COMPUTERS are no longer just beige boxes plonked on a desk.
They can arrive without keyboards, with digital pens, in slender bodies or hefty forms.
We’ve rounded up five of the best — and arguably most diverse — new portable computers to help you choose your next workhorse.
Microsoft Surface Laptop
4 out of 5 stars / $1499-$3299 / microsoft.com/en-au
Microsoft’s most accessible computer is beautifully crafted.
The Surface Laptop features a slim profile, metal top, and unusual spill-resistant fabric covering around its keys. It also offers a 13.5-inch touchscreen that is easy on the eyes, at 201 pixels per inch, though it doesn’t flip over or detach like some of its other products.
This laptop also uses Windows 10 S, which is designed for use with Microsoft apps, though you can upgrade it to Windows 10 Pro for free this year and install whatever program you please. This straightforward laptop should appeal to anyone in need of a basic computing experience, and travellers in particular due its pleasingly light weight.
It does have just one USB port, however, so you might need to pack a couple of adaptors.
Samsung Galaxy Book 12-inch
3.5 out of 5 stars / $1599-$2299 / samsung.com/au
Why would you buy Samsung’s Windows 10 tablet over its Microsoft Surface equivalent?
The new Galaxy Book boasts a 12-inch Super AMOLED screen that is crisp, bright, and capable of screening HDR content, it comes with a battery-free stylus capable of greater pressure sensitivity than its peers, and there’s a keyboard cover thrown into the package.
Additionally, if you buy the top package, you can get up to 256GB storage, 8GB RAM, and a built-in 4G connection to stay connected wherever you roam.
And why would you stick with Surface instead?
This 2-in-one tablet convertible peaks at a dual-core Intel Core i5 chip, is a bit smaller but a bit heavier than an iPad Pro, and the packaged keyboard is troubled, offering limited angles, connection delays, and little use on a lap.
HP Spectre X2
4 out of 5 stars / $2199 / hp.com.au
This convertible tablet makes Microsoft Windows look young again.
The Spectre X2, from HP’s premium range, shows off the software on a 12-inch touchscreen surrounded by a copper-coloured kickstand and a slender keyboard with a matt black exterior. It’s not all about looks with this machine, of course.
As its price suggests, it can act as a fully functional laptop too, with Windows 10 Home, 8GB RAM, Intel Core i5 chip, and a 256GB hard drive.
It also has enough connections to appease most users, with two USB-C ports and a memory card slot. The new X2 comes with a stylus too, though it doesn’t match the Surface Pen, and a keyboard that offers surprising comfort but an occasionally finicky trackpad.
Its battery life is also not as good as that of the Surface Pro, but it should make the shortlist.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S3
3.5 out of 5 stars / $949-$1099 / samsung.com/au
If you want a tablet free of a fruity logo, there aren’t many high-end options for you to choose. Samsung addresses this void with the Galaxy Tab S3 that is the most advanced Google Android tablet on the market and a slick device.
Its 9.7-inch Super AMOLED display is crisp and easy on the eye, it features an attractive glass back, meagre 434g weight, comes with a battery-free but efficient stylus, and decent sound thanks to four speakers and Samsung’s AKG Harman purchase.
Both its wi-fi and 4G variants come with just 32GB storage, though users can boost that by adding a memory card. On the downside, it can be sluggish to operate, its optional keyboard is poorly designed, and its screen is smaller and more reflective than the competing iPad Pro 10.5 that costs just $30 more.
HP ZBook 17 G4
No stars / $3893 / hp.com.au
HP calls this a “mobile workstation” rather than a laptop because it’s far too big to sit on a lap. This 3.12kg computing beast arrives in a magnesium-reinforced chassis, features a 17.3-inch touchscreen, a full-sized keyboard with number pad, several connections including four USB ports and space for an Ethernet cable, and it can be customised to your liking.
You could, for example, add up to four terabytes of storage, and the rear panel of the machine can be removed to replace the battery.