7 Best Laptops for Note-taking in 2021

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Note-taking is the practice of recording information from different sources and platforms. It’s a useful method of extracting essential information, commonly exercised by students. Notes are generally drawn from a transient source, such as a lecture in college, or an oral discussion in the office.

As a college student, taking notes in lectures is really important. You want to have written records of those important lectures, it helps a lot in later revisions.

Are Laptops Good for Note-taking?

The growing trend of laptops in colleges has led to an increase in electronic note-taking. Many students these days prepare digital notes using a laptop or tablet, with the aid of note-taking software. On top of that, online applications are growing in popularity since students can forward notes using email, or make use of collaborative features in those applications.

So, are laptops good for note-taking? It depends really.

If you’re like me who’d rather type than write, you’ll love electronic note-taking. For some, typing can even be faster than writing. And using a laptop for notes also saves you space in the backpack, since you’ll need fewer notebooks.

On the other hand, electronic note-taking may be less effective than the traditional methods. A study done by Pam A. Mueller of Princeton University and Daniel M. Oppenheimer of the University of California showed that students who take notes digitally retain less information than students who take notes on paper, and the digital note-takers have more difficulty remembering what they’ve written.

But honestly, I can write faster and remember better when taking notes on a laptop. And I’m also helping save the trees. I think it’s more of a personal choice.

Things to Consider when Buying

While any laptop can do note-keeping, some laptops tend to do a better job. You can decide for yourself, well, if you know what features you need for a better note-taking experience.

Battery Backup

If you intend to take notes during lectures, you’re gonna need solid battery backup. We recommend a minimum screen-on time of 6 hours – should be more than enough for a typical college day.

Touchscreen

Touchscreen laptops are great for note-taking, partly because of their similarity with notebooks. One big advantage of touch laptops is that you can draw figures with ease. Moreover, most touchscreen laptops are smaller and more compact than traditional laptops – which makes them a great choice for college.

Keyboard

For better note-keeping, your laptop should feature a solid physical keyboard. A good keyboard can greatly increase your typing speed and accuracy. This is, of course, if the laptop doesn’t have a touchscreen.

Portability

For college, you’ll want to pick a portable laptop. Since you’ll often need to carry your laptop to places, you don’t want to buy something bulky, something that could hurt your back. So ideally, a note-keeping laptop shouldn’t weigh more than 3 pounds.

You should go for a 14″ laptop for maximum portability. But if 14″ is too small for you, a 15.6″ laptop should be perfect.

Convertibility

Convertible 2-in-1 laptops can act both as a tablet and a laptop, which makes them a great choice for note-taking. You can easily fold it to save space on the desk, and expand when required. In one device, you’ll have the speed of a laptop as well as the flexibility of a tablet.

Best Laptops for Note-taking: 7 picks

Now let’s look at our picks for the best note-taking laptops. We considered features like portability, battery backup, and touchscreen to rank the laptops.

1. Microsoft Surface Pro 7 – Best All-rounder

  • CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i7, i5 and i3
  • RAM: 8GB | 16GB
  • Screen: 12.3″ UHD Touchscreen
  • Storage: 128GB | 256GB | 512GB SSD
  • Battery: 10 Hours
  • Weight: 1.7 lbs
The Surface Pro 7 is a great laptop for note-taking and work.

Pros:

  • Snappy Intel “Ice Lake” processor.
  • Excellent battery life.
  • Sharp and crisp screen.
  • Cleverly-designed kickstand.

Cons:

  • Keyboard is sold separately.
  • Just two ports, no Thunderbolt support.

Product Description

  • Next-gen, best-in-class laptop with the versatility of a studio and tablet, so you can type, touch, draw, write, work, and play more naturally.
  • Faster than surface pro 6, with a 10th gen intel core processor – redefining what’s possible in a thin and light computer.
  • More ways to connect, with both USB-c and USB-a ports for connecting to displays, docking stations and more, as well as accessory charging.
  • Standout design that won’t weigh you down — ultra-slim and light surface pro 7 starts at just 1.70 pounds.
  • All day battery life up to 10.5 hours, Plus the ability to go from empty to full faster — about 80 percent in just over an hour.
  • Free Upgrade to Windows 11.

The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is a versatile gadget that packs the flexibility of a tablet and the power of an ultrabook. It’s an ideal choice for note-taking and college or business works.

The Surface Pro 7 comes with a powerful 10th gen Core i3 / i5 / i7 processor. In terms of performance, it’s on par with conventional 2-in-1 notebooks. It comes with 8 GB or 16GB of RAM depending on the processor type, sufficient for multitasking and fast app switching.

Its 12 inch UHD screen is sharp and crisp, and the touch screen is accurate to the point. It is often said that writing on a Surface with its stylus pen is a similar experience to writing on paper. The kickstand is well-designed for the comfort of use, and the external keyboard (sold separately) is excellent for writers and fast note-takers.

At just 1.7 pounds, it’s one of the lightest convertible machines around. And its small form factor won’t take much space in the backpack or on the desk. Its battery backup is excellent: you can squeeze out almost 11 hours of screen-on time in just one charge. The Surface Pro also has lightning-fast charging, you can charge it up to 80 percent in just one hour!

2. Google Pixelbook Go – Best ChromeBook

  • CPU: Intel Core M3 | i5 | i7
  • RAM: 8GB | 16GB
  • Screen: 13.3″ HD Touchscreen
  • Storage: 128GB |256GB SSD
  • Battery: 12 Hours
  • Weight: 2 lbs
The lightweight PIxelbook Go can be the perfect choice for note-taking and college.

Pros:

  • Attractive look.
  • Amazing “Hush” keyboard.
  • High-quality webcam.
  • Good audio output.
  • Long battery life.

Cons:

  • Expensive for a Chromebook.
  • No stylus support.
  • No biometric login.

Product Description

  • Good to Go: Pixelbook Go lets you stay unplugged for up to 12 hours so you don’t need to carry a charger. And when you do need a charge get up to 2 hours of use in just 20 minutes of charging so you can keep going.
  • Made to move: Pixelbook Go is lightweight – Barely 2 pounds It’s 13 millimeter thin with a grippable design making it easier to carry
  • Get it done Fast: Pixelbook Go starts up in seconds and makes working a breeze. The 8th Gen Intel Core Processor is quick and responsive powering everything you do. And Chrome OS doesn’t slow down over time so it always feels like new.
  • Go without worry: Pixelbook Go is designed to prevent things from getting off track. The Titan C security chip and built-in anti-virus software help protect your data. And Chrome OS updates automatically with the latest features and security.
  • Built for comfort: A backlit keyboard and Hush Keys make using Pixelbook Go comfortable and quiet. The touchpad is spacious and accurate so you only need to use a light touch. The fan less design stays cool to let you comfortably use it on your lap.
  • Ready to entertain: With brilliant 13.3″ HD touchscreen display and dual stereo speakers you get amazing picture and sound for watching movies editing photos, or video chatting.

The Pixelbook Go is an attractive-looking Chromebook made from Magnesium alloy. It’s by far the most beautiful Chromebook I have seen. Despite being a Chromebook that costs a lot, it’s a great choice for writers and K-12 students. Well, unless you don’t wanna use Chrome OS.

The Laptop has a cheerful design, which makes it stand aside from most Chromebooks. It features special “Hush keys” that are amazingly quiet and comfortable. Don’t wanna disturb your classmates while you type insanely fast? Then this might be the laptop you need.

With an option to choose from Intel core M3 or i5/i7, the Pixelbook Go offers plenty of performance as well. Its 13″ FHD Touch display is bright and clear, but has no stylus support (which is disappointing).

With a weight of just 2.2 lbs, it’s one of the most lightweight and portable Chromebooks in its class. Its battery backup is incredibly good, thanks to Chrome OS’s power-saving features. You can easily avoid charging for as much as 12 hours, and some thirty-party estimates put that even higher.

3. Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i 14 – Best Budget-pick

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-1135G7
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Screen: 14″ FHD Touchscreen
  • Storage: 128GB SSD
  • Battery: 10 Hours
  • Weight: 3.6 lbs
Ideapad Flex 5i 14 - a great laptop for college and note-taking.

Pros:

  • Practical Build.
  • Solid Performance.
  • Good keyboard.
  • decent ports selections.
  • Webcam privacy stutter.

Cons:

  • Relatively heavy.
  • Dimmer, 250-nit display.

Product Description

  • Combine performance, creativity, and entertainment! This 2-in-1 laptop has a 14-inch touchscreen, Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor, 8GB DDR4 RAM, 128GB SSD, and integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics.
  • A narrow bezel on 4 sides gives you more viewing area and less clutter to interfere with the task at hand. Get the most out of your FHD screen with IPS panel technology and 1920 x 1080 resolution.
  • With digital pen support (pen sold separately), the IdeaPad Flex 5i lets you capture moments of inspiration or take notes on the fly
  • From zero to 360° in a flash – this touchscreen laptop is designed for you to keep your ideas flowing, anywhere, anytime with the ability to use it in multi-mode capacity. Use ‘Laptop’ mode for everyday computing, ‘Tent’ mode for sharing, ‘Stand’ mode for binge-watching, or ‘Tablet’ mode for intuitive interaction
  • A physical shutter on the webcam ensures you keep out unwanted attention when you are concerned about your privacy

The Ideapad Flex 5i is similar to its predecessors, and yet it’s one of the best 2-in-1 budget laptops from Lenovo. Its sturdy and practical build combines functionality with beauty in a perfect way. The keyboard is very comfortable, and the touchscreen is responsive. And combined with the digital pen support, it can be an excellent gadget for artists and creative professionals.

The convertible laptop sports an Intel Core i5 processor, paired with 8 GB of RAM. The 14″ FHD display isn’t too bright, but it’s crisp and the color quality is decent. Another downside is the weight. At around 3.6 lbs, it’s not the best suit for your backpack.

In a video playback test by Pcmag.com, it ran for almost 12 hours. So you can easily expect ~10 hours of backup in one charge.

4. Apple MacBook Air M1 – Best Battery

  • CPU: Apple M1 chip
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Screen: 13″ Retina Display
  • Storage: 256GB | 512GB SSD
  • Battery: Upto 15 Hours
  • Weight: 2.8 lbs
The Macbook Air M1 is perfect for all your college tasks, including note-taking.

Pros:

  • Excellent Keyboard.
  • Sleek, portable design.
  • Comes in multiple colors.
  • Long-lasting battery.
  • Reasonably priced for a Macbook.

Cons:

  • No touchscreen.
  • Limited port selection.

Product Description

  • All-Day Battery Life – Go longer than ever with up to 18 hours of battery life.
  • Powerful Performance – Take on everything from professional-quality editing to action-packed gaming with ease. The Apple M1 chip with an 8-core CPU delivers up to 3.5x faster performance than the previous generation while using way less power.
  • Superfast Memory8GB of unified memory makes your entire system speedy and responsive. That way it can support tasks like memory-hogging multitab browsing and opening a huge graphic file quickly and easily.
  • Stunning Display – With a 13.3” Retina display, images come alive with new levels of realism. Text is sharp and clear, and colors are more vibrant.
  • Simply Compatible – All your existing apps work, including Adobe Creative Cloud, Microsoft 365, and Google Drive. Plus you can use your favorite iPhone and iPad apps directly on macOS. Altogether you’ll have access to the biggest collection of apps ever for Mac. All available on the App Store.
  • Easy to Learn – If you already have an iPhone, MacBook Air feels familiar from the moment you turn it on. And it works perfectly with all your Apple devices. Use your iPad to extend the workspace of your Mac, answer texts and phone calls directly on your Mac, and more.

Everyone loves Mac OS. It’s super user-friendly and provides a polished, all-round experience. So why not buy a Macbook for college?

The Macbook Air 2020 has everything you need from a laptop. Plus it’s fairly cheap for a Macbook. Its fan-free design is great if you hate distractions, and it’s keyboard is amazingly comfortable.

Its 13″ Retina display is sharp, crisp, and bright. And the new 8-Core M1 chip, paired with 8 GB of Unified Memory makes multitasking smooth, and fast.

We don’t have to tell you about the battery backup of the Macbook. The 2020 version is claimed to last more than 11 hours when streaming on wi-fi. At around 2.8 lbs, it’s a portable machine that you can take anywhere.

5. Acer Swift 3 – Cheap & Portable

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 5700U
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Screen: 14″ FHD
  • Storage: 512GB SSD
  • Battery: Upto 17 Hours
  • Weight: 2.65 lbs
Acer Swift 3 - a great laptop for college.

Pros:

  • Colorful, bright 3:2 AR display.
  • Great battery life.
  • Lightweight.
  • Clear Microphone.

Cons:

  • No Touchscreen.
  • No SD or microSD card slot.

Product Description

  • Powerful Productivity: AMD Ryzen 7 5700U Octa-Core Processor with Radeon Graphics run your most demanding apps with lightning-fast responsiveness and hyper-efficient battery usage to keep you productive and entertained all day.
  • Very Visual: Immerse yourself in consistently rich and bright visuals on the 14″ Full HD widescreen LED-backlit 100% sRGB display with 85.73% screen-to-body, 16:9 aspect ratio and narrow bezels.
  • 8GB LPDDR4X on-board memory; 512GB NVMe solid-state drive storage to store your files and media.
  • Windows Hello with Fingerprint Reader: Biometric fingerprint reader and Windows Hello sign-in options help keep your Acer PC secure.
  • 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 Dual-Band 2.4GHz and 5GHz featuring MU-MIMO technology.
  • Bluetooth 5.2.
  • Acer’s PurifiedVoice technology, features enhanced digital signal processing to cancel out background noise, improve speech accuracy and far-field pickup, which not only makes calls clearer, but makes talking to Alexa easier than before.
  • Using Alexa on your PC is as easy as asking a question. Just ask and Alexa can check your calendar, create lists, play music, answer questions, read the news and more.

The Acer Swift 3 is a laptop designed for everyone – from professionals to students. The latest version features a powerful Ryzen 7 processor and 8 GB of RAM, sufficient for smooth multitasking and the most demanding apps you may use.

The laptop has an unusual, 14″ square display with an aspect ratio of 3:2. The screen is bright and colorful and has a high screen-to-body ratio. The build quality is good for the price, and the keyboard is easy-to-use and comfortable.

The Swift 3 is lightweight, at around 2.6 lbs. Its square design also takes less space in the backpack, saving room for other college stuff. Plus, its battery backup is insanely amazing. You can expect more than 12 hours of screen-on time under normal use.

6. HP Pavilion x360 14 – Best Convertible

  • CPU: 11th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Screen: 14″ FHD Touchscreen
  • Storage: 256GB NVMe SSD
  • Battery: Upto 9 Hours
  • Weight: 3.5 lbs
HP Pavilion x360 14 - A premium laptop under budget

Pros:

  • Excellent build quality.
  • Great Battery life.
  • Comfortable Keyboard.
  • Good Speakers.

Cons:

  • Bland display.
  • Slightly Heavier.

Product Description

  • VIBRANT DISPLAY – Your creations are brought to life with the 14-inch diagonal, FHD, multitouch enabled, edge-to-edge glass display.
  • STELLAR PERFORMANCE – The 11th Generation Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor lets you get work done more efficiently.
  • EYE-CATCHING GRAPHICS – Marvel at crystal-clear imagery thanks to Intel Iris Xe Graphics.
  • MEMORY & STORAGE – HP Envy brings you even more bandwidth with 8GB of RAM and increased hard drive space with 256 GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD storage.
  • LONG-LASTING STREAMING POWER – Your laptop has up to 8 hours and 15 minutes of wireless streaming capabilities. Plus, HP Fast Charge takes your laptop from 0-50% charge in approximately 45 minutes.
  • UNMATCHED AUDIO – Music, movie, and gaming sound gets a boost thanks to built-in dual speakers and audio provided by B&O.

The Pavilion x360 is a budget 2-in-1 laptop from HP. Despite its fairly cheap price tag, it offers more of a premium, polished look and feel. Its 14″ screen is bright, and its touchscreen is very accurate. The physical keyboard is similarly comfortable and makes typing effortless.

With a combo of 11th gen Core i5 and 8 GB of Ram, it can handle even the most demanding tasks. The battery backup isn’t the best we’ve seen but should manage to last a typical day in one charge. Plus, HP’s fast-charge technology makes charging the battery real quick.

We loved the sound quality, the speakers are excellent for watching movies and music. Especially if you’re a movie lover, this laptop suits you perfectly.

At around 3.5 pounds, this laptop isn’t the lightest option. But if you’re looking for a laptop that looks good, works fine and costs less – then look no more.

7. Dell XPS 13 OLED – Best Premium Ultrabook

  • CPU: 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1185G7
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Screen: 13.4″ FHD+ Touchscreen
  • Storage: 512GB SSD
  • Battery: 8+ Hours
  • Weight: 2.8 lbs
Dell XPS 13 OLED is a premium notebook for not

Pros:

  • Breathtaking OLED display.
  • Unbeatably sleek and compact.
  • Solid preformance.
  • Premium Build.

Cons:

  • Very few ports.
  • Expensive.

Product Description

  • 13.4-inch FHD (Full HD 1920 x 1200) InfinityEdge Touch Anti-Reflective 500-Nit Display.
  • 11th Generation Intel Core i7-1185G7 Processor (12MB Cache, up to 4.8 GHz).
  • 16GB 4267MHz LPDDR4x RAM.
  • 512 GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD Storage.
  • Intel Iris Xe Graphics with shared graphics memory.
  • Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650 (2 x 2) Bluetooth 5.1.
  • Including 2 Year On-Site and 6 months Dell Migrate – easily move your files and settings from your old PC to your new Dell.
  • Using Alexa on your PC is as easy as asking a question. Just ask and Alexa can check your calendar, create lists, play music, answer questions, read the news and more.

You probably aren’t going to spend 1500 bucks on a laptop to write notes. But if that’s what you want, a premium windows ultrabook – then you’ve found it.

The Dell XPS 13 OLED is a premium, ultraportable laptop that features an uncommon OLED display. Its build quality is solid and attractive, with smaller bezels and a very polished look. The OLED touchscreen display that it features is one of the best in the world,  with rich, vivid colors and razor-sharp details.

The combo of a high frequency, 11th gen core i7, and 16 GB of RAM provides solid multitasking performance. And the 512 GB SSD storage should be enough to store all your documents and files.

We found the keyboard to be highly responsive to presses, and the touchscreen seemed great for figure drawing or sketching.

In terms of battery backup, the XPS 13 doesn’t break records but sits beside the average ultrabook. You can expect around 8 hours of screen-on time under normal use. Thanks to its slim and ultraportable design and relatively low weight of 2.8 lbs, you can carry it easily in a backpack or handbag.

Final verdict

You don’t need a specialized laptop for note-taking. But you’ll probably need it for more than just taking notes.

For instance, if you just wanna take notes and do some basic tasks like editing word docs and emailing, you may wanna buy a cheap 2-in-1 touch option. Or maybe you’re gonna watch movies often, so you gotta think about the audio quality. In short, you want to make a choice based on your personal requirements, not based on my words.

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