With Microsoft’s Windows 8 now on sale there’s never been a better time to purchase an Ultrabook. An Ultrabook, according to its creator Intel, is a laptop which includes enhanced security features, better battery life, instant-on and quick standby. Essentially they’re a middle ground between full-fat laptop and notebooks. Intel is aiming for a price tag of around £700 up to £1,000, but bargains can be picked up if you decide to go for a machine that has a slightly older chipset.
Sony’s first dip into the Ultrabook market comes in the form of the T13 and at first glance it’s a very good ultrabook – especially considering the price: £680. It’s solidly built, with a stunning thin form factor – especially impressive considering the affordable price point. There are nifty gesture controls which are perfect for Windows 8. But on the downside the T13 has fairly dated CPU, which isn’t going to win any awards. Elsewhere the T13 is heavier than its more expensive rivals and it comes with a bit too much bloatware for our liking.
Samsung Series 5
Samsung have made a name for themselves when it comes to phones, tablets and TVs – but their laptops haven’t never really caught the public’s attention in the same way. Their series 5 Ultra a step in the right direction. It comes in two sizes: 13-inch and 14-inch. It’s sporting either a 128GB super fast solid state hard drive or a traditional 500GB sata drive (alongside a small 16GB flash drive).
Unfortunately its battery life doesn’t come close a Macbook Air, but on the plus side it does have a great keyboard and touchpad. Some might find the design a little uninspiring and due to its realatively cheap price tag it’s not that faster Ultra Book around – but nevertheless it’s a great middle-of-the-road Ultrabook perfect for a student or family life.
Samsung Series 9
Samsung’s other Ultra Book is the Series 9 and it’s the world’s thinnest Ultra Book. It come with a stunning 13-inch, 1600 x 1200, screen, 1.7GHz Core i7, 8Gb of RAM and a solid state storage. The series 9 come with the looks to match, it’s incredibly light and thanks to the SSD drive it’s lightning quick. There are drawbacks, though, as it has a mediocre battery life, a fiddly trackpad, poor graphical capbilities (but not a dealbreaker) and it’s quite pricey. But, nevertheless, it’s a stunning looking Ultrabook.
Gigabyte might not be a name that instills confidence, but in actual fact their U2442 Ultrabook is a great laptop that manages to the find a great balance between power and affordability. Performance is great with plenty of RAM to keep it running buttery smooth. There’s also a very good HD+ screen. All this power and precision doesn’t come cheap, as it will set you back a cool £1,000. We loved the lack of bloatware, the quality of screen and some clever bonus features. One downside is that it only has a 128GB of storage, the speakers are going to get any parties started and the bezel and chassis aren’t going win any design awards. But a solid effort nonetheless.
Acer Aspire S7
One of the best looking Ultrabooks we’ve seen in 2012 comes from Acer and their S7. Designed from the ground-up for Windows 8 the screen can fold all the way back so it’s flush with the keyboard –were not quite sure why, but the S7 does come with a 10-point touch display, Gorilla glass 2 and a 1080p screen – and it’s one of the lightest Ultrabooks around. The battery should last anywhere from 7 to 12 hours and is probably our favourite Ultrabook of 2012. The laptop can be specced as you see fit with a range of processors including Intel’s i3, i5 or i7 and it comes with super fast 128GB solid state drive. Prices start at a very reasonable £833.
At first glance you might think Lenovo’s U510 is far to big to be a Ultrabook, but you’d be wrong. It’s bigger and heavier than its rivals but can be specced with either a DVD or Blu-Ray drive. Storage comes in the shape of a 1 TB drive and a super fast 32GB SSD support drive, too. There are various processors on offer, including Intel’s Core i7. Elsewhere the screen is an average 720p screen and Lenovo reckons you’ll get up to 6 hours battery life.
Dell XPS 13
Dell might have been a little late to the Ultrabook party, but their XPS 13 was well worth the wait. It’s stunningly pretty and they even managed to squeeze in a Intel Core i5 or i7 processor. It has 4 GB of RAM memory and 128/256GB SSD – impressive considering at its thinnest point it measures a svelte 6mm.
Lenovo IdeaPad U410
Lenovo’s IdeaPad U410 is combines style and substance. It offers a high-end hardware configuration for a reasonable price. There a choice of Ivy Bridge processors, Nvidia graphics and has excellent sound and a healthy storage solutions. It’s pretty chunky for a Ultrabook and the battery life isn’t going to win any awards. The dispay is average and the trackpad was a little too sensitive for our liking and the build quality doesn’t match it looks.