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The Tech Report's summer 2017 mobile staff picks

The best gear for on-the-go computing

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Welcome to the AUGUST 2017 edition of The Tech Report's mobile staff picks, where we recommend our favorite tablets, convertible PCs, laptops, and phones.

A bit of time has passed since our winter mobile staff picks. The big developments in the mobile device world since have mostly been in laptops. Intel's Kaby Lake CPUs offer higher clock speeds in the same power envelope as their predecessors and better responsiveness thanks to Speed Shift technology. In practice, these characteristics mean Kaby Lake is quite frugal when it comes to power consumption, and their proliferation in ultrabooks and notebooks across the board has resulted in machines with suprisingly long battery life. The power savings also gave rise to more laptops with gorgeous 4K screens, a characteristic that would previously chop down battery life by a fair bit. If there ever was a time to upgrade your old clunker of a laptop, it's now.

HP Spectre x2 12t

As for the phone arena, not a whole lot has changed since winter—but it soon might. The rumor mill says that Apple is set to release either a iPhone 7S or a fabled iPhone 8 (or both?), and that Google is set to unleash the Pixel 2 upon the world. OnePlus, ever the pretender for the smartphone crown, has released its OnePlus 5 handset, which packs a ton of hardware and then some. The upstart is keeping its sights set on the Apples and Samsungs of the phone business, and its latest entry is quite the stunner. The leading companies are hardly sitting still, though.

Meanwhile, in the tablet business, the news is that... oh, wait. There's not much to talk about. The tablet market is now stagnant. Even Apple hasn't been immune to this, as evidenced by iPad sales' long string of declines. We've seen refreshes of Amazon's Fire HD tablets, mild updates to the iPad lineup, and that's about it. Still, tablet prices have been generally coming down, so it's as good a time as any to grab one if you don't already have one.

There's at least one thing to look out for in the horizon, though. Apple's been making a lot of noise about using an iPad Pro as a replacement for a laptop, but iOS isn't very amenable to working with multiple applications at once. The impending release of iOS 11 and its improved file and application management might change that, possibly making the iPad and iPad Pro more useful as general computing devices.

Asus Chromebook Flip C302

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 resemble those of costlier laptops. It helps that multiple Chromebooks have officially received support for Google's Play Store, meaning that they can run Android apps alongside the Chrome browser.

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.