Power Machines

A look at innovative workhorses which will keep you ahead of the pack.

HP Spectre X360 HP Spectre X360

What do most successful CEOs require to stay ahead in their game? Besides resources and talent, they also look for power-packed personal devices, not just over-the-top smartphones but laptops which are veritable workhorses. Unlike smartphones, the pace of innovation has not been frenetic in the laptop space. But of late, patents have been filed by top companies such as Apple and Lenovo, breathing new life into the industry.

Based on patent applications, rumours are rife that a laptop with a folding OLED (organic light-emitting diode) display from Lenovo or one from Apple sporting a massive secondary touchscreen and replacing both keyboard and touchpad could hit the market soon. But before they arrive, we look at a few unique and upmarket laptops which combine innovation, design and productivity to emerge as the best in business that one could wish for.

The widely anticipated MacBook Pro with a dual display (Retina display with touchscreen for keyboard and trackpad) is yet to make an appearance, but ZenBook 14 (Rs  89,990 onwards) from Asus has a similar technology to offer. It boasts an ultra-portable design, an ultra-light chassis, a bezel-less display and a NumberPad touchpad where LEDs underneath the touchpad light up when the NumberPad is activated.

Asus Zenbook Pro 15

Long-pressing the NumberPad icon puts it back to the normal touchpad mode. The patent-pending NumberPad is made of five layers, including a black layer with number cutouts at the bottom, a grey, translucent ink layer, a layer with silver particles, an inked switched layer and a glass layer on the top. The ZenBook Pro 15 takes it a step further with a ScreenPad (trackpad), an interactive display that switches functionality to gel with the application or programme in use. ScreenPad apps are compatible with a wide range of programmes, including music players with controls, launchers for app shortcuts, calculators, numeric keys, ScreenPad Office and Adobe Sign. Its price starts at Rs  1,84,990 and variants are available with Intel i7 and i9 processors.

This is not a new technology, though. The Touch Bar on Apple's MacBook Pro works similarly. Being a bit more versatile, the Touch Bar replaces function keys on the keyboard and automatically switches between relevant tools depending on what you are doing. For instance, icons for composing, replying, archiving, junking and flagging messages appear under Mail, but predictive text input and formatting options take over as soon as you start writing an e-mail message.

Apart from the Touch Bar, the MacBook Pro is worth considering due to its power under the hood and the security it brings to the table. Other than the Touch ID fingerprint scanner for unlocking the machine or password-protecting folders, it also comes with Apple's T2 Security Chip that includes a Secure Enclave coprocessor for providing secure boot and encrypted storage capabilities. Available in 13-inch (powered by 8th gen Intel i5 processor) and 15-inch (8th gen Intel i7), the Pro, with Touch Bar and Touch ID, is priced at Rs  1,69,900 onwards. The recently upgraded MacBook Air (13 inches and without Touch Bar) also borrows a lot of features from the MacBook Pro, including the Touch ID and the security chip. Other features include an Intel i5 processor, macOS Mojave and more than eight hours of battery backup. MacBook Air price starts at Rs  1,14,900.

If you are looking for a laptop extraordinaire, go for HP's Spectre x360. This convertible sports diamond-shaped corners and one of them houses an angled USB Type C connector. There are narrow bezels on all sides and a neat, rectangular speaker grill just above the keyboard. Security features are many, including an infrared camera, a fingerprint reader, a camera-kill switch (a physical switch to turn off the camera) and a privacy screen.

Pressing the F1 key activates the privacy screen mode and the screen appears dark to everyone except the user. Also, the touch display with 4K resolution protected with Corning Gorilla Glass can be used to write and draw using the HP digital pen, which is sold separately. The machine is powered by 8th gen Intel i5 processor, comes with 8 GB RAM and the pricing starts at Rs  1,29,990. Another variant with 16 GB RAM and 8th gen Intel i7 processor is available for Rs  1,89,990.

Apple Macbook Pro with Touch Id

If you want to go for a simple Windows machine, take a look at the recently launched devices. The Surface Pro 6 is a Windows 10 tablet with a 165-degree kickstand and a Type Cover or detachable keyboard. It also features a 12.3-inch display, supports Surface Pen, and comes with artificial intelligence features available on Office 365. This one is priced at Rs  83,999. The Type Cover and Surface Pen can be purchased separately. You can also opt for the all-new Surface Laptop 2 that features a PixelSense Touch display with keyboard and trackpad and up to 14 hours of battery backup. It is priced at Rs  91,999 onwards. Both are powered by 8th gen Intel i5/i7 processor and are available in various configurations.