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2022's 7 Best Laptops With Bright Screens that are easy to read in bright environments

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Anyone who has worked outside in direct sunlight or outdoors in the shades or even inside but close to windows knows this too well: having a laptop with a dim screen sucks.

I know this because I'm now writing this article remotely from a campervan and for the purpose of this article I'm testing side by side a Macbook Pro vs an Acer Swift 3 and the difference is night and day: you can't see anything using a dim laptop screen outdoors or near sunlight.

Now the issue is that I'm using both Mac OS & Windows and while my Macbook has a fantastic bright and clear screen, the PC laptop I have has a dim crappy screen and even in the shades I can't see anything while outdoors. So it's time to update it.

I started looking online for reliable laptop brands searching for "laptops with bright screens" or "best laptops for outdoor" or "600 nits laptop" and just couldn't find anything that wasn't random articles written by clueless bloggers that don't work outdoors with their laptop and just make article lists based on specifications alone. Nah.

The screen might appear bright in the store, but...

As a side note, I would warn you against just shopping "in store" and comparing screens under fluorescent lights: it is VERY misleading! A laptop screen can appear very adequate / good under store light but as soon as it is tested near the sun it's impossible to read anything. Using "nits" alone is also misleading as manufacturers tend to lie outright, exaggerate or mislead. So take nits or official manufacturer self-reported screen brightness with a grain of salt.

So I went on the hunt for the best laptop that has a bright screen so I can work efficiently outside.

Here are my main criterias for chosing a laptop with the best & brighest screen:

  • the screen MUST be VERY BRIGHT, usually measured in nits. Although, like I said, manufacturers can't be trusted so this "nits" specification is more like a guide
  • HDR screen tend to be better, although manufacturers tend to lie about this spec too
  • the screen must be high resolution & close to 4K or at least very sharp to the point where you can't see the pixels. This is important since if you take two identical screens with the same brightness but one is 4K and the other one has a resolution of 1080p or lower, the 4k screen will always appear brighter. This is because you lose brightness with the "black grids" between the pixels
  • the screen must be glossy. Mat screens tend to be dimmer under bright conditions
  • the laptop must be from a reputable, reliable brand. So companies that make crappy unreliable products like Acer, Dell, Alienware, Razer are out

So here are my winners for the absolute best screen to use under bright conditions:

(not an Apple user? skip to #2)

Macbook Pro or Macbook Air
Brightness: 500 nits
HDR: HDR with Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HLG
Size & Resolution: 2560 x 1664 or better
Quality?: Yes: reputable brand
External Monitor Capable?: 1 to 4 external monitors
Battery Life?: up to 18 hours
CPU: Apple M2
RAM: 8 to 24 GB LPDDR5
Storage: 256 GB to 2 TB

Any Apple-made laptops since 2013 are just amazing and among the best in all categories (PC or Macs) for screen brightness and clarity. I have tested so many laptops in the last 20 years and the only ones that consistently amaze me in their screen quality (and overall design) are the Macs.

If you are a Mac user you're so familiar with this that you probably take it for granted how good their screens are. I know that because that's EXACTLY what I did when I bought my Acer Swift 3! I didn't think about the screen and just bought it for its size, keyboard and the fact that the screen looked great INSIDE the store...

Ohh was I wrong. I immediately regretted buying the Acer laptop it since the screen was extremely dim when used in bright outdoors (even inside my van) to the point that I could barely make out what I was doing... And that crappy laptop didn't last 12 months before having tons of issues: daily random complete "freeze", CPU fan making rattling noise before dying on me, keyboard starting to malfunction, etc.

Trust me. Not all laptops are like Macs...

If you're not a Mac user and are ready to take the plunge and learn Mac OS you'll LOVE it. Not only the operating system but the whole Apple hardware quality. Apart from their bad keyboards from 2015-2019 that had many problems and was very unusual for Apple products, they are exquisitely reliable and I still love my late 2013 Macbook Pro that I still use daily. And the screen is great outdoors.

Also, note that I'm not a "fanboy" either: I use equally Windows, Linux & Apple computers.

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Now this is where it gets complicated. Non-Apple laptop are mostly WAY more unreliable and prone to breaking. So buying the better brands is important.

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IBM ThinkPad X1 Carbon
Brightness: 400 nits
HDR: HDR 400
Size & Resolution: 14.0" 1920x1200 IPS, anti-glare, touchscreen, low-power, 400 nits
or 14.0" 3840x2400 IPS, glossy, HDR 400, 500 nits

Quality?: Yes: reputable brand
External Monitor Capable?: up to 3 external monitors
Battery Life?: up to 16.7 hours
CPU: 11th Generation Intel Core i5-1135G7 or better
RAM: Up to 32 GB LPDDR4X
Storage: 512 GB SSD or better

If you're on the road often or your work depends on your computer, then INDULGE yourself and PAY the right amount of money for your laptop. I'm serious, just pay more for quality. I cheaped out last year with my piece of crap Acer Swift laptop and now I wasted 800$ on a paper weight. So I need to buy another laptop for 2000$ (this bright screen Lenovo) which means i actually spent 2800$ total and had tons of problems when I could have instead paid "only" 2000$ AND worked on an epic laptop.

If you want to do your best work, then work with the BEST and stop spending your day fixing problems and being frustrated like I did. Work a few weeks more and pay for quality.

This laptop has a bright screen that will allow you to focus on what you do and not on trying to figure out what is on the screen. It is really reliable, powerful and portable and you can get it at a fair price. What more do we need?

One last thing: Lenovo has amazing customer support like no other company. You might pay a bit more than other laptops, but they give you service too. If this is your work tool, then 1500$ or even 2500$ for your main work tool when you have almost no other spending is NOTHING. A friend of mine started a sushi restaurant a few years back and spent 50 000$ just to get started. So if you make money with your computer, just pay 2000-3000$ for a top-of-the-line laptop that will last, be reliable, powerful and frustration-free. It's nothing compared to the cost of starting any other business type!

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IBM ThinkPad P1 Gen 5 Mobile Workstation
Brightness: 600 nits
HDR: HDR 400
Size & Resolution: 16" WQUXGA (3840 x 2400) + IPS + anti-reflective
Quality?: Yes: reputable brand
External Monitor Capable?: up to 4 external monitors
Battery Life?: up to 8 hours in light use
CPU: Core i7-12700H
RAM: 16 GB DDR5
Storage: 512 GB PCIe SSD

I really like Thinkpad laptops as they are usually better built than the Lenovo branded ones as those are more for casual / entry level. They are also way better than most other brands. This is why I put 2 on this list + the Legion one. I'd even say that they are the closest to "Apple-like" quality but for the Windows side of things.

The laptop for road warriors that also need LOTS of power... and a bright screen to see what they're doing.

This is not for everyone as this is a powerful, more expensive laptop that has much less battery life than most. Odds are that if you get this laptop, you'll need an outlet or solar panel nearby as powerful laptop never have great battery life. But that's ok, as long as the screen is extra bright and the laptop is reliable.

Get this if you care about power and results first and don't mind relying on external power sources and don't mind carrying a bigger, heavier laptop around. You need POWER.

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Lenovo Legion 5i Pro
Brightness: 500 nits
HDR: HDR 400
Size & Resolution: 16" WQXGA (2560x1600)
Quality?: Yes: reputable brand
External Monitor Capable?: up to 3 external monitors
Battery Life?: up to 7.3 hours
CPU: Ryzen 7-5800H
RAM: 32GB RAM
Storage: 1TB SSD

Very similar to the ThinkPad P1 in term of speed & power and screen brightness. Usually gaming laptops are really good in both quality & power and have great specs for the price. Since they are more "mass market" than the lesser selling "P1" series, they have more engineering hours in them and tend to be less expensive than "business professional" laptops.

They also have powerful RTX 3070 graphics, great sound and fantastic bright screens that gamers demand. That makes them great overall laptop for the working professionals that need lots of power & flexibility. Whether making videos, 3D applications, programming, neural networks, etc you'll love this laptop series from Lenovo.

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Samsung Galaxy Book Flex2 Alpha
Brightness: 400 nits, 600 nits in Outdoor Mode
HDR: n/a
Size & Resolution: 13.3", 1920 x 1080, QLED
Quality?: Yes: reputable brand
External Monitor Capable?: up to 2 external monitors
Battery Life?: up to 18.5 hours
CPU: Core i7-1165G7
RAM: 16 GB LPDDR4x
Storage: 512 GB

Samsung had a fantastic idea: let's make a mode specific for people that work outside that raises luminosity so that you see the damn screen! They called it "Outdoor Mode" and it really works well, boosting the nits from 400 to 600 nits, which is more than enough to work outside.

This is somewhat of a "value" laptop at around 1000$ so don't expect the world from it. That said, if you want an affordable laptop from a reputable brand (Samsung) that sells millions of phones & tablets and have extensive experience in electronics, then this can be a great alternative to the Thinkpad / Lenovo laptops above for those who really don't want to splurge 1500$, 2000$ or more on a laptop.

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ASUS VivoBook Pro 16X
Brightness: 550 nits
HDR: HDR 500
Size & Resolution: 16" at 3840 x 2400 OLED, 100% DCI-P3 color gamut
Quality?: Yes: reputable brand
External Monitor Capable?: up to 2 external monitors
Battery Life?: up to 11 hours
CPU: Ryzen 7 5800H + Graphic card RTX 3050 Ti
RAM: 16GB RAM
Storage: 1TB SSD

A powerful laptop loaded with powerful RTX graphics & CPU along with an amazing 4K OLED 400 nits ultra bright screen. What more can we ask for? ASUS is more known for building great, high quality computer motherboard and their laptops are relatively unknown in US & Canada but really popular in Asia.

This Ryzen 7 equipped powerhouse also has dedicated RTX 3050 Ti graphics that are great for gaming, 3D applications, accelerating office use or even for doing neural networks and other AI research. It has a beautiful, large and bright 16 inch screen with slim bezels that you can easily work in bright areas with. As such, this is more of a laptop for professionals that need extra power for their tasks as of course, the battery will last less long.

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ASUS Zenbook 14 Flip OLED
Brightness: 400 nits
HDR: n/a
Size & Resolution: 14" at 1920 x 1080
Quality?: Yes: reputable brand
External Monitor Capable?: up to 2 external monitors
Battery Life?: up to 15 hours
CPU: Ryzen 7 5800H
RAM: 16GB RAM
Storage: 1TB PCIe SSD

A 14 inch laptop is a perfect size for road warriors that need a laptop while on the go. It comes with a bright 400 nits OLED HDR screen. This means you'll see what you actually work on ;-). It also has thin bezels and a touch screen.

It comes with an ultra fast Ryzen 7 CPU & integrated graphics. This is a powerful laptop that is also beautiful to look at. As I said before, ASUS is not well known in the US & Canada but it is a really reliable brand.

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