The best laptops and 2-in-1s to give as gifts
Until now I would have been hesitant to recommend the 13-inch MacBook Pro in a gift guide: To get the best features (a Touch ID sensor), you'd have to pay an eye-watering $1,799. Meanwhile, the $1,099 MacBook Air already had Touch ID, albeit with less-powerful silicon under the hood. This year, though, Apple updated the entry-level $1,299 MacBook Pro so that it combines everything we liked about the Air and higher-end Pro, with an asking price that is in the same ballpark as its lower-powered cousin. Now that the price is right (and the features too), the base MacBook Pro is our go-to recommendation for Apple fans in search of a new laptop. It's faster than the entry-level MBP used to be, there's the Touch ID sensor we're so fond of, improved speakers and an already-great Retina with the addition of Apple's True Tone technology. The main drawback is the keyboard, though Apple has tweaked the design (again) to make it more responsive. -- Dana Wollman, Editor-in-Chief
For years now, Dell's ultraportable XPS 13 has been one of our favorite Windows laptops. The company also makes a convertible 2-in-1 version of the XPS 13, and although the first version was flawed in some ways, the newest model addresses basically all of its earlier shortcomings. In fact, if money were no object we'd choose the 2-in-1 version over the regular one. For us, it largely comes down to the fact that the 2-in-1 has a more modern design, with a profile that manages to be thin even with a rotating 360-degree hinge. Speaking of, the hinge feels sturdy and smooth in use. We're also fans of the long battery life, comfortable keyboard and the HDR display. It's worth acknowledging that this "nice bonus" comes at a premium. A similarly specced version of the 2-in-1 will cost $250 more than the standard edition, which means gift givers still have plenty of reason to stick with the regular model. -- D.W.
Last year's 13.5-inch Surface Laptop 2 was so perfect we could barely think of any drawbacks. We dug its design, its comfortable keyboard, its long battery life -- you get the idea. Now Microsoft is back with generation three, and though we haven't yet had a chance to take it for an extended spin, we expect to like it, if last year's model is any indication. For better or worse, there aren't many differences this year. The biggest change is an upgrade to Intel's 10th-generation Core processors. The keyboard design has also seen an update; our own Devindra Hardawar spent enough time with it to proclaim it's a superior typing experience to Apple's flat MacBook Pro keys. Basically, then, if you read our review from last year and thought the Surface Laptop seemed perfect for the Windows user in your life, the third generation is a safe bet. -- D.W.