It took a little while for the production lines to get going, but the first few months of 2012 have seen super-slim Ultrabooks completely outnumbering every other type of desktop or laptop PC coming our way.
Intel’s tight definition of the Ultrabook category means that there are certain things you can more or less take for granted – minimum of 5hr battery life, maximum thickness of 18mm for 13in screen models and, of course, a second gen Intel Core processor. Indeed, most of the manufacturers included here have different CPU choices available or in the works. Yet within the tight Ultrabook specification there’s still a fair amount of room for manufacturers to experiment.
Thus, we have HP’s glass-clad Spectre pushing the size and weight limits on one hand, while Dell opts for carbon-fibre to streamline its XPS 13 on the other. There are even a couple of budget Ultrabooks from Samsung and Acer that will give you a decent chunk of change from a grand. Apple is in here too. You could argue the company inspired the Ultrabook class with its MacBook Air models that are worthy alternatives in this ultraportable arena.
Acer Aspire S3-951
M’learned colleague Dabbsie waxed less than lyrical about the Core i7 version of the S3, but I was more favourably inclined towards this Core i5 model – if only because it’s the most affordable Ultrabook I’ve seen so far. Priced at a relatively modest £670, the S3-951 matches most of its rivals with a 13.3in screen, 1.6GHz Core i5 processor, 4GB RAM and, good heavens, a conventional 320GB hard disk, which helps to explain its lower price.
There are a few other compromises too – the viewing angle could be better, and the speakers are terrible – but if you need an ultraportable laptop that doesn’t break the bank, then the Aspire S3-951 is certainly worth considering.
Apple MacBook Air 13in
This is the machine that effectively created the ‘ultrabook’ category, years before Intel decided to trademark the term. Its slimline design, tapering from back to front, and 1.35kg weight created the template for everyone else to follow. The first few models were definitely overpriced and underspecced, but the current model includes a 1.7GHz Core i5 CPU, 4GB RAM and 128GB SSD for £1099, which makes it much more competitive with its Wintel rivals.
This model also has an SD card slot that its 11in counterpart lacks, as well as Apple’s new high-speed Thunderbolt interface – featured on both – which can be used with DisplayPort monitors and new Thunderbolt hard drives. If you're tempted to take the Air, check out Reg Hardware's full review.
Next page: Asus ZenBook UX31E
Please mention a basic set of specs
If you're going to list a number of devices, it would be great if the same set of features were mentioned, like screen res, cpu, memory, disk, viewing angle,... On some models you mention one, for others you mention another.
So I guess these are all 1366x768?
So no one here will be buying them.
That was a waste of time reviewing them then.
Getting the message?
The prices on most of these ultrabooks are ridiculous.
I'll take a notebook 5mm thicker and £700 cheaper thanks.
No mention of Ivy Bridge?
There is no point buying an ultrabook at the moment - Ivy Bridge processors are just around the corner.
Rather mis-timed article in my opinion. Also agree with the above about stats - screen res, boot time, and battery life are key factors for me.
Re: Why would you carry around a one grand laptop?
Whenever I travel I often see with Thinkpads (X200 seems popular) and MacBook Pro/Airs. These are nearly all priced around the £1000. People carry them because they are thin, light, provide good battery life and powerful performance.
On to netbooks:
No one wants to use desktop Linux on a tiny screen with a cramped keyboard and even worse trackpad. They just provide and poor overall experience. They're not "good old" anything. They are and always were a bad idea. Just a way for OEMs to keep volume up during a recession.
You are completely out of touch with the market. Not everyone else. The key to the ultra book is that the screen is usable, the keyboards are comfortable and the performance good.
PS: No one buys netbooks anymore.