The Tech Report’s winter 2016 mobile staff picks

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Welcome to the DECEMBER 2016 edition of The Tech Report’s mobile staff picks, where we recommend our favorite tablets, convertible PCs, laptops, and phones.

It’s been a while since we published our summer mobile staff picks guide. Since that time, the iPhone 7 has become widely available, and its primary competition, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7, literally went up in smoke. Meanwhile, Google decided it likes the word Pixel better than Nexus, and OnePlus continues to try and kill flagships with its handsets. In larger-screened slate news, well… not much has happened. Everybody who wants a tablet seems to have one, and both innovation and demand seem to be grinding to a halt in that market.

Chromebooks, upscale PC laptops, and convertibles, on the other hand, are all burgeoning with activity. Chromebooks seem to have risen in popularity even further, fueled by a combination of ChromeOS’ no-nonsense usability and affordable, reliable machines whose spec sheets are usually reserved for costlier laptops. It helps that multiple Chromebooks have officially received support for Google’s Play Store, as well, meaning that they can run Android apps alongside the Chrome browser.

It’s also a good time to take the plunge on a high-quality mobile PC. Intel’s recent release of its first Kaby Lake CPUs (also known as “seven-generation Core” chips) is great news for laptops and convertibles. Although this new generation of CPUs offers some performance improvements thanks to higher clock speeds, their real claim to fame appears to be much-improved power consumption. That means longer battery life for devices with these CPUs inside. Kaby Lake can also decode next-generation 4K video formats in hardware, further improving battery life. In turn, our PC recommendations reflect a preference for machines with Kaby Lake processors inside.

If you like this article, don’t miss the rest of our guide series: our main System Guide, in which we detail the best PC components and explore some custom builds; our how-to-build-a-PC guide, where we walk folks through the PC assembly process; and our peripheral guide, where we pick the best monitors, mice, keyboards, and accessories to make your PC experience even better. 

Like the rest of our guides, our mobile staff picks are sponsored by Newegg. We’ll be using links to Newegg product pages throughout this guide. You can (and should!) support our work by using these links to purchase the products we recommend. If Newegg doesn’t stock an item we want to recommend, however, we’ll link to other resellers as needed. Despite its sponsorship, Newegg exercises no control over the products that appear in this article. Our picks are entirely our own.

Tablets

Product Specs Starting price

Amazon Fire Tablet 7″
Operating system: Fire OS 5
Display: 7″ 1024×600 IPS LCD
Processor: Quad-core ARM Cortex A7 at 1.3 GHz
RAM: 1GB
Storage: 8GB or 16GB with microSD slot
Battery life: 7 hours
Connectivity: 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS
Thickness: 0.4″ (11 mm)
Weight: 0.7 lbs
$49.99 (8GB) or $69.99 (16GB)

Nvidia Shield Tablet K1
Operating system: Android 6.0
Display: 8″ 1920×1200 IPS LCD
Processor: Nvidia Tegra K1
RAM: 2GB
Storage: 16GB with microSD slot
Battery life: ~7 hours
Connectivity: 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS
Thickness: 0.27″
Weight: 0.7 lbs
$274.99

Apple iPad mini 4
Operating system: iOS 10
Display: 7.9″ 2048×1536 (326 ppi)
Processor: Apple A8
RAM: 2GB
Storage: 32GB or 128GB
Battery life: 10 hours (Wi-Fi), 9 hours (LTE)
Connectivity: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2, opt. LTE
Thickness: 0.24″
Weight: 0.65 lbs
$384.95

(32GB, Wi-Fi)


Apple iPad Air 2
Operating system: iOS 10
Display: 9.7″ 2048×1536 (264 ppi)
Processor: Apple A8X
RAM: 2GB
Storage: 32GB or 128GB
Battery life: 10 hours (Wi-Fi), 9 hours (LTE)
Connectivity: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2, opt. LTE
Thickness: 0.24″
Weight: 0.96 lbs
$384.95

(32GB, Wi-Fi)


Apple iPad Pro 9.7″
Operating system: iOS 10
Display: Wide-gamut 9.7″ 2048×1536 (264 ppi)
Processor: Apple A9X
RAM: 2GB
Storage: 32GB, 128GB, or 256GB
Battery life: 10 hours (Wi-Fi), 9 hours (LTE)
Connectivity: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2, opt. LTE
Thickness: 0.24″
Weight: 0.96 lbs

$559.95

(32GB, Wi-Fi)

Amazon Fire 7

Unless you have first-hand advice on what to buy, picking out a tablet still requires at least a little careful consideration, mainly due to the $200-and-up sums of money involved. But what if there was an absurdly cheap, impulse-buy tablet that’s actually decent? Here’s the Amazon Fire 7. Its specs aren’t going to set the world on fire, but it still offers a quad-core CPU, 1GB of RAM, and a 1024×600 IPS panel that should offer decent color reproduction. Storage is limited to 8GB or 16GB depending on the flavor, but there’s a microSD slot on tap for additional capacity. Amazon’s not-quite-Android Fire OS 5 powers the device, and it’s regularly updated.

And the price? $50 for the 8GB model with some ads, and $70 for the 16GB version, which puts it in impulse-buy territory. It’s not every day that a tablet computer can be described as a stocking-stuffer gift.

Nvidia Shield Tablet K1

If you’ve gotta have an affordable Android tablet, we think one could do far worse than Nvidia’s Shield Tablet K1. This slate wraps the internals of the original Shield Tablet inside a slightly restyled frame for less money. That’s a winning formula for a device with a serious SoC and a gaming software ecosystem to match. The Tegra K1 chip remains competitive in the graphics department, and buyers will find plenty to run on it thanks to Nvidia’s GeForce Now service and a wide variety of curated Android games. The Shield is also a great choice for a tablet thanks to its largely unmolested Android installation. Nvidia regularly updates the Shield to keep pace with Google’s upstream developments, too. All of those things are quite nice to get in a device that’s just $275.

We would normally recommend a higher-end Android tablet here, as well, but the sad truth is that the Android tablet market—and the tablet market in general—has been declining over the past few months. Even Apple’s iPad has posted multiple quarters of double-digit year-on-year sales drops. It doesn’t help that there are very few Android tablets that one can rely on to receive timely updates.

The reason we’re not looking too hard to fill this space is that Android apps barely do anything special on tablets anymore, as we understand it, so users just end up looking at blown-up phone apps most of the time. Honestly, if you need a high-end tablet, Apple’s iPads seem like better buys to us than most anything in the Android space unless you’re already heavily invested in Google’s ecosystem. Here are our iPad picks.

iPad mini 4
Apple’s iPad mini 4 remains our entry-level iPad favorite. Compared to the lackluster iPad mini 3, this slate gets the A8 CPU from the iPhone 6, 2GB of RAM, and an improved screen with better coverage of the sRGB color gamut. That means it can take advantage of iOS 10 features that used to be exclusive to the iPad Air 2, like full split-screen multitasking.

If those upgraded specs aren’t convincing enough, one TR staffer was so taken with the mini 4 when he first held it that he ended up buying one for himself. Apple was kind enough to recently upgrade the iPad mini 4 and Air 2’s base capacity to 32GB, so we don’t have any qualms anymore about recommending the most affordable model. Should you need more space for apps and media, $100 more for the 128GB model is a worthy upgrade.

iPad Air 2
Apple’s iPad Air 2 has been superseded by the iPad Pro at the top of Apple’s tablet lineup, but we still think it’s a good high-end tablet pick. Between the slim body, the beautiful Retina display, the fast-acting Touch ID fingerprint sensor, and Apple’s unparalleled app ecosystem, we think your dollars are best spent here if you’re shopping for a high-end slate. Since our last staff picks, Apple dropped the price on the Air 2 to $399 for the 32GB version, making it an easy recommendation. Just like with the iPad mini 4, the 128GB will set you back another $100.

iPad Pro 9.7″

Some people are increasingly able to do most of their work on an iPad rather than a traditional PC. For demanding folks who fancy an iPad as their sole computing device, the iPad Pro is built around Apple’s most powerful SoC right now: the A9X. The 9.7″ version of this tablet also has a wide-gamut screen and the same excellent camera as the iPhone 6S. Folks who want the largest possible canvas for iOS can step up to the 12.9″ iPad Pro, but that move comes with a slightly worse camera and a less-colorful screen. Both Pros support Apple’s Pencil for sketching and drawing, along with the Smart Cover keyboard. Unless you need those specific features or you’re super gung-ho about putting as much power behind iOS as possible, though, the iPad Air 2 is probably a saner choice.

 

Chromebooks

When Chromebooks first appeared, the TR staff was somewhat suspicious of them. After all, they appeared to be little more than underpowered, low-end laptops with limited usefulness. How wrong we were. When we spent some time with Asus’ Chromebook Flip, we came away impressed with what the cloud-centric platform can do on modest hardware. Unless you need Windows in a truly low-end machine (that is, sub-$350 territory) for some reason, we think Chromebooks can serve as a great way to do basic computing tasks on an inexpensive PC that doesn’t require a lot of care and feeding.

Manufacturers everywhere are jumping into the Chromebook bandwagon, and this time around we have some rather nice machines for you to choose from.

Product Specs Starting price

Lenovo N22

(80VH0001US)

Operating system: Google Chrome OS
Display: 11.6″ 1366×768 IPS LCD
Processor: Celeron N3060
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 16GB eMMC
Battery life: 10 hours
Connectivity: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0
Thickness: 0.9″
Weight: 2.8 lbs
$229.99

Acer Chromebook 14 CB3-431-C5FM
Operating system: Google Chrome OS
Display: 14″ 1920×1080 IPS LCD
Processor: Intel Celeron N3160
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 32GB SSD
Battery life: 12 hours
Connectivity: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2
Thickness: 0.7″
Weight: 3.7 lbs
$299.99

Dell Chromebook 13
Operating system: Google Chrome OS
Display: 13.3″ 1920×1080 IPS LCD
Processor: Intel Celeron 3215U
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 16GB SSD
Battery life: 12-plus hours
Connectivity: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0
Thickness: 0.51″ to 0.84″
Weight: 3.2 lbs
$429.00

Lenovo N22 (80VH0001US)

Computing hardware and laptops in particular tend to be delicate things, sometimes damaged with an apparently-insignificant drop or bump. What if there was a decent, affordable machine that could take a few scrapes and bruises, and even the occasional liquid spill? Enter the Lenovo N22. The version we picked has a 11.6″ IPS screen with a 1366×768 resolution, 4GB of RAM, and a Celeron N3060 CPU. Those are decent specs for an entry-level Windows machine, let alone the slim and streamlined Chrome OS.

The Lenovo N22’s reinforced hinge and rounded corners should help it survive a rough day at the school or office. The 10-hour battery life could even make it through a day and a half of work without the need to use the charger, too. The machine is a little pudgy at 0.9″ thick, but given its diminute overall size, that’s not likely to matter much. And the best part? It’ll only set you back $230.

Acer Chromebook 14 (CB3-431-C5FM)

An 11.6″ machine like the Lenovo above may score high on portability, but many tasks really ask for a larger screen. The Acer Chromebook 14, as its name implies, has a 14″ IPS display with an honest-to-goodness 1920×1080 resolution. The CPU on this machine is a quad-core Celeron N3160, packing more than enough computing punch for a machine of this class. Despite Chrome OS’ reliance on cloud storage, the Chromebook 14 offers a relatively spacious 32GB SSD, too.

The Acer Chromebook 14 is a tad heavy at 3.7 lbs, but it makes up for some of that bulk with a battery that ought to go for 12 hours between charges and a gorgeous metal finish. At $300, we think that this Chromebook is a fine choice for a no-nonsense, affordable work computer.

Dell Chromebook 13

Last but certainly not least, we have something a tad more luxurious. The Dell Chromebook 13 has slightly inferior specs to the Acer Chromebook 14 and costs $429, so what’s so special about it? For starters, its chassis is made of magnesium alloy and carbon fiber. Then, it’s only 0.51″ thick at its thinnest point. Third, it’s pretty light for a 13″ machine, tipping the scales at only 3.2 lbs. Finally, according to reviewers, its battery can last between 12 to a whopping 15 hours. If the idea of a Chromebook has some appeal to you but you still want a premium-quality machine, then look no further.

 

Convertibles

Need a PC that can serve double duty as a notebook and a tablet? The convertible market has been exploding, and there are options for all shapes and sizes. We’ve separated wheat from chaff to bring you the best.

Product Specs Starting price

Asus Transformer Book T100HA
Operating system: Windows 10 Home
Display: 10.1″ 1280×800
Processor: Intel Atom x5-Z8500
RAM: 4GB 
Storage: 64GB eMMC SSD, microSD slot
Battery life: 12 hours 
Connectivity: 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0
Thickness: 0.72″ (tablet and dock)
Weight: 2.3lbs (tablet and dock)
$309.99

Lenovo Yoga 710 11″

(80TX000CUS)

Operating system: Windows 10 Home
Display: 11.6″ 1920×1080
Processor: Intel Core m3-6Y30
RAM: 4GB 
Storage: 256GB SSD
Battery life: 8 hours
Connectivity: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0
Thickness: 0.59″
Weight: 2.3lbs
$599.99

Asus Zenbook Flip

(UX360CA-AH51T)

Operating system: Windows 10 Home
Display: 13.3″ 1920×1080
Processor: Core i5-7Y54 (Kaby Lake)
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 512GB SSD
Battery life: ~12 hours 
Connectivity: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.1
Thickness: 0.5″
Weight: 2.9lbs
$849.99

Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Operating system: Windows 10
Display: 12.3″ 2736×1824
Processor: Intel Core m3, i5, or i7 (Skylake)
RAM: 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB
Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB + microSD slot
Battery life: 9 hours
Connectivity: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0
Thickness: 0.33″
Weight: 1.7 lbs
$849.00

(128GB SSD,

4GB RAM, Intel Core i5 CPU)


HP Spectre x360

(2016, X7V22UA#ABA)

Operating system: Windows 10 Home
Display: 13.3″ 1920×1080
Processor: Intel Core i5 or Core i7 (Kaby Lake)
RAM: 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB
Storage: up to 512GB PCIe SSD
Battery life: ~9-11 hours
Connectivity: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2
Thickness: 0.54″
Weight: 2.85 lbs

$1,009.99

(Intel Core i7 CPU, 256GB SSD, 8GB RAM)

Microsoft Surface Book Operating system: Windows 10 Pro
Display: 13.5″ 3000×2000
Processor: Intel Core i5 or Core i7 (Skylake)
RAM: 8GB or 16GB
Graphics: Nvidia discrete GPU, 1GB RAM (optional)
Storage: 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB SSD
Battery life: 12 hours
Connectivity: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0
Thickness: 0.9″
Weight: 3.5 lbs
$1,369.99

(Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, no discrete graphics)

Asus Transformer Book T100HA

For those who want an entry-level Windows tablet that can serve double duty as a laptop when needed, Asus’ Transformer Book T100HA looks like a good bet for just $313 or so. This convertible comes with a Cherry Trail Atom x5-Z8500 quad-core CPU, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of onboard storage. The 10.1″, 1280×800 screen isn’t as high-density as the panels in some other tablets, but we like the 16:10 aspect ratio—and the affordable price tag.

Lenovo Yoga 710 11″ (80TX000CUS)

Lenovo pretty much wrote wrote the book on fold-back convertibles, so it’s hardly surprising to see one of the company’s entries making it into our top picks. As its name implies, the Lenovo Yoga 710 has a 360° hinge, letting you turn the screen all the way around to use it as a tablet or simply prop it up on a table in “tent” mode. A 1920×1080 resolution in a 11.6″-diagonal screen works out to a pretty sharp 190 PPI, too. The Core m3 CPU and roomy 256GB SSD are also steps up from the Transformer Book T100HA. Finally, the machine weighs in at a 2.3 lbs, which is impressively light for a notebok with a large touchpad and a keyboard with some actual key travel.

Asus Zenbook Flip (UX360CA-AH51T)

Your computing needs may end up needing a little more punch than the Core m3 CPU in the Yoga 710 above. As it happens, the latest Asus Zenbook Flip is a very competitively-priced flip-over convertible built around the spanking-new Kaby Lake Core i5-7Y54. This CPU is a two-core, four-thread unit with a 1.2GHz base clock, but can Turbo up to a staggering 3.2GHz. That’s some impressive horsepower for a machine that’s only half an inch thick. Eight gigabytes of RAM and a large 512GB SSD complement the main package. At $850, we think this machine is quite the steal.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 refines the company’s do-it-all tablet formula with Skylake CPUs, a higher-resolution “PixelSense” display with better touch and pen tracking, and a slightly-improved Type Cover keyboard with a better trackpad. The Pro 4 is a refinement of the Surface Pro 3, not a revolutionary update. If you’re already sold on the formula and haven’t bought in yet, though, this is the machine you’ll probably want. The base Surface Pro 4 starts at $849.99 with a Core m3 CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD. Microsoft now throws in the Surface Pen for free, but buyers will still have to pick up the Type Cover for an extra $130.

HP Spectre x360 (2016, X7V22UA#ABA)

Asus isn’t the only brand in our convertibles list that’s already taken up Intel’s Kaby Lake offerings. The 2016 version of the HP Spectre x360 packs a powerful Core i7-7500U CPU and 16GB of RAM. This combination should be more than enough for almost any type of work you care to throw at it. As an added bonus, the version we picked has a 512GB PCIe SSD for wicked-fast storage needs. Reviewers praise this machine’s solid, all-aluminum body, gorgeous high-resolution screen, and lengthy battery life, so we think it’s a solid choice if the form factor appeals to you. You’ll be hard-pressed to find anything better for just over a grand.

Microsoft Surface Book
Microsoft’s Surface Book is the biggest splash this segment of the mobile marketplace has seen in some time. It’s an unabashedly high-end convertible with a detachable screen, all-metal construction, Core i5 and i7 CPU options, and an optional GeForce discrete graphics card. The Book’s screen can pop off to enter what Microsoft calls “clipboard mode,” and an included Surface Pen lets owners sketch and take notes as they would on a Surface tablet. The screen can’t fold all the way over as it can on the Spectre X360, but it can be flipped around on the hinge to achieve similar positions.

The Surface Book starts at a little over $1,300 with a Skylake Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, and no discrete graphics chip. We’d also like to point your attention to the $1,883 model that has a Core i7 CPU and a dedicated GeForce graphics card as a good price-vs-performance choice.

Since we last wrote about it, Microsoft started offering an couple Surface Book models powered by a “Performance Base” that offer bigger batteries and faster GeForce GTX 965M graphics cards, at the cost of an extra couple millimeters in thickness and about half a pound more weight. These machines’ graphics performance is substantially superior to their predecessors, but the upgrade comes at a steep price: around $2,399 for the Core i7-fitted machine with a 256GB NVMe SSD, 8GB of RAM, and a GTX 965M card. There are even higher-end versions available, too. $2,799 gets a Book with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, while the range-topping machine with a 1TB SSD will set you back $3,299.

 

Laptops

Tablets and convertibles may be enticing for some, but others prefer a good old clam-shell laptop. If you’re among that number, we think these are the ones most worth your while.

Product Specs Starting price

Acer Aspire E 15

(E5-574G-54Y2)

Display: 15.6″ 1920×1080
Processor: Intel Core i5-6200U
RAM: 8GB
GPU: Nvidia GeForce 940M
Storage: 1TB hard drive
Battery life: 6 hours
Connectivity: 802.11ac with MU-MIMO, Bluetooth 4.0
Thickness: 1.2″
Weight: 5.3 lbs

$569.95

Asus Zenbook

(2016, UX330UA-AH54)

Display: 13.3″ 1920×1080 (3200×1800 optional)
Processor: Intel Core i5-7200U (Kaby Lake)
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 256GB SSD 
Battery life: ~12 hours
Connectivity: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0
Thickness: 0.5″
Weight: 2.6 lbs

$679.00

(Core i5-7200U CPU, 256GB SSD, 8GB RAM)


Dell XPS 13
Display: 13.3″ 1920×1080 or 3200×1800
Processor: Intel Core i3-7100U, i5-7200U, or i7-7500U
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128GB or 256GB SSD
Battery life: 15 hours
Connectivity: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0
Thickness: 0.6″
Weight: 2.6 lbs
$999.99

(Core i5 CPU,

128GB SSD, 8GB RAM,

1080p screen)


Dell XPS 15
Display: 15.6″ 1920×1080 or 3840×2160
Processor: Intel Core i3 dual-core, Core i5 and i7 quad-core (Skylake)
RAM: 8GB to 32GB
Storage: 500GB HDDs up to 1TB NVMe SSDs
Battery life: up to 17 hours with 1080p display
Connectivity: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.1
Thickness: 0.66″
Weight: 3.9 lbs
$1,399.99

(Core i7 CPU, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD)


Lenovo Thinkpad P50
Display: 15.6″ 3860×2140 IPS
Processor: Intel Core i7, or Xeon
RAM: 8GB to 64GB
Storage: 128GB to 1TB SSD, plus options for secondary storage
Battery life: ~8 to 9 hours
Connectivity: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.1
Thickness: 1″
Weight: 5.6 lbs
$1,669.53

(Core i7 CPU, 512GB SSD,

16GB RAM, Quadro, 4K screen)


Apple MacBook (2016)
Display: 12″ 2304×1440
Processor: Intel Core M (Skylake)
RAM: 8GB or 16GB
Storage: 256GB or 512GB PCIe SSD
Battery life: 9 hours
Connectivity: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0
Thickness: 0.5″
Weight: 2 lbs

$1,299.99

(256GB SSD,

1.1GHz CPU,

8GB RAM)


Apple MacBook Pro

(2016, 13″ or 15″)

Display: 13.3″ 2560×1600, 15″
Processor: Intel Core i5 and i7 dual-core (Broadwell)
RAM: 8GB or 16GB
Storage: 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB PCIe SSDs
Battery life: 10 hours
Connectivity: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0
Thickness: 0.7″
Weight: 3.5 lbs
$1,799.99

(256GB SSD,

2.9GHz CPU,

8GB RAM)

Acer Aspire E 15 (E5-574G-54Y2)
Acer’s Aspire E 15 kicks off our traditional laptop picks at the budget end. Despite its low price, this machine doesn’t have any lines on its spec sheet that make us blanch. It offers a 1920×1080 display powered by a GeForce 940M discrete graphics processor, a chip that might even allow some recent titles to run with reasonable frame rates at low settings. The E 15’s Core i5-6200U CPU should offer plenty of grunt in productivity tasks, too. 8GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive seem perfect in a machine at this price point.

Asus Zenbook (2016, UX330UA-AH54)

We’ve been fans of the Asus UX305 for ages, but the time may have come to move on to better things. Shinier, newer things like the Asus UX330UA. The more recent version of this machine replaces the trusty ol’ Skylake Core i5 CPU with the new-fangled Kaby Lake Core i5-7200U at 2.5 GHz. The rest of the machine’s accoutrements remain roughly the same, but that’s fine—it’s no use fixing what’s not broken. The port selection is rather sensible, too: two USB 3.0 Type-A ports and a USB 3.0 Type-C connector. There’s no Thunderbolt connectivity on tap, but this machine otherwise ticks all the right boxes. It’s sleek, fast, and light.

Dell XPS 13
Dell’s XPS 13 has been making waves in the notebook market since its release, as well. Its signature feature is a nearly-borderless “infinity display” that packs a 13.3″ screen into a chassis that’s no bigger than many 11″ laptops. The battery also lasts up to a whopping 15 hours, which is probably some sort of record for a machine of this size.

The XPS 13 can also be had in several configurations, packing 1080p or 3200×1800 displays and Kaby Lake Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 CPUs. If you want more room for customization than the ZenBook UX330UA offers and don’t mind spending a bit more to get there, the XPS 13 is a brilliant pick at $800 and up.

Dell XPS 15

For those who need extra graphics power out of their Windows laptop, or just prefer bigger screens, Dell’s XPS 15 looks like a good place to start. The company has updated this 15.6″ machine with the ultra-thin display bezel from its 13″ counterpart, along with Intel’s Skylake CPUs. The base model starts at $999 with a Core i3-6100H processor, 8GB of RAM, and a combo drive with a 500GB hard drive and a 32GB SSD.

Our main recommendation is for something a little more meaty, however: the version with a Core i7-6700HQ, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and a GeForce GTX 960M graphics card. That’s a fair amount of hardware in an impressively compact package, at a not-unreasonable price of $1750. Much like its smaller cousin, the XPS 15 has a 4K screen option available. Powering all those pixels requires a hefty amount of juice, so you should be warned that the battery duration takes a hit.

Lenovo Thinkpad P50

If you’re doing serious software development, CAD or 3D work, or heavy-duty video or audio editing, you may find yourself needing more hardware than an ultra-portable machine can handle. However, carrying around the 10-lb bricks of yore isn’t an appealing prospect to anyone. How about a middle ground, then, in the form of the Lenovo Thinkpad P50?

This machine can take in as much as three storage devices, up to 64GB of RAM across four slots, displays up to 4K resolution, and CPUs up to Intel Xeons. All that hardware is powered by massive 90-Whr battery that can offer over 8 hours of run-time even with the 4K display option. Even still, Lenovo managed to keep a the P50 in a hefty but still reasonable weight class: 5.6 lbs, give or take. Since this is a proper workstation machine, most of the components are interchangeable and upgradeable, too. These machines start at $1000, but we’ve select a middle-ground configuration for just under $1700 that packs a Core i7-6700HQ CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB NVMe SSD, and a gorgeous 4K display. And, of course, a Nvidia Quadro M1000M graphics card.

Apple MacBook

Readers, please put down your flamethrowers. We know Apple’s latest MacBook is polarizing. Hear us out. At only half an inch thick and a breath over two pounds, the MacBook is barely a tangible thing, yet Apple somehow managed to cram a 12″ Retina display (re-engineered to be thinner, brighter, and more efficient) and a full-sized keyboard in there. The Force Touch trackpad is slimmer than traditional clickpads, but feels a lot like one thanks to a clever electromagnetic haptic feedback system. Meanwhile, the system’s battery life stretches beyond eight hours, thanks in part to the display’s ability to let more light pass through its pixel matrix.

 

 

The MacBook now uses Skylake Core M CPUs. They still aren’t going to set any speed records, but they should be plenty of CPU for the average user who needs macOS. The one true pain point on this machine might be its lone USB-C port, which handles everything from charging to peripheral I/O to display output. That’s a nice vision for the future, but it does mean living in a dongle-filled present. If you can stomach those limitations, the new MacBook starts at $1300. 

Apple MacBook Pro

If your computing needs include more demanding apps like Photoshop or Final Cut Pro, or if you prefer macOS, the newest MacBook Pro is the logical choice. The 2016 model has received criticism for some of Apple’s design choices. These machines only come with Thunderbolt 3 ports, and Apple ditched the older MacBook Pro keyboard for clickers with MacBook-like key travel. Fancier MacBook Pros now ditch the F-key row in favor of an OLED mini-screen called the Touch Bar. 

Having considered all that, there’s little arguing that the MacBook Pro remains a good choice for a laptop when it comes to a combination of portability, battery life, and a gorgeous screen. The 2016 MacBook Pro comes with a wide-gamut panel capable of covering 100% of the DCI-P3 color space and hitting a retina-boiling 500 cd/m² maximum brightness.

TR Editor-in-Chief Jeff Kampman notes that the four Thunderbolt 3 ports on the MacBook Pro could actually be a blessing. His mid-2014 machine is saddled with two Thunderbolt 2 ports that work with practically nothing on the market, and his machine’s two USB 3.0 ports rapidly fill up when he’s doing video editing and audio recording all at once. He thinks that even with the need for dongles, having four useful USB ports backed up by Thunderbolt bandwidth is a major improvement for power users. He laments the death of the MagSafe charging port, though.

With those potential improvements in mind, we’re recommending one of each of the 13″ and 15″ models. On the 13″ corner, there’s a model going for $1800 that packs a Core i5 Skylake CPU, 8GB of RAM, integrated graphics, and a 256GB SSD. Those wishing to step things up can get the $2400 MacBook Pro 15″ with a Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a dedicated Radeon Pro 450 graphics card with 2GB of VRAM. While none of these machines offer a particularly good value proposition, those invested in the macOS ecosystem already know what the deal is.

 

Phones

Product Specs Starting price

Huawei Honor 5X
Operating system: Android 5.1.1 with EMUI skin
Display: 5.5″ 1920×1080 IPS LCD
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 SoC
RAM: 2GB
Storage: 16GB  (with microSD slot)
Battery: 3,000mAh
Connectivity: LTE, 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.2
Thickness: 0.32″
Weight: 4.8 oz
$169.99

OnePlus 3T
Operating system: Android 6.0 (with OxygenOS skin)
Display: 5.5″ 1920×1080 Optic AMOLED
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 64GB or 128GB
Battery: 3,400 mAh
Connectivity: LTE, 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2
Thickness: 0.29″
Weight: 5.6 oz
$439

(64GB)


iPhone SE
Operating system: iOS 10
Display: 4″ 1136×640 IPS LCD
Processor: Apple A9
RAM: 2GB
Storage: 16GB or 64GB
Battery: 1,624 mAh
Connectivity: LTE, 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2
Thickness: 0.3″
Weight: 4 oz
$449

(64GB)


Google Pixel
Operating system: Android 7.1 (Nougat)
Display: 5″ 1920×1080 IPS LCD
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 32GB or 128GB
Battery: 2,770 mAh
Connectivity: LTE, 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2
Thickness: 0.33″
Weight: 5 oz

$649

(32GB)


iPhone 7
Operating system: iOS 10
Display: 4.7″ 1334×750 wide-gamut IPS LCD
Processor: Apple A10 Fusion
RAM: 2GB
Storage: 32GB, 128GB, or 256GB
Battery: 1,960 mAh
Connectivity: LTE, 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2
Thickness: 0.28″
Weight: 4.9 oz

$649

(32GB)

 

Huawei Honor 5X

Asus’ Zenfone 2 is no more, so Huawei’s Honor 5X is taking over the budget phone spot in our picks—not that you’d know it was a budget phone by looking at it. Huawei clads this phone’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 616-powered internals in an aluminum shell with a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor. A 5.5″, 1080p IPS display and a 13MP rear camera are both appealing things to find in a phone this cheap, as well. This phone does come with Huawei’s extensively-customized EMUI 3.1 skin on top of Android 5.1.1, but we think it’s probably going to be pretty hard to find a phone in this price range without some kind of custom Android distribution.

OnePlus 3T

OnePlus has been making a name for itself by making high-end phones with mid-range price tags, and labeling them “flagship killers.” While there’s a certain quantity of hyperbole attached to that description, we think it’s not untrue either. The company’s latest handset is the OnePlus 3T, and it goes for $439 with 32GB of storage. That money gets you a sharp 1080p screen, a hefty 6GB of RAM, a speedy Snapdragon 821 SoC, and an enormous battery with quick-charging capability.

The Oxygen OS operating system on the 3T is a lightly-skinned take on Android with a few useful features. As an added bonus, the handset’s all carved out of aluminum. These specs and finish would be worthy of a handset costing almost twice the money. If you’re looking for a phone that’s both slightly different than average and an insane deal, the OnePlus 3T is it.

iPhone SE

A large screen on a phone is certainly handy, but not everyone enjoys carrying around a barely-pocketable device the size of a plaster trowel. Compact phones may have become as rare as hen’s teeth, but they’re not entirely extinct, and we think Apple has the best one by quite a margin. The iPhone SE could easily be called the “iPhone 6S compact,” because it’s pretty much what it is. The outer shell is nigh-on indistinguishable from the iPhone 5S, but the phone has the 6S’s innards. That means an Apple A9 SoC, 2GB of RAM, and a vibrant 4″ LCD.

Apple currently holds the crown of “longest software update track” for its mobile devices, too. iOS 10 can be installed (and used) on handsets that go as far back as the 2012-vintage iPhone 5, and the company works extra-hard to get minor patches and bug-fixes out the door. The iPhone SE is affordable, too, a characteristic not commonly associated with fruit-logo’d devices. At $399 for the 16GB version and $449 for the 64GB model we’re recommending, you just can’t go wrong.

Google Pixel

Google has had some trouble deciding what to call its mobile devices, going through the Chrome, Nexus, and Pixel names over time. The company seems to have finally settled on that last name, and the Pixel is its latest high-handset. The Google Pixel phone is jam-packed with goodies: a Snapdragon 821 SoC, a 5″ 1080p AMOLED screen with an effective resolution of 441 PPI, a fingerprint authentication sensor, and a camera that’s been rated by DXOMark as one of the best snappers to grace a phone’s back. The 2,770 mAh battery supports fast charging, and handset has been praised for the quality of its finish.

Being a Google-branded handset, the Pixel comes out of the box with the freshly-baked Android 7.1 Nougat. Like previous Nexus and Pixel devices, the handset will receive updates directly from Google, making it a much safer bet, if you will, than other third-party phones. The Pixel doesn’t come cheap, though. While it’s certainly a premium phone, Google’s pricing of $649 for the 32GB version and $769 for the larger, same-capacity Pixel XL model pit it directly against Apple’s iPhone 7 and 7 Plus phones. While Google’s tactic of placing its newest handset in the same price area as the iPhone may alienate those who enjoyed Nexus devices’ fairly affordable price tags, the Pixel’s reviews seem to back up the sticker. If you’re looking for what’s probably the best Android handset out there, with updates straight from the robot’s mouth, the Pixel is it.

Apple iPhone 7

Every iPhone launch is a Big Event, and this year’s release is certainly no exception. One the one hand, one could say that Apple didn’t change all that much in the iPhone 7. On the other hand, the old adage of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” also rings true. The evolutionary steps from the already-excellent iPhone 6S are a newer and faster A10 SoC, a gorgeous wide-gamut screen to go with an improved camera, stereo speakers, and a water-proof construction. The bigger iPhone 7 Plus has an extra trick up its back: a dual-lens camera system capable of taking breath-taking shots.

Not all the changes are universal improvements, though. The iPhone’s hallmark mechanical home button has been replaced with a capacitive, haptic-feedback circle, and the 3.5-mm headphone jack has vanished, leaving many users to suffer with another adapter dongle. Still, the phone’s all-around strengths and the super-fast A10 SoC make the iPhone 7 the king among premium phones. Apple’s sticker matches that lofty performance: $649 for the 32GB version, or $749 for the 128GB model. The iPhone 7 Plus goes for $769 in its 32GB incarnation, or $869 for a 128GB helping of storage.

If the iPhone 7 is too dear, Apple has also dropped the pricing of the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus handsets considerably. If a wide-gamut screen doesn’t sound that interesting to you and if you’re okay with the still-pretty-fast A9 SoC and a lesser camera, the iPhone 6S is a darn good bet at $549 for the 32GB model. The iPhone 6S Plus, meanwhile, is currently going for $649.

 

What’s next

Before we wrap up this edition of our mobile staff picks, let’s take a look at what’s to come in the worlds of mobile hardware and software. 

Intel’s Kaby Lake CPUs are quickly being integrated into laptops from nearly every manufacturer. The new chips appear to offer only moderate performance improvements, but their improved 14-nm process tech should result in extra battery life for the devices they’re inside of. And since nobody wants to charge their devices more times than absolutely necessary, that change alone is welcome. Expect higher-TDP Kaby Lake chips with Iris Pro graphics to begin appearing on the market soon.

Both AMD and Nvidia have released new mobile graphics cards, and the green team’s, in particular, have already found their way inside some gaming laptops. However, most machines with Pascal GPUs inside don’t tend to be of the sleek, highly-portable kind favored and desired by most shoppers. Until we get our hands on gaming notebooks from a few manufacturers, we’re holding off on a verdict of whether mobile gaming with the latest graphics chips is a worthy use of buyers’ money.

The tablet and phone markets haven’t changed all that much since this years headlining releases. Apple is still taking the lion’s share of the proceeds from the phone market, and almost every other manufacturer seems to be insisting on releasing bloatware-packed handsets with uncertain prospects for software updates. Google’s Pixel handset and the continued success of the OnePlus and Samsung Galaxy S7 phones all offer good counterpoints to what is a somewhat grim picture for Android. We had some bad jokes to tell about the demise of the Galaxy Note 7, but they went up in smoke. Still, the time to buy a phone is right now. The latest iPhone is out, Apple’s not releasing a new model anytime soon, and the OnePlus 3T and Pixel are both freshly-baked.

With that, we bring this edition of our mobile staff picks to a close. If you found one of our recommendations useful, please support our work by purchasing that item through our link to Newegg’s product page. You should also consider becoming a TR subscriber, if you haven’t already. Subscribers get exclusive perks, and your support allows us to continue producing time- and research-intensive pieces like this one. Enjoy your new laptop, phone, or tablet, and thanks for your support.

Comments closed
    • drsauced
    • 3 years ago

    I would suggest the Dell Precision 15 over the XPS offerings for a number of reasons, including better customization, but most importantly, Intel wireless over the Killer bits.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 3 years ago

    Ipad pro is a better option than all but the 15 macbook with discrete GPU IMHO.

    Speaking specifically of mac’s rather inbred product offerings these days. not comparing to windows offerings.

      • tipoo
      • 3 years ago

      They’re only comparable even to the lower rung Macbooks if you have pretty casual, mainly consumption use.

      Even if you’re not using heavy apps, the keyboard and trackpad if you write a lot are still transformative compared to the iPad Pro keyboard, with no trackpad on the same horizontal pane, and a floppy keyboard case.

    • Kougar
    • 3 years ago

    For anyone looking at the OnePlus 3T, the HTC 10 is still going for $500 and it makes for a nice alternative consideration that works with all US carriers.

    DualSim, microSD, Stereo speakers, and a better camera and videos are some starters. Worse battery life, older 820 chip, and a $70 increase are some tradeoffs.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 3 years ago

      HTC has done a better job in the last 3 years or so with updates than OnePlus has, too. The unlocked models of the various m7 through m9 and HTC 10 models have gotten updates inside of 3-4 months. The unlocked HTC 10 already has Nougat, for example, and they’ve been very open about [url=http://www.htc.com/us/go/htc-software-updates-process/<]their process[/url<]. You still kinda have to wonder about HTC's continued existence, though. In Q3 [url=http://media.corporate-ir.net/media_files/IROL/14/148697/2016/10-25-2016/HTC%20REPORTS%20THIRD%20QUARTER%202016%20RESULTS.pdf<]the company lost[/url<] around $60M US. Still, the 10 seems like a nice phone.

    • tipoo
    • 3 years ago

    I’m still not entirely sold on where tablets fit into my life because even when I’m just consuming content, I tend to do a lot of typing at the same time (I wonder how many novels worth I’ve written for free on the internet…Oh god)

    I did however get my parents a pair of these for christmas, hope they work pretty well. Not high end, but I wanted 10″ screens for them, and don’t think they need a thousand dollars in iPads for what they’ll mainly use, the browser.

    [url<]https://www.acer.com/ac/en/US/content/series/iconiaone10[/url<]

    • Wonders
    • 3 years ago

    Recommended watch for those seriously considering buying a new Macbook Pro:
    [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XSC_UG5_kU<]Apple Engineer Talks About New 2016 Macbook Pro[/url<]

    • AnotherReader
    • 3 years ago

    Great summary! It would be useful to note which laptops are user-upgradeable.

    • Neutronbeam
    • 3 years ago

    J’accuse Bruno! (my son’s taking French so that’s a shout out to him).

    With Pascal in laptops and the delta between laptop gaming and desktop gaming performance significantly decreasing IMHO, can’t you guys toss in a single rec for a decent mid-priced gaming laptop? Maybe a little MSI, Razer, ASUS ROG or Aorus action–just for the novelty?

    Gaming laptops demand representation!

    • DZDragonLord
    • 3 years ago

    When is the next system guide coming?

      • morphine
      • 3 years ago

      Soon, stay tuned!

    • euricog
    • 3 years ago

    Shouldn’t the Moto G4 be in the phone list? It’s considered best budget phone on multiple sources.

    If I Google search something as “mobile phone bang for buck 2016”, first results are:

    [url<]http://www.tomsguide.com/us/best-smartphones,review-2223.html[/url<] (best budget phone) [url<]http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/131905-best-budget-smartphones-2016-the-best-phones-available-to-buy-for-under-200/gallery?photo=8[/url<] "The Moto G4 makes Motorola king of budget, once again." [url<]http://www.t3.com/news/best-cheap-smartphone[/url<] "The Motorola G series has always been a contender for the best budget smartphone on the market — the G4 is no exception and certainly offers something special for the price."

      • morphine
      • 3 years ago

      The big honkin’ problem with the Moto G are the software updates, or rather, the lack of them. The update list for Android 7 is absurdly short, and even that aside, Motorola drops support for handsets with two years or less on the market. I had a Moto G 4G myself, a year and a half and that was it, and several people around me were left in the cold with their Gs, too.

      These days, once you’re past the bottom-of-the-barrel stuff, the software is a huge deciding factor.

      • Yumi
      • 3 years ago

      Because Lenovo has killed all the positive reputation the brand had.

      Check the update history on the Moto G 3rd gen, and the insult to injury is the G4 play with a lot of the same hardware gets the Nougat update.

    • Ninjitsu
    • 3 years ago

    So all there is at 5″ is either overpriced Apple BS or overpriced Google BS. Yay.

    • HERETIC
    • 3 years ago

    As to the macs-
    [url<]http://www.theverge.com/2016/12/13/13939278/apple-macos-sierra-new-macbook-pros-battery-life[/url<] Classic apple problem solving-HIDE IT-Head in the sand.

      • tipoo
      • 3 years ago

      Ugh. If we had this years components on last years battery sizes, 10 hours may have been within reach. Instead to shave off three fricking millimetres, we lost a whole 25% of their battery capacities. The lower idle states of Skylake can’t get around that.

      This is just the most aggravating of modern Apple.

        • cygnus1
        • 3 years ago

        The HP Spectre x360 they recommended does that as well, no battery life time estimate.

          • tipoo
          • 3 years ago

          I don’t think HP has for a while, no? Or at least I remember a 5 year old HP laptop never giving an estimate. It’s of course a bit different if you do it for all the decades you’ve made laptops, and then when a generation regresses in life from the previous, coincidentally remove it.

            • cygnus1
            • 3 years ago

            I don’t know about the other consumer models, but I’m pretty sure the HP ProBooks give you an estimate. I really don’t get the difficulty. If you can accurately determine the current percent of remaining battery capacity, you can keep a rolling average of power draw from the battery and give the rough estimate we’re all used to. What’s really unfortunate to me is that Apple killed the feature on all Macs, not just the new ones. The 2016 Retina MacBook that my wife has used to give an estimate just fine. Now only just the remaining percent.

      • chuckula
      • 3 years ago

      YOU’RE MEASURING IT WRONG!

    • Peldor
    • 3 years ago

    On the Kindle Fire pick…
    The Kindle Fire with 8GB is really cramped on space. Really I wouldn’t suggest it unless it’s going to be dedicated to just a handful of apps.
    Amazon has moved the Fire HD 8 down to $89 for 16GB and that’s a much better option ($30 over the Fire 16GB currently). More RAM (1.5GB vs 1GB), better resolution, much longer battery life (12hr vs 7), stereo speakers. Better bezels too.

    We got a Fire for our littlest because it was likely to wind up in the toilet (but not yet so I consider that a raging success!) and multiple Fire HD for us bigger gerbils. There’s a definite difference in quality. The Fire HD is a poor man’s tablet, the Fire is a throwaway tablet. You get the same Amazon and Amazon Prime perks either way, but it’s a big jump in quality for the HD while still under $100.

      • paulWTAMU
      • 3 years ago

      I may buy that for my wife for Christmas then. Her fire if finally dying (it’s….god, 3-4 years old?)

    • sweatshopking
    • 3 years ago

    IT’S LIKE OTHER PEOPLE WROTE MY POSTS FOR ME.

      • Ninjitsu
      • 3 years ago

      HIVEMIND CONFIRMED

      • Neutronbeam
      • 3 years ago

      So when are you going to work in Washington, D.C.?

      • derFunkenstein
      • 3 years ago

      even a blind squirrel finds a nut from time to time

    • Chrispy_
    • 3 years ago

    I can’t believe you guys recommend the Macbook Pro.

    1) There’s nothing pro about a dual-core.
    2) There’s nothing pro about a horrifically compromised keyboard with almost no travel
    3) There’s nothing pro about a lack of stylus support or SD card for the imaging/arty folk
    4) There’s nothing pro about 8GB of RAM and a basic Intel IGP.

    Basically, I’m not an apple fan but I work in a studio environment and I can appreciate what artists, photographers, and web-designers want as a first-hand witness. Is this not the historic (up until 2015 at any rate) target demographic of Macbook Pros? Anyway. They all hate the new ones. They all hate the new ports and having to carry around dongles and adapters. They all hate the MacBook with it’s nasty nasty keyboard. Who exactly are Apple trying to appeal to if their core demographic run out of RAM trying to do basic photoshop editing having plugged their SD card adapater into their USB-A-to-Thunderbolt adapter, FFS?

    Glorified netbook at insane cost; No wonder all the pros are asking me to build them 64GB workstations with 3440×1440 ultrawides. They can do that for less than a Macbook Pro and spend the change on a Zenbook to remote into it on the go….

      • morphine
      • 3 years ago

      You sohuld go back and re-read why the MBP is in the list. TL;DR: being into the macOS ecosystem, for good or bad.

      For the sake of argument, if Linux was more widely used, we’d do well to also recommend some Linux options.

        • Chrispy_
        • 3 years ago

        I understand it’s in the list because you have to have a Macbook Pro in that particular category.

        My objections are that:

        1) The category itself is rapidly becoming invalid.
        2) The older generations are still on sale and vastly superior for just some of the reasons I listed.

        • Ninjitsu
        • 3 years ago

        Other option is to just say “no don’t buy a new macbook, buy an older one because it’s more useful”.

        EDIT: Because really, if the mentality is “oh i have to have apple thus i will buy junk they put out”, then all they’ll put out is junk. Somewhere you have to say “no, what i have is good enough, i don’t need the latest apple thing because what i have works fine – and the latest iThing sucks anyway”.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 3 years ago

    You guys picked the worst time to post this.

    Want to take another moment to complain about the direction of the Mac. Timmy is screwing this thing up horribly. I saw a commercial earlier today for the touch bar and it’s ridiculous. It looks dumber in commercials than it did in the demo, and in the demo I thought it looked mildly interesting. All I see now is an emoji picker. Seriously you guys, don’t buy those things.

      • NeoForever
      • 3 years ago

      SSK?

        • derFunkenstein
        • 3 years ago

        Do you see all caps?

      • DancinJack
      • 3 years ago

      It’s pretty bad at this point. I’m sure there are SOME uses for that thing that are great, but the 2015 machines are just so much better for almost everyone it’s not even close. The dongle hell and the price of those new machines are just not worth it right now.

      I’ll be hanging onto my 2015 “13 rMBP for a while.

      • morphine
      • 3 years ago

      Truth be told, there was some… intense debating over this same topic when the guide was being prepared. The conclusion we reached is what’s in the article: the new machines aren’t bad by almost any measure, but they have a certain set of compromises. Those invested in the macOS ecosystem will have to consider them carefully before making a final decision.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 3 years ago

        Well, the MacBooks are what they are, and this is the direction that the Mac is going…even if the direction is “nowhere fast”

        • kamikaziechameleon
        • 3 years ago

        True, the quality hasn’t dipped drastically, just the price (value) has gone in the wrong direction.

        Mac laptops are a clust F@#$ right now. you have 4 SKU’s targeting the same price and usage model. Then the MP 15 inch is kinda floating out there at the insanely expensive because its the only laptop with a discrete GPU and that is about it.

        Its like the Clust Bomb they created in the tablet space by having 4 tablets on sale. Then the phones…

        TOO many SKU’s is the curse here. Its the antithesis of Steve’s simplicity. I can’t tell if its symptomatic or causatively effecting design…

        Simplicity of SKU offering helps show the integrity of their design. when they have this Cluster F@#$ they look allot more like samsung and allot less like the industry leading “BRAVE” apple even the critics had some respect for.

          • morphine
          • 3 years ago

          Basically: yep, to an extent.

          Trust us when we say there was intense discussion in TR’s Slack over this very topic 🙂

            • thorz
            • 3 years ago

            It is imposible to understand that you are recommending the terrible fail the MBP 2016 is and its silly power bar or whatever the name is.
            I have a MBP 2015 and have owned an Apple laptop since 2006 and loved them all, have an iPhone and an iPad, and my daughter has an iPod Touch, as you can see I am deeply submerged in their ecosystem, but they really screwed it all up with the MBP 2016.

      • HERETIC
      • 3 years ago

      Guess they run out of innovation to steal and resorting to BLING now…………………….

      • cygnus1
      • 3 years ago

      I picked up the fully loaded new version of the HP Spectre x360 (i7, 16GB ram, 512GB NVMe SSD) for $1200 on sale at Best Buy… I’ll run macOS in a VM for the couple things I like better in that OS vs the near $3k for a similarly spec’d new MacBook Pro. Plus I finally have a touchscreen as well.

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