Laptops in 2013 – top five trends and predictions for 2013

Macbook Pro retina

With the tidal wave of tablets released in 2012, you’d think the days of the humble laptop are numbered. Not so! We take a trip into the year ahead and see what laptops in 2013 will be featuring – from the rise of ultrathin laptops, cheaper ultrabooks, and high-resolution IGZO laptop displays, 2013 could see laptops back in vogue.

With the tidal wave of tablets in 2012, you’d think the days of the humble laptop are numbered. Not so! We take a trip into the year ahead and see what laptops in 2013 will be featuring – from the rise of ultrathin laptops, cheaper ultrabooks, and high-resolution IGZO laptop displays, 2013 could see laptops back in vogue.

Looking for the best laptop in 2013? Read the Which? guide on how to buy the best laptop to meet your New Year needs.

1. Look out for cheaper ultrabooks in 2013

The sweet spot for laptop sales is around £400, according to research by Which?. That’s the tipping point where you get just enough oomph per pound to make a laptop a worthwhile purchase. And there are lots of £400 laptops, but 2012’s laptop poster children – ultrabooks – have yet to hit anywhere near those price points. Expect all that to change in 2013.

Ultrabooks – with their skinny, lightweight frames – are forecast to adopt many of the cost-efficiency methods used by the car industry to drive down costs as production lines ramp up product. The result will see a dramatic fall in the price of powerful ultrabooks that use ever-cheaper solid state media and adopt a uniform chasis design to push them more into the mainstream. If you’ve been holding out for an ultrabook from the likes of Dell, Acer and Lenovo, then expect prices to tumble throughout 2013.

Not sure about ultrabooks? Read our guide to what is an ultrabook to see if an ultrabook is right for you.

2. Laptop tablet combos arrive in 2013

We’ve already covered the rise of the tablet laptop combo in our top 5 tablet trends for  2013, but it’s worth revisiting. While much has been made of tablets eating into the laptop market (and with over 120 million tablets sold in 2013, it’s a big bite), laptops still excel at actually doing useful things such as work, gaming, and professional creativity.

Read our guide to the top 5 laptop tablet combo products compared to help you choose.

Expect to see some tablet functionality jump the divide in 2013, as laptops adopt touchscreens due to the arrival of Windows 8 and customer satisfaction with poking, prodding and swiping their way around a screen. We’re already seeing some tentative moves into this arena with the Lenovo Yoga, Asus Transformer, and Sony Vaio laptops. 2013 will be the year laptops get – literally – a lot more touchy-feely. Which leads us to…

3. Ultrathin laptops will be the new ultrabooks

Ultrathins will be the focus for new laptops in 2013. Taking a lead from tablets, this new class of laptop will strip much of a the redundancy found in laptops clear away to create cheap, thin, connected and powerful laptops that are more like a tablet with better performance.

Thanks to tumbling prices for solid-state media such as storage, faster connectivity such as the advent of Broadcom’s 5G Wi-Fi developments doing away for the need for ethernet ports, and faster broadband removing the need for optical media, ultrathins will deliver speedy performance in a thin case. Think Apple Macbook Air, but thinner, cheaper and just as powerful, and you’ll be in the right ballpark.

4. High(er)-resolution laptop displays in 2013

Where Apple goes, the industry usually tags along. In June 2012, Apple introduced its Macbook Pro with Retina display that packed a staggering 5.1 million pixels on its 15-inch panel – over twice the number found on a HD TV screen. Expect that trend to accelerate in 2013 as a pixel arms race ignites and laptop manufacturers rush to bring very high resolution laptop screens into the mainstream, and technologies such as Sharp’s IGZO screens begin to make a splash.

Intel reckons 2013 will be the year laptops up their display game, with an Intel roadmap predicting 15-inch laptops boasting resolutions of 3840-x-2160 (that’s 8.3 million pixels, fact fans, and far greater than visual resolution limit of the human eye). Just don’t expect them to be cheap – high-resolution displays will still command a hefty price tag in 2013, but at least you’ll be able to clearly see where your money went.

5. Laptops with non-removable parts in 2013

When was the last time you upgraded a laptop? If you have, then you may have been an exception. The last several years have seen laptops trending to smaller, lighter, unibody designs that are increasingly troublesome to swap out parts. Bad news for laptop tinkerers – that trend will pick up pace in 2013 with laptops ditching even the ability to upgrade its components.

Intel was rumoured back in November 2012 to be considering moving to non-upgradeable CPUs in the future, and Apple (again!) has made the latest Macbook Pro with Retina displays very difficult to upgrade. Ram is soldered onto the motherboard, and the battery is glued into place. Expect more of the same as laptop makers wise up the fact most people don’t upgrade their laptops, and would rather have a cheaper, lighter and more long-lasting battery life instead.

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