Ultrabooks: Five of the Best

Inspired by Intel, Ultrabooks are a new specialized breed of high-end subnotebooks available on the market today. Designed to be slim in profile and light to carry, Ultrabooks are super thin at less than 2.1 cm thick and usually weigh less than 1.5 kg or 3.3 lbs, all wrapped up in a svelte package without compromising on performance or battery life.

We’re entering a second phase of Ultrabook development. First generation models such as the Acer Aspire S3, Asus Zenbook UX31 and Lenovo IdeaPad U300 series have now been supplemented by second generation Ultrabooks in the form of the Acer Aspire S5, Asus Zenbook Prime UX32 and Lenovo IdeaPad U410. The boundaries of what defines a Ultrabook have also been pushed back further and further, with discrete graphics, larger and denser displays, and even touch screens being introduced (sadly not yet featured here).

To round-up and introduce some of the second generation Ultrabooks available on the market today, here are five of the best for your consideration. We will list features, specifications, and the price of each Ultrabook. We will also quickly give an analysis of what’s good and bad about each, before wrapping up why we chose it for inclusion in the list. Prices are indicative so don’t forget to search online for the latest specials and offers, such as for a Newegg coupon code or similar.

Acer Aspire S5

Announced at CES earlier this year, the Acer Aspire S5 boasts a 13.3″ display at 1366×768 resolution. It comes with Ivy Bridge CPU, 8 GB RAM and SSD internal configurations and provides around 8 hours of continuous computing on a full charge. The chassis weighs 1.35 kg or 2.97 lbs and measures only 14.9 mm or 0.59 in. It’s a gorgeous looking machine that’s very thin and light with an attractive design. Acer also claims that it’s the “world’s thinnest ultrabook” with Thunderbolt support, which is the main reason it’s been featured here. However, Acer were coy over final pricing and commentators fear it may not be competitive and doesn’t offer enough over rival Ultrabooks.

Asus Zenbook Prime UX32VD

Building on the solid pedigree of the first original Ultrabooks, the Asus Zenbook; what we have here is a higher-end configuration successor, boasting a dedicated Nvidia GeForce 620M graphics processor that powers a 13.3-inch IPS LCD display at an incredible 1920×1080 resolution. Other features include a hybrid 500 GB HDD + 24 GB SSD storage drive and audio by Bang and Olufsen. The chassis weighs 1.44 kg or 3.17 lbs and measures 11.18 mm or 0.44 in at its thinnest and 16.76 mm or 0.66 at its thickest. Quality design and components will ensure the UX32VD will be well received, but its high price of $1,299 may be its downfall as many of its competitors come in well under $1,000.

HP ENVY Ultrabook 6t-1000

For $899 or less with special rebate deals online, the HP ENVY is the only large screen (15.6″) Ultrabook with Beats Audio. Available in configurations that offer discrete AMD Radeon 7670M graphics as an upgrade option, the HP ENVY stretches the boundary of the Ultrabook definition with enlarged dimensions whilst keeping to the “ultra thin and light” design philosophy. The chassis measures 19.8 mm or 0.78 in thickness, weighs 4.75 lbs and provides up to 8.5 hours of uptime.

Lenovo IdeaPad U410

Slightly thicker and heavier than your typically skinny Ultrabook, the Lenovo IdeaPad U410 weighs in at 1.9 kg or 4.2 lbs. Packing Ivy Bridge internals with 4 GB RAM and available in SSD or conventional HDD configurations, it comes in a 14″ screen with 1366×768 resolution and the battery life is around 8 hours. There’s nothing really unique nor distinguishing about the IdeaPad U410 until we get to the price: at $699 this could be the cheapest Ultrabook available on the market today, and a bargain for first time buyers.

Samsung Series 9 15

Everything about the Samsung Series 9 oozes quality. Also unveiled at CES earlier this year, this upgrade to Samsung’s original Series 9 lineup sees ramp-ups in terms of screen resolution to 1600×900, faster and better internals in an overall lighter package weighing 1.59 kg or 3.50 lbs. Superlative design, attention to detail and great build quality are what the Samsung has over the competition. Features such as backlit chicklet-style keys, as well as its solid feel with no screen flex or wobble, differentiate it from the rest of the pack. Its high price of $1,499, however, may deter first time buyers in the Ultrabook market.

About Me: I’m Sam L, a science, knowledge and innovation writer with over 15 years experience in relevant technology sectors. I hold qualifications in BSc. Management + MSc. Information Systems.

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