Ultrabooks and their Growing Popularity
Ultrabooks, or ultra-portable laptops, have been becoming increasingly popular lately. Their slim and lightweight design coupled with their superb battery life make them a very appealing buy for anyone looking for a new laptop, though they do have a few limitations. Surprisingly, out of the top 10 laptops reviewed on alaTest, 4 of them are ultrabooks.
Of all of the laptops on alaTest, the Zenbook is ranked number one, and it’s an ultrabook. The UX31 is the 13.3” variant of the Zenbook and features a design that is just as thin as the MacBook Air and every bit as stylish. Its 128GB and 256GB Solid State Drive options are fairly common among ultrabooks, but USB 3.0, Micro HDMI, and Mini-VGA ports are a bit more rare. It also features a Core i5 or i7 CPU, depending on model and a 1600×900 resolution display. Even though it bests Apple’s offerings in performance, it actually costs a bit less. It’s an excellent balance of style, performance, and price.
One could argue that the MacBook Air was the first practical ultrabook to hit the market. At the start, it was a bit under powered to be of considerable use, but a lot has changed since then. Available in 11.6 and 13.3-inch configurations, the current MacBook Air features a Core i5 or i7 processor and 1366×768 or 1440×900 resolution display. Its only real deterrent is its price, starting at $999 and reaching $1599. Other similarly spec’d ultrabooks are considerably cheaper; however, if you prefer OSX, the MacBook Air is your only real option.
The Series 9 is very similar to the Zenbook in that it features a 13.3-inch 1600×900 resolution display, Core i5 processor, USB 3.0, and Micro HDMI; however, it is a bit more expensive. In fact, apart from the higher resolution display and USB 3.0, the same specs in a MacBook Air would cost you less. Where the Series 9 impresses is with its display, illuminated keyboard, and surprisingly good sound system. Its battery life is also quite commendable, and out of these top 4 Ultrabooks, it’s also the thinnest (in case that sort of thing matters to you). It’s quite stylish as well.
Acer has been in the ultra-portable game for a while, and the Aspire S3 is probably one if its best ultrabooks to date. Like the others, you get a super thin, super portable laptop with Core i5 processor and 13.3-inch display. The Aspire S3’s display is a bit weaker than the competition with a resolution of just 1366×768, and you don’t get things like USB 3.0; however, it has a few benefits that really do turn the tables in its favor. For starters, it has a full-sized HDMI port, so no adapters necessary. It also has a 320GB hard drive, which is considerably more storage than the others. To keep things peppy, it has a 20GB SSD as well. Perhaps most impressive is its price. It’s actually one of the most affordable ultrabooks on the market, available for less than $900.
So why are these little guys so popular? Well up until now, ultrabooks had always been a bit short on the performance side, but today’s offerings, such as these four, can actually keep up with similarly priced full-sized notebooks. On the downside, you’re generally going to have to part with things like ample storage space and other luxuries (a DVD drive, for example), but if you want solid performance in a lightweight package, an ultrabook might be the perfect choice.