Thinner, lighter, better? The Ultrabook effect

POWER and portability are the key elements of Intel's new Ultrabook standard.

Unlike netbooks, these machines are equipped with fast processors so users are not sacrificing mobility for speed.

Ultrabook status is bestowed on machines that meet battery life, processor and weight standards set by Intel.

Like netbooks, the Ultrabook standard tends to forgo optical drives although most popular applications have a download installation option these days and a USB DVD drive will allow you to install anything else.

Laptops can have the same processing power as an equivalent Ultrabook with the added advantage of built-in DVD drives and larger screens. They're also cheaper.

Right now, buying an Ultrabook means paying more dollars for the privilege of powerful mobility.
Intel's Kate Burleigh says Ultrabook is not a marketing ploy.

"It is an engineering specification on form and function," Burleigh tells mX .

"An Ultrabook must be less than 21mm thick. If it's 22mm it might be a great laptop, but it won't be an Ultrabook.

"It has to have instant-resume technology, so the second you open the screen it goes from standby mode to a bright screen straight away.

"It has to be running a Core i3, i5 or i7 processor and provide a minimum battery life of five hours in full running mode with wireless turned on."

Burleigh says evolving technology has allowed the creation of Ultrabooks, but also says that laptops and networks are not worthless just yet.

"Progression means computers will always get thinner and lighter and there will be early adopters jumping on board (paying the premium price)," Burleigh says.

"People still want laptops because they're available below $800.

"You will still get people wanting a ($200) netbook because of their very cheap price point."

Toshiba Satellite Z830 $1399
Core i7 processor, 128GB HDD, 1.12kg, Cold boot time: 26sec, three USB ports, HDMI out, power, VGA output, MicroSD port, microphone, headphone.
Has a basic yet still stylish look. The Z830 has a decent-sized keyboard for fast typing although the touchpad is on the small side. Actual left and right mouse buttons below the touchpad are a nice touch. Ports located on the side and back.

Asus Zenbook UX21 $1599
Core i7 processor, 128GB HDD, 1.1kg, Cold boot time: 23sec, two USB ports, Mini HDMI, power, headphone.

The smallest of the three tested, the UX21 is also the most similar to Apple's MacBook Air. It has a funky, brushed-metal body that can be slightly tricky to open unless the unit is resting on a flat surface.

The keyboard is spread wide but not very high, so it is difficult to touch-type to full speed.
However, it has a large touchpad and Bang & Olufsen audio.

Acer Aspire S3 Ultrabook $1199
Core i5, 320GB HDD, 1.35kg, Cold boot time: 28sec, two USB ports, HDMI out, power, headphones.
The largest of the three means the S3 has the best keyboard for typing although it misses out on other features, such as USB 3.0 ports.

It has a nice wide screen that is a bit hard to see outside.

It is the most comfortable unit for prolonged use, if you spend most of your time using Office and don't want to break the bank.


  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS