Laptop engineers and designers spent much of last year trying to outdo the Apple MacBook Pro . That's what happens when a machine aimed at business professionals sets a new standard for performance and style. Few challengers have come close, but you can make a pretty good argument for the HP Envy 15 . It's a classy chassis: a thin, 5-pound-or-so unit with a somewhat psychedelically patterned top that's toned down by cool, businesslike gunmetal shading. Performance-wise, it's a laptop that surpasses many desktop PCs, with world-beating processing speed from Intel's 1.6 GHz Core i7 chip, along with a 6 GB DDR3 memory, 500 GB, 7,200 RPM hard drive fronted by Windows 7. Still, seamless multitasking has a price: $1,800 for starters. Also, that i7 sucker runs hot, which means your in-flight tray table would be a better place to set it down than in your lap--unless heat is, you know, your thing.
Dan O'Shea is a Chicago-based writer who has been covering telecom, mobile and other high-tech topics for nearly 20 years.