by Tom Samiljan
Is the world’s best travel laptop dead? Ten years after Steve Jobs introduced the MacBook Air to the world, the laptop is on Apple Inc.’s back burner—and some fear that it’s being phased out entirely.
Rather than redesigning and upgrading the hardware like all of the tech giant’s other marquee products, Apple has left the Air to collect dust, and now the MacBook and MacBook Pro are taking the spotlight. While they’re more powerful, they’re not as convenient for frequent travelers.
On the surface, the MacBook and MacBook Pro measure up to the Air. They’re comparable in terms of size and weight, though they lack the superskinny, sloping gradient design that makes the Air so easy to slide in and out of carry-ons. But the new models lack the Air’s “chiclet” keyboard, with its silent and spacious keys. The replacement “butterfly” design has been so prone to malfunction and sticky keys that Apple recently overhauled its warranty coverage for certain MacBooks. And that’s not even taking into account these models’ smaller screens, shorter battery life, comparatively high price points, and designs that have barely changed in more than a decade.
Add it all up, and it’s no surprise that Mac-loyal warriors around the world are increasingly being seduced by lighter, sleeker, sexier, and more powerful laptops—ones that run Windows and Chrome OS.
These five MacBook replacements are guaranteed to meet your work and play needs, whether you’re bored in a business-class suite, dashing off PowerPoint slides in a hotel room, or banking on the Shinkansen. Based on a global road test that took us from New York to Los Angeles and Tokyo to Paris, these were the best of roughly a dozen new options—all standing out for their excellent portability, keyboard comfort, battery life, and computing power.
Start the slideshow to find our top five.