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Why you should consider a 14-inch laptop

Need a midsize laptop? Here's why you should consider a 14-inch model instead of a 15-inch one, plus some of our recent favorites.

Despite all the (virtual) ink we spend on hip 11- and 13-inch laptops, the bulk of laptops sold are still in the midsize category. For most consumers, that means a 15.6-inch display, but we consider any laptop with a 14-, 15-, or 16-inch screen to be part of that midsize category. These are the laptops you're most likely going to find sitting on an office desk, in a den, or in a dorm room. We've even seen our fair share of them wedged into airplane seats and in coffee shops, as awkward as that always looks.

If you're set on a midsize laptop, one piece of advice we've offered for the past couple of years is to consider a 14-inch system rather than a more common 15-inch one. While you're trading away a little bit of screen size (but not any screen resolution), we've consistently found that 14-inch midsize laptops offer better overall industrial design, specifically because the standard laptop keyboard fits much better in a 14-inch chassis than a 15-inch one, leaving much less dead space on either side. And, by shaving off a little size and weight, these 14-inch models are easier to carry around--which is important, as we've seen many commuters struggling under the weight of oversize laptops.

Though they make up only a small percentage of the laptops we review, we've put together a handy list of some of the better 14-inch laptops from the past several months. Note that the latest Intel Sandy Bridgeversions of these (or similar) systems are still a ways out, especially as this week's widely reported Sandy Bridge design problemsare likely to delay second-gen Core i-series laptops even further. But for general interest computing, these current models will be more than fine, and you shouldn't worry about waiting if you have an immediate need for a new laptop.