The HacBook Elite is a "fully-functional Mac running OS X for 1/3 the price," which is to say a refurbished HP EliteBook with OS X hacked to run on it. It only has an i5 CPU, 8GB RAM and a 1600x900 14-inch display—the claim this is equivalent to a 2013 MacBook Pro is eyebrow-raising, to say the least—but it's only $350, so you know what you're getting.
HacBook Elite ships with everything needed to start running the latest version of OS X. Once installed, OS X cold boots in 15 seconds and boots from sleep in 1 second.
• Perfect for developing iOS, Mac apps
• Dual-boot with Windows
• Comes with iTunes, iMessage, App Store, etc.
• Looks like a Mac.
My favorite part of the HacBook experience is the way the website imitates Apple's own, but all the images of text are blurry on high-DPI displays. The people who made (and would buy) HacBook don't even notice, but true Macolytes will get hives just looking at it.
Remember Psystar? Read the rest
HP's Spectre is thinner than all the others, and the company says that it is "more artisan than manufactured" in a promo video that touts its slim, jewelry-like design. The $1,170 laptop has an Intel Core i7 processor, 8 GB of memory and a 13" display. It's 2.5 pounds: heavier than the 12" MacBook and Lenovo Yoga, but lighter than pretty much anything else and much more powerful than those machines. Read the rest
Dell's "business class" Chromebook is almost perfect, writes Wired's Scott Gilbertson. The release of this 13-inch model marks a shift from the low-end zone most ChromeOS laptops occupy, to the middle ground of "real" computers. It's $400-$900 and has all the trimmings, yet is more practical than flashy flagship models like Google's Pixel.
The Dell comes as close to the ideal Chromebook as anything I’ve tested. The catch is that you’ll pay for it. It’s probably best compared directly to the only Chromebook that’s more powerful and pricier—the Pixel. If you want a high-end Chromebook and don’t mind spending $900 for it, the Dell bests the Pixel in many ways, including battery life.
At Computerworld, JR Raphael prefers it to Toshiba's similar Chromebook 2
Dell's Chromebook 13 is a different story. The laptop has a carbon-fiber cover and an aluminum-magnesium body that work together to make the system stylish and approachable, as well as exceptionally sturdy. It's by no means at the level of build quality or design of a high-end system like Google's $1,000 Chromebook Pixel, but it's a really nice laptop -- and a meaningful step above every other system in the sub-$500 class.
Engadget's Nathan Ingraham says it has outstanding battery life and is the ChromeOS computer to beat.
Read the rest
Dell's Chromebook 13 costs a little more than the competition, but for that extra money, you get: hardware that feels like it's from a much more expensive machine, excellent performance, fantastic battery life and one of the best screens you'll find on any Chromebook.
HiSense's amazingly cheap laptop is "a good, basic experience that doesn’t feel as slow as some past ARM Chromebooks have," writes Andrew Cunningham at Ars Technica. PC World agrees, writing that "it is now possible to buy an adequate computer for $149, a cash outlay many people can afford."
Matt Weinberger thinks that the design is surprisingly sleek for a low end machine "that's far more than I could have asked for" given the price.
CNET's Sarah Mitroff warns that the keys feel mushy, but says it's a promising pick for people who just want the cheapest decent laptop going.
One downside is that there's only one place you can get it. Read the rest
Gamers sick of bulky laptops should take a peek at the "ultra-portable" Razer Blade. Though not in the same cheesecutting league as a MacBook or Lenovo X-series, the slab is less than .9" thick and weighs 6.5 pounds, even with a 17.3"display and 2GB GeForce video card. At $2,299 and up, though, it seems crazy expensive. (The press release claims $1,799, but I couldn't configure it that cheaply at the site). Read the rest
The cheaper Chromebooks that Google introduced last month don't deserve credit for being a cheap way to read e-mail and surf the web: any smartphone meets that specification. But the $249 Samsung model I've been testing for the past two weeks also plausibly replaces a low-end laptop.
The ZenBook, from Asus, is a Windows 7 "ultrabook" hewing closely to the MacBook Air's mold: an 11" or 13" display, teardrop shape, SSD as standard, and i5 or i7 processors from Intel. Previous challengers to Apple's popular laptop (and subnotebooks of yore) suffered from uncompetitive prices; this one, however, matches it at $999 for the base model -- albeit with a slower processor. Read the rest