Five features to watch for in an Ultrabook
- — 04 April, 2012 22:00
Ultrabooks are hot this year. With Apple proving that thin, light laptops are desirable and Intel pushing the platform, there are many new models to choose from. How do you decide which is the best fit?
Ultrabook is an Intel-trademarked term. It refers to a platform that uses its technology to meet specific requirements. Among these, the device must boot quickly, offer more than 5 hours of general use on battery power, be less than 21mm thick, weigh less than 1.4kg and use Flash-based storage. In the US, at least, Ultrabooks must be priced less than $1000. Here' in NZ, we're seeing prices from $1300 upwards, suggesting that there's no similar upper limit here. Intel competitor AMD is releasing a similar platform it calls "ultrathin", though it’s not expected to appear in as many models.
With so many ultrabook models being released, all with similar base specifications, how can a manufacturer stand out, and how can you decide which model to go with? Here are a few important features that could make a difference in your decision on which ultrabook to buy.
1. Battery Life
When you’re working on the road, battery life is important. Tablets are great for working all day, but are still improving for enabling content creation. Ultrabooks are perfect for creating content, and if a model offers battery life beyond 8 hours, possible with a larger-than-average battery or a more efficient processor or screen, it will be well worth considering.
2. Storage Capacity
Most current ultrabooks have 128GB of flash memory, with some offering 256GB options. While this is plenty of space for some, many people work with more data, or large multimedia libraries, and will require more space. Instead of lugging around external hard drives. Model with 500GB or even 1TB of storage will be desirable, but very expensive.
Though most current ultrabooks use a 13-inch screen, those who travel often will prefer smaller sizes, such as the 11-inch MacBook Air that Apple makes. For most, though, a 14 or 15-inch screen will be more desirable. Many would also be served well by “retina” displays with resolutions up to 1800 x 2880, great for working with graphics or large spreadsheets. Screen sizes and resolutions that stand out from the crowd may best serve your needs and make your decision easier, but they also add to the price.
4. Processing Speed
With quick boot-up times, and a performance boost from the included flash memory, ultrabooks compare favorably with laptops, but often raw processing power makes all the difference. Intel is likely to introduce its new Ivy Bridge processor soon. Ivy Bridge promises to offer 20 percent increased performance over the current Sandy Bridge processor, but it will also mean a drop in price for Sandy Bridge -based laptops. If you can hang on until that time, you may get a Sandy Bridge bargain. If you require serious number crunching, look for models with the latest Ivy Bridge processor.
5. Thin and Light
The main selling point of ultrabooks is that they are thin and light. Though most will be similar in size, shape and weight, those that are more portable will attract workers who spend most of their time outside the office. As Apple demonstrated with the tapered shape and aluminum unibody of its MacBook Air, unique design, materials, and components will make a model stand out from the pack.