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Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
Amazon Prime Day 2021 is right around the corner, and we’re expecting to see some significant deals on laptops. The annual shopping holiday will take place on June 21 and 22, making it a great opportunity to snag a new laptop before heading back to school in the fall.
Last year, we saw deals on laptops from Apple, Lenovo, and others as well as Google’s Pixelbook Go and Razer’s Blade 15 gaming laptop. We’re expecting to see a similar selection of deals across Chromebooks, MacBooks, and Windows laptops this year. See below for everything you need to know about shopping for a new laptop on Amazon Prime Day 2021.
Prime Monthly Subscription (small)
Frequently asked questions
What day is Amazon Prime Day 2021?
Amazon Prime Day 2021 will take place on June 21 and June 22. Deals change throughout the day and span the gamut in terms of categories. We usually see Prime Day deals on everything from tech gadgets and electronics to home appliances, beauty, and apparel. Amazon says it will be offering more than 2 million deals this Prime Day.
Although Amazon Prime Day doesn’t officially start until June 21, the online retailer is already offering early deals on products across its tech, kitchen, home improvement, pets, and books categories among others. There are also early discounts on Amazon products and services such as Audible, Fire TVs, Amazon Music, and Prime Gaming.
Will there be another Prime Day?
Amazon Prime Day is a two-day event that takes place on June 21 and June 22. Amazon hasn’t discussed any plans for future Prime Day events, but it’s held the shopping holiday every year since 2015. Prime Day usually takes place in July, with 2020 being the exception when it occurred in October.
Do I need to be a Prime member to get Prime Day deals?
Yes, to access Prime Day deals you must subscribe to Amazon Prime, which costs $119 per year or $12.99 per month. Not only does Prime allow for access to Prime Day deals and faster shipping, but it also comes with a bunch of other perks like Amazon Prime Video and Amazon Prime Music.
How should I choose a new laptop on Prime Day?
The most important aspects to consider when shopping for a new laptop are the operating system (OS), the laptop’s specifications, and its size.
Apple device owners usually prefer MacBooks since they run on the macOS operating system, which integrates nicely with the iPhone and has an interface that’s similar to iOS. But those who want the most choice and versatility in a desktop operating system usually go with Windows. Chromebooks, meanwhile, are best for those who use Google services frequently and handle most of their tasks online.
The processor (CPU), memory (RAM), and internal storage are the most important specifications to pay attention to if you’re looking for a general purpose computer. But multimedia editors and gamers will want to make sure their laptop has enough graphics processing power, too.
And finally, size is important when choosing the right laptop. If portability is your main priority, you’ll want to look at laptops with a 13-inch screen. But if you’re planning to primarily keep your laptop in your home office and use it for watching movies when you’re not working, you will probably be happier with a 15 or 16-inch laptop.
The best laptop deals on Amazon right now
It’s not Prime Day just yet, but Amazon is already offering a few notable discounts on laptops. For a general purpose laptop, we recommend a notebook with an Intel Core i3 or i5 processor, at least 8GB of RAM, and 128GB or 256GB of storage.
Many of these laptops will have integrated graphics, which share memory with the CPU rather than having their own dedicated graphics processing unit (GPU). Dedicated graphics aren’t a must if you’re mostly using your laptop for tasks like word processing, managing spreadsheets, and browsing the web, but video editors and gamers will want a standalone GPU.
Chromebooks often come with less storage and memory and lower-end processors since they rely so heavily on the cloud.
The best Amazon deals on Apple MacBook laptops
Last Prime Day, we saw discounts on the early 2020 MacBook Air. This year, we’re hoping to see bigger discounts on the newer MacBook Air and Macbook Pro models that run on Apple’s more powerful M1 processor. The MacBook Air is our favorite MacBook since it shares many qualities with the MacBook Pro at a lower price.
The MacBook Pro is already on sale for $99 off on Amazon, while the M1-powered MacBook Air is available for $50 off.
MacBook Pro with M1 Processor (13-inch, 8GB RAM, 256GB) (medium, Preferred: Amazon)MacBook Air (medium, Preferred: Amazon)
The best Amazon deals on Windows laptops
Windows laptops are the most popular laptops, and we’re expecting to see several compelling deals on Amazon Prime Day. But it’s not just Amazon deals we’ll be looking out for – many retailers launch their own deals on the same days as well.
A highlight from last year’s Prime Day, for example, were the discounts available on the Dell XPS 13 through Dell’s own website. Here are a couple of worthwhile Windows laptop deals available on Amazon right now.
Flex 5 (14-inch 2-in-1 with AMD Ryzen 5) (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Gram (Intel 10th Gen Core i5, 8GB) (medium, Preferred: Amazon)
The best Amazon deals on Chromebooks
Chromebooks are already known for their affordability, and they’re usually available for even less on Prime Day. Our favorite Chromebook, the Pixelbook Go, was available at a discount last year, as well as Chromebooks from HP and Lenovo. Those who just want a basic laptop for using the Internet and Google’s services should keep an eye out on Prime Day.
Chromebook Flip C434 (medium, Preferred: Amazon)
The best deals on gaming laptops
Gaming laptops are almost always more expensive than regular laptops, which is why you should always try to find them at a discount when possible. Our favorite gaming laptop, the Razer Blade 15, was on sale last Prime Day, alongside other gaming laptops from MSI and Asus. We’ll be looking out for similar deals this year.
Amazon is already touting deals on the Razer Blade 15 Advanced on its early deals page. But these discounts aren’t very significant and only amount to about $35 off the regular price, so we’d recommend waiting to see if better deals surface.
Dell’s XPS 13 2-in-1 is our pick for best hybrid laptop for its excellent design and performance.
But there are also cheaper options we love, like Lenovo’s IdeaPad Flex 5.
Check out our guide to the best tablets for more touchscreen computer buying advice.
There are two main types of 2-in-1 laptops – detachables and convertibles. Detachable devices allow you to remove the screen from your laptop’s keyboard so that you can use it as a tablet separately. Convertibles, meanwhile, have a flexible hinge that allows you to bend the display backward and flip it around so that it can be used in different modes as a single device.
Shopping for a 2-in-1 is a lot like picking out a regular laptop. That means taking factors like the operating system (OS), processor (CPU), memory (RAM), overall size, and display quality into account.
But since 2-in-1 laptops are ideal for creatives thanks to their flexible designs, you’ll also want to consider whether they have any extra features that may be beneficial for your workflow. Some 2-in-1 laptops, for example, come with styluses for sketching or different screen ratios for watching movies.
Here’s a look at the best 2-in-1 laptops you can buy based on our testing and research.
The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 offers a beautiful design, plus it’s powerful, and the display can fully rotate around the body for 2-in-1 use.
Pros: Excellent compact design, attractive screen with slim borders, good performance
Cons: Not much port selection
Dell’s XPS 13 is still our favorite laptop, and thankfully it comes in a 2-in-1 configuration, too. Like the standard notebook version, the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 offers the right combination of stunning design and powerful performance to make it the best choice for most people.
Let’s start with the design. The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is a convertible 2-in-1, meaning you can rotate the display to use it in tablet mode. You can also stand the device up in tent mode, which is perfect for tasks like watching movies on planes, or using the touchscreen without having to physically hold the device.
The Dell XPS 13 has a high quality 13.4 inch- screen with a 1,900 x 1,200 resolution. The laptop is thin, too — it’s only 0.56 inches thick, meaning that it’s easy to slide into a bag.
Of course, it’s what’s under the hood that makes this device among the best. The base model offers an Intel Core i3 processor with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB solid-state drive (SSD).
But, it can also be upgraded to offer up to an 11th-generation Intel Core i7 chip with 32GB of RAM and a hefty 1TB SSD. In other words, while the device isn’t necessarily the best gaming or video editing machine, thanks to the lack of discrete graphics card, it will easily handle heavy multitasking and productivity apps.
Dell has scaled the port selection down a little for the XPS 13 2-in-1 series, and you’ll get two Thunderbolt 4 ports, a headphone jack, and a microSD card slot. That’s not a huge selection, but it should be enough for most basic use cases.
The best detachable 2-in-1 laptop
The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is sleek and portable with excellent performance for on-the-go use — making it still the most premium 2-in-1 tablet to date.
The Microsoft Surface Pro series has been a go-to for Windows fans for years now. Now on its seventh generation, the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is the most powerful in the series yet, offering a very portable design, and a detachable build. That means that you fully use it as a tablet, if you so choose.
The Surface Pro 7 is built for versatility. It comes with a high-end keyboard cover and offers a great typing experience. But when you want to use it in tablet mode, simply detach the main body of the device and you’re good to go. The base model isn’t necessarily the most powerful device out there, but it’s not bad, with its 10th-gen Intel Core i3, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage.
But it can be updated all the way to a 10th-gen Intel Core i7 with 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. In other words, it’s a productivity machine, and will work great for everything except the most demanding gaming and video editing.
This device is built for ultra portability, and as such its thin build doesn’t allow for tons of ports. But, it’s not bad in that respect either, offering a USB-C port, a USB-A port, a headphone jack, a MicroSD card slot, and the Microsoft Connect port for charging.
Most reviewers love the Surface Pro 7. PCMag gave the device an impressive 4/5, while The Verge scored it an equivalent 8/10. The main downsides are that the ports are a little dated, considering they’re not Thunderbolt 3, and that the design is aging a little compared to the Surface Pro X.
The best 15-inch 2-in-1 laptop
If you want a big-screen experience with ultra powerful specs, the Microsoft Surface Book 3 is absolutely the way to go.
Pros: Very powerful, beautiful big screen, excellent keyboard
Cons: Expensive, aging design
Like the big-screen experience but still want a powerful 2-in-1? The Microsoft Surface Book 3 is a workhorse that continues to remain so in tablet mode — after you fully detach the display from the keyboard.
The design of the Surface Book 3 is pretty groundbreaking. It has a hinge design that allows the device to fold like a laptop, while still detaching from the main body with the press of a button. Then, you can use the device as a nice big tablet.
Like Microsoft’s other Surface devices, the Surface Book 3 has an elegant metal build that gives it a premium feel. The keyboard and touchpad are also top notch; the keys provide the perfect amount of feedback to make typing a breeze, and the trackpad is super responsive without being overly sensitive.
The display on the Surface Book 3 is also pretty stunning. It has a 3,240 x 2,160 resolution, at least on the 15-inch model. That’s not bad at all.
Even better is what’s under the hood. The 15-inch model has a 10th-gen Intel Core i7 processor, with either 16GB or 32GB of RAM and between 256GB and up to 2TB of storage. And, it has an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660Ti graphics card, so you can use the device for gaming and video editing if you so choose.
The downside is that it’s pricey since the 15-inch model starts at $2,299.99, although that’s not unheard of for a high-end laptop of this size. The 15-inch display can also feel a bit unwieldy to use in tablet mode.
The best 2-in-1 Chromebook
The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is more than powerful enough to handle Google’s lightweight ChromeOS, plus it has a beautiful display and plenty of ports.
Pros: Great performance, good selection of ports, great display, inexpensive
Cons: Speakers aren’t the best
If you’re looking for a 2-in-1 that’s plugged into Google’s ecosystem, then the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is the Chromebook to beat. The device isn’t the most stylish out there, but it is pretty powerful, has a decent keyboard, and works great with Google’s cloud-based services.
The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is a convertible 2-in-1, so the display can be folded back over the keyboard for use in tablet mode. Acer just announced a new version of the Spin 713 launching in June 2021 that comes with 11th-generation Intel processors, a screen with 18% more vertical screen space, the option for a fingerprint reader, and Thunderbolt 4 support.
Acer clearly had remote work use cases in mind with this update, considering these upgrades boost security and make it easier to use the Spin 13 with external displays.
Google’s ChromeOS isn’t known for needing high-end specs, but as far as Chromebooks go, the specs on offer by the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 aren’t bad at all. The previous-generation version I’ve tested came with a 10th-generation Intel Core i3 or Core i5 processor, with 8GB or 16GB of RAM and either 128GB or 256GB of storage.
One of the best features of the device is the display — which offers vibrant colors and a 2,256 x 1,504 resolution. It also has a taller 3:2 aspect ratio that makes it great for reading and watching movies.
I’ve been using the older Acer Chromebook Spin 713 sporadically for work and personal use, and I’ve been impressed with its spacious and vibrant display and solid battery life.
The speakers can sound a little shallow since they’re located on the bottom of the notebook, meaning they’re usually covered while in use. But otherwise, the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is a solid laptop.
The best budget 2-in-1 laptop
Lenovo’s IdeaPad Flex 5 packages reliable performance and useful features into an affordable machine that’s a joy to use.
Pros: Great price, excellent keyboard and trackpad, decent performance
Cons: Fans can get noisy
If you’re looking for an affordable yet reliable laptop that can double as a tablet, the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex is tough to beat. For hundreds of dollars below the $1,000 threshold, you’re getting a recent processor that has plenty of power, a spacious touchscreen, and 128GB of storage.
The 15.6-inch version of Lenovo’s IdeaPad Flex 5 is currently on sale for $479.99, down from its usual price of $579.99, which makes it an even more compelling reason to name it our best budget pick. That configuration comes with a 10th-generation Intel Core i3 processor — which is just one generation behind Intel’s current chips — a 1080p touchscreen, and 4GB of RAM.
Those aren’t top-of-the-line specifications, but they’re more than enough for anyone that spends most of their time on laptops browsing the web, writing emails, streaming Netflix, taking notes, and managing spreadsheets. There’s also a physical webcam shutter to block your camera when it’s not in use.
The configuration I’ve been testing runs on an AMD Ryzen 5 processor and includes 16GB of RAM, a smaller 14-inch screen, and a digital stylus. That configuration costs a bit more at $629.99, but it might be worth it for those who want more performance at a reasonable price.
Other than the excellent value, the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 stands out for its comfortable keyboard and smooth trackpad, which are consistent no matter what configuration you go with. But don’t push it too hard: the fans can get a little noisy if you have too many tabs open.
Essential buying advice for new laptop buyers
With so much choice out there, choosing the best laptop for your needs has become an involved process. Other than deciding whether a convertible or detachable design is the right choice for your workflow, here are other important factors to consider.
A laptop’s operating system (OS) is the interface through which you access everything in the computer, from work apps to games and more. The most popular laptop OS is Windows 10, which is found in hundreds of different laptops from Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and more. It’s a widely adaptable OS and most supported by third-party app makers.
Apple’s macOS is exclusive to Mac laptops and desktops, and is the most compatible with Apple’s other products like iPhones. Finally, all Chromebooks run Chrome OS, Google’s Chrome browser-focused OS that works best when connected to the internet and integrates deeply with Google services like Google Drive and Gmail.
The internal hardware that powers a laptop is considered the “specs,” and will dictate how effective your laptop is at various tasks. The processor (CPU) and memory (RAM) impact the laptop’s raw power and multitasking capacity, respectively. The storage (hard disk drive or HDD, or solid-state drive or SSD) will determine how much space for files the laptop has.
The graphics processor (GPU) dictates how effective the laptop is at rendering video and 3D visuals for games. Many laptops, particularly in the low-to-midrange, utilize what’s called internal graphics, which shares RAM with the CPU rather than a dedicated GPU.
The laptop’s display sharpness is determined by pixel density, with 1080p (or Full HD) being the generally desirable target. Finally, all of these factors contribute to the laptop’s battery life, with eight hours generally being the minimum acceptable number — unless it’s a gaming laptop.
Another thing you’ll want to think about is how big the laptop is. A smaller laptop will ultimately be more portable, but a larger one will have a larger display, which is better for watching movies, photo editing, video production, and playing games. Common sizes for laptops are 13 inches and 15 inches, though 11 inches and 17 inches also appear every now and then.
Other 2-in-1 laptops we look forward to testing
Laptop makers launch new models throughout the year, and the 2-in-1 notebooks below are at the top of our list to test next. Intel also just announced two new additions to its family of 11th generation processors with faster clock speeds of up to 5GHz. That means we’re expecting to see new thin and light devices in the coming months, many of which will likely be 2-in-1s.
Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360: Samsung’s Galaxy Book Pro 360 seems like it has the potential to be the laptop of choice for Samsung phone owners that prioritize screen quality in a laptop. Samsung’s new convertible laptop comes with an AMOLED screen similar to the one on many of its popular smartphones, Intel’s 11th-generation Core i7 processors, and comes with Samsung’s S Pen. It also has features like background noise removal for those who often take conference calls on their laptop while working remotely.
Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2: Samsung aimed to make a premium Chromebook with its original Galaxy Chromebook, but its high price ultimately hampered its appeal. Now, Samsung has launched a more affordable $549.99 sequel known as the Galaxy Chromebook 2, which comes in an eye-catching red color, features a 13.-3-inch QLED screen, and runs on an Intel Core i3 or Intel Celeron processor. It looks like a potentially compelling choice for those who want a stylish yet affordable Chromebook.
Thinking about buying a new MacBook? It’s probably in your best interest to hold off.
Unless you’re in immediate need of a new laptop, there are a few reasons why it’s a good idea to wait before purchasing a new Apple laptop. For one, Apple is expected to announce redesigned MacBook Pro models in the coming months that will come with more powerful processors among other improvements, according to Bloomberg.
Even if you’re eyeballing a MacBook Air or are fine with the current generation MacBook Pro, there are a few reasons why it’s worth waiting.
New MacBook Pros may be coming soon.
The biggest reason to wait on upgrading is simply because newer MacBook Pro laptops may be launching in the coming months.
Here’s a look at what’s in Apple’s pipeline according to Bloomberg.
New high-end MacBook Pro (14-inch and 16-inch): Redesigned versions of the MacBook Pro with faster new chips, more ports, and MagSafe charging could debut as early as the summer, the report says. These new MacBook Pros would come in 14-inch and 16-inch variants, making it the first time since 2019 that Apple has introduced a new size option and updated its larger-sized MacBook Pro. The new Apple processor in these laptops is also expected to bring noteworthy gains in performance. The upgraded processor will reportedly come with a new 10-core design with the option for 16 or 32 graphics cores, the report says. That’s compared to today’s Apple M1, which includes eight computing cores and eight graphics cores.
New MacBook Air: The MacBook Air could get an upgrade toward the end of 2021, according to Bloomberg. This laptop will reportedly come with a different new Apple processor that’s meant to be a direct successor to the M1. It’s also said to come with a refreshed design that’s likely similar to the new look we’re expecting to see on the updated MacBook Pro.
New MacBook Pro (13-inch): There’s also another smaller new MacBook Pro in the works that will be powered by the same processor as the MacBook Air, says Bloomberg. It’s unclear when this model could launch.
There might be deals on Amazon Prime Day.
Amazon’s Prime Day sale is expected to kick off soon, and that usually means big discounts on electronics — including Apple’s MacBooks.
Last year, for example, the early 2020 MacBook Air was available at a $150 discount on Amazon Prime Day. So, even if you’re content with buying a current generation MacBook rather than waiting for the next update, it’s still best to hold off and see what deals might be available.
Amazon hasn’t announced when Prime Day will take place in 2021, but it’s expected to happen sometime in June. Prime Day typically happens in July, with 2020 (and now possibly 2021) being the exception.
Back-to-school season usually means laptop sales, too.
Apple offers discounted pricing for students and teachers year-round, but it usually runs a special back-to-school promotion in the summer.
Product pricing doesn’t usually change, but Apple will typically throw in a free pair of headphones with your Mac purchase during the promotional period. For last year’s promotion, which started in mid-June, Apple threw in a free pair of AirPods with a Mac purchase for qualifying customers.
Although it’s not technically a new discount, waiting a bit longer before upgrading your Mac could mean you’ll get freebies that wouldn’t otherwise be available if you’re a student.
Regardless, other retailers like Best Buy typically offer back-to-school discounts on laptops over the summer, so it’s worth waiting to see if any MacBooks go on sale.
Whether it’s for a trip to school, the office, or the coffee shop, a good laptop bag is an essential computer accessory.
A laptop bag’s most important job is to protect the device it’s carrying, so it should be able to withstand some impact. But a good bag should also fit everything you need while looking stylish enough to make you want to carry it everywhere.
We’ve spent months testing laptop bags to find the best ones. We’ve chosen options for just about every shape, style and budget – from classic briefcase style to luxurious totes and everything in between.
The Lo and Sons O.G. 2 is fashionable, spacious, and versatile, offering the best blend of protection and style.
If you are looking for a bag that oozes sophistication, the Lo and Sons O.G. 2 fits the bill. The premium materials and thoughtful design make it feel as luxurious as it is practical and protective, which is why it’s our top pick. It starts at $378 and comes in black, caramel, and gray.
The nylon exterior is light, smooth, and water resistant, while the leather on the handles and trim feels sturdy yet sleek. The O.G. 2 has two large compartments – one exclusively for a laptop, and one main compartment with several interior pouches that could easily fit an iPad and other personal belongings.
A pocket on the bag’s back also opens up at the bottom to function as a pass-through luggage slip, which is a great perk for frequent travelers.
There’s also a dedicated shoe pouch – a unique feature for laptop bags – located in an exterior zipper pocket on the main compartment’s side. However, this pouch must be unrolled from the main compartment, which can look a bit awkward and isn’t very consistent with the bag’s generally sleek design.
The O.G. 2 comes in medium and large – though the laptop pocket is the same size on both bags.
The thickly-padded dedicated laptop pocket with spill resistant zippers makes this the most protective bag out of the ones we’ve tested. Its high-quality material, spacious interior, and beautiful, classic design help to cement its place as our best overall laptop bag.
The O.G. 2 Overnight Bag (button)
The best laptop bag for versatility
Go Dash Dot’s Puffle is a new take on the classic duffle in the style of what has become one of handbag world’s biggest trends: oversized pillow bags. The $218 Puffle has a fun and distinct look, but its versatility is what makes it a standout choice for those seeking laptop protection in a large everyday carryall.
In fact, you could call the Puffle two bags in one. That’s because one of the bag’s main features is its small removable pouch that snaps to the back of its main compartment. You can even connect the included cross-body strap to the pouch to create a mini purse, or even slip a belt through the rear loops to fashion it into a fanny pack.
The Puffle’s main compartment also includes a padded, Velcro-secured 13-inch laptop sleeve as well as plenty of unstructured space to fit clothes and other belongings. The bag also sports exterior water bottle holders, a phone pouch, and another zipper pocket.
Like the O.G. 2, the Puffle also comes with a dedicated shoe compartment, but this one is zipper-protected and located near the bottom of the bag. It’s spacious enough to fit small boots and can also be accessed by opening the bag’s main compartment. This can be useful if you need more space in the main pouch, and the design is generally more functional and seamless than that of the O.G. 2.
It comes in Black, Denim, Iridescent, and Mint Chip, and is even machine washable, making it a great choice for those looking for an all-in-one laptop bag and purse solution.
The Puffle (button)
The best laptop bag for storage
Messenger bags aren’t for everyone. But those who love them will surely adore the Bellroy Systems Messenger Bag‘s clever construction. At $199, it’s not the priciest bag on this list but certainly skews toward the premium end.
The large main pocket is closed through a unique fold-over design that uses magnets to clasp the top of the bag shut while a G-hook clasp folds it over and keeps it secure. This looks like it could be complicated to use, but it’s actually surprisingly intuitive while also offering protection against the elements.
Inside, the bag boasts a padded laptop sleeve that can fit a 16-inch laptop, a smaller fabric divider capable of fitting an iPad, two collapsible side pockets for a water bottle or individual shoes, as well as small mesh zipper pockets for accessories.
There is also a large zipper pocket on the rear of the bag that can be used for extra storage, or opened to function as a luggage pass-through.
The bag is large and can get heavy when full, which might make it difficult for some to carry, especially those who already struggle with cross-body styles. However, the padded removable shoulder strap does ease some of the pressure, and we like that the weather-resistant nylon has a rugged feel to it.
Ultimately, the Bellroy System Messenger Bag is a well-made and a great choice for fans of the messenger style. It’s large enough to fit just about anything you might want to carry, and comes in Basalt and Black color options. Another bonus: it comes with a three-year warranty.
System Messenger Bag (button)
The best laptop bag for style
If style is your top priority in a laptop bag, look no further than the Dagne Dover Signature Tote, which starts at $245. This bag is made out of colorful coated canvas and features a leather trim with handles that easily drop out of the way when you don’t need them.
This classic tote only has one large compartment that is secured by a zipper. Unfortunately, the zipper only seals the middle portion of the bag, leaving the ends exposed. This allows for easy access, but I prefer to have my belongings completely secured.
The tote features a 13-inch laptop sleeve in the Classic model, and a 15-inch laptop sleeve in the Legend model. Both are secured by a thick strap with a strong magnetic closure. There are also dedicated interior pouches for pens and a phone, along with smaller pouches for other accessories as well as an interior zipper pocket. I found the detachable neoprene water bottle holder particularly useful as it prevented my beverage from sweating through to the other contents of the bag.
The Signature Tote comes in Onyx, Bleecker Blush, Ash Blue, and Graphite, along with seasonal colors that are a bit more fun, such as Pinkish, Lime, and Pomelo. The Classic size costs $245, while the slightly bigger Legend costs $265.
There are certainly plenty of good laptop totes out there, but few can match Dagne Dover’s wide variety of fun colors. If you’re looking for a bag full of style and are willing to pay extra for it, then the Dagne Dover Signature Tote is the right pick.
Signature Tote (Legend) (button)
The best laptop bag on a budget
Sometimes the best bag is the one that gets the job done with the least amount of fuss. That logic applies to the $52.99 Targus 14-inch Cypress Slim Case, which is designed for holding your laptop and not much else.
Despite the bag’s simplicity, it offers a decent amount of storage. I’m able to squeeze a computer, an iPad with a slim keyboard, and a book in the main compartment, while all of the power cords fit in the front pocket. It’s tight, but it works.
It has one main compartment with a laptop sleeve, as well as a smaller front pocket with an organization panel for pens and other accessories. The back has a Velcro-secured luggage strap, and the bag also comes with a removable padded shoulder strap. That’s about it.
The bag comes in gray with black accents and is attractive but not particularly stylish. The environmentally-friendly design is made of a woven plastic that’s constructed from 12 recycled water bottles. The fabric doesn’t feel plasticky at all; instead, it seems soft yet durable to the touch. The bag is thoroughly padded, adding a good level of protection from drops and spills.
All told, the 14-inch Cyprus Slim Case with EcoSmart offers a tremendous amount of value for those seeking an affordable yet protective laptop bag. The style might be too utilitarian for some, but there is little doubt that this bag fulfills its intended purpose exceptionally well.
14-inch Cypress Slim Case with EcoSmart (button)
The best laptop bag for value
At $102.99, Targus’ tote looks and feels as elegant as bags more than twice this price.
Sure, the Newport East-West Tote lacks the genuine leather finishes of more premium bags, and the gold zippers don’t look as expensive as those on other models. But the build quality and overall appearance hold up nicely to the competition, making it an excellent value.
The tote is made of a black weather-resistant nylon material and features leatherette accents. The interior laptop sleeve can fit a 15-inch computer and is fastened by a Velcro strap.
The main compartment also has an organizational panel of pouches for pens and other accessories, and an interior zipper pocket. On the back, you’ll find a luggage strap along with a side-opening zipper pouch, while the front has another zipper pocket for easy access to your phone.
The bag is spacious, well organized, and protective. The well-padded laptop sleeve is so deep that it runs the full length of the bag to keep your computer thoroughly out of sight. Overall, this bag has more storage and a more fashion-friendly design than our budget pick, which might make it worth the extra money depending on your priorities.
Unfortunately, this tote has one major flaw: the interior fabric is a loud Hunter Orange and is only available in that color. This black and orange combination results in an unintended Halloween vibe that can certainly make the overall product unappealing to some.
But for those who like to rock Halloween year-round — or don’t mind the interior color — this bag offers all the storage and protection you need at a reasonable price.
15-inch Newport East-West Tote (button)
Other women’s laptop bags we considered
Dagne Dover Ryan Laptop Bag: We love Dagne Dover bags, and the Ryan Laptop Bag is no different. This neoprene bag comes in lots of fun colors, has lots of pockets, and is thoroughly protective. Ultimately, we found the $135 price for a 13-inch bag and $155 for a 15-inch bag to be a little too expensive for a bag that could barely fit a laptop, iPad, book and accessories.
Dagne Dover Weston Laptop Bag: The Weston is similar to the Ryan, but only comes in one size and offers fewer color options. Like the Ryan, it is made of neoprene and has lots of organized space for your belongings. The slightly rounder shape of the Weston gave it a little more room to store stuff, but the bag didn’t hold its shape well when carried — it sagged unattractively in the middle. Like the Ryan, the Weston is also priced at $135.
Targus 15.6-inch Cypress Briefcase with EcoSmart: This bag is a larger version of the slim case listed earlier. It features two large main compartments as well as a front pocket, and is big enough to fit just about anything work-related you can throw at it. This bag is made out of 20 recycled plastic bottles and comes with a padded shoulder strap for crossbody carrying. Even so, the bag can get too heavy to carry comfortably when it is full, while its $72.99 price tag seems a little steep for its utilitarian design.
Targus 15.6-inch Cypress Convertible Backpack with EcoSmart: Targus took its 15.6-inch briefcase and added removable backpack straps to create a versatile bag that can be carried three different ways. The nicely padded backpack straps can easily be unclipped and tucked away in their own zipper compartment for easy storage. The bag comes with another strap, so it can be worn crossbody, as a backpack, or held like a briefcase. The versatility of the design means that the bag doesn’t look particularly stylish when worn in every position. This is particularly true in backpack mode where it looks like you have a briefcase on your back, not a normal backpack. The bag costs $89.99 and is available in black and gray.
Lo and Sons Seville Tote: This luxurious leather tote offers one main compartment with a padded laptop sleeve secured by a leather-button strap, and plenty of interior storage. The exterior shell is interchangeable and comes with a nylon travel shell that is lightweight, water-resistant, and has a luggage sleeve. The Seville Tote is expensive — it starts at $346.80 — and lacks exterior pockets, which means there isn’t a spot for quick access to your phone and other essentials. This is a real drawback at this price, though the bag still has a lot to offer those looking for a premium tote.
Apple’s iPad Pro has always seemed like an alternative to the laptop. After all, it has a laptop-sized screen, it’s designed to work best with a keyboard, and it now supports trackpad input.
But the company took that idea a step further on Tuesday with the introduction of its newest iPad Pro. The updated model comes with Apple’s powerful M1 chip – the same processor that drives its latest MacBook laptops – new mini-LED display technology with improved brightness and contrast on the larger model, 5G support, and Thunderbolt connectivity.
The announcement served as yet another sign that the iPad Pro is indeed Apple’s answer to the 2-in-1 Windows laptops that have dominated the PC industry over the last decade. It reinforces the idea that we’ll probably never see a touchscreen Mac, because that’s exactly what the iPad Pro has become.
The iPad Pro is following a similar path as new Windows laptops
Many of the upgrades we’ve been seeing on Windows laptops in recent months are also present on the new iPad Pro. These include better microphones and cameras for conference calls, thinner and lighter designs that run on processors based on the same basic architecture as those in our phones, and 5G integration.
Just look back to some of the most interesting laptop announcements from this year’s CES conference for evidence. Lenovo’s new IdeaPad 5G laptop, for example, comes with 5G and runs on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx processor. That chip is built on the ARM architecture that’s commonly found in the processors that power smartphones and tablets, similar to Apple’s M1 chip.
HP’s Elite Dragonfly Max, meanwhile, comes with a 5-megapixel camera and four wide-range microphones that use artificial intelligence to optimize audio – an upgrade that was clearly intended for the work-from-home era.
Apple now has its own take on how to improve video conferencing as it relates to the iPad Pro. The tablet comes with a new feature called Center Stage, which leverages the iPad Pro’s new wide-angle front camera and machine learning to automatically keep you in the shot as you move. Since it runs on M1, it also uses Apple’s image signal processor, which greatly improves color and brightness as I found when reviewing the MacBook Air.
Of course, some of the additions on the newest model address the iPad Pro’s shortcomings when compared to laptops. The 2021 model comes with Thunderbolt support, for example, which enables support for more powerful accessories like faster storage devices.
And now that the iPad Pro runs on M1, there’s a chance that app compatibility between Mac and iPad will become easier to manage since they’re powered by the same chip architecture.
The iPad Pro is Apple’s vision for the future of computing
It’s unclear whether the iPad Pro has been a hit for Apple in terms of sales because the company doesn’t specify those details in its earnings reports. But what has become clear is that the iPad Pro is Apple’s vision for the future of the personal computer, despite the fact that it’s not technically a laptop.
It’s the iPad Pro, not the MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, that includes new sensors like Apple’s Lidar scanner, a new 12.9-inch display that’s brighter and packs in more pixels per inch, and features such as Center Stage. The MacBook Air and MacBook Pro were among the first computers to launch with Apple’s M1 chip, but the iPad Pro feels like the first computer that was really designed to take advantage of it.
The MacBook Air and Pro are excellent laptops, but they feel antiquated in some respects. Unlike modern Windows machines, they lack qualities like flexibility, touchscreens, nearly borderless displays, and facial recognition technology, just to name a few. The iPad Pro, however, has all of those features and more.
I don’t know that most people will be willing to give up their MacBooks for an iPad Pro just yet. And Apple doesn’t want you to; it’s clearly very invested in its Mac lineup. But I do think the iPad Pro is the device to keep an eye on if you really want to understand Apple’s perspective as it relates to the future of computing.
Microsoft Family Safety is more or less just what the name implies: It’s Microsoft’s family safety and parental controls app that you can use to manage your kid’s screen time and device usage.
To use the service, you need to install the Microsoft Family Safety app on each mobile device you want to manage, and every family member you want to track needs a Microsoft account.
What to know about Microsoft Family Safety
Once configured, Microsoft Family Safety monitors the screen time and time spent with specific games and apps on phones, tablets, and Xbox. Parents can do more than just monitor usage as well: You can turn on screen time limits and schedules, and filter specific apps and web browsing. The app also tracks locations using mobile device GPS, so you can see where your family members are.
Most of these features are free, though some premium features are only available if you have a subscription to Microsoft 365 Family, most notably location alerts and drive safety features.
How to get started with Microsoft Family Safety
To use Microsoft Family Safety, you’ll need to install the app on each of your family member’s devices. You can install Microsoft Family Safety for Android or for iOS. Start by installing it on your mobile device as a parent and sign in to your Microsoft account.
Unless you’ve already created a family group, you’ll initially be the only member of your family. Tap “Add a family member” and enter their email address associated with their Microsoft account. If your child doesn’t yet have a Microsoft account, tap “Create a child account” and follow the instructions to create one for them. They will get an invitation to join your family group; if needed, help them accept the invitation and get started with Family Safety.
Be sure to install the Microsoft Family Safety app on each of your kids’ devices, signing them into their own Microsoft accounts.
Using the map and tracking your family’s location
Microsoft Family Safety displays the location of your family members on a map, as long as you’ve enabled that feature in Settings.
To see the map, start Microsoft Family Safety and tap “Map” at the top of the screen. You should see pins for each family member.
If you want to, you can add saved locations to the map, which Microsoft calls “places.” When someone goes to that location, you’ll see it displayed on the family member’s card on the home page, so you can tell at a glance where they are.
Secure Boot is a feature found in the startup software for your computer that’s designed to ensure your computer starts safely and securely by preventing unauthorized software like malware from taking control of your PC at boot-up.
If you’re using Windows 10 and a modern PC with UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface, the low-level software that enables your computer to boot), then you’re automatically afforded protection from illicit software attempting to take control of your computer when it starts up.
How Secure Boot works
Before Secure Boot, the computer’s BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) would hand off control of the PC to any bootloader that was located in the right location on the hard drive. There was no way for the BIOS to validate or authenticate the software, so anything could boot the PC – Windows, other operating systems like Linux, and even malware.
That’s no longer the case. Secure Boot is a feature in UEFI, which has replaced the BIOS on the vast majority of PCs in use today. While the BIOS was commonly used in computers from the first PC until the 2000s, today virtually all PCs use UEFI. You may have seen the UEFI interface if you had to access the startup menu by pressing a keyboard shortcut (usually F1 or F2) when the computer is first turned on.
Secure Boot establishes what programmers refer to as a “trust relationship” between the UEFI and the operating system that it launches at boot time. To do this, the launch software is signed with pairs of public/private security keys. The operating system’s private key is “whitelisted” by UEFI. If UEFI has approved the key, the software (like Windows 10) can launch.
Windows 10 ships with a certificate that’s stored in UEFI; this serves as the key that allows it to boot. Likewise, other reputable operating systems (like Linux) can also acquire a key and register with UEFI, allowing them to boot securely as well.
Conversely, if malware tries to install a bootloader on your PC to take over at startup, it will not have a signed key, and UEFI will not allow it to launch.
There’s a lot to consider when shopping for a new laptop, but making sure you’re buying at the right time can make a difference.
A laptop should generally last between three and five years, depending on your usage and the quality of the product. Many laptops come with a one-year warranty, while other companies offer additional years of coverage with paid plans. Of course, these laptops should continue to work even after the warranties expire, especially if they are well protected and treated properly.
Our team has years of experience covering and researching laptops and has figured out the best times to get great deals. Below, we break down the best times to shop for a laptop and what to look for when choosing one.
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
The end of July through the middle of August is one of the best time periods of the year for laptop deals. Students of all ages are getting ready to go back to school, and this is the time when retailers try their best to cater to their needs.
Outlets like Staples, B&H, and Best Buy have online and in-store back-to-school deals, while Amazon —as well as individual manufacturers such as HP and Lenovo — have discounts on their websites.
Apple also jumps into the fray during this time of year, usually offering to throw in a free pair of headphones or Airpods with a qualifying student purchase. However, Apple does not tend to lower their already-discounted student pricing, instead opting to entice buyers with their extra offerings.
This means that it is sometimes possible to find more heavily discounted Apple laptops at other retailers, especially if you are willing to look at the previous years’ model.
Apple’s refurbished store also offers compelling discounts on older and sometimes even recent MacBook models. Check out some of the best deals in Apple’s refurbished store here.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday
The holiday shopping season is a great time to get deals on lots of different tech products, and laptops are no exception.
Retailers offer deals throughout this period and compete with each other to get the most sales. This means that they often adjust pricing on-the-fly to respond in realtime to competitors. Some stores also offer a price match guarantee, which means they will match the price of a competitor that’s selling the product for less.
Price tracking browser extensions like Honey and CamelCamelCamel can be especially useful during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. These sites can track a product’s price history on Amazon so that you can see if a deal is really as good as it claims to be.
Those looking for a deal on a particular laptop model can try to avoid the time crunch and stock issues associated with holiday deals by setting an alert or keeping a browser page open to make sure you know exactly when the product goes on sale.
Amazon Prime Day
The Prime Day shopping event is full of deep discounts on the vast array of products available on Amazon, including laptops and other tech devices.
Amazon usually announces the date of Prime Day only a few weeks before the event, though it has historically been held during the second week of July. Last year’s Prime Day occured in October and was an exception. Its usual placement in July makes it a great time to kick off some of the back-to-school deals that otherwise arrive a little later in the month.
Once again, this is a great time to use a price tracker to make sure the deals you are seeing actually represent a big discount. It’s a good idea to check out the pricing of laptops during Prime Day even if you are not planning to immediately jump on a deal, as they can give you an idea of what to expect during the imminent back-to-school rush.
The laptop release cycle
When shopping for a laptop, it’s also helpful to have a sense of when new models are released. Many manufacturers like Lenovo, HP, Acer, and Dell debut new laptops at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in early January.
These new releases typically start to hit the retail shelves by February through April, which means that there are some steep discounts on the previous year’s models. The Computex show in June is another time of year when laptop makers like Asus and MSI unveil new devices.
Apple, Microsoft, and Google don’t typically announce major products at these trade shows and instead hold their own events to reveal new laptops.
Apple’s MacBook launch cycle varies greatly from year to year. But in recent years, it’s launched laptops in the spring, summer, and fall. during March and May, the summer in July, and the fall in October and November. Microsoft and Google tend to announce new products, including their respective Surface and Pixelbook laptops, in October.
Buying a laptop around the time that new ones are announced has its pros and cons. For those who don’t need the latest and greatest tech, it can be a great time to score discounts on older models as retailers clear out inventory to account for new releases.
But at the same time, it’s best to at least wait to learn more about what the newest model has to offer so that you can make a more informed buying decision.
How to buy a laptop
Choosing the right laptop often depends on individual needs. Here are some aspects to keep in mind when picking your next computer.
Operating System: A laptop’s operating system (OS) is its interface and software platform.. The most popular operating system is Microsoft Windows 10, which is found on essentially any new laptop that isn’t a MacBook or a Chromebook.
Apple’s computers run on its macOS software, which allows for tighter integration across other Apple products and services.
Chrome OS is the newest operating system on the market, but it’s already extremely popular. Chrome OS is a minimal operating system designed to work best with an internet connection. And of course, since it’s Google’s software, it comes with all of the search giant’s popular apps like Gmail and Google Docs built in.
Chrome OS loses a lot of its appeal without an internet connection, but you can download files for offline use and install apps from the Google Play Store.
Specs: The internal hardware of the laptop is often called the “specs” of the computer and will dictate how well the device performs various tasks. The processor (CPU) dictates the raw power of the device, while the memory (RAM) allows the computer to complete multiple tasks at once.
A graphics card (GPU) allows the computer to effectively render video and 3-D graphics. Many computers have an integrated GPU, which shares RAM with the overall system. Dedicated graphics cards come with their own RAM, which adds to the computer’s ability to process complex tasks.
Displays are measured in pixel density, with full 1080p being the standard. Some laptops offer 4K displays for even more clarity, while others offer brighter screens and enhanced color accuracy.
All of the components of the computer work together to determine the laptop’s battery life. For example, a dedicated graphics card needs more power than an integrated one, and a 4K display will also draw more power than a 1080p screen.
Both of these features could result in lower overall battery life. But it’s not just the hardware alone; battery life is all about how efficiently the system can handle the way everything works together. In general, it’s a good idea to look for a laptop that offers at least a full 8-hours on a single charge.
Size: Laptop sizes are determined by measuring the screen diagonally. These days, most laptops come in 13-inch and 15-inch varieties, though you might be able to find a 17-inch model once in a while. Laptops with 13-inch screens are usually considered to be the most portable, but they sometimes lack the power of bigger models.
It’s no secret that smartphones have assumed some of the duties of our laptops over the past decade. And in turn, laptops have increasingly evolved to become more like the devices we carry in our pockets.
While laptops have had smartphone-like features such as touchscreens and cellular connectivity for years, 2021 feels like another big step in that direction, both in terms of software and hardware. The latest evidence came this week on March 9, when Google announced a slew of new features for the software that powers Chromebook laptops.
One of the biggest new additions is a feature called Phone Hub, which as its name suggests makes it easier to keep track of your Android phone directly from your laptop. You can locate your phone, view and respond to text messages, and check your Android device’s battery life, all on your Chromebook.
It’s far from being the first tool designed to help you manage your phone through your laptop. Microsoft offers an app for connecting Android phones to Windows 10 PCs, and Apple’s macOS platform has long offered interoperable features designed to work nicely with the iPhone, such as Handoff.
But the fact that phone-centric features like this new hub are the centerpiece of Google’s latest Chrome update says a lot about how major tech firms are thinking about the direction in which laptops are headed. This, along with other recent industry developments, indicates that the future of the laptop is all about making notebooks either behave more like our smartphones or get better at connecting us to our phones.
Take the new laptops announced at the annual CES tech show in January, for example. Support for 5G connectivity was seemingly in nearly every laptop, including new models from Lenovo and HP among others.
Laptops with cellular support have been around for nearly 10 years, but it hasn’t really been a major selling point since Wi-Fi networks are so prevalent and it’s easy to just use your phone as a hotspot. But in 2021, laptop makers are clearly preparing for a future in which that might change, especially now that many people may be working outside of a traditional office setting permanently.
Apple’s M1-powered MacBook Air and MacBook Pro also show how laptops are evolving to become more like our smartphones. Apple’s new chip is based on the same basic architecture as the processors inside the iPhone, resulting in longer battery life, faster responsiveness, and iPhone app compatibility.
In other words, it’s making the Mac feel a lot more like your iPhone. Apple’s latest software update for Mac devices also introduces a new interface that more closely resembles the iPhone’s operating system.
It’s not just Apple. PC makers have been launching laptops powered by chips based on the same basic architecture as the processors inside mobile devices for years. We saw more of these laptops at CES too, including the HP Elite Folio and Lenovo IdeaPad 5G, both of which run on the Snapdragon 8cx processor from Qualcomm, the company that creates the chips inside just about every major smartphone.
Qualcomm’s goal with this chip is to bring all-day battery life, portability, and support for high resolution cameras to laptops. If that sounds familiar, it’s because your smartphone already does these things much better than your laptop can.
Many of these products and developments were in place long before the pandemic started. But COVID-19 has only highlighted the ways in which laptops fall short in comparison to smartphones, perhaps accelerating a shift that was already inevitable.
The advent of Wi-Fi was a great thing. It has granted easier internet access in harder-to-reach areas, made connecting new devices a breeze – and not to mention, reduced the amount of cables on our floors.
However, if you’re looking for the fastest and most consistent connection possible, you should still stick with an Ethernet cable. It’s less convenient, but boasts all sorts of advantages.
Ethernet is almost always faster than Wi-Fi
If you want a fast connection, you should consider connecting as many of your devices as possible to Ethernet. This is because Ethernet is nearly always faster than a Wi-Fi connection from the same router.
It’s true that radio waves are incredibly fast. But an Ethernet cable lets your devices send and receive data almost instantaneously. This is especially true if you have a fiber-optic connection.
This also means that it doesn’t matter how close or far you are from your router. As long as your Ethernet cable reaches, you’ll see little to no loss in speed.
You can compare Wi-Fi and Ethernet speeds by running a quick speed test using both connections. You’ll almost certainly find the Ethernet connection to be faster.
Our own quick test showed an Ethernet download speed almost double that of Wi-Fi.
Ethernet is more stable than a Wi-Fi signal
To use an analogy, an Ethernet cable is to Wi-Fi what a landline is to a cell phone. Rather than transmitting the signal wirelessly, an Ethernet cable carries your data via a cable electronically.
In short, this means that the data is less likely to get lost or degrade along the way. You also don’t have to worry about the signal being blocked or slowed down by nearby electronics or barriers.
Unless your Ethernet cable physically breaks, there’s not much that can disrupt it, short of a power outage.
Ethernet connections are likely more secure than Wi-Fi
Although a clever Wi-Fi network name like “FBI Surveillance Van” might dissuade some neighbors from trying to hack your network, you’re still more secure with an Ethernet connection.
Any Wi-Fi password can be hacked with enough effort, and since Wi-Fi signals pass through the open air, they can be intercepted. But to gain access to an Ethernet connection, you need to have the cable and the router. There’s no way to hack into Ethernet without a physical connection.