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Laptops

Best laptop of 2011

We look back on the 10 best laptops of 2011 and pick our favourite models from the racks of desktop replacements, gaming machines and ultrabooks.

The technology world is moving at an incredible pace and laptops are no exception to this. The last 12 months have seen a remarkable number of machines being offered with huge amounts of power shoved inside increasingly slim bodies.

The advent of the ultrabook genre saw razor-sharp laptops, crammed full of high-performance components, just begging to tackle demanding tasks on the move.

Desktop replacement laptops are just as popular as ever, offering massive high-resolution screens and enough muscle to satisfy all but the most hardcore of users.

With so many varieties being pushed out by a plethora of manufacturers, there's a laptop to suit everyone's needs and budget. We take a look through our top 10 favourite laptops of 2011.

Acer Aspire Timeline X 5830T

10. Acer Aspire Timeline X 5830T

We've seen a huge number of laptops this year that have failed to excite our eyes with their plain, boring designs, so the attractive blue shade of the Timeline X was a refreshing change and one that is sure to appeal to the more style-conscious.

It's not just about looks though; the slim aluminium shell provides robust protection from knocks and bumps. Meanwhile, the Intel Core i3 processor and generous 6GB of RAM help it tackle intense computing tasks.

Dell XPS 14Z

9. Dell XPS 14Z

With its full metal jacket and slot-loading DVD drive, Dell's XPS 14Z can arguably be seen as a cheaper alternative to Apple's MacBook Pro. It may not have the unibody design of the MacBook but the body still feels very solid. It manages to squeeze in a 14-inch screen in a case size that would normally accommodate a 13-inch.

The Core i5 processor pumps out some serious juice for cracking through all your work and the meaty battery will keep you going for longer between plugs.

Toshiba Qosmio X770

8. Toshiba Qosmio X770

With its enormous 17.3-inch screen, the Qosmio X770 isn't made for travelling. It's much better off sat on your desk working as a media machine. The screen has a full HD resolution which, when coupled with the Blu-ray drive, makes the X770 ideal for watching your movies.

If you pop on some daft glasses, you can even enjoy videos -- and games -- in 3D. With a Core i7 processor and 8GB of RAM, the X770 is perfectly capable of tackling serious computing tasks. The powerful dedicated graphics card will even have a stab at the latest games.

MSI GT680

7. MSI GT680

The GT680 is another beast that doesn't want to be your travel companion. It's slathered in orange lights and big vents that look angry enough to tear your face off if you looked at it the wrong way. The Intel Core i7 processor and 8GB of RAM give an astounding performance and the dedicated graphics card produced one of the best results we've ever seen on a laptop.

Whether you're wanting to chill back with a movie on the high-definition screen or practise your head shots in Call of Duty, the MSI GT680 will be raring to go.

Samsung Series 9

6. Samsung Series 9

Samsung's Series 9 may have been slightly overshadowed by the new ultrabooks, but it's still an incredibly slim -- and utterly gorgeous -- piece of kit. It's covered in a metal called duralumin, which is the same stuff they make fighter jets from.

You won't be able to launch an attack on your mates with it, but it's certainly powerful enough for you to Photoshop them into some compromising scenarios. Take that, friends.

Acer Aspire Ethos

5. Acer Aspire Ethos 5951G

The Aspire Ethos comes with the sort of sharp good looks that wouldn't look out of place in a Bond movie. It's got a sleek black metal chassis that's easily slender enough to slide into a stylish bag. What's more, it comes with some burly specifications under the hood.

Like any good secret agent, there's a little trick up its sleeve; flick a switch and the trackpad pops out to use as a neat media remote for when you can't be bothered getting up to put the next film on. It's the perfect laptop if you're terrified of physical exertion.

Apple MacBook Air

4. Apple MacBook Air 13-inch

The late, great Steve Jobs made quite a splash on the laptop world when he unveiled the seriously slim Air from an envelope. The current 13-inch Air retains the same ultra-portable dimensions, with the front end tapering down to a mere 7mm.

The casing is machined from a single piece of metal, which means it's extremely sturdy. It can be specced-up to include a Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and a super-fast 256GB solid state disk drive, making it the ideal companion for the wealthy worker on the go.

Samsung Series 7

3. Samsung Series 7

The metal shell of the Series 7 smacks somewhat of Apple's MacBook Pro, but it gives off a more professional air. It's perfect for your office or for chilling out in an airport business lounge. The 15.6-inch screen has a tiny bezel so it will display photos, videos and documents at their best.

With extremely powerful components and a very comfortable keyboard, the Series 7 is a superb work laptop that will happily chew through games on your downtime.

Apple MacBook Pro

2. Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch

For many, the 13-inch MacBook Pro is the ultimate in laptop dreams. Sporting the same unibody design as the MacBook Air, it's supremely sturdy and can be configured to be immensely powerful. Because of the 13-inch model's svelte dimensions, it can happily be slipped into a bag or a sleeve and taken across town on an adventure.

It has a superbly bright and vivid display, so cruising around the latest version of Apple's operating system -- OS X Lion -- becomes all the more enjoyable.

Asus Zenbook UX21

1. Asus Zenbook UX21

The ultrabook is a new genre encompassing laptops that are exceedingly slim, yet which still pack a meaty punch of power. The Asus Zenbook UX21 delivers on this dream perfectly. At its thickest point, the body measures only 17mm, which tapers down to a micro 3mm that's so sharp, you're in danger of cutting your eye just by looking at it. You also get an Intel Core i5 processor with 4GB of RAM, which helps it give a blistering performance with all kinds of computing tasks.

Low power, high-speed components allow it to achieve a near-instant resume-from-sleep time. It can also remain in sleep mode for several weeks. The Zenbook UX21 is arguably the ultimate combination of power, portability and price that most certainly deserves your money. Don't keep it waiting.