The laptop market didn’t see a significant change in 2022, and most of the models released in the year just ended were more like upgrades to previously released models. Still, we have a good selection of productivity laptops that we can safely recommend to anyone who wants ultra-portable, high-performance computers with quality construction.
MacBook Air M2
Apple has changed the design of its MacBook Air laptops for the first time in years. The new model, powered by Apple’s new Silicon M2 processor, is one of the most powerful computers in its class and one of the quietest. That’s because it doesn’t use an active cooling system, but a passive one. Thus, the possibility of sustaining high performance decreases, but this is not a computer necessarily recommended for professional use cases that would put this processor to the test, such as video editing.
The MacBook Air M2 is the first model in the range to ditch the slightly tapered shape towards the bottom for a “flat” design, and also the first to introduce a cutout in the screen for webcam integration. These design decisions won’t please everyone, but Apple relies on other advantages when offering this computer.
First, its battery life is the best on the market in this range of devices, with over 10 hours of productivity use. Then, it has a very well put-together sound system and a fairly high-performance display with 500 nits brightness. Of course, macOS, Apple’s operating system, is also considered an advantage, thanks to increased stability and fewer viruses for the platform.
Dell XPS 13 Plus
Dell’s XPS 13 Plus is probably the closest competitor to the MacBook Air in this category. Dell has introduced a new design (review) on this variant, new for 2022, which involves the complete removal of the trackpad and function buttons. While the trackpad is still present below the keyboard, it is no longer clearly delineated, which could bring a bit of confusion in use, as not all of the surface is tactile.
Next, the function buttons on top have been replaced with capacitive buttons. Kind of hard to Alt+F4 in this situation.
Still, even with the weird design decisions, the Dell XPS 13 Plus has a great screen with extremely thin bezels and is equipped with top-of-the-line hardware: up to Core i7 processor, DDR5 memory and upgradable M.2 storage.
The Achilles heel of this model would be the battery life, which is not up to the level of the competition, but in certain use cases performance could be higher, thanks to active cooling and the i7 processor, which integrates multiple cores and boosts frequencies up to 5 GHz.
LG Gram 14
The LG Gram 14 could be a “near” perfect ultrabook, we said in our review published through the summer. It weighs less than 1 kg (review), doesn’t come with a design that confuses users like the Dell above, nor does it have very high performance claims.
This computer is the one to have with you anytime, anywhere, so you can set up a mobile office anywhere. Unfortunately, its charger isn’t a small, lightweight one, but at least it’s equipped with a USB-C port, so you can power other devices around if you’re still carrying it around. Considering the weight and size, the fact that you can get up to 10 hours of battery life is impressive, but you have to give up performance.
Simply put, this system can’t handle overly complex tasks. It’s a great computer for document editing and browsing, even multimedia, but that’s where its capabilities stop. Still, that’s pretty much what all ultraportable PC users do, so in this category, it’s a true champion on Windows 10.
Huawei MateBook 14
The MateBook 14 is, next to the MacBook Air, the best-built model on this list. The design is clearly inspired by Apple’s, and this is most likely the closest version of a Windows MacBook you can buy.
It also comes with some extra advantages over Apple’s computer. Where Apple decided to cut out the screen to accommodate the webcam, Huawei found room for it in the keyboard, between the F-keys at the top. This is also a laptop equipped with a touchscreen, something appreciated by many users in the mobile area. At the same time, those who use multiple Huawei devices can take advantage of Multi-Screen Collaboration, which allows for quick file transfer from phone or tablet to laptop, or remote control of files. In some ways, Huawei Share integration is even more advanced than Apple’s.
And the powerful cooling system ensures it has sustained performance compared to other models on the list, and connectivity hasn’t been ignored either. This model comes equipped with two USB Type-A ports, a USB-C and even HDMI, something we rarely see on ultraportables these days.