Best Laptop for Watching Movies – What exactly is an all-round laptop? As far as we are concerned, this includes cheap devices with a solid system performance, good display, large storage solution and an entry-level graphics card for casual gaming.
Some laptops are perfect for these activities and some are not. When it comes to watching movies, people can use any sort of devices
1. Dell XPS 15
The Dell XPS 15 gets rid of the bezels, serves up impressive power with excellent audio and a beautiful super high-res touch display in a smaller, premium frame.
The company managed to make the laptop 5.5% smaller than the previous model while making the keys and touchpad significantly larger. And while that might seem minor, the four-border InfinityEdge bezel has made possible one of the highest resolution displays on the market. Plus, armed with a 10th Gen processor and discrete Nvidia GeForce GPU, the Dell XPS 15 is a serious force to be reckoned with and a worthy
When I opened the XPS 15’s box, I was immediately impressed. I don’t know if it was the premium packaging or simply the sheer beauty of the laptop, but I felt like I had unearthed some long buried treasure. The platinum silver CNC aluminum lid and undercarriage is striking. And the glossy Dell logo engraved into the lid adds a dollop of sophistication.
Upon opening the lid, you’re treated to a large palm rest made of black carbon fiber. A gigantic touchpad occupies the center of the palm rest and sits below the keyboard, which is flanked by a pair of speakers. The power button is located in the top-right corner of the Fn key row and doubles as a fingerprint scanner.
And while I’m a fan of the silver and black, I’m hoping Dell will roll out a silver and Frost White version of the laptop similar to its little brother, the XPS 13. Or I would love to see a gold or rose gold take on the system.
The XPS 15’s display is one of the highest resolution screens I’ve seen on a laptop thanks to Dell’s innovative InfinityEdge. This time around, the company found a way to get rid of that stubborn chin, drastically reducing the borders on all four sides. That means I was gazing into a 15.6-inch display made of durable Corning Gorilla Glass 6 with a 16:10 aspect ratio, bringing the resolution to an arresting 3840 x 2400. Plus, it’s 5% larger than its predecessor and Dell managed to somehow fit it in a smaller chassis.
Watching The High Note trailer, it’s obvious that the color red was made for actress Tracee Ellis Ross. Whether it was her sparkly sequined dress or her chic power suit, the color burst off the screen and played up the pink tones in Ross’s light-brown skin. Crisp details showed off the mole by the actress’s right eye, and the delicate threading connecting the rhinestones on her beautiful hat.
If you want to adjust the display’s color temperature, the Dell PremierColor software is the way to go. You get nine presets (Vibrant, Internet (sRGB), Custom, SD Video, HD Video, Cinema, Low Blue (D40), Photo and Low Blue Light (D45). While I prefer the Vibrant, which is the default, Cinema is also nice while the Blue Light settings come in handy for night reading.
Just like the XPS 13, the XPS 15 is sporting larger keycaps on its full-sized keyboard. Despite the larger size, the keys are well spaced and offer bouncy feedback. That made the time I spent writing this review incredibly comfortable. When I took the 10fastfinger typing test, I reached 73 words per minute, which is slightly above my usual 70 wpm average.
Now this is the kind of sound I expect from a premium laptop. Dell loaded the XPS 15 up with four top-firing speakers powered by Waves NX 3D audio. Between the four of them, you get a pair of primary speakers and two tweeters. These might be the best speakers I’ve heard on a premium laptop, and that’s because the XPS 15’s multiple speakers allow for a better spatial 3D audio experience.
But the audio isn’t just loud, it’s also clean. If fact, it’s cleaner than any laptop speakers have any right to be. Even at full volume, the synthesized components of the tracks were accurate as was the keyboard and the bass guitar. Mulva’s alto was warm and full and her soprano backup singers were nice and bright.
My only complaint is that the bass isn’t as forward as the highs and mids. That meant that while I could hear every beat on the drum machine during songs like Kanye West’s “Mercy” and Jay-Z’s “Blue Magic,” the 808s didn’t attack the track as much as I would have liked. Dell can fix this slight problem by figuring out how to add a subwoofer to the mix next go around. But as it stands, there are few laptop speakers that can compare with the XPS 15.
The XPS transcoded a 4K video to 1080p in 10 minutes and 6 seconds. That’s much faster than the 18:44 average and the Spectre’s 21:13. But the MacBook Pro was notably faster, at 8 minutes..
In case you get the urge, the XPS 15 can be a passable gaming laptop in a pinch. The laptop reached 135 frames per second on the 1080p Dirt 3 benchmark, blowing past the 63-fps premium laptop average and the Spectre (118 fps, GeForce MX150 GPU). At 4K, the XPS 15’s frame rate dropped to 70 fps, but that’s well above our 30-fps playability threshold.
On the Grand Theft Auto V test, the XPS 15 scored 42 fps at 1080p, which is just a few frames behind the 45 fps. At 4K, it matches the 38-fps average. The laptop achieved 48 fps on Sid Meier’s Civilization VI: Gathering Storm benchmark at 1080p, shattering the 17 fps average. On 4K resolution, we saw a frame rate of 29 fps, slipping past the 14-fps average.
With all those powerful specs, the XPS 15 can get a bit hot under the collar. We ran a fullscreen HD video for 15 minutes after which we measured strategic points on the laptop. The touchpad’s temperature hit 86 degrees Fahrenheit, which is below our 95-degree comfort threshold. The center of the keyboard and the undercarriage measured 103 and 99 degrees, respectively.
The sum of all its parts. It’s a phrase that really applies to the Dell XPS 15. The laptop was already a great system and Dell found ways to improve on an already-winning formula. Outfitted with a 10th Gen Comet Lake H-Series CPU and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q GPU, Dell XPS 15 is plenty powerful, ready to tackle any task you can throw at it.
2. Lenovo Y700
The 15-inch Lenovo Y700 delivers strong gaming performance and impressive audio at an attractive price.
Lenovo seems to love cruising in that understated-chic lane — at least when it comes to its gaming/entertainment laptops. The line of notebooks has been rebranded yet again, but not much has changed from last year’s Y50, other than a capital “L” on the Lenovo logo on the lid and the black-and-red grille being more prominently placed in the rear.
Most of the keyboard deck is covered in a black, soft-touch finish. The top portion of the deck features the two thick aluminum speaker grilles on either side of the hinge, which is made from a glossy black plastic. It’s not an offensive look by any means, but with so many laptops rocking the black-and-red motif, it’s definitely a bit tired. The Y700 also picks up fingerprint smudges more quickly than I’d like.
I love it when a PC maker listens! After we dinged last generation’s Y Series notebooks for their lackluster displays, Lenovo stepped up its game and added some much-needed brightness. The Y700’s 15-inch 1920 x 1080 panel averaged 263 nits on our light meter, beating the 244-nit mainstream average. It was still no match for the Alienware 15, which hit a dazzling 311 nits, but the Inspiron 15-7000 produced a measly 222 nits.
This brightness definitely helped when I watched the 1080p trailer for The Hateful Eight on this screen. I could see the little grime-caked creases on actor Samuel L. Jackson’s formerly white gloves. His blood-red tie drew my eye, allowing me to take in his bronze complexion. However, I did notice some yellowing, particularly on white objects.
Lenovo’s collaboration with JBL continues to pay off. Outfitted with a pair of JBL speakers and a bottom-mounted subwoofer, the Y700 pumps out loud, balanced audio. The laptop is also outfitted with Dolby software, which has been built into Lenovo’s new Settings menu, where you can access five audio settings: Dynamic, Music, Movie, Gaming and Voice. (For the purposes of this review, I used Dynamic as my default setting.)
Outfitted with a 2.6-GHz Intel Core i7-6700 CPU with 16GB of RAM, the Y700 is more than just fun and games. The laptop streamed an episode of Master of None without incident despite running a full system scan with 12 open tabs in Google Chrome.
The notebook continued to exhibit its dominance on Geekbench 3 (a synthetic overall performance test), where it scored 13,067. That was more than enough to spank the 8,563 mainstream average. The Inspiron 15-7000 (2.3-GHz Intel Core i5-6300HQ) and the Alienware 15 (2.9 GHz Intel Core i5-4210 CPU) hit 8,800 and 6,321, respectively.
The Y700’s 128GB SSD, which co-exists with a 1TB, 5,400-rpm hard drive, produced 108.3 MBps on our File Transfer Test. The Alienware 15 (1TB, 5,400-rpm hard drive and 128GB m.2 SSD) was a close second with 101.9 MBps, while the Inspiron 15-7000’s 1TB, 5,400-rpm hard drive produced a disappointing 34.6 MBps.
During more ordinary tasks, such as streaming a full-screen Hulu video for 15 minutes, the Y700 stayed fairly cool. The touchpad registered 75 degrees Fahrenheit, while the space between the G and H keys measured 88 degrees. The notebook’s bottom hit 92 degrees, which is below our 95-degree comfort threshold.
Similar to its predecessors, the Y700 features a full-size island-style keyboard with a full number pad. The keys have that smilelike shape popular on the company’s Ideapad line of laptops. The W, A, S and D keys, central to PC-game movement, are lined in a much brighter red than their compatriot keys, making them easier to find. However, with the backlighting on, the keys only look marginally different from the others.
The Y700 lasted 4 hours and 16 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which consists of continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi.
3. Acer Aspire 5
The 15.6-inch LG Display panel offers a native Full HD resolution. The 16:9 screen has a non-reflective surface and its viewing angles are wide, which is typical for IPS.
We did not experience backlight bleeding and the illumination of the display is 86%. The response times are average and neither particularly fast nor particularly slow. However, the brightness is comparatively low
The base clock of the Intel Core i5-10210U is 4×1.60 GHz with Turbo speeds of up to 4.2 GHz. Acer has soldered 4 GB of RAM onto the mainboard and 4 GB of additional RAM occupy the only available RAM slot. Thus, a maximum of only 20 GB is possible by installing a 16-GB module.
Combined with a 512-GB PCIe SSD and a GeForce MX250 (GDDR5), the laptop is a force to be reckoned with for office, entertainment and casual gaming purposes.
The Turbo Boost analysis shows that the 10210U temporarily manages to run at 4.2 GHz in the single-core test, although it runs at 3.9 GHz most of the time. In battery mode, it reaches a peak single-core clock rate of 1.8 GHz.
The multi-core test shows a different picture and all four cores run at an average clock rate of 2.5 GHz.
By running Cinebench R15 in a loop for 30 minutes, we determine the Turbo Boost sustainability of the SoC and, implicitly, the effectiveness of the cooling solution. Weaker cooling solutions often cause throttling under continuous load, to keep the temperatures in check.
There are 25-watt and 10-watt variants of the GeForce MX250 (Pascal). Acer has installed the GDDR5 solution, which carries the device ID 1D13 and is rated for 25 watts. This is good news, since it means that the memory can run at 3.5 GHz instead of 3.0 GHz.
There are two speakers on the bottom of the front edge of the device. They produce a very decent sound, although they lack bass.
Furthermore, the maximum volume level of the speakers is relatively low. We recommend using headphones or external speakers for a better audio experience.
4. Apple MacBook Air
After many years of rumors and an announcement in June, the time has finally come: With the new MacBook Pro 13 and the MacBook Air, we are testing two notebooks with the Apple M1 processor. The new Air is particularly exciting. While it offers the same powerful M1 SoC as the Pro model, it is quiet with its fanless cooling, and costs significantly less. You only have to accept a limitation of the integrated graphics card in the most affordable version, since Apple has deactivated one of the eight graphics cores.
As usual, the MacBook Air offers only meager fare in terms of the connections. Fortunately, the two USB-C ports on the left side support Thunderbolt 3.
According to Apple, there are also some small changes in the display. While it still uses the same 16:10 resolution with 2560 x 1600 pixels, it now offers a slightly increased maximum brightness and a larger color space. We confirmed the higher brightness.
In our comparison of the competitors, the iPads are significantly brighter and the XPS 13 is also able to produce a noticeably higher maximum brightness. As usual, the ThinkPads are unfortunately defeated in this discipline. The relatively high black value unfortunately leads only to an average contrast of 1000:1.
The most important innovation is of course the Apple M1 SoC. With this, Apple integrates its own processor and graphics units also in notebooks for the first time. Because the architecture has changed from x86 to ARM, old programs have to be emulated (Rosetta 2) under MacOS, causing some loss in performance
The new M1 processor with ARM architecture makes an impressive debut in the MacBook Air. In CPU as well as GPU performance, comparable chips from Intel and AMD are surpassed in terms of the theoretical raw performance – and this is the entry-level configuration of the Air.
5. Dell Inspiron 15
Just because you’re getting something affordable, that doesn’t mean you should have to make a lot of trade-offs. With its 8th-Gen Intel Core i5 processor, the Dell Inspiron 15 5000
Dell’s 15.6-inch, midrange notebook is a bland, chunky block. It has long been the case that the Inspiron lineup lacks any sort of aesthetic muse, and the Inspiron 15 5000 follows this trend. It’s a plastic, silver slab bearing Dell’s logo in a mirror sheen.
The display on the Inspiron 15 5000 is truly horrendous. Sure, it’s 15.6 inches and has a 1080p resolution, but it’s also blurry and dim. When I watched the trailer for Avengers: Infinity war, Gamora’s green skin had a sickly white tint, it was hard to make out the spiderweb patterns in Spider-Man’s suit, and there was no hint of red in Star-Lord’s jacket; instead, it appeared brown. The blue skies over Wakanda appeared gray, and Thanos had a blue tint on his purple flesh.
The speakers on the Inspiron are plenty loud and easily filled up a small conference room when I listened to Charli XCX’s “Boom Clap.” The song’s vocals and drums were clear, though an underlying bass line didn’t stand out from the rest of the mix.
The brief battery life on the Inspiron will basically chain you to your desk. The system ran for a paltry 5 hours and 8 minutes
While our configuration of the Inspiron has an Intel Core i5-8250U and 8GB of RAM, which are poised for multitasking, its 1TB, 5,400-rpm HDD is slow compared to the SSDs you get in a lot of computers (you can pay extra to configure the Inspiron with an SSD). I had 15 tabs open in Google Chrome (one of which was streaming a 1080p episode of Late Night with Seth Meyers) when the laptop paused and showed the loading icon before I could open more tabs.
The Dell Inspiron 15 5000 is an affordable 15-inch laptop with solid 8th Gen Core performance, but it’s hindered by a horrible display and brief battery life.
6. Lenovo Flex 4
Unlike other 2-in-1s or even similarly priced laptops, the Lenovo Flex 4 doesn’t strike me as a “premium” device. Its design is geared more toward functionality and practicality, with less emphasis being put upon style or sophistication.
It also comes with 8 gigabytes of DDR4-2133 of memory installed. While the vast majority of users won’t hit any walls with 8 gigs of RAM in the next couple of years, some may feel the need to upgrade. You can double the amount of system memory, to 16 gigabytes. It’s unclear at the moment if there’s one or two memory modules available, so I’d check with Lenovo first before upgrading.
This model, the Flex 4 features the Intel HD Graphics 620 integrated video card. It’s clear this is not a great laptop to use if you want to play games. It will run some older titles and non-pretentious games, but that’s about it. Although integrated graphics cards have come a long way in recent years, they’re still providing poor performance in games.
Battery life is better than expected. The 53 Whrs battery pack will hold a charge for up to 9 hours, which is just enough to get you through a whole work day.
All in all, the Lenovo Flex 4 is a good choice for most users who don’t want to impress. It’s a sturdy, well built blue-collar convertible laptop which skips the flashy bits, offering above average performance at a fair price.
7. Dell Inspiron 5000
Sometimes, a laptop is made of plastic but doesn’t feel like it. It’s plenty rigid and exudes a quality feel — the Lenovo Flex 5 14 is a prime example (yes, I’ll mention that laptop throughout this review). Then, there’s the Inspiron 14 5000, a plastic laptop that looks and feels like one.
The lid, keyboard deck, and chassis bottom all have way too much flexing and bending going on. A year ago I might have written that off due to the price. Today, the Inspiron just feels cheap. Even opening the hinge gave the impression of cheapness — the hinge is quite stiff, and you need to wrangle it open with two hands. And yet, the screen still wobbled while using it.
The Inspiron 14 5000 resembles a lot of laptops in this price range. It sports a silverish chassis, with a few chrome-colored accents here and there. The dark-colored bezels don’t add to the look, and while they’re thin enough on the sides, the massive chin is unsightly.
The Inspiron 14 5000 uses an Intel 1oth-gen Core i5-1035G1 CPU, a midrange processor in the Core line that promises solid quad-core performance. That’s what the Inspiron delivered — good performance that lives up to the CPU but nothing that stands out.
Some budget laptops make up for other deficiencies by equipping a nice display, such as the Yoga C640 that enjoys a display that rivals laptops costing more than twice as much. Alas, that’s not the Inspiron 14 5000 — its display is way behind the curve, demonstrating the kind of low quality that we once assumed we’d see with laptops in this price range.
The bottom line is that the Inspiron 14 5000 has inferior battery life that’s disappointing even given the price — and particularly compared to some other recent budget laptops.
The Dell Inspiron 5000 is an old-school budget laptop that cuts corners everywhere, so much so that it’s a little jarring to review it so soon after checking out the Lenovo Flex 5 14 and Yoga C640. The Inspiron’s display is dull, its performance gets trounced by Ryzen 4000 laptops, and its battery life is terrible.
8. Apple MacBook Pro
The MacBook Pro 13 and the MacBook Air have the same footprint, but the MacBook Air gets slimmer towards the front. Therefore, it is a bit more comfortable when you type because the front edge of the MBP 13 is pretty sharp. The weight advantage for the Air is not huge at ~150 grams.
The display is still the same. You once again get a glossy IPS-screen with 2560 x 1600 pixels (227 ppi) and a 16:10 aspect ratio. Apple advertises a brightness of 500 nits, but we cannot confirm that at all measurement spots. All in all, the subjective picture impression is excellent. The device now supports iOS apps as well, so a touchscreen would definitely make more sense now.
The chip itself is completely identical in both devices, which also includes the clocks. The only difference is the integrated GPU, because the less expensive Air is available with a 7 or 8 GPU cores, the Pro always gets the faster 8-core GPU. The MBP 13 M1 also has the active cooling solution, which should stabilize the performance in sustained load scenarios.
The power consumption improved compared to the predecessor and the (already very low) idle values are even better this time. The MacBook Air M1 is a bit more efficient, but it also has a slightly darker screen. We can measure up to 47.5W under load, but it dropped to around 43W after one hour. Despite the high fan noise, the MacBook Pro 13 eventually has to reduce the performance a bit.
The battery capacity did not change (58.2 Wh), but the battery runtimes are noticeably longer compared to the previous Intel powered model. The MacBook Air M1 with the smaller battery (49.9 Wh) is beaten as well. We can determine more than 20 hours in our Wi-Fi test, and still more than 19 hours during video playback (both tests at an adjusted luminance of 150 cd/m²). If we repeat the Wi-Fi test with the maximum display brightness, the runtime drops by around 50 % to slightly more than 10 hours. Overall, these are excellent results.
9. Acer Aspire E15
Every once in a while, a laptop comes along that defies its low price. Yet again, the Acer Aspire E 15 is one of those laptops. Punching well above its weight class, the 15-inch machine has a sharp 1080p display, good performance and a wide variety of ports.
The Aspire E 15 is what we’ve come to expect from a 15-inch budget laptop. It’s big, heavy and not particularly easy on the eyes. The laptop’s smooth black deck is made of chunky plastic, but a brushed metal texture gives it a deceivingly premium appearance.
The Acer Aspire E 15’s 15-inch non-touch display is sharp, but not very colorful. In the trailer for Unbroken: Path to Redemption, the characters’ 1940s attire should have bursted with color; instead, it looked drab. Also, the actor’s skin tones were pale and lifeless. On a positive note, the 1920 x 1080 panel provided enough detail for me to make out the military medals and ribbons on Louis Zamperini’s spiffy uniform.
The Aspire E 15’s speakers are loud enough to fill a large room, but the overall sound quality is poor. When I listened to Band of Horses’ “The Funeral,” the vocals sounded hollow and distant. At high volumes, the speakers distorted, and even at around 60 percent, the guitar treble pierced my sensitive ears.
While it won’t set any records, the Acer Aspire E 15’s battery life is strong for a budget laptop. It lasted 8 hours and 48 minutes in our Laptop Mag Battery Test, which involves continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness. That’s almost 3 hours longer than the Acer Spin 3, which powered down after 6 hours. Both the Asus VivoBook Flip 14 (7:23) and the budget laptop category average (7:19) were more than an hour shorter.
The Aspire E 15 E5-576-392H gives you solid performance, long battery life and a good range of ports. It does have a few notable shortcomings, including a dull display and a bulky, bland design. But these don’t detract too much from the overall package.
10. HP Pavilion 15
The HP Pavilion 15 is an affordable laptop that undercuts the majority of the competition, making it an ideal option for students and office workers to consider.
The HP Pavilion 15 is a fairly big laptop – measuring 361.6 x 241.6 x 17.9mm – with a full-sized keyboard, number pad, and the 15.6-inch display’s 5mm side bezels. In terms of ports, the right-hand side has two Type-A USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, a lock slot, and a full-sized SD card reader, while the left-hand side has HDMI 1.4, Ethernet, and Type-C USB 3.1 ports, along with a 3.5mm headphone jack.
The HP Pavilion 15’s display is not well suited to photo editing. Low maximum brightness and poor colour gamut coverage mean that I wouldn’t recommend this even for the most basic of photo work or digital art.
While the 60Hz display means you won’t be able to appreciate the higher frame rates you can achieve on the HP Pavilion 15, you could always hook this up to a Full HD gaming monitor. HDMI 1.4 is old hat – it’s all about HDMI 2.1 these days – but it still supports 1080p video at 144Hz.
Broadly speaking, yes. In my experience, I’ve been able to get close to eight hours out of the HP Pavilion 15 off the mains, with the display’s brightness locked at 150 nits.
There’s nothing terribly wrong with the HP Pavilion 15, but it’s coming to market with an outdated GPU, a not-terribly-good display and a price that very soon won’t be that competitive.
If you are the type who prefers streaming movies or TV series directly online, you do need a reliable wireless connection. Such a connection must also be of high-speed. A suitable laptop for watching movies should have an excellent 802.11 A connectivity to stream movies. Do ensure the computer has a Bluetooth technology feature for connection to many other peripheral Bluetooth devices such as ear pods, loudspeakers, and many others to account for any deficit in a laptop suited for watching movies.
Watching movies at the theater gets expensive. The cost of tickets is at an all-time high, and a cinema trip will set you back around $9 each time, on average – and that’s not even considering snacks.
Watching movies on your laptop, on the other hand, is very affordable. You can watch as many as you like for the comparatively low cost of a Netflix subscription fee. And, in many cases, you can find movies to watch online for completely free.
Extensive On-Demand Movie Catalog
A laptop really opens up the world of on-demand cinema for you. You can choose from a huge back-catalog of movies, most of which you wouldn’t even be able to find in the cinemas. Between movies on Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, Hulu, and YouTube, you’re spoiled for choice.
Sufficient Screen Size
Have you ever tried watching a movie on your phone? It really is a sad experience. Mobile video viewing is just not good; the screen’s too small to fully appreciate all the cinematic detail that the director spent so much time getting right. With a laptop, you can watch movies on a screen big enough to actually enjoy it.
If a laptop screen is still a little too small for your liking, you can always hook yours up to a TV or projector using an HDMI cable. That way, you can project your movies onto a bigger screen whenever there’s one available, and watch it on your laptop when there isn’t.
Unlike desktops and TVs, laptops are wireless and portable, so if you need a quick toilet break or snack-run in the middle of your movie, you can carry it to the kitchen or the bathroom with you without even having to click pause. You can watch movies anytime, anywhere.
There’s a reason they’re called laptops. Laptops are built to fit nicely on your lap so you can watch movies hands-free. Holding your mobile phone or tablet up to eye-level when you’re watching a movie on it is exhausting – your hands get tired after a few minutes. This isn’t a problem with laptops.
Laptops aren’t just for watching movies. You can use them for other everyday computing tasks and gaming too, which makes them very versatile.
Supported By Most Streaming Channels
Not all streaming platforms and video-on-demand services support all kinds of devices. There are some channels you can’t access on mobile, but almost all of them support laptop browsers.
With that in mind, there are certain important features to look out for. Below, I’ve put together a quick buying guide that will help you to choose a laptop that gives you the best-possible movie-viewing experience.
Processor (Recommended 3GHz)
The processor, or CPU, is essentially your laptop’s ‘brain.’ The more processing power your laptop has, the more ‘powerful’ it will be, and the faster it will be able to perform computing tasks. More expensive laptops tend to have better processors.
The question is, how much does a processor matter when buying a laptop for movies?
Well, having a decent processor is essential if you’re using your laptop for highly-demanding tasks like video editing or gaming. However, watching movies isn’t very CPU-intensive, so your processor is decidedly less important.
RAM stands for Random Access Memory, and the best way to understand it is to think of it as your computer’s short-term memory. As with processors, your RAM impacts your laptop’s power and speed, and how quickly it can perform certain tasks. The more RAM you have, the better your laptop performance will be.
Also, as with processors, it’s not super important if you just plan on using your laptop to watch movies. Most laptops will have enough RAM to stream movies without lagging, even the cheaper models.
Screen Size & Display
Screen size and resolution matter much more than the above factors when it comes to watching movies. The display resolution of a laptop tells you the number of distinct pixels that it can display in each dimension, while the screen size is just the physical length and width of the screen in inches.
Both of these factors influence the clarity, sharpness, and quality of the images you see on the screen, and for film snobs, seeing a movie in the highest possible quality is essential.
Most feature films today are recorded in 4K resolution. If you’re watching a movie with a video resolution higher than that of your screen, it’ll be converted to match yours in what is called downsampling. This reduces image quality.
The type of screen panel on your laptop is essential too. I’d recommend choosing a laptop with an IPS panel. IPS is a type of screen technology used in liquid-crystal displays that provides wider viewing angles and better color/contrast than other types of panels.
IPS panels don’t tend to get distorted when you view them from an angle like TN panels sometimes do. This is especially useful if you plan on watching movies on your laptop with your friends, as it’ll ensure the image quality stays equally good from both of your perspectives, regardless of the angle you’re viewing from.
Storage space refers to the amount of ‘memory’ your laptop has. It matters somewhat if you plan on downloading movies, but not so much if you’ll exclusively be streaming.
This is because any movies you download to your computer are stored on your hard drive. The more storage space your hard-drive offers, the more movies you’ll be able to download before you run out of space.
Most laptops offer at least around 250GB of storage space, but some offer as much as 1TB or more.
Battery life is another crucial factor to consider. If you plan on using your laptop on the go, like on the train, plane, or anywhere you don’t have access to a power outlet, you’ll want as much battery life as possible. Nobody likes running out of charge in the middle of a movie just as things are getting interesting, am I right?
I’d consider a battery that lasts 5 hours or more on a full charge to be very good, but some laptops have batteries that can last even longer than that. The very best might last 15 hours or more. I’d recommend steering clear of any laptop that has a battery life of under 2 hours.
If you’re an audiophile, you might also want to consider your laptop’s speakers/sound system. Great speakers will help you to create a much more immersive, authentic movie-viewing experience when you’re playing the sound out loud.
However, if you plan on mostly using headphones to listen to your movies, they hardly matter. In this case, you’ll probably be better off choosing a laptop with lower-quality speakers to save money and spending the cash you save on a decent pair of headphones instead.
Don’t forget to think about your laptop’s connectivity (i.e., the Wi-Fi adapter, Bluetooth capabilities, etc.). Choosing a laptop with a poor Wi-Fi adapter will mean weaker signals, a slower connection, and more lag when you’re streaming movies.
If you plan on streaming via Bluetooth, make sure your laptop is Bluetooth-enabled, and if you plan on playing Blu-Ray DVDs on your laptop, make sure to choose one with a Blu-Ray Drive.
If you plan on taking your laptop with you when you’re on the move, the weight and size are important. The smaller your laptop is, the easier it’ll be to fit into your bag and take it with you.
The tradeoff of having a smaller laptop is that the screen size will be smaller too, which can impact your movie-viewing experience. If you’re going to be sitting close to the screen, a smaller screen won’t matter so much, but if you’re placing your laptop on a surface far away, you’ll want it to be as big as possible.
I’d recommend going for something in the middle and choosing a laptop with a screen size of around 15 inches, but it’s really up to you.