Laptops are known and loved for their portability, and with such freedom naturally comes the desire to work outside where you can enjoy the sunshine and a breath of fresh air.
Your laptop screen, however, may have other ideas. This is because not all are designed for use in the sun which makes it difficult to read or see what’s on the screen when you’re outside.
It’s not just the sunlight you have to think about, either, as there’s also whether or not your laptop will be durable enough to handle a day in the great outdoors.
I’m assuming that you don’t plan on taking your laptop to the park on a rainy day, but although the elements it’ll be exposed to may be mild, there are still things like dirt, debris, sand, or even food to consider.
To help you find a laptop that ticks all the necessary boxes for outdoor use, I’ve researched and reviewed five of the best products currently out there.
I’ve also put together a buyer’s guide that will walk you through the most important factors to consider, in order to help you find the perfect companion for outdoor use, for the next time you fancy working outside.
OUR TOP PICK
When it comes to which laptop is the best overall for outdoor use, the top pick has to be the Samsung Galaxy Book Flex laptop.
Its QLED display allows you to stream on a glorious touchscreen display with almost 100% color vibrancy that doesn’t dim even in the sunlight.
It’s great for when you want to work at the park as you can travel with it easily, using it as a tablet for the commute and converting it to a laptop once you’ve reached your destination.
This also offers convenience and a level of versatility that you don’t find with every laptop. Plus, its ultra-thin design also means it’s incredibly light to travel with.
Charge it up before you leave the house and admire the fast-charging battery technology, and go out knowing your laptop won’t let you down prematurely thanks to the long-lasting battery, capable of powering you through up to 20 continuous hours of screen time.
It might be hard to believe, but this is also the most affordable option I’ve included on this list, so you’ll be getting all of these benefits and more for an extremely reasonable price.
- Bright display: You can set the screen brightness to up to 600 nits which is enough to cut through any reflective glare from the sun.
- Versatile: Can be used for multiple applications making it useful for any line of work.
- Convertible: It’s incredibly portable thanks to its ability to convert from a tablet to a laptop, enabling you to pick the device that suits your situational needs at the time.
- Fast-charging battery: Witness lightning-fast charging and enjoy hours of use thanks to long-lasting battery life.
- Screen opening: When it’s in tablet mode, the screen does not open the whole way which means there is a small gap.
The Microsoft Surface Book 2 comes in at a close second behind the Samsung Galaxy Book Flex laptop, but what it lacks in terms of display brightness, with only 400 nits compared to the former model’s 600, it more than makes up for in balance and other useful features.
It’s paired with the impressive Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 dedicated GPU, so whether you’re using it for gaming or editing and designing, you’ll have a detailed graphics display in front of you. It boasts incredible display quality with 3260 x 2160 pixel resolution for realistic images.
The battery life is pretty impressive given its graphics output and powerful performance and is able to provide up to 17 hours of video playback after a full charge.
It has a fast operating system that makes this one of the quickest Surface Books to date, with double the power of its predecessors. Despite this, it weighs just 7 lbs which makes it light enough to travel with wherever you’re headed.
- Convertible: The two-in-one design allows you to switch between tablet and laptop easily with an accurate touchscreen display.
- Versatile: You can use it for taking notes or drawing.
- Display quality: This laptop offers high display quality with increased sharpness and brightness and a dedicated Nvidia GPU.
- Expensive option: Grab one of these while they’re on offer because otherwise, they can cause quite a dent in your bank account.
- Ports: You only get 4 ports with this laptop which isn’t ideal if you need to connect to multiple devices.
Next up, I present to you the Dell XPS 13 laptop from a brand that is well known for its well-constructed and -designed products. It’s built with a decent frame that is constructed with an aluminum shell for an appealing aesthetic as well as added durability.
This 2.81 lbs laptop is incredibly lightweight and is one of the best for portability, and it has an anti-reflection display that makes it perfect for outdoor use when you want to work in the sun.
No more worrying about bright outside conditions limiting you to working indoors.
Another selling point for this laptop is its fast operating speed, thanks to its 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8565U processors. These include Quad-Core processes that deliver up to 1.80 GHz as a base speed and up to 4.60 GHz as its maximum speed with Turbo Boost.
- Build quality: The aluminum frame is durable and designed well.
- Portable: It’s thin and lightweight which means it’s easy to pack up and travel with.
- Connectivity: There are numerous ports and connection options available, including two USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports and a battery indicator on the left, and a headphone jack, another USB Type-C connector (Gen. 1) without Thunderbolt support, and an SD card reader on the right.
- Touchpad: Some customers complain that they experience a slight lag when using the touchpad.
The next laptop I’ve included in this list of the best laptops for outdoor use is the Gigabyte AERO 17 XB laptop, which is one of the best options if you’re someone who likes to take their gaming outside to get some fresh air at the same time.
It offers a larger screen than some of the other options I’ve reviewed so far, but it’s still lightweight and easily transported to outdoor locations thanks to its ultra-thin design.
The color display is excellent with up to 100% sRGB color gamut coverage and true-to-life color with vibrant images as certified by X-Rite Pantone, so the incredible Nvidia RTX graphics won’t be drowned out by even the strongest sunlight.
It also provides up to 8.5 hours of battery life, which is less than other models I’ve included, but still more than enough to last you a trip to the park or beach.
- Perfect for gamers: The Nvidia RTX graphics card and powerful Intel CPU options make this one of the best gamer-focused laptops for outdoor use.
- Large screen: The display is 17.3 inches so you can game outside on a full screen with LCD display and wide-angle view, plus an anti-glare coating for ultimate viewing.
- Lightweight: It’s great for gamers on the go thanks to its lightweight and thin design.
- Expensive option: This is one of the more expensive options on this list, so make sure you’ve done your research before buying!
Last but not least is this Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga 3rd generation laptop. The full HD resolution touchscreen has approximately 477 nits higher brightness compared to its predecessors, so it’s a great choice for outdoor use.
It can conveniently convert into a laptop from tablet form quickly and easily, and it’s easily transported between locations because of its lightweight design.
There’s also a long battery life that means you can even use it while you’re traveling to your outdoor destination.
The ThinkPad series has a reputation for reliable performance and durability, but this model takes it to the next level. With over 200 positive quality checks against 12 military-grade standards, it can handle any number of hours of outdoor use without sustaining damage.
- Touch quality: If you’ll be doing a lot of writing on your laptop whilst you’re using it outside, you’ll love the keyboard and its key-travel distance.
- Rapid charge technology: You can pop it on charge before you leave the house and you’ll boost your juice up to 80% in just one hour and it should last you all day.
- Screen quality: The ultra-bright HD touchscreen display provides excellent image quality even in direct sunlight when you’re working outside.
- Portable: The compact, lightweight, and durable design make it easy to travel with this laptop.
- Graphics: It doesn’t have a dedicated graphics card, meaning it might not be the best choice for gamers.
Best Laptops For Outdoor Use Buying Guide
Any of the above five laptops would be perfect for outdoor use, but finding the perfect laptop for you depends on what you’re looking to get out of your new laptop.
I’ve put together this buyer’s guide to point you in the right direction of which key features you should consider.
Matte Display Finish
When you’re using your laptop outside, you have to be more conscious of the sunlight and where the sun is positioned in relation to you and your laptop screen, as otherwise, it can cast an annoying glare that makes it difficult to see what’s in front of you on the screen.
Laptops that have a matte finish have much better anti-glare capabilities compared to laptop screens with a gloss finish, which helps to reduce the amount of light reflected in the screen.
This will also make it easier to view your laptop screen from different angles without having to adjust the positioning of the laptop every time the sun shifts in the sky a few inches.
Bright Screen Light
The screen brightness settings on your laptop will also play a big role in how suitable it is for outdoor use. The brighter your screen is, the better you’ll be able to see what it’s displaying.
Screen brightness is measured in nits, with the majority of budget models maxing out at around 200 nits at best. While this might be an acceptable level of brightness for an indoor laptop, it won't be able to rise to the occasion if transported to sunnier conditions outside.
It’s better to search for a screen brightness maximum that’s closer to 350 nits or higher, as this will minimize the amount of squinting you’ll have to do to see the screen when outdoors.
Durable Build Quality
As much as you should focus on getting the laptop screen right, you shouldn’t forget one of the most obvious factors you’ll need to consider when making your decision. Durability.
If you’re going to be using your laptop outside, it needs to be sturdy enough to withstand the harsher elements compared to those found inside the shelter of your home or work offices.
Not only will there be more sunlight, but there’s also a higher chance that dust, dirt, and debris could get trapped inside the inner workings of your laptop which could cause problems with the mechanics.
Plus, if you drop it, the pavement is less forgiving than your sofa, hence why you should look for a laptop with the high build quality, and preferably also anti-dust and anti-heat technology.
It’s no good finding the perfect laptop for outdoor use if it’s so unportable that you won’t be able to travel with it to an outside space in the first place. This means paying just as close attention to the weight and design as you do to the screen and the strength of the frame.
Unfortunately, the way it typically works is that a larger screen results in a larger overall laptop weight, which can contribute to whether or not a laptop is easily portable.
As a general rule, I’d recommend a laptop with a display screen size of 15.6 inches or less. This hits the sweet spot between being big enough for your viewing pleasure yet not so big that it ceases to be compact, lightweight, and yes, you guessed it, highly portable.
Portability isn’t just about size and weight - whether or not a laptop is portable also has to factor in its battery life, and how long it can go without being connected to a mains electrical source to be recharged?
Having to trek back home to juice up every few hours is more effort than a juice in the park on a summer’s day is worth, even for me, and I love working outside.
Most laptops will have an estimated battery life that you can compare before purchase, but you can also look at things like storage, screen brightness, and the laptop’s processor to get an indication of how long the battery life will be able to last before it needs recharging.
When you’re shopping, try to look out for a laptop that features an energy-efficient processor and SSD storage, as this helps to extend the battery life of the laptop.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can overheating your laptop damage it?
Yes, allowing your laptop to overheat can damage it significantly and cause it to run much slower.
If it reaches extremely high temperatures, the laptop can operate less effectively and it can affect the battery by reducing or shortening the battery life or even breaking it entirely.
How can I make my laptop screen easier to see outside?
If you haven’t been lucky enough to source one of the laptops mentioned in this article, there are still ways you can make it easier to see your laptop screen outside.
You could start by working under an umbrella or some type of awning, wearing polarized sunglasses, replace the screen with one that is anti-glare, or wear any hat that has an extended brim so it can shade your eyes and make the screen easier to see.
Laptops can be an expensive investment, so it’s important to feel confident that you’re going to get everything you need from your new purchase. You’re probably thinking to yourself, “it’s impossible to find a laptop that ticks all of these boxes”, but each of the models I’ve included here comes pretty close.
If I had to choose one myself, it would have to be the Samsung Galaxy Book Flex Laptop due to its overall quality and the sheer number of features that make it ideal for use outside.
I’ve pointed you in the right direction of some great alternative options throughout this article, but I hope I’ve also helped you to determine what it is you want in a new laptop, and how to figure out if the model you’re considering is suitable for outdoor use.