Ultrabooks: are they the new Netbooks?
Superthin computing has come of age and it’s not just for fashionistas any more – we can all have a slim laptop
What’s an Ultrabook?
Ultrabooks are the new netbooks – truly portable computing, without the limitations of incompatible operating systems and limited shelf lives. Admittedly they’re not as cheap as netbooks, but if you’re looking for a budget option that’s just for browsing, you might be better off considering one of the many excellent tablets available on the market.
What’s the skinny on Ultrabook specs?
Bad pun, but there is a (sort-of) standard spec sheet for Ultrabooks. Or rather, there are a set of ground rules laid down by Intel, which created the category. Being thin (under 20mm) and light is a requirement, as is the ability to start up in seconds, usually via a solid-state hard drive (SSD) or a solid-state memory cache from which the Ultrabook can boot speedily.
Who makes Ultrabooks?
Pretty much anyone who wants to. They’re Windows machines, so don’t expect to see Apple in the queue, but Lenovo, Asus, Acer and Toshiba have all either got Ultrabooks out, or will do soon. Expect others to follow.
What connections should I expect in an Ultrabook?
Ultrabooks should have USB 3.0 or – in future – Thunderbolt (Intel’s own superfast interface) connections. That’s not necessarily the case, but with powerful Core i5 and Core i7 processors, you’d be mad not to want data transfer to match the zippy power of you new thinnest friend.
How much is an Ultrabook?
There was supposed to be a price cap on Ultrabooks to help them step into the shoes of dying netbooks. Instead most of the early examples have a premium build designed to compete with Apple’s MacBook Air… and a price to match. For a decently-specced Ultrabook, expect to pay around £1000. But it’s early days and the prices of laptops are always in freefall. Thin, shiny, powerful and affordable Windows Ultrabooks should be with us all soon.
What should I look for in an Ultrabook?
USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt is a must, though there aren’t many peripherals that support the latter – yet. If you’re planning to pipe out videos to your TV, you’ll want an HDMI port, too. Most importantly, get hands-on with your Ultrabook before you buy it. Those flat island-style keyboards all look pretty, but they vary wildly in use, and you should also try to get a side-by-side screen comparison. If in doubt, keep an eye on our laptop Top 10s. Or get a Mac.