Size: 15.6″ | Battery life: 6 hrs. | Weight: 4.9 lbs.
The highlights: Torn between a laptop and a tablet? The Asus is a bit of both.
The details: This Windows laptop is powerful enough to use as a work machine. It even includes software that allows you to dictate aloud to the computer when you need a typing break. Yet the Asus is also great for fun stuff. Flip the super-high-resolution touch screen around, fold it flat, and voilà!—a tablet.
Best for: Watching movies, playing games.