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Lighter laptops, longer-lasting batteries for computers at CES 2015

New materials, processors, and designs make this a big year for laptops, desktops, hybrids and tablets.

Now playing: Watch this: The most innovative computers of CES 2015
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LAS VEGAS -- The halls and hotel suites of CES 2015 provided a huge number of noteworthy new computers, thanks to the introduction of new components, innovative new materials, and new ideas for how to make and sell PCs.

Leading the charge was Intel, with its long-awaited fifth-generation Core series CPUs, also known by the codename Broadwell. These processors will provide a modest boost to both performance and battery life in laptops, tablets, and hybrids, but more importantly, give major PC makers a good excuse to refresh product lines and add new models.

The 1.7-pound Lenovo LaVie Z. Sarah Tew / CNET

Some of those new PCs make major jumps over past models, thanks to new design innovations. The most notable, for me, was the Lenovo LaVie , a very thin and light 13-inch laptop made in conjunction with NEC. Thanks to a new magnesium-lithium alloy, it weighs less than any comparable system we've seen -- only 1.7 pounds or 0.8kg for a 13-inch clamshell laptop, or under 2.1 pounds or 1kg for a 13-inch hybrid.

Dell had perhaps the most-admired new aesthetic design of the show, with its updated XPS 13 . That system added an eye-catching slim bezel, much like one would find on a current flatscreen TV, which allowed it to fit a 13-inch display into a body closer to an 11- or 12-inch laptop.

Small desktops also made a surprisingly strong appearance, with HP offering a Mac-Mini-like Pavilion and Stream Mini line, and a startup called The Hive pitching a unique modular PC concept no bigger than a phablet. Intel had its own version, an Atom-powered PC-in-a-stick .

Dell's sharp-looking XPS 13. Sarah Tew/CNET

Several systems also added Intel's new RealSense camera , a new hardware/software combo that adds depth perception to webcams, allowing for new gesture controls, basic 3D scanning, and other party tricks.

Unlike some past years when computers previewed at CES were not heard from again until the back-to-school or holiday seasons, most of the systems we saw this year will be on sale within a few weeks to a few months. That's because, also unlike previous years, Intel's new line of CPUs are available right away, rather than trickling out during the course of the following year or two.