Laptop Holiday Buyer’s Guide 2015


Very few, if any, laptops exist in the higher price points and absolutely live up to the standard of absolute form and function: laptops that are well-designed, look and feel great, and actually packs a punch, in terms of performance.

When it comes time to give the gift of an amazing laptop, you really only have two choices this holiday season: the Apple MacBook Pro Retina, and the Microsoft Surface Book.

Let us help you pick the right one.

Staples Laptop Holiday Buyer's Guide 2015

Apple MacBook Pro Retina, 13.3″

Staples Laptop Holiday Buyer's Guide 2015 - MacBook Pro Retina

Price: $1549 / $1799 / $2199
Processor: 2.7GHz 5th Gen Intel Core i5 / 2.9GHz 5th Gen Intel Core i5
Memory: 8GB DDR3L RAM
Storage: 128GB / 256GB / 512GB (SSDs/Flash Storage)

Apple has held the crown in the realm of “high-end laptops” for years and years, and it’s relatively easy to see why: the 2015 update to the 13” MacBook Pro Retina kept its already svelte profile while packing in the new Intel Broadwell processors, a boost to its display card, ridiculously fast flash storage, enhanced battery life, and the brand new Force Touch trackpad.

It’s sturdy, aluminum body feels smooth to the touch and gives the MacBook Pro Retina a strong vibe of minimalism and cleanliness, and is one of the most recognizable features of a MacBook Pro – almost as recognizable as the chime during the startup process and the dim glow of the Apple logo being illuminated on the lid of the laptop.

Built for longevity, the MacBook Pro Retina will last for several years while being worked to the core. The battery life of the MacBook Pro Retina makes it ideal for long periods of not being connected to an electrical outlet, making it as portable as it is powerful.

Software-wise, the operating system, OS X, has a bevy of useful apps and software for any setting, whether it’s home or office, whether you’re tapping away in a word processor, or writing hundreds of lines of code in your choice of text editor. OS X is also fantastic for media consumption and creation, with great software available for photo and video editing, and the MacBook Pro Retina’s super fast SSD makes it even faster and easier.

Perfect For: Anyone who wants an absolute monster for a laptop – dependable, well-built, long-lasting, high performing, and incredibly portable and pragmatic.

Key Things: The OS X ecosystem is quite different from Windows, if you haven’t ever used it before, and does take some time to get used to.

The Bottom Line: Incredible machine that seems to work as hard as you do.


Microsoft Surface Book

Staples Laptop Holiday Buyer's Guide 2015 - Surface Book

Price: $1949 / $2449 / $3499
Processor: Intel Core i5 / Intel Core i7
Memory: 8GB RAM / 16GB RAM
Storage: 128GB / 256GB / 512GB (SSDs/Flash Storage)

Microsoft finally entered the fray with its extremely solid entry into the world of high-end laptops, and seems to have done what no other OEM has been able to do: compete on the same level as Apple. The Surface Book is well-designed, looks and feels great, and seems to be hiding a monster inside of its aluminum body.

The Surface Book does distinguish itself away from the Apple MacBook Pro Retina with a few simple design differences: it feels far thinner and lighter, it has a touch screen (with a lovely stylus included), and most impressive, has a detachable screen that is a fully-functioning tablet on its own, or can be re-attached and oriented however you would like.

This detachable screen contains its own battery, as the Surface Book amazingly contains two, together providing quite an impressive amount of battery life for the high-performance laptop. It also becomes understandable why the Surface Book feels incredibly top-heavy (towards the screen). There are some design quirks as a result of the second screen, but they’re largely trivial: the headphone jack is on the top right of the screen, the power button is at the very top of the screen, and the screen itself can only disconnect while the Surface Book is on. Not to mention the amazing dynamic fulcrum hinge, which not only looks cool, but houses the mechanisms that allow for detaching and re-attaching of the screen.

However, the possibilities of a laptop with a touch screen that can detach from itself is intriguing. You can use it like a normal laptop, with the keyboard under your hands and the screen tilted towards you. You can detach the screen and re-attach it with the screen facing the outside of the laptop, and turn it around and tilt it forward for easier illustrations and writing of notes. You can detach the screen altogether and walk around with a tablet that happens to run Windows 10. This is the ultimate fantasy for professionals who need one hell of a performer at work or at play, and need to remain in the Windows ecosystem.

Perfect For: Anyone who wants an incredibly well-built Windows laptop, for work and/or play.

Key Things: The Surface Book is quite pricy, with gigantic leaps in price for upgrades in processor, RAM, and storage space.

The Bottom Line: The Surface Book is incredibly well designed, and feels at home whether for work or for play.


Laptop Holiday Buyer's Guide 2015
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Laptop Holiday Buyer's Guide 2015
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Jon Lim

Jon Lim is a professional developer, writer, and an avid technologist. He has written creatively for the past 16 years, and professionally for 4 years.

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