Business laptops typically have understated, but rugged bodies, and they offer plenty of processing power for number crunching, graphics rendering and other demanding tasks. Reviewers say the best business laptop is actually an Ultrabook: The 14-inch Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch (*Est. $1,500 and up) adds a touch screen to critics' former favorite, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (*Est. $1,350 and up) . Testers say this makes computing easier and more intuitive, especially with touch-friendly Windows 8. If you don't want the touch screen, you can still get the regular X1 Carbon.
The base version -- with a low-voltage Core i5 processor, 4 GB of RAM and 128 GB solid-state drive -- packs enough punch for most business users. If you need a little more horsepower under the hood, you can step up to a speedier Core i7 processor, 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB SSD. You can't get discrete graphics, though; visual professionals and high-octane gamers won't be impressed.
The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch's main claim to fame is its business-friendly chops. The slim and sleek laptop is easy to transport, while the carbon-fiber case is durable. Of course, the laptop sports the legendary ThinkPad keyboard, pointing stick and touchpad, which reviewers praise across the board. There's also a 720p webcam, vPro remote management software, a rapid-charge feature that boosts the battery to 80 percent in just 35 minutes of charging, a fingerprint reader and a whole lot more.
It's not all roses, however; experts say the X1 Carbons run hot, battery life is mediocre at 4.5 to 5.5 hours per charge and port selection is scant, although that's common to all Ultrabooks. If you're willing to sacrifice a little screen size, the 12.5-inch Lenovo ThinkPad X230 (*Est. $950 and up) offers good power for a few hundred dollars less. You get the same business-focused extras, customization options and impeccable keyboard as the pricier Lenovos -- but no touch screen -- plus a few extra ports and an available optical drive. For heavy multitasking, reviewers say you'll need the $1,300 step-up version, and for that price you could get the more spacious X1 Carbon.