13-14" ultrabook for $1000-$1500

Discussion in 'What Notebook Should I Buy?' started by Neatman, Jan 1, 2015.

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  1. Neatman

    Neatman Notebook Consultant

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    Hi everyone,

    This forum has been very helpful in the past for getting ideas for new laptops, so I hope you can help out again. I am looking to purchase a new laptop for work. Most important to me is that the laptop has a solid build, is durable, and would come with a great warranty (maybe even accidental damage coverage). I would love for this laptop to last 5+ years if possible.

    General Questions

    1) What is your budget?
    <$1200, <$1500 with a good warranty
    2) What size notebook would you prefer?
    13” (Thin and light)
    3) Where will you buying this notebook? You can select the flag of your country as an indicator.
    In Canada, or online.
    4) Are there any brands that you prefer or any you really don't like?
    Likes Mac, open to others
    5) Would you consider laptops that are refurbished/redistributed?
    Yes, as long as they have a good warranty
    6) What are the primary tasks will you be performing with this notebook?
    Internet, word processing, audiobooks
    7) Will you be taking the notebook with you to different places, leaving it on your desk or both?
    It will be moved a lot, to work and on trips
    8) Will you be playing games on your notebook? If so, please state which games or types of games?
    No games
    9) How many hours of battery life do you need?
    >10, more is better
    10) Would you prefer to see the notebooks you're considering before purchasing it or buying a notebook on-line without seeing it is OK?
    It would be ok to buy it online without seeing it
    11) What OS do you prefer? Windows (Windows 7 / 8), Mac OS, Linux, etc.
    Mac or Windows

    Screen Specifics
    12) From the choices below, what screen resolution(s) would you prefer? Keep in mind screen size in conjunction with resolution will play a large role in overall viewing comfort level. Everyone is different. Some like really small text, while others like their text big and easy to read. Click here for Screen resolution information.
    1080p if possible, but less is fine.
    13) Do you want a Glossy/reflective screen or a Matte/non-glossy screen?
    Matte screen

    Build Quality and Design

    14) Are the notebook's looks and stylishness important to you?
    Professional looking (looks are not very important)
    15) When are you buying this laptop?
    16) How long do you want this laptop to last?
    5 years or longer. Durability and build quality are VERY IMPORTANT.

    Notebook Components

    17) How much hard drive space do you need? Do you want a SSD drive?
    >120 GB, SSD essential
    18) Do you need an optical drive? If yes, a DVD Burner, Blu-ray Reader or Blu-Ray Burner?
    No optical drive necessary
  2. win32asmguy

    win32asmguy Moderator Moderator

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    I would suggest taking a look at the Dell Latitude E7440, Lenovo Thinkpad T440s, and HP Elitebook 840 G1. All of these are similar specifications and mostly meet your needs. The Dell is probably the cheapest option, if its a refurb with a good warranty. The Lenovo should have the best battery life. The HP has a nice trackpad with dedicated buttons if that is important.

    I have the Elitebook 850 G1 which is the larger version of the 840. It has worked great for the past 9 months that I have owned it.

    If you can wait a few months newer versions of these machines with Broadwell chips should be available.

    If you want a Macbook the 13 inch Pro is probably the best option, but perferably get the model with a larger storage drive up front, then upgrade the Applecare warranty to three years in a few months when budget permits.
  3. gerryf19

    gerryf19 I am the walrus

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    You and I are in a similar boat, but since no one answered my thread, maybe we can help each other suss out a notebook.

    First, your requirements are probably a little unrealistic. 10+ hours battery life in real world use is a lot, 5 years durability in a ultrabook is stretching things (to reduce weight, they reduce material strength to some degree plus technology alone might make a laptop obsolete in far less time. That said, here are some of the ones I have been looking at and maybe you can offer your feedback on them or offer alternatives.

    The Lenovo X240 offers much of what you seek, though to reach that amount of battery time will require an optional larger battery which bumps the weight up. The screen is a tad under your target (12.5 inches rather than 13) and is more a semigloss screen than matt (but not glossy), the resolution is closest to your target (1366 by 768); I do kind of wonder if you used 1080 mroe from a tv sense. The build quality of Lenovo X and T series laptops is considerable and gives you a good shot at lasting 5 plus years (I see someone mentioned the t440, a 14 inch model). They keyboard is in my opinion the best keyboard you can buy on a laptop. Good depression, quiet, cupped,large keys--simply a joy to type on. The trackpad is the biggest gripe for the Lenovo faithful. With the newest Lenovos, the company has removed the separate left and right button to the outrage of the fanbase. Furthermore, they don't like that it is louder and many feel imprecise. Arguably, the key interactions between user and computer are the trackpad, the keyboard and screen--a failing of any of these can make the laptop less appealing. Is it WORSE than other touchpads? I can't say...haven't used the new generation. I appreciate the added size, multi=gesture and smoothness, but I hate a loud trackpad.

    Since you've allowed for OSX, you should certainly consider the Macbook Pro and Macbook Air at 13 inch screens. Both are excellenet machines if you do not need the Windows Compatibility, so if that or if a few minor hoops when sharing documents aren't an issue, they are clearly a good option for you (pass on retina, which is more a gimmick than a need for you). The Macbook will give you a little more durability than the macbook air, in my opinion, plus a little more air circulation which will help in extending life. They keyboards are not in the same class as Lenovo (less depression, a little too flat and far apart for me), but the touchpad on a mac is so far and above anything else in the laptop market, it makes up for it.

    Next up, the Thinkpad X1 carbon, also from Lenovo. I absolutle love what they are trying to do with this machine, butthey have screwed up they keyboard in ways that kind of mystify me (the adaptive top row, the placement of the keys, the shrunken backspace--dang it Lenovo, stop messing with a good thing!). They trackpad may also leave something to be desired. Thin yet made of carbon fibre, the laptop should take a beating and keep on rolling, but the battery life may disappoint. The trackpad also seems to leave something to be desired, but is supposedly quieter than the X240. Finally, battery life is likely lower than other machines. To make this laptop thinner, they cut the battery size. The new intel chips are more miserly than ever, but the smaller battery brings it down to about 6 hours per charge. That said, Lenovo offers a "quick charge" feature than will charge your battery to 80 percent within an hour...not bad.

    Next up, the Dell XPS 13. I confess, I have not enjoyed my experience with Dell laptops in a long time. The Inspiron family is horrible quality. The latitude is much preferable. The XPS has been spotty over the years, swinging from high quality to low quality. The XPS line is now on the upswing again and the xps 13 is a decent laptop. Definitely well made and hits all the highpoints. I doubt you will get 10 hours of use on a charge, but 7 to 8 is realistic.
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