To help evaluate displays, testers shine lights at computer screens and measure glare. Keyboards are evaluated, too. Testers assess them for ergonomics, how comfortable they are to use.
All the new laptops take advantage of Windows 8's tablet-like features, most notably the tiles that allow you to display live content or reach apps easily. Some laptops can actually turn into a tablet. Testers say those convertible computers are lightweight for laptops, but fairly heavy for a tablet. Other laptops offer touch screens. You simply tap a tile to open a program.
Consumer Reports found that using a laptop with a touch screen is the best way to experience what's different and most appealing about Windows 8. One touch-screen-enabled laptop Consumer Reports recommends is Samsung's 13-inch Ultrabook NP540U3C-A01UB for $850.
But you will save money if you get a laptop with just a traditional touchpad, and no touch screen. Testers found that the touchpad works fine with Windows 8, but it isn't as intuitive to use as a touch screen. Consumer Reports named two non-touch-screen laptops Best Buys -- Acer's 15-inch Ultrabook M5-581T-6807, for $600, and for $700, Sony's 13-inch Vaio Ultrabook SVT13122CXS.
What about upgrading your Windows 7 computer to Windows 8? Consumer Reports says that option is best for people whose current computer has a touch screen. You can download the free Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant from Microsoft to be sure your PC is eligible.