Computing

The most anticipated laptops of 2022, so far

These are the new laptops, from MacBooks to gaming systems, I'm most interested in seeing this year.

It's only January, but I've already got a laptop wish list for 2022. Most of these picks come from news announced earlier this month at CES, while others are my own informed speculation about what I expect later this year. 

I'd expect every must-have laptop of this year to have a better webcam, although realistically that's not always going to be the case. I also think we're going to see more 5G-enabled PCs, more hybrid work machines with things like privacy screen filters, and more graphics power in laptops that may not be pitched as "gaming laptops." 

M1 MacBook Air

The most recent MacBook Air. 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

MacBook Air 2022

Will there be a new MacBook Air in 2022? Probably. Do we know for sure? No. The previous model kept the look and feel the same, but jumped to the Apple M1 chip from an Intel CPU. Now MacBook Pro laptops have better M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, plus improved webcams, so a new Air could add more processor options, a full HD camera (at long last) or even a new, more streamlined look. My other two big unknowns are: Will it stick with just a pair of USB-C ports? And will the headphone jack survive to fight another day? 

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The new Dell XPS 13 Plus has a capacitive touch function key row and an all-glass front lip. 

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Dell XPS 13 Plus

Here's an upcoming laptop that is actually ditching the headphone jack, which may or may not be a sign of things to come. This is a new premium version of the popular XPS 13, and it has a new minimalist look. There's no indented touchpad, just a single piece of glass all the way along the front of the system. And there's a Touch-Bar-like strip for the Function keys, which you'll probably either love or hate, but it definitely looks cool. 

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The 17-inch screen folds in the middle. 

Asus

Asus Fold 17

This may be impractical or too expensive or just too forward-looking, but I definitely want to see it in person. Folding and flexible laptop screens have actually been around for a couple of years, just in a very small handful of systems or prototypes. Just as phones with folding screens are finally getting good enough to go mainstream, that could happen with laptops, too. The hook here is that this will be a huge, 17-inch tablet that folds in half to become a smaller, more portable laptop. If it doesn't compromise usability too much, it could be a cult hit. 

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HP's Dragonfly Chromebook is also a two-in-one hybrid. 

HP

HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook

It's getting harder and harder to make the case that you really need anything other than a Chromebook. Everyday computing and education are already proven use cases. Business or office use lags a little behind however. There are a handful of business Chromebooks, but this is the first one that really jumps out at me, because it's the first Chromebook with Intel vPro, which is a security and maintenance platform your IT department might insist on. Also, because it's part of the Dragonfly line, which is a really impressive slim business line from HP, that's previously been just Windows laptops. 

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Meet Alienware's newest, smallest gaming laptop. 

Richard Peterson/CNET

Alienware x14

This is not going to be the fastest, most powerful gaming laptop of 2022. It's not even going to have the most crazy lighting scheme. But, it is another attempt to fit gaming hardware into a slim system with a small footprint. There were a handful of 13-inch gaming laptops some years ago, and I always thought that was a great idea that would make PC gaming more accessible for more people. This upcoming 14-inch laptop can fit in an Nvidia 3060 GPU and it has a 144Hz screen, although I'm still waiting to hear more about what the battery life might be. Still, it could be a strong candidate as a gaming laptop that also works as your everyday travel laptop.