Stuff Gadget Awards 2013: The Apple MacBook Air is our Laptop of the Year

Apple's envelope-friendly wafer of a computer just goes from strength to strength
Apple MacBook Air 2013

It's been a bumper year for laptops, with manufacturers cramming more powerful technology into ever lighter and thinner frames.

From gaming powerhouses to sleek business machines, to frankly bizarre experiments, we've sifted through eight of the best portable machines in the world for the Stuff Gadget Awards 2013 – and in the end the 13in MacBook Air proved itself a worthy gong winner.

Winner: Apple MacBook Air 13in (from £950)

Apple MacBook Air 13in

Apple's skinniest laptop may not sport the Retina Display of its MacBook Pro cousin, but it's a top-notch bit of kit wrapped up in a lovely aluminium frame. It’s speedy, thanks to Intel’s new Haswell chips, with a 12-hour battery life keeping it going like a Duracell bunny with ADHD. Throw in OS X Mavericks and you've got a winning combination. An award-winning combination, to be precise.

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Runner-up: HP Chromebook 11 (£220)

HP Chromebook 11

HP's take on the Chromebook is the best yet. Designed with Google's help, it's resplendent in a white plastic finish that makes us pine for the MacBooks of old. And its super screen makes web browsing – and working on Google Drive – a pleasure. If you're looking to embrace Google's vision of computing, this is the perfect place to start. 

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Runner-up: Microsoft Surface Pro 2 (from £720)

Microsoft Surface Pro 2

Microsoft's refined its supercharged tablet-cum-PC this year, turning it from a computing novelty into a true laptop slayer. Tweaking an already powerful device with a multi-position kickstand, better battery life, a dual-core i5 Haswell processor and a more sensitive Touch Cover 2, the Surface Pro 2 is a genuine laptop replacement.

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Runner-up: Apple MacBook Pro 13in with Retina Display (from £1300)

Apple MacBook Pro 13in Retina Display

Cramming a 2560x1600 pixel display into a 13in frame, the smaller MacBook Pro is stunning – and arguably more practical than its bigger brother. Yes, it's expensive – but with £1000+ Ultrabook rivals on the market, the argument that Apple overcharges holds less water. And you get what you pay for, with a super-powered, Thunderbolt-equipped laptop of the future wrapped in a gorgeous aluminium shell.

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Runner-up: Samsung Series 7 Ultra (from £850)

Samsung Series 7 Ultra

With a glorious, touch-enabled Full HD screen, an ultra-slim form-factor and plenty of connectivity options – including a mini VGA port, if you're clinging to the past – the Ultra is one of the best Ultrabooks around, and deserving of its place in the Stuff Top 10 Laptops.

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Runner-up: Acer Aspire S7 (from £670)

Acer Aspire S7

Skinnier than the MacBook Air, with a higher-resolution touchscreen display and impressive Dolby Home Theater speakers, the Aspire certainly looks like a winner. And with a gorgeous white Gorilla Glass frame, it's not afraid to stand out from the crowd.

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Runner-up: Asus Taichi (from £750)

Asus Taichi

Working on the principle that two HD screens are better than one – and who are we to argue – the Asus Taichi is a flexible friend that bridges the gap between Ultrabook and tablet. And with a Core i7 processor and full-fat Windows 8, it's a sight more versatile than a tablet, too. Please, Asus: never stop coming up with bonkers designs like this.

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Runner-up: Schenker XMG C703

Schenker XMG C703

Forget your sleek and slim Ultrabooks – the XMG C703 raises a great brutalist finger and points it firmly at the likes of Samsung and Apple. It may be the thinnest and lightest gaming laptop on the planet, but with a massive 17.3in screen, Nvidia GeForce 765M graphics chip and Intel Haswell Core i7 processor, it's not messing about.

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