2010, we barely knew you.
Trends that occurred this year: smartphones and tablets did their best to erode laptop marketshare, 13-inch laptops failed to take over 15.6-inch laptops as we thought they would, netbooks slowly fell out of favour and started being replaced with other netbooks and lights and prices just kept falling, falling. The cloud threatened to change the way we not only use our laptops, but how other devices interact with them forever.
Manufacturers started to learn that audio was important, with Dell and Lenovo integrating JBL speakers into select laptops and Asus experimenting with its SonicMaster range. Apple's laptop audio quality has always been above the Windows laptop average and we fervently hope that 2011 is the year Windows laptops catch up. Once audio is addressed, one of the last great overlooked elements, yet the most obvious — the screen and its viewing angles — can hopefully be tackled.
Next year will be a game-changer in terms of CPUs, with Intel introducing its Sandy Bridge architecture and AMD getting its Sabine and Brazos architectures out. These CPUs have GPUs built in. And unlike previous efforts, they promise to deliver enough performance to eat away at a good portion of the dedicated graphics market. Sandy Bridge will be a DirectX 10.1 part, leaving us to wait until Ivy Bridge in the second half of 2011 to see DirectX 11. AMD on the other hand will be going DirectX 11 from the beginning, with Brazos in Q1 of 2011, and Sabine following up in the second half.
Until then, here are the highest scoring laptops of 2010 still available on shelves. May 2011 bring us even better candidates!