Home / PC & Laptops / Reviewing the Four Laptops We Use at Fstoppers – Fstoppers

Reviewing the Four Laptops We Use at Fstoppers – Fstoppers

Believe it or not, we work exclusively on Windows computers in the Fstoppers office. Normally, we work on desktops with dual monitors, but when we travel, we reach for one of four different laptops. 

The HP Zbook X2 G4 is a laptop-tablet hybrid. It comes with both a keyboard and a stylus. It also has customizable shortcut keys on both sides of the screen, making retouching without a keyboard a pleasure. 

Pros

  • Beautiful, matte 4K display 
  • Physical shortcut keys on bezel make retouching with a stylus a breeze
  • Stylus uses Wacom technology and doesn’t require a battery
  • Kickstand allows for comfortable drawing positions
  • Keyboard can be used wirelessly via Bluetooth
  • Fantastic port options: USB 3.0, USB Type-C, HDMI, SD, headphone

Cons

  • Extremely heavy at almost 4 lbs
  • Shortcut keys make the bezel extremely thick, which eats into screen size

Who Is It for?

The only reason to purchase this computer is if you are constantly using a stylus for retouching or digital art. If you prefer using a mouse and keyboard, you’ll probably want to buy a computer with a larger screen and more powerful components. It’s currently $700 off at B&H, which is an incredible value. 

The Surface Book is also a laptop-tablet hybrid, but it actually looks like a normal laptop. Instead of all of the components being crammed behind the screen, the Surface Book moves the majority of the batteries and the graphics card into the keyboard. 

Pros

  • Quite possibly the most impressive laptop design I’ve ever seen (from an engineering standpoint)
  • When the screen is connected to the keyboard, you have a very capable laptop
  • The tablet portion is incredibly thin, light, and the bezels are relatively thin
  • Surface Pen is extremely well designed and has a fantastic feel

Cons

  • The tablet portion of this computer has only 1-3 hours of use when it isn’t connected to the keyboard
  • Occasionally, the computer will not detach the screen from the keyboard
  • The tablet portion doesn’t have a kickstand, making it difficult to draw on 

Who Is It for?

The Surface Book is an amazing choice for someone who wants a full-blown laptop with a graphics card, but also wants to draw on the screen. My main gripe with the Surface Book is that the battery life is so poor on the tablet portion that I almost never use it as a tablet. If you don’t need the graphics card, I would suggest our next laptop, the Surface Pro.

The Surface Pro is very similar to the Surface Book, but it’s made to be used more as a tablet. The Surface Pro does lack a dedicated graphics card, but it packs up to eight hours of battery life and a kickstand behind the screen, making it much more useful. 

Pros

  • Can be used as a tablet or a laptop with the optional Surface Pro Type Cover
  • Surface Pen is extremely well designed and has a fantastic feel
  • Kickstand makes using the Surface Pro as a laptop or tablet much easier

Cons

  • Type Cover works well, but can’t connect wirelessly
  • Using it as a laptop on your lap can be awkward
  • Only one USB and one mini DisplayPort
  • Too thin to be a very powerful PC

Who Is It for?

I don’t recommend anyone buy a Surface Pro as their only computer, but it is a fantastic companion to a more powerful machine. If you’re looking for a computer that can easily be both a laptop and a tablet, the Surface Pro is probably your best bet. 

The Dell XPS 15 is the most powerful laptop that Dell makes that still fits in a sleek body. Yes, Alienware laptops can be configured with more powerful components, but they are much more difficult to travel with, and I prefer if my laptop doesn’t look like a 12-year-old boy designed it. 

Pros

  • Incredible 4K display with ultra-thin bezels 
  • Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.1, HDMI, and SD card reader
  • Relatively thin for laptop with dedicated graphics cards
  • Most powerful of all laptops we own

Cons

  • Touchscreen works with fingers but not a stylus
  • Can’t be used as a tablet

Who Is It for?

This Dell XPS 15 is a fantastic option for anyone looking for a powerful computer in a relatively compact body. If you’re anything like me and you prefer working on a mouse and keyboard, the gigantic 15-inch display will probably be your favorite feature. If you’re looking for a great deal, we’ve had good luck buying used Dell laptops on Dells Outlet and on eBay. You can save 50 percent and still get a laptop under warranty. 


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