Staples.ca: The 10 Best Laptops of 2013 Reviewed


ASUS N550JV-SB71T-CB Laptop - Best for Replacing Your Desktop


This stylish laptop features a quad-speaker array and delivers cinematic surround sound. Its full HD display is top-of-the-range too, making this a great laptop for sitting back and enjoying a full-on multimedia experience.

The ASUS N550JV comes in a sleek metallic finish, elegant while still being durable. Measuring just over 15"x 10" and just over 1" thick, the N550JV isn't too large to carry around, though it requires more of a backpack than a laptop bag and is ideally suited for use around the home or office. It's a little heavy at just less than 6lb, but this means Asus haven't had to sacrifice on all important hardware.

With an HD IPS responsive touch screen, the laptop provides the full Windows 8 experience, featuring a 178° viewing angle and an anti-glare coating – great for reducing eye strain and fingerprints.

Sound is definitely a selling point for the N550JV. With speakers co-developed by Bang & Olufsen, audio is full-bodied and perfect for a wide range music and movies. The laptop also incorporates an HD web camera so Skyping friends and family is no problem.

There's a powerful processor running this ASUS – the Intel Core i7 4700HQ – so whatever you need it for, it's able to keep up (and with 750GB, you won't have to worry about storage). Great graphics are provided by the Nvidia GeForce GT 750M, enough to make the most of movies or games, and the battery lasts for just over 7 hours of light use, but expect this to decrease significantly when it's running flat-out.

The ASUS N series runs Windows 8, and is fast and fluid, with an intuitive GUI that's easily navigated.

Overall, this laptop strikes a fine balance between power, design and features, and at a reasonable price, too. A do-it-all home PC, perfect for replacing your desktop.

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ASUS Republic of Gamers ROG Laptop - Best for Gamers


PC Gamers need look no further than the ASUS ROG G750JW. Top-of-the-range specifications and an affordable price tag make this high-end mobile gaming laptop a must-have for gamers looking for a great gaming experience wherever they are.

The G750 is slim and ergonomically designed, improving comfort throughout long gaming sessions. It measures just over 16"x12.5" (and is 1.9" thick), so it’s surprisingly portable considering the laptop's impressive hardware. With a black matte plastic chassis, it's chunky but durable and robust – built to withstand the wear and tear of even the most enthusiastic gamers.

However, hardware is where the G750 really earns its stripes, housing a 4th gen Intel® Core™ i7 processor and a NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 765M GPU, as well as the latest in connectivity and data transfer technology. Because of this, game play is fast, fluid and detailed (it looks great on the 1080p matte display), and easily controlled by the ultra-responsive backlit keyboard and large smart-sensor touchpad.

Connectivity is another big feature for this laptop, with a total of four USB 3.0 ports, a Thunderbolt/Mini-DisplayPort, HDMI, VGA, Ethernet, headphone and microphone jacks, and a card reader, meaning users can accessorize to their heart's content. The G750 also features an HD webcam and an excellent sound system that gets even better when headphones are added into the mix.

With its 8 cell Li-ion battery pack, the G750 boasts an impressive battery life for such a high-spec laptop – up to five and a half hours average use. It also features two 500GB hard drives, which is a generous helping of storage.

With regard to the OS, the G750 runs Windows 8, which has little effect on the gaming experience itself, but means users can benefit from its intuitive UI, and great range of native apps. So, it's still a great laptop even if gaming isn't your thing.

Overall, gamers would be pushed to find a better laptop on the market in terms of affordability, quality, and power. The G750 performs well no matter what game is being played on it, and deserves its ROG status.

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HP Envy Laptop - Best for Creativity


The HP Envy 17 has an excellent display and makes for a pretty impressive media center, but with built-in Adobe Photoshop and Premiere, it's the creative types that will benefit from this notebook's gorgeous 17.3" LCD.

Design wise, the Envy 17 is reasonably bulky, measuring 10.7" x 16.4" (1.3" thick), but still manages to look stylish, with an attractive metallic finish. It is heavy, however, weighing 6.2lb, but its expansiveness means room for a large, backlit keyboard with a separate numeric block, good sized multi-point touchpad, and plenty of options for extra storage or connectivity (three USB 3.0 ports, two headphone jacks, a microphone jack, a USB 2.0 port, a memory-card reader, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI and two DisplayPort outputs).

The Envy 17 features a Blu-ray player which doubles as a DVD±RW burner, which, when paired with the superb full HD display (with 1,920-by-1,080-resolution), makes for an excellent movie experience. It also features an HP TrueVision HD Webcam with integrated dual array digital microphone, Beats Audio 4 speakers, and a dual drive subwoofer, so it's great for chatting to friends and family or listening to music while you work.

Powering the Envy 17 is an Intel® Core™ i7-4700MQ processor, with a NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M graphics card that means great performance even with the most demanding games. It also offers a battery life of over 7 hours, so if you do take it away from its spot in the office, the Envy 17 will cope admirably. When it comes to storage, the Envy 17 is hard to beat, and offers a huge 1TB, more than enough to save all of your multimedia files.

The Envy 17 runs Windows 8, and pre-installed software includes Beats Audio, Netflix, Kindle and Skype, so it's ready to go as soon as you take it out of the box.

Overall, the Envy 17 is an excellent mid-range laptop. It offers a huge amount of storage coupled with a fantastic display, so it’s great media centre at an extremely attractive price.

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Acer Aspire Touch Screen Laptop - Best for Day-to-Day Computing


The Acer Aspire V5 is an affordable laptop with a handy touch screen, so it's excellent for using Windows 8 at its full potential. Slim and attractive, this is a great budget laptop that's perfect for the basics.

The Acer Aspire is an attractive piece of equipment, with a super-slim, minimalist design and attractive brushed metal finish. It's small, measuring 11.4" x 8.1" (and 0.85" thick), and is extremely light for a laptop at just 3.04lb, so portability is one of its major selling points. Its petite size, however, doesn't impact its keyboard, which is spacious and sturdy, or its durability, making the Acer Aspire V5 a good choice for first time laptop users, or college students.

The 11.6" HD 1366 X 763 resolution LED-backlit TFT LCD touch screen is one of this laptop's best features, and makes interaction with the Windows 8 operating system a simple, fluid, enjoyable experience – a big positive when it comes to usability. In addition to this, the screen is bright and crisp, with a high contrast ratio – excellent for media playback.

The specs of this laptop are great for basic use, browsing, running apps, or general office and school work. The AMD A4 quad-core processor is mid-range, as is the Radeon HD 8250 unit – but they're sufficient for high definition media playback (the screen can handle 720p HD footage), pretty well for an entry-level laptop. The 2640 mAh 3-cell Li-ion battery pack offers reasonable battery life (roughly five hours), and the 500GB of storage is plenty for everyday use.

Windows 8 is displayed at its best on the laptop's touch screen, and it also gives users instant access to Amazon Cloud Player, which is handy for storing and streaming music.

Overall, if you're looking for an ultra-portable touch screen laptop, and you're working on a budget, then the Acer Aspire V5 is a great, cost-effective option.

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Samsung ATIV Book 4 Laptop - Best for Samsung Fans


The Samsung ATIV Book 4 manages to pack some great performance and excellent storage into a pretty small package, and this, compared with its decent battery life, make it a must for mid-range users who like to be on the move.

The Samsung ATIV Book 4 comes in a stylish and durable metal casing that's more than capable of withstanding everyday bumps and knocks. It measures 14.8" x 9.76", is a slim 0.9" thick, and weighs 4.59 lb, so it's easily portable.

This laptop features an anti-reflective 15.6" LED screen, for sharp images and bold colors even when used outdoors; as well as stereo speakers, a SoundAlive Internal Digital Mic and 720p HD Web Camera, so it's perfect for video chat, wherever you are.

For such a slim, light notebook, the Samsung ATIV Book 4 has an impressive amount of memory – 750GB, excellent for storing music, films or business documents. Its Intel Core i5 Processor and Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU are mid-range, and offer good levels of performance for everyday tasks.

The ATIV runs on Windows 8, but incorporates a host of useful Samsung software. Features like Samsung SideSync are handy for connecting GALAXY devices for easy file transfer. This, coupled with Samsung HomeSync Lite, which allows you to use the PC storage as a cloud hub to backup photos, videos, music and files from your synced devices, means that when you take a photo on your Samsung phone, it’s instantly uploaded to your PC.

Overall, the ATIV is a great laptop for use with other Samsung devices, so if you're a Galaxy fan, look no further.

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Samsung ATIV Book 5 Laptop - Best for Portability


Another Samsung ATIV makes Staples’ 2013 list of top ten laptops, but this time it's the Book 5. It's smaller again than its predecessor but features similar specs, so if you love your Book 4 but find it a little too heavy for your liking, the Book 5 will suit you perfectly.

The ATIV Book 5 measures 9.21" x 13.31" and is slim at 0.82". It weighs just 4.3lb, so portability isn't a problem for those on the move. Its ash black aluminium chassis is handsome without looking too flashy – though the lid does manage to accumulate fingerprints quite easily – and is sturdy enough to withstand everyday bumps.

Similarly to the ATIV 4, the Book 5 features an island-type, backlit, Canadian bilingual keyboard, which has large, flat, generously spaced keys that make for an extremely comfortable typing experience. The touchpad is also a good size, and can handle pinch-zoom, as well as multi-touch finger scroll and swipe. The laptop's touch screen is also worth a mention: it's extremely responsive, easily picking up the gestures necessary to control Windows 8. Sound, however, is where the ATIV Book 5 stands out; its JBL speakers deliver loud, punchy audio, and, paired with Samsung's SoundAlive technology offers, great audio performance.

Spec-wise, the ATIV Book 5 also features an Intel Core i5 Processor and an Intel HD 4000 graphics card. These are again midrange and perfectly sufficient to deliver good performance across the board. The Book 5 offers 500GB storage and an excellent battery life of up to 6.5 hours of average use.

Run with Windows 8 and featuring Open Office, the Book 5 has a robust suite of multimedia apps and utilities for entertainment and productivity, including the excellent Evernote, Amazon Kindle, Netflix, and a 30-day trial of the Merriam Webster Dictionary.

All in all, the Book 5 is a welcome step up from the Book 4, offering a long battery life and great sound. For Samsung fans looking to spend a little more, it's a great buy.

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Acer Aspire Hybrid Touch Ultrabook - Best for the Undecided


The Acer Aspire Hybrid Touch is a great laptop that offers Ultrabook power and tablet freedom at the same time. The detachable tablet and keyboard adapt smoothly and quickly, so whatever you need it for, the Hybrid Touch is handy, versatile and up for the job.

On its own, the tablet measures 11.6" x 7.5" and weighs just 1.7lb, so it can be used comfortably and easily around the home and on the road. It features a soft black protective cover that doubles as a kickstand, so for comfort and peace of mind, the Hybrid Touch is a winner.

The touch screen on the Hybrid is good, and features IPS technology to offer viewing angles of up to 170°, which, coupled with the screen's consistent images, colors and brightness, mean you can share content with family and friends. Movies, games and eBooks are all perfectly clear on the 1366 x 768 HD display and sound is excellent with built-in Dolby Digital Plus Stereo speakers.

Specs include an Intel Core i5 processor, as well as an Intel HD 4000 graphics card, and for a tablet/Ultrabook hybrid, the storage offering is good at 120GB. Continuing the Hybrid's bid for portability, the battery life is also notable at 6 hours.

The Hybrid also runs Windows 8, which is enhanced for mobile use, and feels extremely natural and intuitive to those using it in its tablet format. However, it can also be set to desktop mode to provide a more familiar look and feel for working in-situ. A great selection of apps also come pre-installed on the Hybrid, which features Acer Instant On and Acer Instant Connect, so your device is ready to go as soon as you are.

Overall, the Aspire Hybrid Touch caters for all users, whether they need it for business, social, work or pleasure.

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Acer Aspire Slim Design Laptop - Best for Families on a Budget


The Acer Aspire series of notebooks provide a robust and portable platform for work or pleasure at an extremely affordable price. For those on a budget, you can't get much better.

The Acer Aspire is a no-frills sort of laptop. It features a sturdy black matte plastic case, so it won't quickly accumulate irritating fingerprint marks if you're buying it for family use. It measures 15" x 10", is 1" thick, and weighs 6.3lb, so it's not light, but then again this is fine for use around the house.

The Aspire features a considerable 15.6" HD touch screen that’s non-glare, so it can be used in direct sunlight, and this, coupled with its webcam make it great for video chat. The large, bilingual keyboard features a separate number pad that’s perfect for paying bills, and a left justified, multi-gesture touchpad that supports two-finger scroll as well as pinch zoom and rotate gestures.

The Aspire's specs are entry-level, but are particularly good for the laptop's price. It features an Intel Celeron processor as well as an Intel 4400 HD graphics card, which is perfectly adequate for everyday browsing, multimedia and gaming use. Storage wise, the Aspire offers 500GB memory (enough for a generous collection of family films and music), and a 4-hour battery life.

Run on Windows 8, the Aspire is fun to explore with Virtual Tiles, and offers users quick start-up, a great selection of touch-friendly apps accessible via the Windows Store, SkyDrive integration (just in case the storage isn't enough) and split-screen app capability, which is excellent for multitasking.

Overall, the Acer Aspire range is excellent for a budget, entry-level laptop. It does everything it needs to and more, making it a great choice for a family's first laptop.

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HP Pavilion Touchsmart Laptop - Best for the Environment


The HP Pavilion Touchsmart is a reliable, mid-range laptop, which features impressive specs for its price. In addition to this, it also meets strict energy efficiency guidelines to earn itself the HP Energy Star label, which will help you reduce your carbon footprint.

The Pavillion Touchsmart is a relatively large laptop, measuring 13.66" x 9.41" and 0.9" thick. With a weight of 7.3lb, it’s quite a hefty piece of equipment, but the impressive 14" diagonal HD BrightView LED – backlit touchscreen display more than makes up for its bulk.

The size of the laptop means there’s room for a full, island style keyboard, for a comfortable typing experience, as well as a super responsive multi-touch clickpad that allows you to tap, swipe and pinch your way through your day-to-day tasks. Another added bonus of the device is its SuperMulti DVD burner – unusual in laptops this thin – so you can watch DVD movies or even create your own media with the aid of the HP TrueVision webcam with integrated dual array digital microphone.

The hardware in the HP Pavilion Touchsmart is good – a 2.0GHz AMD Quad-Core accelerated processor makes for quick, responsive performance, and the AMD Radeon HD graphics delivers rich intricate detail for gaming and movies, plenty of which can be stored on the 750GB hard drive. An added feature of the Pavilion Touchsmart is HP's ProtectSmart Hard Drive Protection, which keeps the notebook's data safe if the device is accidentally bumped or knocked.

The Pavilion Touchsmart runs Windows 8, and benefits from fast boot up and application start times, as well as some useful and fun preinstalled HP apps, such as the Cyberlink Netflix and Amazon Kindle for PC. The laptop also comes with a Norton Internet Security 60-day free trial, so it offers top-notch security from the outset.

All in all, for hard-wearing dependability – and the knowledge you're doing your bit for the environment – the Pavilion Touchsmart is a great everyday laptop.

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ASUS® Transformer Book Tablet - Best for Students


The ASUS Transformer Book Tablet is a first-rate piece of equipment. It truly offers two-in-one capability, fulfilling its role as both an ultraportable laptop and a fantastic 10" tablet admirably.

The ASUS Transformer Book measures 10.4" by 6.7", and is just 0.92" thick. Although it's compact, the device's keyboard is well-designed and makes for a comfortable typing experience. It weighs 2.4lb in its entirety, with the dock and tablet both weighing 1.2lb individually, which is incredibly light considering its excellent features. The laptop itself is attractive, and features a soft but durable rubber grip, which is great for using on-the-move. It converts easily between its two functions, and feels firm and secure once the tablet has been fixed to the dock, as a release catch has to be firmly pressed to remove it.

The tablet itself features an impressively responsive touchscreen, as well as a 1.2 megapixel camera for HD video recording. It also benefits from a Micro HDMI port, to enable users to extend the display when necessary.

The Transformer Book's hardware includes a 1.33GHz Intel Quad Core Baytrail Processor, responsible for its smooth and speedy performance, as well as an Intel GMA HD Video graphics card, which offers a superb audiovisual experience. Although the Transformer Book's storage is relatively small at 32GB, it benefits from a MicroSD port to enable expansion where necessary.

All of that said, the feature that really makes the Transformer Book good value for the money is the fact that the laptop comes preinstalled with Microsoft Office 2013 Home and Student, which alone retails at $139 at Staples. As well as this, the laptop offers easy access to the Windows Store and Xbox Live, for the simple easy purchase of any other apps or games you might need.

Overall, the ASUS Transformer Book is an excellent value laptop which has managed to stay affordable while still offering first-rate specs, excellent features, and fantastic two-in-one capability. This hardworking little hybrid offers the best of both worlds, and certainly won't fail to impress.

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