If you are tired of carrying around your bulky laptop and a tablet just won't do, it is time to get yourself a sleek new 'ultrabook'. So what's with the name, you might ask. Ultrabooks are a new breed of ultra-portable, sleek and powerful devices which usually pack a much longer battery life. Intel came up with the whole category of ultrabooks in order to define futuristic laptops which are more efficient for a true mobile computing experience.
According to Intel, ultrabooks will eventually phase out the existing category of heavier laptops. The company believes that the specifications will evolve in the coming few years while promising a faster computing environment on ultra slim laptops. Intel expects these ultrabooks to be priced slightly lower than current normal laptops in the market but the reality of the situation is much different in certain cases.
From a practical point of view, Apple's Macbook Air has been a true vision of what an ultrabook should be - ultra portable, powerful and battery-efficient. Other manufacturers have simply tried to copy the Air with their ultrabook designs over last couple of months. Only if a cheaper Macbook Air was available in the market, it could single-handedly destroy the entire ultrabook market.
Let's take a look at the 5 best ultrabooks out there (in no specific order)
Samsung Series 9 15-inch
The Samsung Series 9 15-inch ultrabook takes on the Macbook Air with an ultra slim design and a bright high resolution display. It includes a 128GB SSD but only about 58GB of space is available at startup. The aluminum one-piece shell from Samsung looks quite decent. What brings this ultrabook down is the keyboard design and the almost-unusable touchpad. On the whole, the Series 9 15-inch is still an expensive ultrabook which might appeal to only a few.
Samsung claims its Series 9 15-inch laptop is up to 50% more compact than any laptop in the 15-inch segment. The portable Series 9 15-inch laptop weighs a little less than 4 pounds and is 0.6-inches thick. The ultrabook is indeed well designed but Samsung doesn't openly label it as an 'ultrabook'. It could probably be a case of not fitting well into the Intel perfect-ultrabook guideline. But customers won't bother since it mostly fits into their demands for an ultra-thin laptop.
The laptop includes a backlit keyboard which isn't really that impressive. It fails to make the keys noticeable in the darkest environments. The larger-than-usual touchpad has corners which are clickable, much like Apple's Macbook Pro and Air touchpads. The touchpad can be a bit slippery at times and it fails to notice light taps but Samsung has fixed it for everyone with a software update. Phew!
HP Folio 13
The HP Folio 13 is one of the most well designed ultrabooks out there. It features an awesome keyboard and a battery life that is just too good for an ultrabook. It includes almost all essential connectivity ports you'll need such as the HDMI and an Ethernet port. It runs on the Intel Core i5 processor with Intel HD Graphics 3000. It is one of the few ultrabooks in the market with a value-for-money proposition.
The HP Folio 13 features a comfortable keyboard that doesn't trouble your fingers, even while you're typing a lot on the ultrabook. An Ethernet port and an SD card slot makes the Folio 13 much more handy for those-times. But wait, don't just hit the stores yet. The Folio 13 is slightly heavier as compared to its cousins and the 13.3-inch screen isn't that far bright either. Even bright white and other colors don't pop well unless you keep the brightness levels to the top, all the time. There is one USB 3.0, one USB 2.0 and one HDMI port on the Folio 13. It may not be the thinnest and lightest of all the ultrabooks but the HP Folio 13 pays attention to details such as trouble-free typing and connectivity options.
The Dell XPS 13 may be fairly new but it is one of the best looking ultrabooks out there. It runs on Intel Core i5 and i7. The XPS 13 features a beautifully crafted trim chassis (carbon fibre). It is also one of the slimmest ultrabooks with a size of 6mm at its slimmest point. What might keep customers away from purchasing this beauty is the heavy price tag.
The Dell XPS 13 is the company's shot at the Macbook Air. The XPS 13 includes a 1.6GHz Core i5 processor, 128GB SSD hard drive supported by a 4GB RAM. The 13.3-inch screen features a native resolution of 1366x768. It also includes one USB 3.0 port and a USB 2.0 port along with a mini DisplayPort connector. The backlit keyboard looks gorgeous and there's a slight depression on top of every key which makes typing much more convenient. The XPS 13 beats most ultrabooks when it comes to performance. At a price tag of $1000, it might just be one of those premium ultrabooks that's worth the money.
HP Envy 14 Spectre
The HP Envy 14 Spectre is a bit bigger than normal ultrabook in the market. That's a bit odd considering the whole definition of an ultrabook. Seems like HP did a Sony here, even Sony's ultrabooks are thicker and heavier than their current laptops. Not sure how their marketing teams are going to sell these as ultrabooks. Performance and looks aren't entirely Envy 14 Spectre's plus points but it beats most of the Asus ultrabooks in terms of performance.
The HP Envy 14 Spectre features the Corning Gorilla Glass which makes it quite durable even though a bit heavier due to the added weight of the glass. But anything that looks good makes up for the ugly side-effects. The higher end version includes dual SSDs which is quite amazing, if you can afford it. It includes one of the best screens out there with a 1600x900 pixel resolution. Still not sure why HP chose to include NFC in the HP Envy 14 Spectre. That's not really going to be much useful. It includes an HDMI and a mini-DisplayPort along with one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0 port. With a battery life of over 6 hours, the HP Envy 14 Spectre is one of the best ultrabooks in the market.
Asus Zenbook UX31
Asus has been in the ultrabooks segment for some time now. They've been making fairly decent netbooks when it used to be the buzz initially. The 13-inch Zenbook is heavily inspired by the Macbook Air. The sleek ultrabook is 17mm at its thickest point while maintaining the sleek figure at just 3mm at its thinnest point. With a decent price tag, the Asus Zenbook is more than just an affordable ultrabook - it is one of the best your money can buy (if you cannot afford the Macbook Air yet!).
The Asus Zenbook UX31 is powered by an ultra low-voltage i5 processor. The Zenbook includes an aluminum lid and design specifications which almost exactly match the Macbook Air. Asus as even tried to emulate the popular Apple 'unibody' structure on the Zenbook. The Zenbook UX31 is much more sturdier than when compared to the plastic casing of the Aspire S3. The Zenbook includes a 13.3-inch widescreen display with a native resolution of 1600x900-pixels. The full-featured Zenbook beats all odds against the existing set of ultrabooks out there with a decent enough design and performance factor. It is definitely not one of those affordable Asus machines but certainly worth the money.