10 Hottest Ultrabooks

Ultrabooks are the biggest thing in laptops for 2012. Why? Because they’re 0.8 inches thick or less, weigh less than 4 pounds, and (generally) cost less than $1,000. Plus, they’re designed to wake from sleep in about 2 seconds, similar to the MacBook Air. It also doesn’t hurt that Intel is investing $300 million to spur this category. But with seemingly every PC maker under the sun debuting an Ultrabook–or several–there’s a lot of models from which to choose. Here’s our roundup of the hottest Ultrabooks so far, including ones we’ve reviewed and some we can’t wait to get in our labs.
Fifteen percent smaller than the MacBook Air, the Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook tapers from 0.24 inches to 0.71 inches and weighs 2.99 pounds. Made of aluminum and carbon fiber, it has a full-size backlit keyboard, USB 3.0, and Mini DisplayPort, The only thing missing is an SD Card slot. The system will start at $999 with a Core i5 processor and a 128GB SSD.

HP Envy 14 Spectre

This aptly named system has a lid covered in beautiful but ghostly black glass that covers the lid. You'll also find glass on the palm rest below the backlit keyboard, which is designed to turn heads as well as prevent wear and tear. This $1,399 notebook houses a 14-inch display with a rich 1600 x 900 pixel panel and rocks HP Beats audio for bolder sound output. Look for it in February.

Acer Aspire S5

While its first ultrabook, the Aspire S3, was no great shakes, the S5 looks to atone for that with a full-size SSD, a fold-out panel that reveals HDMI, USB 3.0, and Thundebolt ports, a weight of 2.9 pounds, and a thickness of just 0.59 inches.

Asus Zenbook UX31

The Zenbook UX31 is the most attractive Ultrabook we've tested. Its spun-metal lid looks amazing, and it puts out seriously loud sound. Starting at $1,099, its 13-inch screen has a high resolution of 1600 x 900, and comes with a Core i5 processor and a 128GB SSD. Best of all, Asus swapped out the touchpad for one made by Elan, so it should perform better than the model we reviewed.

HP Folio 13

Straddling HP's business and consumer offerings, the $899 Folio sports a brushed aluminum deck and great audio. We like that its island-style keyboard is backlit, and that it packs a 128GB SSD and an Intel Core i5 processor. While it's as thin and light as other Ultrabooks, the Folio's battery lasted a best-in-class 7 hours and 50 minutes.

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga

As its name suggests, the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga can fold over on itself, turning from an Ultrabook into a Windows 8 tablet. Even so, this 3.1-pound system will measure just 0.67 inches thick, and sport an Ivy Bridge CPU, up to a 256GB hard drive, and up to 8GB of RAM. Better yet, its 13-inch screen will have a resolution of 1600 x 900, and a rated brightness of 400 nits. Look for the Yoga to launch later this year alongside Windows 8.

Toshiba Portege Z835

The lightest ultrabook out there, the 2.4-pound Toshiba Portege Z835 lasts nearly 7 hours on a charge, has a backlit keyboard, and features a full array of ports: USB 3.0, VGA, HDMI, and Ethernet. Its 1.4-GHz Intel Core i3-2367M CPU and 128GB SSD aren't the most powerful, but we can overlook that given the Z835's $899 price.

Samsung Series 9

While technically not an Ultrabook--its $1,499 starting price sees to that--the second edition of Samsung's Series 9 is just 0.4 inches thin and weighs just 2.6 pounds. Samsung fit a 13-inch, 1600 x 900 display into a 12-inch chassis, along with a 1.7-GHz Intel Core i7-2637M processor, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB Samsung SSD. With a few exceptions, we liked the preproduction version Samsung sent us, and can't wait to see the final version, due in February.

Lenovo ThinkPad T430u

Lenovo's first ThinkPad Ultrabook weighs less than 4 pounds and sports a soft-touch inner and outer chassis, a solid-state drive option, and the same stellar keyboard found on the ThinkPad X1. Our favorite feature: and a fingerprint reader that can be used to turn on the 14-incher. Look for this notebook starting at $849 in Q3.

Sony VAIO ultrabook

Coming later this year, Sony's ultrabook features a brushed metal finish, chrome hinges, and a large clickpad and chiclet-style keyboard. See full spec here


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