We gauged laptop brands across 8 categories: reviews, tech support, design, keyboards & touchpads, display & audio, innovation, value & selection, and software. Categories are weighted a value of either 20, 15, 10, or 5 points, for a total possible brand score of 100 points. Here’s a guide to our criteria for each of the eight categories.
For this category, we examined reviews from January 2013 through January 2014, and it is weighted heavily to reflect the average star ratings and performance scores from a given company’s notebooks. Extra points are offered for Editors’ Choice Award-winning machines.
If a company doesn’t believe in its own products enough to help the average Joe with common issues, then the company isn’t worth your time. That’s why this category, based on our annual Tech Support Showdown, is worth a hefty 20 percent of a brand’s overall grade.
These 15 points hinge on a company’s overall design — including things like materials used, durability and color — and take every sub-brand into account.
If you can’t type comfortably or move the cursor around on a laptop with ease, the machine is doomed. We award these 15 points based on keyboard travel, flex and responsiveness. Touchpads should offer easy navigation, easy-to-use buttons and fluid gesture support.
Relying on measurements of screen brightness and audio output in combination with a brand’s viewing angles, resolution, touch responsiveness and speaker quality, we determine these 10 points.
These 10 points are subjective, but it’s important to reward brands that attempt to break the mold. We look at which companies are walking on the cutting edge as an indicator of which ones are moving the category forward, especially in regard to laptop-tablet hybrids.
More than just dollar signs, these five points are about bang for your buck — which companies offer the best performance for the money, and which ones have the largest selection so they can offer something for everyone’s needs.
For this category, we evaluate the branded utilities and third-party software that each company includes with its laptops. How useful and unique — or annoying — are the preloaded options?