If there’s one piece of technology set for big things in 2012, then it’s the Ultrabook.
Slim and light, these laptops are the newest generation of portable computers… similar in style and design to Apple’s MacBook Air, but with all the power of their bigger notebook brothers.
Currently the number of Ultrabooks on the market is low but in January 2012 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, many big name manufacturers are expected to unveil their own Ultrabook devices to create more choice and competition.
The ASUS Zenbook
What is an Ultrabook?
An Ultrabook is simply a name for a specific type of laptop computer, one that is slimmer and lighter than its rivals. In fact, it is ultra thin and ultra light, hence the name.
Ultrabook was a term created by Intel and all use its latest and most powerful processors. They run on the Windows 7 operating system and are marked out by lengthy battery life, which is at least six hours from a single charge.
Who makes Ultrabooks?
The concept of an Ultrabook came from Intel and currently Asus and Acer are the two main players in the Ultrabook market.
But Lenovo, Toshiba, Samsung and HP have also dipped their toes into the water.
At the CES show in January however, it is rumoured that more than 50 new Ultrabook models will be announced.
What can I use my Ultrabook for?
An Ultrabook is like any other laptop so its main strength is portability for working and surfing the internet on the move.
Many of the limitations found in other laptops do not exist on the Ultrabook thanks to the latest Intel i5 and i7 processors.
These devices can achieve the same power and performance of a desktop but with a battery life that can keep pace with, or even outlast, most portable rivals whether the MacBook Air or a tablet computer.
They can run for six, to as much as eight, hours without the need for a power source.
And crucially these processors mean Ultrabook machines wake and boot up far faster than normal laptops.
This means you can be logged on in an instant without having to wait and an Ultrabook can also be left on standby or in sleep mode for weeks without draining too much power.
What about their design?
An Ultrabook is less than an inch thick, which contributes to its lightweight form of around 3lbs.
Designed to match the popularity of Apple’s MacBook Air but for a cheaper cost, they can be stowed in the slimmest of bags and won’t drag you down on the move or put a strain on your shoulder.
How else are Ultrabooks different from normal laptops?
To keep them as portable as possible, Ultrabooks have screen sizes of 11 or 13 inches whereas traditional desktop-replacement laptop displays have generally been 15 or 17 inches.
But the power of the Intel i5 and i7 processors, along with RAM memory of 4GB, means Ultrabooks can be used for all the same tasks as a larger laptop or desktop.
However, they do not have an optical DVD drive and some use a Solid State storage drive (SSD), which is faster and more reliable but has less storage space than a traditional hard drive.
What other features will I find on an Ultrabook?
From backlit keyboards to high definition webcams, card readers to top end Dolby or Bang & Olufsen sound and speakers, and also an HDMI port to plug the Ultrabook into an HD TV, you will find these machines are as fully featured as a bigger laptop.
They have 4GB of RAM memory ensuring you can multitask between programs without the Ultrabook slowing down, freezing or crashing.
And despite their overall slim size and low weight, the hard drives inside can have as much storage space as 500GB, allowing room for plenty of music, movies, photos and files.
However, an Ultrabook with a Solid State Drive will have lower storage space of around 128 or 256GB.
What are some examples of Ultrabooks?
The following four Ultrabooks range in price and screen size of either 11.6 or 13.3 inches and come with an Intel i5 or Intel i7 processor.
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