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Run Of Christmas Gift Idea? These Laptops May Be The Perfect Choice
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Though smartphone can handle more and more of your daily workload, it still can’t replace a tried-and-true notebook when it’s time to hunker down.

But which to get? That’s the eternal question. Unfortunately, 2016 didn’t make the answer any clearer. With the flow of laptop sales on a steady decline, no one manufacturer could get everything right.

While a number of very good notebooks launched in the last year, there wasn’t One True Laptop you could point to and say, “this is the best machine for most people,” the way you could about the MacBook Air years ago. Be it missing ports, an awkward design flaw, some overactive fans, or a price that’s just too high, every good notebook seemed to have one or two nagging annoyances that kept it from being great.

But if you need a new laptop, you need a new laptop. There are still some notebooks that are well worth a look, from the budget to the ultra-premium. As 2016 comes to a close, here are our favorites.
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The Acer Chromebook R11 is worth considering for those with basic needs and a light budget.

Done right, a Chromebook is a better value for most budget buyers than a cheap Windows laptop. Lots of people do most of their computing in a web browser, and Chrome OS can get more out of weaker hardware. (For now, at least.)

The problem is that every Chromebook on the market has some glaring weakness. The Acer Chromebook R11 is no exception, but for less than $300, it’s about as competent as it gets. Just be sure to buy the model with 4GB of RAM.


• Convertible and lightweight

• Keyboard, trackpad, and battery life are fine

• Display is colorful, and touchscreen is vital for Android app support


• 11-inch display too small for some, and has a low 1366×768 resolution

• Can’t fire up too many tabs at once

• Not the most sturdily built device
The Dell Chromebook 13 is the best Chromebook on the market.

The one Chromebook that really soars is the Dell Chromebook 13. It looks, feels, and acts like a quality machine. It’s just priced like one, too — relatively speaking. But if you can handle the premium, it’s still one of the best budget laptops you can buy.


• No real issues with performance

• Excellent battery life — about 10-12 hours on average

• Sharp design with good keyboard


• A bit too expensive for an OS that’s still inherently limited. Base configuration costs $430; adding a touchscreen costs at least $630.
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About those budget Windows laptops…

You can get by with an ultra-affordable Windows notebook, but chances are you won’t enjoy it. Generally speaking, they’re either flimsy, clunky, severely underpowered, or some combination of the three. So, not a good long-term investment.

Microsoft has tried to compete with Google by touting ultra-affordable travel laptops like the HP Stream, those are little more than glorified netbooks. They work, but they’re nowhere near as smooth as a good Chromebook. What good is Windows if your laptop struggles to do anything with it?
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The Acer Aspire E5-57G-53VG is the rare mid-range Windows laptop that takes care of the fundamentals.

The Acer Aspire E5-57G-53VG, which goes for about $550, may never turns heads, but it meets enough of the requirements for a good affordable notebook. It’s not great, but it’s good enough. That’s a victory for the money.


• Sharp 1080p display

• Core i5 chip, 8GB of RAM, 256GB solid-state drive, and (older) Nvidia graphics processor mean capable performance for the money


• 15-inch display is a TN panel; colors are duller than those of an IPS screen, like the one on the Dell Chromebook 13

• Have to delete a good amount of pre-installed bloatware to get the most out of it

• Design isn’t anything special, and battery life is just okay

• Core i5 chip is technically 6th-gen (“Skylake”) model, though difference between that and newer 7th-gen (“Kaby Lake”) isn’t massive
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