Windows 8.1's new interface may have proved controversial, but it gave a new lease of life to laptop design with many models evolving to include touchscreens. What's more, Intel's new Haswell processors have also helped the latest generation of laptops to offer longer battery life, without having to rely on chunkier batteries.
Of course, there are lots of different models to choose from, ranging from desktop replacement laptops with good gaming prowess, to ultrabooks that are primarily designed for life on the move. Here we've rounded up five of our current favourite models.
Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus
The Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus can basically be thought of as a Windows 8.1 version of the Macbook Air. It's an extremely slim and beautifully designed Windows ultrabook with a super-high-resolution touch screen and an Intel Haswell processor that helps it deliver long battery-life and good performance.
The backlit keyboard is laid out with generous spaciousness and feels good to type on, while the wide trackpad is also excellent. This ultrabook is hugely expensive and doesn't covert to a tablet like some of its competitors. Nevertheless, it feels great to use, and so it's an easy pick for those who want one of the very best thin Windows 8.1 laptops out there.
HP Spectre XT Touchsmart
HP's Spectre XT Touchsmart might be just the ticket for those who want everything from a Windows 8.1 laptop. It's a touchscreen laptop with enough performance for everyday tasks and is petite enough to slip into a slim bag.
The brushed-metal lid helps give the machine a luxurious look and it has a generous number of ports including two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port and an HDMI socket. It feels pretty swift to use and swapping between open apps using Windows 8.1's swiping gestures was immediate and didn't cause any lag. It's perhaps a bit pricey for its spec, but on the whole we think it's a good machine.
This is a monstrous, turbo-charged beast of a machine. It's a gaming-specific laptop that packs a potent Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and an Nvidia GeForce graphics card inside a hulking great chassis that's reminiscent of a stealth bomber.
We like its Full HD screen, as it's bright and bold, and when it comes to performance its burly Core i7 processor tears through even more demanding tasks without a second thought. It's expensive, but then you do get plenty for your money. So if you're a gamer that wants good performance from more demanding games, the Asus G75VM is definitely worth checking out.
Acer Aspire S7-392
One of the best looking ultrabooks around at the moment, Acer's offering has a white minimalist chassis and a Gorilla Glass covered lid. The keyboard has island-style keys that have a deep feel and the large touch-pad has a great surface with just enough friction. We love the 1,920x1,080-pixel, 13.3-inch touch-screen display and its Intel Haswell chip helps it to put in a good showing both in terms of raw performance and battery life.
Despite its small size it has two video outputs, HDMI and Mini DisplayPort, and you also get a couple of USB 3.0 ports and an SD card slot. With its beautiful aesthetics and highly tuned feel, this is certainly a laptop that stands out from the crowd
Sony Vaio Fit 14
If want a thin and light laptop, but your budget doesn't stretch to the high asking prices of some of the premium ultrabooks on the market, Sony's more affordable Fit 14 is a good bet. You don’t get the marathon battery-life and blisteringly fast performance of the more expensive models, but what it does offer is a thin-and-light design, good performance and strong all-round features set at an attractive price.
The touchscreen is very responsive and it has enough grunt under the bonnet to handle day-to-day tasks such as word processing, emailing and Web browsing. Basically, despite its lower price tag, the Vaio 14 is an easy laptop to like.