If you’re in the market for a small and affordable laptop, yet punchy enough to deal with your everyday activities, you should have a look at the 11.6-inch devices available in stores these days.
I feel that 11.6 inchers fall just in the right sweetspot. They are compact and light enough to carry around, have enough space for a decent keyboard, battery and hardware, plus some useful ports around the edges, and are not very expensive either. The affordable options start at under $199 and they compromise on screen quality or performance, but if the budget allows, there are also a number of excellent 11-inchers in stores.
For those of you that would rather get a more compact machine, we also have a list of the available 10-inch convertibles and mini-laptops, while for those of you that would rather get a slightly larger and more powerful machine, we have this detailed analysis on the available 12-inchers. Last but not least, you could also have a look at our detailed guide on the best ultra-portables available right now.
If you’re convinced an 11-incher is what you want though, then this post is a must read and will help you find the best device for your needs and budget. To make your search a bit easier, I’ve structured the article into three main sections:
- Budget 11.6-inch laptops ($150 – $400)
- Everyday 11.6-inch laptops (best value for the money, under $600)
- Premium options – ultrabooks, convertibles and tablets
We’ll talk about the best options in each class further down, with links towards our detailed reviews and videos, but also towards online stores where you might find these devices discounted. So let’s get started.
Budget 11.6-inch netbooks
The notebooks in this section sell for between $150 and $400. They might not get the looks, power or the build quality of the more expensive options, but can do a good job as inexpensive travel companions or laptops for your kids.
Asus EeeBook X205TA and the HP Stream 11
We’ll talk about these at the same time because they are both Windows computers that can run all the software you’re already familiar with (including Office, Skype, your favorite browser and mini-games, etc), and they both sell for under $200.
We already reviewed the Asus EeeBook X205TA in this post, if you want to read all the details about it. In fewer words though, this is a compact 11-incher that weighs only 2.1 lbs and has a thin plastic case, available in a few different colors.
It’s powered by Intel BayTrail Atom hardware, a low-power platform that can only deal with basic everyday activities and little to no multitasking, but is highly efficient, and as a result this mini laptop will last for around 8 hours of daily use on a single charge. You should also know that the storage space on the $199 model is limited and the laptop is only paired with a TN HD non-touch display.
But for $199, I feel this is a great buy. Follow this link for more details and potential discounts.
The HP Stream 11 is another 11-incher with a TN HD non-touch display and a plastic case available in Blue or Pink, but there are a few details that set it apart from the Asus EeeBook.
First of all, it is slightly thicker and heavier, weighing around 2.8 lbs, and these hinder its portability. On the other hand, there’s more room on the edges with such an approach, thus the HP gets a more advanced IO, with full-size ports. Second, the HP is powered by an Intel Celeron BayTrail platform, which is somewhat faster than the hardware on the Asus. Is still something I’d only recommend for basic tasks, but it will handle some light multitasking as well. The storage space is still limited though. And third, despite bundling a 37 Wh battery, the Stream 11 will only go for around 6-7 hours on a charge.
The Stream 11 sells for under $200 as well, and more details and potential deals are available via this link. It is a bulkier, but slightly faster and more practical alternative to the EeeBook, better suited for those of you in need of ports and slightly improved performance. HP also offers the Stream in a 13-inch form-factor, stating at $229, in case you want an affordable computer with a larger display.
The 11.6 inch Chromebooks
Chromebooks are light, portable and inexpensive computers. They look and perform like a regular mini-laptop, but there’s a catch, as they don’t run Windows, but ChromeOS, which is built around Google’s web-services. That means you’ll be getting apps based on things you’re already using and are familiar with, like Gmail, Youtube, Drive, Maps, Music, Videos and so on, and you can download these apps from a Store, just like you do on an Androdi or iOS device. You can also get third party apps like Evernote or Facebook etc. , plus many games.
Chromebooks are mainly useful when connected to the Internet, as they rely on Cloud services and they only offer limited storage space, again, like a tablet/smartphone. But they can be used offline as well to watch movies, play games, edit documents and so on.
There are a couple of good 11.6 inch Chromebooks available in stores right now and I’ve compared them all in this detailed post. I also put together a Buying guide that you should read before getting a Chromebook, just to make sure that you’ll understand exactly what such devices can and cannot do, and a shortlist of the most interesting Chromebooks available right now, just below.
|The latest Chromebooks||Price||Screen||Hardware||Weight||Battery|
|Acer Chromebook C720||$199 – check for discounts||11.6″ HD TN matte||Intel Haswell Celeron / 2-4 GB RAM / 16 GB SSD||2.76 lbs||up to 8.5 h|
|Acer Chromebook C720P||$299 – check for discounts||11.6″ HD TN touchscreen||Intel Haswell Celeron / 2-4 GB RAM / 32 GB SSD||2.98 lbs||up to 7.5 h|
|Asus Chromebook C200||$249 – check for discounts||11.6″ HD TN glossy||Intel BayTrail Celeron / 2 GB RAM / 16 GB SSD||2.5 lbs||up to 10 h|
|Asus Chromebook C300||$249 – check for discounts||13.3″ HD TN glossy||Intel BayTrail Celeron / 2-4 GB RAM / 16-32 GB SSD||3.1 lbs||up to 10 h|
|Dell Chromebook 11||$279 – mostly unavaialble||11.6″ HD TN glossy||Intel Haswell Celeron / 2-4 GB RAM / 16 GB SSD||2.9 lbs||up to 9 h|
|HP Chromebook 14 2014||$299 – check for discounts||14″ HD TN Glossy||Intel Haswell Celeron / 2 GB RAM / 16 GB SSD||4.19 lbs||up to 9.5 h|
|Samsung Chromebook 2 11.6||$319 – check for discounts||11.6″ HD TN matte||Exynos 5420 1.9 GHz / 4 GB RAM / 16 GB SSD||2.65 lbs||up to 8 h|
|Samsung Chromebook 2 13.3||$399 – check for discounts||13.3″ FHD TN matte||Exynos 5800 2.0 GHz / 4 GB RAM / 16 GB SSD||3.06 lbs||up to 8.5 h|
|Toshiba Chromebook CB35||$279 – check for discounts||13.3″ HD TN glossy||Intel Haswell Celeron / 2 GB RAM / 32 GB SSD||3.3 lbs||up to 9 h|
I personally own an Acer C720, the most affordable in this list, which is really fast for the money and lasts for at least 7 hours on a charge. I’ve also used the Asus C200 for a while, one of the few Chromebooks built on a fanless Intel BayTrail hardware platform. This makes it completely quiet in daily use, something you will appreciate if working long hours into the night, in completely silent rooms. But I stuck with the slightly faster Acer in the end.
If you do want a larger device, the Acer C300, the HP Chromebook 14 2014 and the Toshiba Chromebook CB35 are the ones to consider, all starting below $300. Samsung’s Chromebook 2 13.3 is another interesting option, the only one in this list with a 1920 x 1080 px IPS panel, but it does sell for $399 and is somewhat underpowered when compared to the Intel based machines.
Manufacturers are launching new Chromebooks as we speak, so the offer for such small and affordable devices is getting more and more diverse, which means there’s a greater chance to find something that you will enjoy among these. Make sure to check out the extended post on Chromebooks for the updated list of the latest entries.
The Acer Aspire E3/V3 families
If you’re after a regular 11.6 inch laptop with Windows and don’t want to spend much on it, the Acer Aspire E3 should be towards the top of your list.
Acer advertises it as a good laptop for study and travel, and it actually is. The 11.6 inch E3 looks and feels fine for a computer in this case, with a silver plastic shell, a full-size keyboard and a decent HD screen. It also packs 3 USB ports around the sides and HDMI, as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
It’s powered by either a fanless Intel BayTrail-M N2830 processor, or a faster Pentium N3520 CPU, paired with 2 or 4 GB of RAM (but can take up to 8 GB) and either a 320 or a 500 GB HDD, which can be replaced with SSDs if you want these laptop to get faster. Out of the box though, these Acers will handle daily activities fine, just don’t push them or they’ll choke fast.
The battery is rather small and these things will only last for 4, maybe 5 hours on each charge, so if you do need something that will last longer, you’ll have to look at the other devices in this post. Or the Aspire V3s mentioned a bit further down.
Even so, for the money, the Acer Aspire E3 are great 11.6 inch mini-laptops for the go. The N2830 / 2GB RAM / 320 GB HDD version sells for around $250, while the N3520 / 4 GB RAM / 500 GB HDD sells for a little over $300. See this link for more details, latest prices and potential discounts.
Acer also have the Acer Aspire V3-111Ps in stores, very similar to the E3s above, but with a larger battery (will last for around 6 hours on a charge) and a touchscreen. They start at about $330, as you can find-out by following this link.
Asus Transformer Book T200/T100 2-in-1 mini laptops
This is a slightly different device than the ones listed above.
In few words, the T200 is a Windows tablet, running on an Intel Atom Bay Trail-T hardware platform, with 2 GB of RAM and 32/64 GB of storage. It packs a 11.6 inch 1366 x 768 px touchscreen and a docking station, which includes a keyboard, trackpad, a few ports and room for a HDD. Together, the two act as a mini laptop, albeit a rather heavy one, weighing about 3.6 pounds, which will last for 7-9 hours of everyday use on a charge and even longer when used lightly.
That Atom BayTrail-T platform is surely not a beast, but is fairly capable of handling casual everyday activities, like browsing, editing documents, watching videos, listening to music etc. It can also run fine the games and the apps in the Windows store. Of course, this is not something made for heavy multitasking or complex pieces of software, but as long as you’re perfectly aware of what it can and cannot do, you’ll be happy with it. See my detailed review of the Asus T200 series for more details.
The Transformer Book T200 starts at under $400 (you might find discounts here) these days and scores good reviews and marks with those who already bought it.
Asus also offers a more compact version of this device, the Transformer Book T100TA (reviewed over here), with pretty much he same features, but a smaller 10.1 inch screen and of course, a more compact and lighter body. Thine one sells for under $400 as well, as you can see via this link
Toshiba Satellite NB15T – similar to the ASUS K200MA and the Acer Aspire V3, the Satellite NB15T is another compact machine with a touchscreen and BayTrail-M hardware. However, it does pack a rather small battery (4 hours of daily use), is heavier than its competitors (3.3 lbs) and more expensive as well, as it sells for between $350 and $400. And these are enough reasons to place this one in the “Others” section.
HP Pavilion Touchsmart 11 – this is powered by AMD hardware, with a few different options to choose from. Unlike the Intel platforms, these AMD ones are not as efficient, but they do pack more powerful graphics, so if you need something light and cheap for occasional gaming on the go, you could consider them. The cheapest models start at around $360.
Lenovo IdeaPad S210 – another 11.6 incher with a touchscreen and this time a slightly superior typing experience, but the S210 is built on an Intel Celeron Ivy Bridge processor, which is going to be faster than those BayTrail-M configurations available on most of the devices mentioned above, but not as efficient (so don’t expect more than 3-4 hours of life from this one). On top of these, the IdeaPad S210 is rather expensive, selling for just under $400 these days, but if you can find it cheaper, it would be worth considering.
To wrap this up, you get to choose between fast and long-lasting Chromebooks in this price-range, or basic Windows machines. If you can stretch your budget above $300 and closer to $400, you will get a few decent options to choose from, although Windows 8 on low-power computers like these is only meant for light everyday activities and not more. If you only have $200 to $250 to spend though, go with a Chromebook, you’ll end up happier.
Everyday 11 inch notebooks
If you need a better looking and faster 11 incher, with more premium features, you should look at the laptops included in this section, with price tags ranging from $400 to $600.
Asus VivoBook X200LA and X202E / S200
The X202E/S200 models are in fact the same laptop, with a few configuration differences between them, that’s why we’re going to generically refer them all as the Vivobook X202E. This one is the first ultrabooks in this list, but unlike many of the others we’re going to mention in the next section of this post, it is affordable. My full review for the X202E is available overe here and you should definitely check it out.
The laptop’s body is made from a mix of matte plastic and aluminum, it comes with an 11.6 inch touchscreen and is powered by a few different Intel processors, either Celerons, Pentiums or a Core i3 (all IvyBridge CPUs). Even the Core i3 is not going to be very fast, but is perfectly capable of handling everyday tasks and some multimedia content. The Celeron/Pentium CPUs are better suited for light activities: office use, browsing and watching some videos.
Besides these, the X202E also has a decent keyboard and a fairly accurate trackpad, plus can go for about 4 hours of average use each charge (The Celeron/Pentium options will actually last a bit longer).
Are those good enough? I’d say yes, especially for less than $500. In fact, the Core i3 version sells these days for about $470, while the others go for under $400. Up-to-date prices and some extra details are available here.
The Asus Vivobook X200LA on the other hand is the updated version of the X202/S200, with Intel Haswell hardware inside. It’s available with a Core i3-4010U processor, 4 GB of RAM and a 500 GB HDD, plus a slightly larger battery than before, which combined will allow it to last for about 5 hours on each charge. Still not much, but an improvement over the older models.
The X200LA however was also slightly redesigned. It is made entirely out of plastic and is marginally thicker and heavier (0.1 lbs) than the X202E. In fact, it shares the design with the K200MA mentioned before.
Even so, you should get the new model over its predecessors, as it also sells for under $500 (see this link for more details and potential discounts) and the slight bump in performance and battery life is worth having. But you could also consider some refurbished X202/S200 Core i3 versions which should sell for between $300-$400.
Dell Inspiron 11 3000 series
The new Inspiron 11 3000 series (2014 edition) is a very appreciated 2-in-1 laptop with a Yoga-like form factor (the screen leans 360 degrees around the hinge). Thus you can use it as a regular mini laptop or as an 11.6 inch tablet. The whole thing is made from plastic, but looks and feels really solid, weighs about 3.1 pounds and is 0.8 inches thick, which is not bad for such a device, especially since it offers all the needed ports around the sides (3USBs, HDMI, card-reader), plus a 43 Wh battery inside.
There is however only an HD touchscreen on this Inspiron, with a rather mediocre TN panel, but that helps keep the price low. That and the hardware, an Intel BayTrail-M N3520 quad-core processor, which paired with 4 GB of RAM and a 500 GB HDD is going to prove fast enough for daily activities. Of course, the slow 5400 rpm HDD is the bottleneck here and if you’ll replace it with an SSD you will make this machine much snappier.
Long story short, this is a nice 2-in-1 laptop fit for light use. However, with a list price of $499, it is more expensive than the Intel Core i3 powered Asus X200LA. But you can find it discounted online and unless you really need the extra power, I believe this Dell does offer a more complete experience (fanless use, convertible form-factor, longer battery life and better looking case).
Lenovo Yoga 2 11
Last but not least there’s the popular Yoga, the 2nd generation launched in 2014, another 2-in-1 11 incher that you should consider.
It features the same convertible form-factor, a nicely build body made of plastic, with a smooth rubbery finishing, plus a good keyboard and trackpad, all these inside a 0.7 inch 3.2 lbs body (thus thinner, but heavier than the Inspiron 11 3000). It also shares the same Intel BayTrail hardware platform, but is also available in a few more powerful configurations, with Intel Core Y Haswell processors and SSD storage.
However, the Lenovo Yoga 2 trails the Dell when it comes to battery life, mainly because it packs a smaller 34 Wh battery, or connectivity, as it only offers 2 USB slots, a card-reader and a micro-HDMI port.
At the end of the day though, the Lenovo Yoga 2 could be the right 11 incher for you, although choosing between it and the Dell is not an easy task. The Intel N3520 / 4 GB RAM / 500 GB HDD configuration sells for under $500, while the more powerful Intel Core i5-4202Y / 4 GB RAM / 128 GB SSD variant can be found for under $800. But if you do need the power in this form factor, it’s well worth the money. See this link for more configuration options and potential discounts.
Premium 11 inchers – mini laptops, ultrabooks, tablets and more
If money are not a concern, you’ll be interested in the devices in this category. They offer the best in terms of features, hardware, build quality and looks. So have a look at the options below, but also check out my other post about the best 11.6 inch ultrabooks available these days.
11.6 inch Apple MacBook Air
The MBA is one of the sleekest 11.6 inchers out there, with its 0.7″ thick body that only weighs 2.4 lbs . The latest version is fast, solid-built and lasts longer than ever on a charge, offering up to 9 hours of real-life use. On top of that, it is more affordable than it used to be a few years ago, starting at $899. That kind of money will get you a sleek aluminum unibody, a backlit chiclet keyboard, an accurate trackpad and a powerful hardware configuration (the latest Intel Core U processors with Iris graphics, 4-8 GB of RAM and 128-512 GB PCIe SSDs)
The 11-inch MBA still lacks a card-reader though and is only paired with a TN HD non-touch screen, which is poor by today’s standards for a computer in this price segment.
The base Macbook Air configuration starts at $899 as mentioned before and includes a Core i5 CPU, 4GB RAM and a 128 GB SSD. See Apple’s website for details, but other stores usually offers solid discounts on Macbooks, so you should check out this link as well for potential deals.
Bottom point, the 11-inch Macbook Air lacks some of the things available on other premium Windows laptops these days, like a card-reader, a high-quality panel or even a touchscreen, and it gets expensive once you start specking it up. But it ticks many of the right boxes and still outmatches all its rivals when it comes performance, build-quality, keyboard/trackpad or battery life, that’s why I still believe this device is the best premium 11-incher you can buy these days.
Sony Vaio Pro 11
If you’re after a highly portable 11 incher capable of running Windows, the Sony Vaio Pro, with its 0.6 inch thick and 1.9 pounds heavy body should be at the top of your list, as the sleekest laptop in this class.
It’s also one of the best equipped, as it packs a Full HD IPS touchscreen, a nice backlit keyboard, a good selection of ports (2xUSBs and a card-reader, among them) and Haswell hardware. The base version of the Pro 11 comes with an Intel Core i5-4200U processor, 4 GB of RAM and a 128 GB SSD, but you can spec it up to an i7-4500U CPU, 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB HDD.
All these don’t come cheap, as the Sony Vaio Pro 11 starts at around $1150 , for the base version, but you can find the various configurations discounted online.
The Pro 11 is not without flaws though. The highly flexible carbon-fiber body, the average battery life (around 4-5 hours of daily use), the sharp edges and some potential wireless module issues are among the worst ones. If you can’t live with them, don’t worry, you’ve got other options to choose from. If you can though, the Pro 11 is going to be an awesome travel companion. See the clip below for more details.
Dell XPS 11 – the convertible ultrabook
The XPS 11 is another 2-in-1 hybrid, which means that it can be used in a few different modes: as a laptop, as a tablet and as something in between. The special hinge, which allows to screen to flip completely on the back, is similar to the one Lenovo made popular with their Yoga series.
Form factor aside, the XPS 11 is a true gem. Dell put a high density QHD 11.6 inch screen on this one, with 2560 x 1440 px resolution and an IPS panel. As a result, everything is going to look incredibly sharp, but you’ll also have to face those pesky Windows 8 scaling issues. The laptop is motorized by an Intel Haswell Core Y hardware platform, which is not as fast as the U series processors, but is still more than capable do deal with casual activities and movies. You can spec the little laptop up to a Core i5 CPU, 4 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD.
All these fit inside a 0.6 inch thick body, made from metal and carbon-fiber, which weighs around 2.5 pounds. Or in other words, a highly portable device, with actually enough room on the sides for a decent selection of ports (2USBs and a card-reader are included) and enough room inside for a 40Wh battery.
All in all, there’s little you might not like about the XPS 11. Except for one thing: the touch-keyboard, with potential poor feedback and little travel. Even so, the XPS 11 remains an interesting machine worthy of your attention and one of the lightest 2-in-1s available today. It starts at $999, but all the available configurations can be found discounted online.
A few Windows tablets
Laptops aside, there are also a few 11 inch Windows tablets on the market and most of them are quite good. Note that you won’t find many units sporting Intel Haswell hardware.
The Acer Aspire P3 , a Windows 8 Intel powered 11.6 inch tablet, with a solid and beautiful case and a decent 11.6 inch 1366 x 768 px touchscreen. Can be equiped with either Intel Celeron, Pentium or Core i3/i5 Y Series processors, based on your needs, alongside 2-4 GB of RAM and 60-120 GB SSDs. The entire thing is only 0.4 inches thick, weighs around 1.7 pounds and start at under $400 for the basic configuration, while the more powerful versions go for $700-$800, all of them with some discounts.
The Lenovo IdeaPad K3 sells for less than $400, weighs under 1.5 pounds and can deal with all your Windows software just fine. It’s not incredibly powerful, but it’s snappy enough for everyday use. It comes with an IPS screen, so everything is going to look nice on it and 64 GB of storage space for your content. And if you want to, you can also buy a docking station, that will transform this tablet into a laptop, when having these two latched.
The HP Envy X2 is a sleeker and better polished device, although it’s built on a similar platform as the Lenovo above. Still, you get more ports on that docking station, a more comfortable keyboard and a device that feels much better in hand. All these for around $600, including the docking unit, might seem a bit much.
There’s also Acer’s Iconia W700 tablet. It’s more expensive than these other two listed above, mainly because it’s a lot more powerful, as it is motorized by Intel Core i3/i5 processors, and not an Intel Atom Z Chip. That makes the W700 better suited even for heavier activities, including photo or video editing, serious multitasking or even some games.
At the same time, the W700 is just as pricey, if not pricier, than a similar specked regular mini laptop and using an 11.6 inch tablet PC with such kind of hardware might not be very comfortable. Still, if you’re interested in this one, you’ll find more details about it, including pics, pricing details and user reviews, via this link.
Last but not least we have the Dell Venue Pro 11 or the Microsoft Surface Pros, but we’ll talk more about them in this other post.
Wrapping this post up,there are quite a few good options for 11.6-inch mini laptops and ultrabooks available in stores these days.
Those machines listed in the first sections of this post are best picks for budget users, with decent features and excellent value for the money. The Chromebooks are great inexpensive machines as well, well suited for children or as a secondary travel devices. Those of you that require a more powerful computer or a convertible can instead choose one of the premium options mentioned above.
On the other hand, if you feel none of the devices in this post are the right picks for you, don’t despair, you can also check out the affordable and compact 10-inch mini laptops, the 12-inch ultraportables or the available 13-inch and larger ultrabooks. And you can also get in touch with me in the comments section below if you need more help picking up your next compact notebook, I’m around and eager to help if I can.