Best 13 Inch Laptop 2016

by spirituality

Deciding on what laptop to buy is tough. Personally I went with a 13 inch laptop because it's just large enough to make typing a decent experience, yet small enough to carry.

I use my laptop as a desktop, with external screen, mouse and keyboard. It needs to be fast: so as not to slow my working speed and light to protect my back should I want to take it with me. In short: I want the best of both worlds: laptop and desktop in one machine. Here's my selection and buying advice.

How to choose which 13 inch laptop suits you

What to factor into your decision

First off: 13 inch laptops are the smallest laptops that still come with desktop PC level hardware. Whether it's internal memory or hard drive size: you'll find mid-range quality components in most 13 inch laptops. 

That's good news. It's also one reason why it's a better idea to buy a 13 inch laptop than a netbook (which is any laptop smaller than 13 inch). 

Even though 13 inch is the size of laptop that's manufactured least, there is still plenty of choice. So how do you pick the best one? Well, I personally went with weight. Or rather:

Lightweight 13 inch laptops

When it comes to being lightweight, Samsung is the new winner. The 13.3 inch 5 series weighs only  3.2 pounds. The Asus Zenbook is even lighter: only 2.9 pounds, but then it's WAY more expensive.  Where the Samsung has 500GB Hard Drive, the Zenbook comes with only 258GB. If the hard drive doesn't have to be big and money is an issue, the HP Folio should be considered: it weighs only 3.3 pounds and has a 128 GB drive. 

The price you pay for lightweight laptops is that they do NOT come with an optical drive (aka: no DVD or CD drive). That's it. 

I went with the Samsung 5 series 13.3 inch laptop. It has only about 5 hours of battery life, but is otherwise just what I need. I haven't used my laptop on the road much anyhow, so battery life is not as important to me as I thought it would be. Having an iPad probably has a lot to do with that.

It has a slightly sunk touchpad, so that accidental mouse movements are not an issue. It has a decent mat screen, 3 USB ports and HDMI as well as VGA connections for external screens. 

Full Feature 13 inch laptops

If you want a laptop with everything in - optical drive (DVD and CD) as well, you'll have to pay the price in carrying it. However, you will have a very decent desktop PC out of it as well. 

In this case I would recommend the 13 inch Acer or Apple laptops. You can use them to watch DVDs as well as do your work at home, in the work place and of course on the road. 

My laptop setup. The laptop itself is on the right, external screen left etc.
My laptop setup. The laptop itself is on the right, external screen left etc.
My own picture, Copyright Katinka Hesselink

Operating system: Mac, PC, Chromebook or Linux?

A few years ago I would have said that choosing Mac or PC was the first choice to make. And I'd have advised you to go with a Windows PC. Why? Compatibility. 

That is: if you didn't want your text mangled when opened on a windows PC, the thing to do was make sure it was MADE on a windows PC. 

No longer: You can make a document on Mac and have it read on Windows easily. Sure, not all formatting may come through, but with people typing on iPads, phones etc the tolerance for a bit of formatting loss is getting higher as well. 

However, if you're going to be using your laptop for business use, do check with your boss to make sure they don't have a preference anyhow. You know, to be on the safe side. 

I have some experience with Ubuntu Linux, but it really didn't do it for me. Just a tad too rough on the edges. I want to use my PC, instead of having to go online and do research to tinker with it. 

There is a reason the Chromebook hasn't made waves yet: I don't think many people are ready to ONLY work in the cloud yet. I certainly am not. 

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Updated: 04/05/2016, spirituality
 
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What's your most important consideration when buying a laptop?


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Destiny on 10/25/2012

To me , I would say the tech. Battery charging isn'y really a problem to me but I would prefer it to be a long lasting one , not one that last 1 hour . Then so tech was more important since I am a student .

sheilamarie on 06/17/2011

Battery life (because, being off-grid, sometimes our solar powered batteries run down) and weight are both important for me.

TerriRexson on 06/17/2011

Battery life is quite important for me - so I can work in the garden in the summer, and when travelling. (Linux for the operating system though.)

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