The earliest writers did not need anything more than a sharp stick and a cave wall. Then came the pen, which was truly mightier than the sword. Typewriters made writers work easier to produce and reproduce. In the new millennium, writers have even more tools at their disposal.
Indeed, the meaning of “tablet” for writers has changed over the centuries. But the work remains the same. Luckily, the writer’s life has been made easier by new technology.
Which means there are a lot more factors to consider when choosing the laptop on which you will write your masterpiece or just some quick content to pay the bills. The laptops out there make it possible to write and be creative in almost any circumstance, without worry.
This article will cover what to consider when making such an important decision and what to look for so your computer can cater to all your creative needs and more. So you can focus on the actual writing!
There are some essential factors that make up the genetics of your laptop that may seem complicated but are quite simple. Here is a break down of these factors and the best laptops for those features:
The first thing to consider is the operating system. The options available to you depend on the system you choose. If you choose a Mac, then your options will be much more limited.
PCs generally run on the Windows operating system, produced by Microsoft, although in some cases they use Chrome, which is a Google-produced Operating System.
Selecting a PC will give you access to a wider range of brands, styles and features. However some users swear by the user-friendliness of Mac processing and other features Apple has to offer. You may have difficulty running some programs or apps you might want may not be available on one or the other system.
It’s up to you, so take the time to research the operating system before going any further.
Don’t Forget Your Memory
Fast processing power is essential on any computer and processing power is determined by the storage capacity and what kind of drive is inside.
Writers will not need the processing power of a graphics designer or effects guru, so a 8GB memory is more than enough in 2020. Some laptops only have 4 GB and will serve your basic needs. This kind of memory is typically referred to as RAM (random access memory).
Internally you will want an SSD (Solid State Drive), as opposed to HDD (Hard Disk Drive) drive. HDDs use a spinning disk, which puts your data at risk. SSDs are much better suited to a writer’s lifestyle, since they are designed to withstand more movement, like, for example,when you are trying to finish that deadline on the turbulent plane ride home.
The amount of RAM is a flexible option and will affect pricing.
Long Live The Battery
Probably the most important factor for writers, because you never know when inspiration will hit or how long you will be typing away when it does!
Where writers find that inspiration also counts. Nature or the seaside may not provide outlets, or the coffee shop might be full that day, so you don’t want to be dependent on power.
Of course, again, writers drain power a lot slower than a graphics designer, depending on what program you are running. So you are more likely to get a longer battery life from your laptop as a writer. Time to take a more specific look at laptops with great battery power.
- Dell Latitude 7400 is the winner with over 17 hours of battery life! Almost any Dell Latitude falls in the top 10.
- In the portable category, the HP Spectre x360 is on almost every Top 5 list for battery life.
- The MacBook Pro 16 is Apple’s best option for long battery life.
- A worthy alternative is the Lenovo IdeaPad, an almost universally loved-by-writers model. The Lenovo Chromebook can also be found on a number of Top 5 battery life lists.
- Don’t count out the Asus Expert or Samsung Galaxy models. LG is also a reliable provider of energy, along with Acer notebooks and laptops.
Tapping The Keyboard
Arguably a more important feature than battery life! Keyboards are getting more and more sophisticated and technologically advanced every day.
First consider the simple pleasures. The sound of the typing. Does the keyboard light up so you can write by moonlight late into the night? Do you want an ergonomic design to take some of the pressure from your wrists and avoid early onset arthritis?
Decide for yourself what is important since none of these will have all of the features. All kinds of new features await you too, like integrated web function keys and multicoloured backlighting. You can even get a touch screen keyboard if that’s your bag, baby.
- Lenovo makes keyboards as well as laptops so if the keyboard is the most important factor for you, Lenovo is a brand worth checking out first.
- The Apple Macbook also has a keyboard which is writer-friendly .
- HP’s best keyboards are on the aforementioned Spector 360 or the Envy model.
- The Google PixelBook has a cool, unique feature called a Hush keyboard and may also suit your other needs well. It runs on the Chrome OS.
- Writers also suggest the Chromebook Flip c434 or Asus Zenbook, not just for the typing functions but a number of other features which will be noted later in this article.
Weighing The Portability
The last essential factor for a writer to consider when purchasing the perfect laptop is portability. A writer who wants to go places will need to take their laptop with them. Everything from screen size to battery life to keyboard shape have an influence on the portability of your laptop.
As a writer you may feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders so you don’t want a heavy laptop weighing on your shoulders too. There are many choices for lightweight and portable laptops on the market.
- Coming in ahead of the pack are the Acer Swift in the PC department and Macbook Air on the MAC side.
- Also worth considering are the Asus Zenbook, Dell Xbook, and HP Elite or Spectre.
- The Lenovo IdeaPad is a budget lightweight option and the Galaxy Book S suits portability needs nicely but keep in mind the screen is not 4K. An affordable edition of the IdeaPad is the Thinkpad E15 model.
- If portability is number one on your list of factors, you may want to consider an Ultrabook, which is not technically a laptop but performs most of the necessary functions. Try the Chromebook Flip C434 from Asus, a great value for the money.
- You can look up the weight in specifications during the research phase of purchasing.
Programming Your Laptop
Not like programming as in writing code, but as in choosing what programs you want handy on your laptop, since these will affect pricing, too.
Some laptops have programs already installed, like Microsoft Office, or you can add them on for a mildly higher price tag. Keep in mind Mac computers may not run some programs you want. But most programs, from Office to Final Draft, are available in both PC and Mac versions.
Recommended Software for Writers
For novelists, Scrivener or Ulysses are recommended.
Final Draft is the industry standard for screenwriters, playwrights and – surprise – comic book writers! But it’s not the only software. There’s also Movie Magic Screenwriting, Celtx and Fade In. For remote collaboration, try WriterDuet.
For content writers, Microsoft Word is standard and you can also use Google Docs. StoryBase can help with optimized content and MarketMuse assists with research and creates content briefs to help with keywords and search terms.
Research what programs are recommended for your vocation and then here’s a Pro Tip: Factor the additional cost of the programs into your budget when adding up the final costs, including essential accessories, which will be mentioned later in this article.
All Things Considered
That wraps up the essential influencing factors. Up next, a look at other options that can make your writing life more comfortable and worry-free.
Let There Be Lighting
Everything lights up these days! Screen brightness is important. It can tire your battery and your eyes if not calibrated correctly.
Also, keyboard lighting has become much more sophisticated! There are light sensors built into some models. You can choose an LED backlit version. There’s even anti-glare options.
The Dell XPS 13 has a cool feature where it adjusts to the surroundings based on the intensity of already available ambient light.
Screen Size Matters
A lot of writers forget to think about screen size, imagining that it’s just words they are working with. But screen size plays a big part in the laptops functioning.
It affects weight and portability. It affects price. And don’t just consider size, also pay attention to the resolution.
Things to think about include eye care and not having to squint so much. If you are researching for articles on the internet, screen size affects tab visibility. Then there are graphics and logical display size to consider. Research these factors further before making your decision.
A short list of laptops with screen considerations applicable to writers include the Microsoft Surface, which also sports one of those cool ambient light sensors.
The Asus Chromebook Flip, previously mentioned as lightweight and portable, offers a bigger screen and stylus interactivity. The Lenovo IdeaPad comes with the anti-glare feature for it’s 15-inch screen, which is a big plus for writing outside on a beautiful, inspiring sunny day.
A Touching Screen
Along the lines of screen size, many laptops and laptop variations like ultrabooks and tablets, come with a touch screen. Some writers find it beneficial, others consider it blasphemy.
As with most features, a touch screen “writing pad” is a personal choice that may or may not work for you. There are pros and cons. Pros include greater portability; Cons include a potentially dirty screen.
If you do want to give touch screen writing a go, a recommended laptop is the Dell Inspiron 13 5358, an affordably priced machine with optional touch screen that is reported to work quite smoothly. This way, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to use it.
As a writer, you are probably thinking, “what do I have to care about graphics? I don’t write with pictures.” Just because you’re not using photoshop doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter.
For example, if the laptop comes installed with a graphics card that is more than a writer needs, it could unnecessarily drain your battery and cut your writing time.
On the other hand, it does affect the quality of the image on the screen, which can reduce eye strain from long periods of inspiration.
Don’t fully ignore your graphics card as a specification. It could save you money and time.
Speaking Of Speaking…
Audio is another component worth considering. Both recording and playback.
Specifically, recording. Writers have different ways of working. Some sit, some pace. Some type, some talk.
You can consider a speech recognition program. Or speech to text. Or dictation. Some models have good programs already running on them.
So you will want a good internal microphone as well as decent internal speakers for playback and music.
The Price Is Right
Before the short list of best laptops for writers arrives, in conclusion the important thing is not to skimp on your equipment. Saving in the short run will hurt you in the long run.
There are affordable options up and down the scale. Luckily, many laptops often land on both cheapest and best laptop for writers lists. There are ways to save, like considering memory and screen size and graphics cards, as mentioned earlier.
What follows is our list of the Top 5 best laptops for writers, and in which areas each model excels. While somewhat unscientific, the list is a combination of how many times the laptop is mentioned in this article and research conducted from examining recent articles.
A list of the “Best laptops for writers on a budget” will follow the Top 5 best in any price range.
Top 5 Best Laptops for Writers
HP Spectre x360
The HP Spectre x360 excels in a few areas and in those areas, it extra excels! It has long battery life, a comfortable keyboard and portability, three of the most crucial features for a writer. The Spectre x360 retails for around $1400.
Asus Chromebook Flip C434
The Chromebook flip is an almost universal choice for most best laptop for writers lists. It excels in the area of keyboard and portability while offering a bigger screen size and touch screen option. Plus it is affordably priced, coming in at under $500 USD. Worth mentioning is that as suggested by the name, it uses Chrome as its OS.
Also universally adored on best laptop for writers lists, the IdeaPad excels in portability, keyboard and battery life. It also has the anti-glare feature. The IdeaPad is loaded but on the pricier side, coming in at over $1500 USD.
Apple Macbook Pro 16
There has to be a Mac on the list and the Macbook Pro is the one. It’s a premium pricer but worth it if you are a Mac loyalist. The Pro 16 features long battery life and a writer-friendly keyboard. And it’s pretty portable.
The ZenBook excels in a number of areas including a touch screen feature that allows you to hand write your content! Or if you prefer typing, it features a dynamic keyboard in a light as air package. It’s a little expensive but versatile, also available as a 2-in-1 flip version.
Budget Laptops for Writers
Lenovo ThinkPad E15
The ThinkPad is the budget version of the IdeaPad and a great entrance point into Lenovo products. It features an exceptional keyboard and as mentioned earlier, portability. You can find it for less than $800 USD.
The budget version of Macbook Pro. Lightweight, accessible and fulfilling most of a writers basic needs, it’s a good alternative for Mac lovers with a lighter wallet. It’s been a leader in the market for many years.
Microsoft Surface Pro 7
The first Microsoft product to appear on the list. As noted earlier, this laptop has the ambient light feature. Technically, it’s a tablet but it has a keyboard. Go with a 4 GB version to save even more money.
Lenovo Chromebook c330
A more affordable Chromebook, if the c434 is still a little out of your price range. It’s got low specs but runs Chrome OS, conserving processing power, and it boasts fantastic battery life. Most of the quality functions you will find on a pricier Lenovo function just as well on this tiny gem.
Acer Chromebook – As mentioned in battery life, Acer is a solid brand name when it comes to laptops for writers. An Acer Chromebook will offer you most of the Acer quality functions without breaking your bank. It costs under $300.
Adding The Accessories
No laptop has everything! Here are some accessories you may or may not want to compute into your budget.
Headphones because if you’re going to consider portability, you’ll want to be able to listen wherever you go, no matter how public. Plus, it’s an easy way to improve audio quality for music listening and focus when playing back ideas.
An external hard drive is essential so you can back up your brilliant content for eternity and conserve processing power without stuffing the internal drive with files.
Of course, a carrying case!
You can also purchase a wireless mouse or keyboard to give you even more freedom.
And you’ll want to keep your laptop preserved and healthy as long as possible no matter the cost so invest in a screen cleaner and a keyboard cleaning kit and commit to a regular dustoff.
Wrapping It Up
Don’t consider this article the final word. It’s a jumping off point. Be careful in your research so you don’t end up with a case of buyer’s remorse. That’s not inspiring. As a writer, your laptop will be an extension of your voice, so choose loud and choose proud! Good luck!