The market for laptops has arguably reached something of a saturation point, and innovation in the field is becoming more subtle. This actually isn’t a bad thing by any means. For too long, new models with fancy and futuristic features struggled to actually meet the needs of users, sacrificing slick overall performance and solid reliability in favour of half-baked gimmicks and new solutions for problems that nobody ever really had in the first place. In recent years, the best laptops have focused on doing what we always needed laptops to do, but better. For example, last year the highly popular Dell XPS 13 showed everyone how to make an excellent laptop that does exactly what it’s designed to do.
This has meant a gap in the market has opened up. Laptops are no longer built to impress us with their groundbreaking features, but something has to excite us and push us forward, so what’s next? Fortunately the answer to this question has become apparent: 2-in-1 laptop and tablet combinations are finally taking off. These have been on the cards for years, and many key manufacturers have tried and failed, but surprisingly enough it was Microsoft’s first real foray into the market that won over a large enough audience to make an impact. The Surface Book has proved popular enough since its release last year to make a case for 2-in-1 laptops finally being practical, affordable and, most importantly of all, cool.
However, Microsoft hasn’t exactly set the standard for other manufacturers to live up to in 2016 and beyond. In fact, the obvious shortcomings of the Surface Book make it very clear where rival devices may soon start to really capitalise on the emerging market. The 14-inch hybrid may serve its purpose as a tablet and laptop rolled into one, but a lot of its aesthetic has been compromised to achieve this function and Microsoft failed to disguise it well. We’ve now come to expect more solid performance and functionality from anything being hailed as a replacement for our traditional laptops, so while we can expect incremental improvements in tech specs from up-and-coming 2-in-1 models, it’s really going to be the visual style that needs to stand out in order to win over a wider audience in the coming year.