The Best Touchscreen Laptops for 2021 | Digital Trends

A touchscreen laptop used to be a luxury, but now there are plenty of options out there. You don’t have to stick to one brand or model, and you can find a touchscreen laptop at almost any price (Black Friday laptop deals can bring out some of the most affordable prices ever), though it can sometimes require paying a premium over non-touch-sensitive displays. The HP Spectre X360 13 is our top pick because of its beautiful design and 2-in-1 feature that allows you to convert it to a tablet.

Whether you’re a student or a professional looking for a new touchscreen laptop, here are some of the best ones.

The best touchscreen laptops at a glance:

The best touchscreen laptop: HP Spectre x360 13 (2021)

Why you should buy this: You want a flexible laptop that performs great in all categories.

Who it’s for: Professionals, perfectionists, and people who want a really good laptop.

Why we picked the HP Spectre x360 13 (2021):

It’s not often that we reward any laptops with a perfect review score, but finding a laptop like the HP Spectre x360 13 is a rare occurrence. This incredible laptop has a beautiful “gem-cut” design, amazing battery life, a keyboard that feels great to use, and 2-in-1 features if you want to convert it to tablet form to sketch, takes notes, etc. It has a little bit of everything and manages to do it all well.

The touchscreen itself is a bright HD display that comes with a handy power-saving mode that can adjust the screen so your battery doesn’t waste too much juice on it. As can be expected with HP laptops, there are plenty of security features onboard, including a facial recognition camera and a fingerprint scanner, as well as a built-in privacy screen. There’s also an upgrade to OLED, although this is a pricey extra feature that has limited value for the average laptop user.

The 2-in-1 also sports the newest 11th-gen Intel Core processors, starting with the Core i7-1165G7. the base model also starts with 8GB of RAM and a 256Gb PCIe NVMe SSD, although these can easily be updated. Ports include two USB-C with Thunderbolt 3 support, USB-A 3.1 with fast charging, and DisplayPort 1.4. The design has undergone considerable improvement too, with a bezel-less screen, full-sized keyboard available in a variety of colors, and upgraded fast-charge battery, while the weight clocks in at a very manageable 2.8 pounds.

Read the latest news on HP’s 2021 laptops

The best touchscreen Chromebook: Google Pixelbook Go

Google Pixelbook Go Not Pink Prototype

Why you should buy this: It’s a versatile and powerful Chromebook that can do almost anything.

Who it’s for: Students who want a Chromebook that will last and professionals who like Chrome OS.

Why we picked the Google Pixelbook Go:

Do Chromebooks seem lacking in storage to you? Google has a compromise with its own 2-in-1 Pixelbook Go. It offers more power and space so it can function as a more versatile laptop than other, more streamlined Chromebooks (albeit at a higher cost, too).

The Pixelbook Go is equipped with a 13.3-inch display, which can be upgraded from full HD to 4K if you prefer. You also get a broad choice in processors, from an Intel Core m3 to a Core i7, depending on what you need. RAM ranges from 8GB to 15GB and storage from 64GB to a 256GB SSD drive.

The battery for the Pixelbook Go is rated at around 12 hours of standard activity, making it a long-lasting device. You’ll need a couple of dongles or adapters, though, as its port selection is limited to just one USB-C and a headphone jack.

Read our full PixelBook Go review

The best touchscreen 2-in-1: Microsoft Surface Pro 7

Why you should buy this: It’s the best 2-in-1 you can buy, hands down.

Who it’s for: Mobile professionals and those who want a Windows 10 tablet.

Why we picked the Microsoft Surface Pro 7:

The Surface Pro line has always been a high-end option for excellent 2-in-1 models, and the Surface Pro 7 adds some long-awaited features to the line that make it even more ready for today’s business world. If you want the best Windows 10 tablet, this is your top option and our current favorite 2-in-1.

It comes with a 12.3-inch UHD touchscreen and several choices of processors, up to a 10th-gen Intel Core i7 chip for the latest performance. You can also choose up to 16GB of RAM and up to 1TB of SSD storage — which means this slim laptop can become as powerful as you need.

There’s also a USB-C port, something the Pro 6 was sadly lacking, plus USB-A, a headphone jack, ports for Surface Connect and Surface Type Cover, and a MicroSDXC card reader. While the battery is rated for 10.5 hours, our tests showed that Microsoft Surface Pro 7 performed a bit worse than the Pro 6, possibly because of the higher processor speeds and better display qualities.

Read our full Microsoft Surface Pro 7 review

The best touchscreen laptop under $500: Dell Inspiron 14 5000 (2021)

Why you should buy this: A solid laptop that’s more affordable than ever.

Who it’s for: Those who need a touchscreen on a budget but don’t want to sacrifice quality.

Why we picked the Dell Inspiron 14 5000:

The Inspiron 14 series is reliable for those seeking affordable computers (sometimes, this can also be a downside). The latest Inspiron 14 7000 is a compromise between a cheap laptop and updated tech that will last you years into the future, a good buy for those who want a focus on affordability while making sure they get their money’s worth.

While the 14-inch display — larger than many of our picks — is certainly a point in favor, the tech inside has all been fully updated for the latest options. You get an 11th-gen Intel Core i7-1115G4 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB PCIe NVMe SSD for storage on the base model. The laptop is ready for Wi-Fi 6 and has the latest Bluetooth standards as well, so wireless connections should not pose a problem.

Ports include USB-A 3.0, HDMI 1.4b, and thankfully the new addition of USB-C for newer and faster connections. All are well positioned, highlighting the strong, durable design of this Dell laptop. There’s not a ton of storage on this affordable 2-in-1, but the price is very hard to beat when you factor in the latest upgrades.

The best touchscreen laptop for students: Microsoft Surface Go 2

Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

Why you should buy this: This 2-in-1 is an easy, durable choice when you’re always on the move.

Who it’s for: Students and professionals who don’t need to get a Surface Pro.

Why we picked the Microsoft Surface Go 2:

The Go 2 improves on the affordable 2-in-1 in several ways, notably with a larger 10.5-inch touchscreen that improved its screen resolution to HD and enhanced the battery life to 10 hours. At only 1.2 pounds, it’s the lightest option on our list, too, ideal for carrying around with you throughout the day.

You can choose up to 8GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD storage, but we like the lower specs that keep the price down. At the base level, it’s the most affordable Surface device Microsoft offers, and well within a wider range of budgets. Perfect for those who don’t need or can’t justify buying a Surface Pro. You will need to buy the optional typer cover to give this 2-in-1 full laptop functionality, however.

We love that this the Microsoft Surface Go 2 comes equipped with a USB-C connection for the latest, fastest data connections, although there’s also a Surface Connect port and a MicroSDX card reader.

Read our full Surface Go 2 review

Research and buying tips

Do touchscreen laptops use more battery?

They can, but this question is trickier than it seems. All sorts of laptop display settings can drain your battery, especially screen brightness.

Touchscreens use a simple capacitive layer on the display to detect your fingers, which uses hardly any electricity at all. However, as touchscreen laptops have grown more complex, there are more features “watching” for touch inputs, which can drain battery life over time. For a variety of reasons, touchscreen laptops tend to use their batteries faster than models without a touchscreen. Oh, and disabling the touchscreen won’t make a difference. Most laptops simply set the screen to ignore all touches, accidental or otherwise, but the battery-draining features are still there.

The real reason touchscreen laptops tend to get worse battery life is because sometimes they are limited to higher resolution configurations, such as with the Dell XPS 13. A 4K screen is the primary battery-sucker here, not the touchscreen addition.

Are touchscreen laptops good for drawing?

This is a very model-specific question! Some touchscreen laptops are horrible for drawing, while others are actually very good at it. Look for a 2-in-1 model that’s stylus compatible with something like the Surface Pen (Microsoft’s Surface models, Lenovo Yoga models, etc.). Then look carefully at reviews and see if people find that the laptop model is good for sketching and drawing. If the display isn’t able to lay completely flat, it’s probably not a good choice as a drawing surface.

Does Apple have a touchscreen laptop?

Apple does have a touchscreen laptop, as long as you count the iPad Pro as one. Sure, it’s technically a tablet, but there have been major developments to make it laptop-like, especially with the features from the new iPadOS. 

We don’t foresee Apple creating and developing touchscreen MacBooks any time in the near future. You might be wondering the reason for this, and this is because Apple’s designers just don’t like the idea. Nevertheless, Apple did launch a feature called Sidecar on MacOS Catalina. Sidecar works as a connective tool for your MacBook and iPad to enable screen-sharing. This efficiently supplies your MacBook with a convenient touch screen mode, with seamless usage using the Apple Pencil or simply your fingers. You can benefit from using Sidecar, especially when you’re drawing. Overall, it’s always helpful to have a touchscreen to complete other tasks too.

Are all 2-in-1 laptops touchscreen laptops?

When manufacturers refer to laptops as “2-in-1,” they mean that these laptops can transform into a tablet if needed. Because these laptops can work as a tablet, their displays are touchscreens. This classifies them as touchscreen laptops automatically. You often convert a 2-in-1 by folding the screen backward or removing the keyboard. A few examples of these types of laptops are the Lenovo Yoga, HP Spectre 360x, and Microsoft Surface Book.

They’re hard to find, but a few of the traditional clam-shell laptops possess touchscreens. Samples of conventional clam-shell laptops with touchscreens are the Surface Laptop 2 and some Dell XPS 13 versions.

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