The best slimline laptops

Timothy Barber
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AT last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas – the event that’s become the mecca for the latest developments in technology, computers, gadgets, gizmos and pretty much anything containing a microchip – the tech world went tablet crazy, with scores of them launched. Such is the influence of the iPad – but it’s worth remembering that for people who really want to do business while on the move, a flat touchscreen still doesn’t beat a proper screen.

Notebooks – as laptops are now fashionably called – and their smaller siblings, netbooks, have become lighter, thinner, more portable and more advanced, and can still create waves, as the reception at CES to Samsung’s newest, the 9 Series (below), proved.

Here are some of the best options out there for those for whom an office and a desk are a mere hindrance and who need a computer they can carry around as happily as a magazine.

MACBOOK AIR £867-£1,378
As the world fell in love with the iPad, Apple relaunched its super-thin MacBook Air late last year to remind us what real, on-the-hoof computing power is. It’s thinner still (1.7cm–0.3cm at its thinnest point), faster, sleeker and comes in two versions – a 13.3 inch model and a nifty 11 inch version.

This tiny netbook shares a few of the qualities of Nokia’s sturdy, reliable phones – it may not be so glamorous, but its battery lasts several hours and it’s hard to imagine it going wrong. It’s light as a feather, and if the price is something of a push for something with basic Windows functionality but little more (it’s a netbook, after all), it’s still one of the best out there.

At 3cm in thickness this may be chunkier than some on this page, but it’s still a streamlined package, and at just 2.39kg it’s hardly going to weigh you down – and nor is it too heavy on the bank account. The 11.6 inch display is the business, and it can come with up to 8GB of memory, depending on your preferences. We rather like the natty lid colours too.

Toshiba’s top-of-the-range ultra-mobile laptop claims a useful nine hours of battery life. It measures 1.6cm at its thinnest point, and weighs a handy 1.3kg, and comes with up to 4GB of memory – twice that of the MacBook Air. The tech includes a fingerprint reader, sparing the need for passwords to access personal files.

Is it a netbook or a notebook? Who cares? The almost absurdly thin Sony VPCX13C7E/X is just 13.9mm in “height”, with an 11-inch screen and well-designed keyboard. It’s sleek and smart and as light – 780g – as it is thin. All of which would be worthless if it didn’t run like a beautifully-designed sports car, which it thankfully does. Pricey but superb.

The laptop that set the most tongues wagging at last week’s CES show in Las Vegas, this resembles something from the recent Tron film. It’s 1.6cm in height, with a futuristic exterior made from Duralinium, used in aircraft manufacture. The second generation Intel CoreTM i5 processor should ensure cutting edge performance. Expect it in the spring.