As the new decade started, Microsoft looked like they were on the comeback trail with Windows 7 after the whole Windows Vista debacle. Still, the damage was done. And people who were normally hooked on PCs moved to Apple’s MacBook Pro or MacBook Air. The release of Windows 8, an operating system that confused the hell out of the average notebook user, didn’t help.
The MacBook Air really set the tone for the new decade. At first, people thought that a laptop without a CD or DVD drive would fail, but soon almost every laptop — PC or Mac — was the same. This made the laptops thinner and more portable. And who needs a DVD drive when you can stream or download?
Perhaps the most significant laptop of the early 2010s was the 2012 release of the MacBook Pro with Retina screen. The notebook, which carried a powerful Intel Core i5 processor, was just slightly heavier than the MacBook Air, which was still extremely popular the first half of the decade. The MacBook Pro Retina ushered in an era of laptops with high contrast ratios, making them great for viewing pictures or watching movies.
The second most significant laptop (really a laptop/tablet hybrid) was the Surface Pro 3, released in 2014. As discussed in the recent article about this decade’s top tablets, the Pro 3 was the first real laptop/tablet hybrid that could be used decently as both. The Surface Pro 3 could be configured in versions that were as powerful and as fast as competing laptops from Apple or Dell.
Speaking of Dell, it was certainly a comeback decade for the manufacturer. They were previously known for making cheaper laptops that many schools and workplaces purchased. Even though the first arrival of the Dell XPS 13 was met with quality control issues, further versions solidified it as the PC laptop of the decade. The ultra-thin bezels, the bright and crisp screen, and the power of a desktop fit into an ultra thin laptop convinced people to switch from the MacBook Pro.
Speaking of the MacBook Pro, it didn’t maintain its dominance by the end of the decade. Windows 10 proved to a robust operating system that came close to the fluidity of macOS and allowed manufacturers to make many touchscreen or pen-enabled PCs — all while being cheaper.
However, don’t count Apple out yet when it comes to notebooks. Even if they don’t produce a touchscreen notebook, they’ll probably come out with something groundbreaking that we don’t realize we need yet. The next decade should be an interesting one when it comes to laptops.