Windows alternatives to the MacBook Air

There's a good reason Apple's MacBook Air doesn't change much year after year: It doesn't need to.

The 13-inch Air, with its thin lightweight body, solid performance, long battery life, and excellent keyboard and touchpad, is considered by many to be the best laptop for most people's needs. Something we're sure Windows PC makers are keenly aware of.

And guess what? The ultrabook competition has caught up to Apple in terms of design and features for the most part, especially when it comes to their displays.

To that end, here are eight great picks for Windows 8.1 laptop alternatives to the 13-inch MacBook Air.

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Acer Aspire S7-392

With Gorilla Glass covering the lid and 1080p screen, the Acer looks the part of a high-end ultrabook trying to set itself apart, but in a good way.

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CNET Editors' Rating
4 stars Excellent

Toshiba Kirabook 13-17s

The first Kirabook was disappointing for its price-to-performance ratio, though we loved its 2,560x1,440 touchscreen display. This second-gen Kirabook has a new processor, better battery life, and some adjustments to features and prices that make it a far better purchase.

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CNET Editors' Rating
4 stars Excellent

Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus

It ain't cheap, but there's a lot to like with this 3.2-pound stunner including a sturdy, slim design, the ultra-high-res touchscreen, and long battery life.

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CNET Editors' Rating
4 stars Excellent

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro

If you want to take better advantage of Windows 8.1's touch capabilities, the Yoga 2 Pro is the computer to get. You get the look and feel of a regular clamshell laptop, but the flexibility to turn it into a tablet by flipping the screen 360 degrees.

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CNET Editors' Rating
4 stars Excellent

Dell XPS 13

It took a couple years for Dell to make the improvements we were after, but it was worth the wait.

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CNET Editors' Rating
4 stars Excellent

HP Spectre 13

Though it's become tough to find, the HP Spectre 13 might be worth hunting down because it's such a well-rounded ultrabook.

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CNET Editors' Rating
4 stars Excellent

Sony Vaio Pro 13

Like the HP Spectre, the Sony Vaio Pro 13 is not easily found since Sony sold off the Vaio brand (and going forward will only be available in Japan). It is still around, however, and a great example of power and performance in an ultrasmall, superlight 13-inch laptop.

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CNET Editors' Rating
4 stars Excellent

Asus Zenbook UX301

The Asus UX301 joins the Toshiba KiraBook, Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro, Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus, and others in offering a touch screen that goes beyond 1080p, and is well beyond what the MacBook Air offers. Its battery life isn't as long as others listed here, but its computing performance is top notch.

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CNET Editors' Rating
3.5 stars Very good

Honorable mention: Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Though the intent of this roundup was to highlight ultraportable Windows 8.1 clamshell laptops, several of our readers believe the Surface Pro 3 deserves a spot on this list because it competes strongly with the MacBook Air. If you're considering any of these other laptops, you might want to throw this tablet-cum-laptop into the mix, too.

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CNET Editors' Rating
4 stars Excellent

Where to Buy

Kirabook 13-i7s-touch Ultrabook

Part Number: PSU8SU-00F00D
MSRP: $1,699.99 Low Price: $1,650.00 See all prices

Where to Buy

Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus

Part Number: NP940X3G-K01US
MSRP: $1,399.99 Low Price: $1,399.99 See all prices

Where to Buy

HP Spectre 13t-3000 Ultrabook

Part Number: E5J34AV
MSRP: $999.99 Low Price: $949.99 See all prices
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