Computers / Buying Guide

3 Portable and Powerful Laptops for 2017

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Finding the perfect balance between portability, performance, and battery life can be a tricky thing, when it comes to laptops. We’ve picked three different laptops, each with its own unique features, that may provide the balance that might be just right for you. See below for more details.

Samsung Notebook 9

The Samsung Notebook 9 is surprisingly light, weighing less than 2 pounds (1.8, to be exact). In fact, it’s the lightest of the three laptops mentioned here. Even though the Notebook 9 is lightweight, Samsung didn’t just shove an Intel® Atom CPU into it. Instead, they opted for a 7th-Gen Kaby Lake 2.7 GHz Intel® Core™ i7-7500U dual-core processor. With 16GB of DDR4 RAM and a 256GB solid-state drive, the Samsung Notebook 9 isn’t just a lightweight laptop that limits you to just writing Word documents and checking emails.

The 13.3" screen on the Samsung Notebook 9 is unique. Along with Full HD 1920 x 1080 screen resolution, the display features an Outdoor Mode, which pushes its normal 350 nits of screen brightness to 550 nits. This allows for reduced glare outdoors. The Samsung Notebook 9 also features a 180° hinge that allows you to lay the Samsung Notebook 9 flat against a desk. Unfortunately, the Notebook 9 doesn’t have a touchscreen to take full advantage of this feature, but it does come in handy when you want to show people what you’re working on without them crowding behind you.

The Samsung Notebook 9 has adopted the USB Type-C standard with a USB 3.0 Type-C port. It features a data-transfer rate of up to 5 Gbps, as well as charging support. The installed operating system is Windows 10 Home (64-bit) and the Notebook 9 allows you to log in using Windows Hello, thanks to its built-in fingerprint reader and webcam. The 30 Wh battery in the Samsung Notebook 9 can be fully charged in 80 minutes via fast charging. Samsung also claims that when you’re running low, just 20 minutes of fast charging will extend your run time by 2.1 hours. Your usage will most likely vary, but the ability to fast-charge your battery will help while traveling.

Samsung also offers a 15" model of the Notebook 9.

Samsung 13.3" Notebook 9

LG gram 15

While the LG gram 15 weighs slightly more than the Samsung Notebook 9, you should keep in mind that it does have a bigger screen. Its 15.6" display also allows you to take full advantage of the multi-touch gestures built into the installed Windows 10 Home (64-bit) operating system. The display also features an IPS panel, which provides wide viewing angles. The Full HD 1920 x 1080 screen resolution allows you to watch 1080p videos natively.

The LG managed to squeeze a 7th-Gen Kaby Lake 2.7 GHz Intel® Core™ i7-7500U dual-core processor, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 512GB solid-state drive into its 0.6" thin body so you’re not sacrificing performance just for a thin design. Speaking of its body, LG crafted the gram by combining advanced nano carbon with magnesium to provide a sleek metal-alloy design that is lightweight and durable. Although it’s still not recommended that you throw your LG gram across the room, it should survive the usual bumps that come with traveling.

The push for the USB Type-C standard continues as LG put one on the gram. The one on the LG gram is a USB 3.0 Type-C port, which means it has a data-transfer rate of up to 5 Gbps. It also supports charging, as well. For outputting to an external display, you can use the HDMI port. LG claims that its 60 Wh battery can last up to 17.5 hours on a single charge. Of course, battery run time is usually dependent on a number of conditions, such as your usage and environment, so keep that in mind.

If you’re interested in other versions of the LG gram, LG offers 13 and 14" models, as well as a non-touchscreen version of the 15.6" model.

LG gram 15.6" Multi-Touch Notebook

Dell XPS 13

Weighing in at 2.7 pounds, the Dell XPS 13 is slightly heavier than the Samsung Notebook 9 and the LG gram 15, but it offers some unique features to justify its weight. The XPS 13 has a 13.3", virtually borderless InfinityEdge display to maximize screen space. What does this mean? Well, Dell managed to fit a 13.3" screen into a space normally reserved for 11.6" displays, thanks to the tiny 5.2mm thin bezels.

The screen resolution also gets a significant bump from Full HD 1920 x 1080, as seen on the Samsung Notebook 9 and LG gram 15, to UltraSharp QHD+ 3200 x 1800 on the Dell XPS 13. While it is not quite 4K UHD, the higher resolution still provides 5.7 million pixels, which works out to 276 ppi (pixels per inch). The display also features an IPS panel for wide 170° viewing angles. Combined with 400 nits of screen brightness, a color gamut of 72%, and a 1000:1 static contrast ratio, the display on the Dell XPS 13 provides the best screen experience of the three laptops.

The Dell XPS 13 has a 7th-Gen Kaby Lake 2.5 GHz Intel® Core™ i5-7200U dual-core processor, 8GB of LPDDR3 RAM, and a 256GB solid-state drive, which isn’t as powerful as the Notebook 9 and the gram 15, but it can still perform when needed. The XPS 13 does have a Thunderbolt 3 port. Sharing the same connector as a USB Type-C port, Thunderbolt 3 provides a bidirectional data transfer rate of up to 40 Gbps. Thunderbolt 3 also supports DisplayPort 1.4 as well as USB 3.1’s 10 Gbps data-transfer rates. You can use the Thunderbolt 3 port to connect to the Dell Thunderbolt Dock (sold separately) to output to three Full HD external displays or two 4K external displays.

Dell 13.3" XPS 13 Multi-Touch Notebook

Dell offers a variety of XPS models if you’re looking for a different version.

1 Comments

Nice summary of a few of the many options for photography-friendly laptops.  I realize you may have wanted to highlight a couple of the less-popular models (Samsung, LG), but the Microsoft Surface Book and Apple MacBook Pro (both acclaimed machines) deserve mention.

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