Sometimes, portable computing is less about how much power you can fill your pockets with, and more about how much space your laptop leaves to fill your pockets/bags with other bits and pieces and also how much of a stylish gadget it is once you need to take it out and start using it.
Of course, this takes good design, so with this, and a series of upcoming features, we intend to take a look at not how much bang you can get for your buck, but simply the five best looking and well designed (in our opinion) gadgets out there right now…
5. ASUS NX90
The first entrant into our top 5 best looking laptops, is the ASUS NX90, which interestingly is the lovechild of the globally leading notebook manufacturer, ASUS, and a company more commonly associated with exquisitely designed audio products: Bang & Olufsen.
Of course, this is not about how powerful the laptop is under the hood, so we won’t be boring you with the tech specs, but more appropriately the intricate features of the design. This design, whilst not necessarily to everyone’s taste, features some elephantine (perhaps in more ways than one) ears, which certainly make it stand out from the crowd if nothing else. Obviously they are not actually ears, in fact, quite the opposite, they’re Bang & Olufsen speakers. Beautiful ones at that.
It’s not this, though, which in my opinion gains its entry into the list. Instead, I selected the ASUS NX90 based on its individuality in a market flooded with products of an increasingly dull design. For instance, it not only makes use of high-grade aluminium materials with contrasting colours, it features dual trackpads on either side of the spacious chiclet keyboard.
Whether or not this alone has you salivating is really beside the point, it’s a unique take which can ultimately be functional and more comfortable. Despite the machine being rather on the large side, its design is quite frankly beautiful as far as I’m concerned, and functional to boot.
4. Sony VAIO Z Series
Where there’s a design contest, there will be Sony. A company notorious for industry-leading design and whilst I would be inclined to say this reputation has been somewhat surpassed in recent years, the Sony VAIO Z Series would clearly beg to differ.
It’s a 13.1″ notebook, and more interestingly, it’s crafted from a material which as far as I’m aware, is a lightweight material more commonly found on hugely expensive motor cars. I’m talking, of course, about carbon fibre. It means it’s extremely portable and as it’s primarily a business orientated machine, the sleek matt charcoal/black finish, along with the minimal screen bezel keeps it simple, yet elegant and professional.
3. Dell Adamo XPS
When I began compiling this list in my head, I never dreamt that Dell would appear in it. Not because they’re a bad manufacturer, far from it, but because they’re usually associated with function over frills, as it were.
But, then I remembered the Dell Adamo XPS. A pretty extreme take on a modern design, whilst not differing hugely in layout or anything, it quite literally takes a very different stance on how it should be done.
First of all, the laptop is extremely thin. It’s also crafted from reinforced materials so not only is it just 13″ in stature and 9.99mm thick, it’s quite tough into the bargain. Of course, that makes for great design, as we might just be straying from the fact there, that design is about a lot more than just good looks.
But let’s cut to the chase, if you’ve looked at the picture there, you’ll know exactly why this gained entry to the list. The lid. The lid of the Dell Adamo XPS exceeds the base in length at the back, so when opened it operates as a stand to elevate the keyboard to such an angle that is apparently ergonomically perfect. Of course, this might be a little uncomfortable for use on the lap itself, but on a desk, it could be perfect. Perhaps that does call into question it’s ‘laptop’ credentials, but it qualifies for this list anyway.
2. HP Envy
HP really pulled the Envy range out of the bag last year and thankfully they have come up with a certain generous helping of laptop computers that suit the needs of all consumers when it comes to size. The range features three basic models of 14″, 15″ and 17″.
In terms of design, they are not too different from the MacBook Pro, so make what you will of the name ‘envy’. Let’s just assume it’s a coincidence that the styling is virtually identical, and the Aluminium body could easily have been taken straight from Cupertino if it weren’t for the pressed pattern that finds itself so handsomely all over the bodywork and lid.
But, that’s not necessarily a terrible thing; you see, Apple is the king of quality design it has to be said, and whilst they look like they emerged from the same mother both externally and spec-wise, HP has put its own impression on the Envy range and enough of an impression to really set it apart.
It’s a great contemporary design, modest and elegant. But, the fact that it could easily have been created with pretty much no expertise in design behind it, indeed taken directly from the Apple production line, it can’t get near the top spot. So, three guesses what does.
1. Apple MacBook Air
The recent update brought with it a further slimmed body, and a younger sibling in the form of an 11-inch Air, which not only makes it lighter but obviously smaller and more portable. What’s incredible about the design, though, is the fact that despite it being entirely diminutive in size, it still packs a fair bit of punch in the spec department, and Apple took the decision to integrate the flash storage directly into the motherboard, rather than rely on a SATA connection, restricting speed perhaps.
This is the first time we’ve talked spec in this list, but for good reason, not because it’s powerful, but because of the feat that it is (or at least was when the first Air arrived on the scene) to pack such power into a design that’s almost more case than space.
The aluminium body, contrasting chiclet keyboard is an increasingly common aesthetic choice made by manufacturers, and really, as far as I know, it was pioneered by Apple in the form of the MacBook Pro laptop, which could so easily have topped this list had it not been scuppered by its own creator and younger, slimmer sibling, the MacBook Air.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner: The best-looking laptop computer on the market today is the MacBook Air. Of course, this is my opinion, so in the interest of fairness, we invite you to suggest other choices / argue the toss in the comments section below.
You can follow Rob on Twitter as @R0bNichols.