Engadget's summer gear guide 2012: laptops

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Engadget's summer gear guide 2012: laptops

In the interest of keeping cool this summer, we've put together a list of the hottest products out right now. From smartphones to e-readers and everything in between, there's no time like the present to re-up that post-spring-cleaning stash. So grab a popsicle or a cold one and dive in -- the water's just right.

If you've been in the market for a new laptop, you've done the wise thing in waiting until now to buy: both Intel and AMD are putting the finishing touches on their newest mobile chips, which means a torrent of fresh notebooks is on the way. (Power users can already pick up a gaming machine or desktop replacement running one of Intel's new quad-core CPUs.) For the widest selection, we suggest waiting until mid-June or so, but in the meantime, we present you three of the best laptops money can buy right now. Enjoy, and do stick it out, if you can, for the inevitable Ivy Bridge refreshes. But if you must pull the trigger immediately, jump down past to the break to read our summertime suggestions.

Editors' Choice

15-inch Samsung Series 9

Engadget's summer gear guide 2012 laptops

For now, at least, there's truly nothing like it. At 3.5 pounds and .58 inches thick, the Series 9 isn't just thin and light for a 15-inch laptop; it's wispy even compared to most Ultrabooks. (The 13-inch Series 9 laptop - a skinny Ultrabook in its own right - is just 0.08 inches slimmer.) But make no mistake, this all-metal laptop isn't just a $1,500 status symbol; it also brings robust performance, a matte, high-res display and an impressive seven and a half hours of battery life. The biggest downside is that it's currently shipping with a last-gen Sandy Bridge processor, but Samsung is already teasing a refreshed version with an Ivy Bridge CPU.

Price: $1,500 at Amazon

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Engadget's summer gear guide 2012 laptops

Apple MacBook Air

Though Apple's featherweight ultraportables are growing long in the tooth, they remain best-in-class, with elegant aesthetics and a comfortable keyboard-and-trackpad combo -- something far too many Windows-based Ultrabooks are lacking. Even with its aging Sandy Bridge processor, the performance in the 13-inch model is twice as fast as what you would have enjoyed with the previous generation, though smart shoppers will hold out a month or two longer until Apple invariably refreshes its lineup with Ivy Bridge CPUs and more powerful integrated graphics.

Price: $999 at Apple

Engadget's summer gear guide 2012 laptops

HP Envy 14 Spectre

Even amid the flood of Ultrabooks making their way into stores, the Spectre is memorable: after all, who could forget a laptop fashioned partially out of glass? With its reflecting pond-like lid, glass-coated palm rest and metal chassis, this Ultrabook has a design that's striking, beautiful and refreshingly different from what other PC makers are doing. For the money ($1,400 and up), you'll also get a 14-inch, 1600 x 900, IPS-quality display -- a clear step up from the glare-prone, lower-res panels used on most other ultraportables. Other perks include a backlit keyboard, full copies of Adobe Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements, a two-year subscription to Norton antivirus software and a generous two-year warranty.

Price: $1,400 at Amazon

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