Computers / Hands-on Review

Getting Married? Get an Ultrabook™!


This summer, as wedding season quickly peaks, it’s paramount that you, your partner and your family cover every detail of your wedding with diligence and care. With perseverance and a little luck, you’ll enjoy fine weather and the entire day will go off without too many hitches, hiccups, or headaches. Although a traditional wedding usually warrants traditional planning, improvements in computer technology have allowed individuals to play a far greater role in the planning and execution of their own weddings. Our options used to be: hire a planner or simply run yourself ragged planning your own wedding. For those adventurous spirits who have decided to plan their own weddings this summer, the improvements in mobile computing technology can help ease some of the burden that comes with doing everything yourself. The right technology ought to ease some of the wedding costs as well.

Ultrabook computers are shining examples that illuminate how far the mobile computer industry has come in the past decade. These mobile multi-tasking machines can solve a variety of problems. The right Ultrabook can aid in wedding planning and provide valuable, cost-saving services on your wedding day—in a conveniently light and portable package. Here’s a handful of wedding-related tasks and jobs that an Ultrabook might be employed to fill. While you’re perusing this list, you should look into a projector, external display, and PA system to supplement the Ultrabook's power.

Presenting the New Couple

If you are planning on entertaining guests with a wedding-day presentation, speech, movie, or photo slideshow, an Ultrabook can help you pull it all together seamlessly. Nothing says style and sophistication more than taking your wedding to the next level (especially if you’re plugged into the tech-savvy geekiness of next-gen computing). Ultrabooks give you power and portability, perfect for a day when the last thing you want to worry about is a heavy, ugly brick of a laptop disrupting the feng shui of the room.

A good Ultrabook you might consider to help you with your wedding-day presentation is the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13. It’s an amazingly versatile Ultrabook that can help you put together and deliver a wedding presentation using any form of media. The Yoga 13 is also flexible enough to be employed for a number of other wedding jobs.

Designed around a convertible 13.3-inch multi-touch display, the Yoga 13 features a unique 360-degree multi-mode design that allows you to use it like a traditional laptop or a tablet. There’s also a Stand Mode, which lets you set up the Yoga 13 like a tent for viewing videos, surfing the Web, and using the integrated webcam comfortably on a small scale. These three modes showcase the Yoga 13’s versatility and it’s this ingenious flexibility that will help you deliver a brilliant presentation at the wedding reception.

A fast Intel® Core™ Ivy Bridge dual-core processor and 8GB of RAM ensure you’ll have the power to multitask and quickly load photos, videos, and music for your presentation. A USB 3.0 port lets you load media files quickly and an HDMI output lets you send audio and video through a single cable, so you can easily connect the Ultrabook to the reception hall’s AV system. You can also connect the Yoga 13 to a compatible AV system wirelessly, using its integrated Bluetooth 4.0 technology.

For example, if you want to remain mobile while you give a presentation that combines video, music, and photos, the Yoga 13’s Bluetooth 4.0 wireless connectivity and its 13.3-inch multi-touch, tablet-style display will allow you to move freely around the reception hall while remaining wirelessly tethered to a compatible projector and audio system. Plus, with Bluetooth 4.0, you can transmit video, photos, and audio—wirelessly, from up to 30 feet away.

The Yoga 13’s touch-friendly Windows 8 interface makes it easy to navigate through video clips and photos. You can also send your presentation live to the Web via Wi-Fi, so friends and family that couldn’t make it to the wedding can still participate. The Yoga 13 has a mic input as well, which you can use to connect a handheld microphone, in case you have a speech to go along with your wedding-day presentation.

The Yoga 13’s other features include a 256GB solid-state drive (SSD) for safely storing all your media files, and a 2-in-1 memory card reader that you can use to quickly load media files from friends and family onto the Ultrabook for uploading to the Web or sharing over a larger external display and sound system. Plus, drive password protection and a power-on password function ensure that your files will stay safe—even while you’re away from the Ultrabook. The Windows 8 operating system features the new touch-friendly Start Screen and Tiles that are updated in real time, which means that you can use your Yoga 13 Ultrabook to get up-to-date weather and news information on the day of the wedding. Plus, you can use Windows 8 apps to post updates on social network sites as the wedding progresses. The list of Windows 8 apps available through the Windows App Store grows every day.

Stay Organized and Plan Ahead

Even a modestly ambitious wedding requires months of planning, reservoirs of creativity, dozens of compromises and collaborations, tireless focus, guile, luck, and some inspired ingenuity. Although wedding planners are available to help with this part of the journey, many pioneering couples will attempt to do it all by themselves. To make this process easier, intelligent young couples will be co-opting the latest technology and putting it to work for them. For the D.I.Y. wedding planners, this means taking advantage of the latest computer trends.

Why an Ultrabook instead of a desktop or laptop computer? Mobility and weight. Desktops are chained to the desks—the reason laptops were invented. But some laptops will be shoulder-straining behemoths that will put a crick in your back and a dent in your day. Who wants to carry around a 10-pound laptop when they could cruise around between appointments with a 3-pound Ultrabook? At the end of a long session of dress and tuxedo fittings, caterer shopping and gift-registry hunting, those extra seven pounds will make a huge difference.

Also, most Ultrabooks feature powerful processors and sufficient RAM for multitasking and seamlessly switching between open apps and programs. A prospective wedding planner would benefit from using a Windows 8-equipped Ultrabook to access to the Windows App Store, which provides a marketplace where you can search for apps to help you plan and organize the special day, from engagement party to honeymoon. Most Windows 8 wedding planning apps also cost substantially less than the expensive wedding-planning software. Hundreds of apps are free and you can even try many of the pay apps before you buy them.

A useful Windows 8-equipped Ultrabook that affords an excellent base of operations for the amateur wedding planner is the 13.3-inch VAIO Pro 13 Multi-Touch Ultrabook. Its accoutrements include a multi-touch display, an Intel Core i7-4500U Haswell dual-core processor, Intel HD Graphics 4400, and 8GB of DDR3 RAM memory. It also features a durable 256GB solid-state drive, Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, an HDMI output, and dual USB 3.0 ports.

One of the Windows 8 apps I discovered when searching for wedding-related applications was The Wedding Planner App. This app can be used by professional wedding planners who deal with customers, but it also provides amateur wedding planners with the tools they’ll need to keep organized and manage all the details pertaining to their wedding. The app supports management of multiple wedding plans for professional wedding planners. It also features pre-loaded, customizable to-do lists with items/tasks grouped in time intervals. Other features include a useful budget planner with pre-loaded categories, a guest-list manager and a fully customizable seating planner. There’s also an integrated address book for when you’re working on the invitations and thank-you letters. A dedicated note-taking section is included so you can write down ideas and remember even the smallest details.

What makes apps like this work so well with the VAIO Pro 13 Ultrabook is the touch-friendly Windows 8 user interface and the Ultrabook’s components, which make it easy for a professional or amateur wedding planner to share developments and ideas with customers or friends and family. The VAIO Pro 13 features a large 13.3-inch widescreen multi-touch display with Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution and LED backlighting. This means that all your invitations and seating charts will be displayed in Full HD, and your customers or friends and family will be able to clearly see the display, even if they’re standing far off to the side of the screen.

This model also offers HDMI and USB 3.0 connectivity for exporting the display to a larger display and transferring data to a USB 3.0 hard drive. The VAIO Pro 13 is equipped with Near Field Communication (NFC) as well, which means that you can quickly pair this Ultrabook with other compatible devices. Plus, HDMI connectivity means that you can output the Ultrabook’s display to a compatible external monitor or Smart TV. The VAIO Pro 13’s Wi-Fi connectivity also makes it possible to share updates with clients or family members who might be outside the state. There is even a ClearAudio+ mode that ensures optimal sound settings for rich, full sound when it’s time to go over songs for the reception.

Spinning Tracks with Your Ultrabook

A recent study has revealed that of the all the applications people use on their Ultrabooks, notebooks, tablets, and desktop computers, 80% of them require sound. These obviously include listening to music, watching TV, using VoIP, and playing games. With that in mind, this next section addresses the music for the wedding reception.

Sure, a live band or a hired-gun DJ is great. However, if you’re planning a wedding on a shoestring budget or you’re just a control freak with a great selection of digital dance tracks, why not act as your own DJ with the help of a portable Ultrabook computer? We’re obviously not talking about blasting your romantic ballads from the Ultrabook speakers—no Ultrabook around can effectively handle the open-hall acoustics of a wedding. But with the right PA system and sound setup, the Ultrabook could be the control console for a night of partying.

But again, why an Ultrabook and not a fully loaded laptop? Gain, size, and weight are important here, but an additional factor is quality sound processing, and with some Ultrabooks, that could include Dolby Digital decoding and advanced software. An Ultrabook with a Core i7 processor and an 8GB loadout of RAM will be able to handle the music in style. And again, when you want the wedding to look as streamlined as the wedding party, an Ultrabook is the perfect choice.

Several of the Ultrabooks available would work as DJ stations, but one that stands out is the ASUS TAICHI 21. It features a truly unique design, with two 11.6-inch multi-touch Full HD 1920 x 1080 LED-backlit displays. The two displays afford the flexibility to use the TAICHI 21 like a traditional laptop computer or like a tablet. Plus, ASUS designed this model so that you can use both screens simultaneously. One person can use the regular laptop-style, multi-touch display with or without the tactile keyboard, while someone else uses the rear multi-touch display for a different task.

The TAICHI 21 features a 1.9GHz Intel Core i7-3517U dual-core processor, 4GB or DDR3 RAM memory, a 256GB SSD, Wi-Fi connectivity, Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology, and a touch-friendly Windows 8 operating system. Another highlight of this Ultrabook is the Bang & Olufsen ICEpower collaboration with ASUS that has facilitated the incorporation of exclusive SonicMaster technology into the TAICHI 21. So, how does all this technology translate to a successful wedding DJ station?

First, the SonicMaster technology has resulted in a lot of media attention for the TAICHI 21. This is because the audio reproduction in this model is of a higher caliber than many of the similar Ultrabooks. Some may argue that SonicMaster technology focuses mostly on the integration of high-end components to improve audio output from the integrated speakers, which of course wouldn’t help a wedding DJ since he or she wouldn’t be playing music through the Ultrabook’s built-in speakers. However, that’s not the full story. SonicMaster technology improves the entire audio system, including audio passing through the line output/headphone jack. This means that when you output your music to the reception hall’s external speaker system, the sound quality will be better than you might find with many other Ultrabooks. SonicMaster technology also translates to improved Bluetooth audio-streaming quality in case you plan to stream music from your Ultrabook to a compatible Bluetooth wireless speaker setup. Either way, you’ll definitely need a powerful PA system.

The TAICHI 21 features a mic input as well, which is a must for any MC or wedding DJ. Another benefit is the ASUS Rotation Desktop interface, which affords two-handed DJ-like control over the Ultrabook. The Rotation Desktop interface also makes it easier to manage your music files, since both multi-touch displays are interactive and highly responsive. ASUS also designed this Ultrabook with ergonomics in mind, which should help your designated DJ to spin music comfortably all night.

There are also Windows 8 apps designed for DJs. These apps are compatible with the TAICHI 21. One I discovered is the Play DJ App for Windows 8, which provides tools that will vastly enhance your amateur DJ skills. The app allows you to play your music on two digital turntables and mix tracks using the virtual cross fader. Other Play DJ features let you add sound effects, cue up loops and adjust playback speed for beat matching.

Sharing with Social Media

With the right Ultrabook, you’ll be able to send out live updates, pictures, and video feeds from the wedding as events unfold—and using extra-fast 802.11n protocols, you could update the wedding in real time (try doing that with an outdated laptop). Social media updating of your wedding will help you keep family in the loop—no matter where they are in the world. One Ultrabook that should be considered specifically for this task is the Lenovo ThinkPad Twist Convertible Multi-Touch Ultrabook. This model features Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n for making updates in real time. It supports Gigabit Ethernet connectivity as well. The ThinkPad Twist also features a 4-in-1 convertible laptop-to-tablet design and a 12.5-inch HD LED-backlit IPS display with multi-touch capabilities. It supports 1366 x 768 resolution and Intel HD Graphics 4000. This Ultrabook provides an HD 720p resolution fixed-focus, wide-angle camera that you can use to snap pictures and video for immediate uploading to your favorite social media sites including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and more. The ThinkPad Twist features Bluetooth 4.0 wireless connectivity as well.

The ThinkPad Twist is equipped with a 1.7GHz Intel® Core i5-3317U dual-core processor and 4GB of 1600MHz DDR3 RAM. It also provides a 500GB hard drive and a 24GB SSD cache for faster loading times and less waiting around. This will also help you get your updates onto the Web as fast as possible. Plus, you can use the 500GB hard drive to safely back up all your wedding photos and videos right after you take them. The ThinkPad Twist employs 64-bit Windows 8 Pro as well, which supports access to the cloud. You’ll be able to use Wi-Fi to upload your wedding photos and videos right to the Web, but you’ll also be able to send them to the cloud for backup or for sharing media via Microsoft Outlook, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and more. Windows 8 Pro also gives you access to more security features, such as BitLocker (encrypts your hard drive) and SmartScreen (protects you from malicious sites and software), so you'll be able to keep your data safe and secure.

Digitizing Your Guest Book

When I was brainstorming wedding traditions that could easily be co-opted by the Ultrabook, the guest book was one of the first ideas that came to mind. A wedding guest book is not only a record of who was present on your wedding day, but it’s also a journal where notes and well wishes will be preserved. If you go the traditional route, your guest book will be the captive of time; eventually the pages will yellow, the ends will curl, the cover will crack and this important artifact from your life will be turned to dust. Plus, there’s always the possibility that your basement might flood, the attic may leak or your children will end up in a grape juice fight next to the bookshelf where your wedding book is stored. Any of these possibilities would spell ruin for such a cherished, yet vulnerable, document.

Why not digitize your guest book with an Ultrabook instead? Older notebooks and laptops simply don’t have the capacitive or resistive touch features that newer Ultrabooks have (resistive touch screens allow a stylus or digital pen to input information into the screen, which can then be paired with optical character recognition software to turn those signatures into thank you cards, to-do lists or more). . You’ll be able to keep track of which guests have arrived and in real time. It also means that you can send digital copies to loved ones like your parents, your in-laws and other family members. Plus, Ultrabooks with touch capabilities will allow guests to sign their names and leave messages in their own handwriting, using a stylus.

You can also purchase an Ultrabook that already includes a digital pen. One example is the Sony VAIO Duo 11 Multi-Touch Ultrabook, which features an 11.6-inch Full HD 1920 x 1080 IPS capacitive touchscreen with 10-point touch input support and a178-degree viewing angle, so friends and family can crowd around the screen and still be able to see what’s being written. The VAIO 11 also features a scratch-resistant glass panel, which is a vital enhancement if you’re planning on using the Ultrabook as the guest book for your wedding.

What makes this Ultrabook an ideal candidate for a digital guest book is how the included multi-touch display works with the digitizer pen. When the VAIO 11 senses the digitizer pen in use, it will automatically turn off the touch sensors. This means that if you use the VAIO 11 for your guest book, friends and family members will be able to rest their palms right on the display to sign their names, leave a note or even draw without having to worry about their hand or arm interacting with the touchscreen. Obviously, this makes the VAIO 11 a great choice for artists who are getting married as well, since you’ll be able to take the Ultrabook home at the end of the wedding and draw comfortably on it.

The included digitizer pen lets you write, draw, tap, and swipe on the touchscreen just like you would with your finger. It also allows you to adjust line weight and brush size by pressing harder or softer on the pressure-sensitive display with the pen. There are even two distinct tips included, so you’ll have the flexibility to use the digitizer pen for a variety of traditional art and design media.

Sony also includes ArtRage Studio Pro drawing software with the VAIO 11, which allows you to create natural-looking artwork on your computer. The ArtRage Studio Pro software includes digital oil paints, watercolors, and inking pens, as well as Photoshop-compatible filters, real-world color blending, editable stickers, and other artist tools that you can take advantage of long after the wedding is over.

The VAIO 11 will convert your handwriting to text as well, which would be a convenient way for you to group all your guest-book signatures and notes into a clearly readable document, while still preserving the handwritten names and messages. This Ultrabook also features the Active Clip tool, which allows you to trace or draw around the outline of an image displayed on the Web. You can then crop the picture around your outline, cut the picture out, and paste it into your handwritten note or save it for use later.

Some of the VAIO 11’s other standout features include a 2.0GHz Intel Core i7-3537U dual-core processor, 8GB of 1333MHz DDR3 RAM memory, a 512GB SSD, integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000, a 2-in-1 media card reader, Wi-Fi connectivity, and Bluetooth 4.0 + HS wireless technology. And like the ThinkPad Helix, the Sony VAIO 11 uses Windows 8 Pro. It also employs what Sony calls their Surf Slider design, which means that this Ultrabook is easily convertible between a traditional laptop design and a more portable tablet form factor. To use it like a tablet, the display just slides down over the tactile keyboard. Slide it back up to reveal the hidden keyboard and use the VAIO 11 like a traditional laptop.

Modernize and Customize Your Gift Registry

According to Wikipedia, the “practice of a bridal registry” was first introduced by “Chicago-founded department store Marshall Fields in 1924.” This makes the gift registry a nearly century-old wedding tradition. Of course, like any other wedding tradition, you can do it the old-fashioned way or you can put your Ultrabook to work setting up and managing your modern 21st-Century gift registry. A gift registry allows your guests to know what you want for a wedding gift, where to get it, and whether it has been purchased already.

It may seem like a stretch to purchase a new Ultrabook for a task that any old computer with Internet access could handle, but when you consider everything else an Ultrabook can do to enhance both the wedding-planning stage and your wedding-day experience, why not also put it to task managing your own custom wedding registry? Once again, being wedded to your laptop or lugging around a 10-pound notebook will take its toll. Imagine showing up at a friend’s house or at the department store with your lightweight and Internet-ready Ultrabook in hand? There are even Windows 8 apps available that help you to do just that.

For instance, the Windows 8-based Wedding Assistant App does several wedding-related tasks for planning a wedding. One of the apps tools is a gift tracker that allows you to monitor gift assignments from your custom registry. You can also document monetary gifts and link them with guests. All of this will help you with your thank-you letters as well.

Another option that currently exists for other mobile devices and will soon be available as a Windows 8 app is the Gift Registry App. This app allows you to quickly create a single gift registry that you can share with your friends and family. You won’t have to set up separate bridal registries for each store you’re considering. It will also make your family and friends’ lives easier, since they’ll get mobile updates after each item on your custom registry has been purchased. A barcode scanner is built into the app as well, so you can simply use your Ultrabook to scan a barcode for any product you want to add to your own custom registry.

There are several business-savvy Ultrabooks that would make ideal partners when creating and managing your own custom gift registry. One option to consider is the Samsung Series 9 15-inch Ultrabook, which features an 8-cell lithium-ion battery that will last up to nine hours on a single charge. Another Ultrabook to check out is the Acer Aspire S7. It features a dual-core Intel Ivy Bridge i7 processor and a 13.3-inch multi-touch display with Full HD resolution. Both models feature Windows 8, so they’ll be compatible with any of the Windows 8 wedding-planning or gift-registry apps currently available or on the horizon.

The Perfect Wedding Gift

Finally, what article about Ultrabooks and weddings would be complete without a short list of models that would make great wedding presents? Any of the Ultrabooks already mentioned in this article should be considered in this list, but there are plenty of other options as well. When giving an Ultrabook as a gift, you’re not only saying good luck, you’re saying good luck in high-tech style. Consider this short list of best sellers.

The Windows 8-equipped Toshiba Satellite 14-inch Ultrabook features a 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U dual-core processor, 6GB of 1600MHz DDR3 RAM memory, a 500GB, 5400 rpm hard drive, and a 32GB SSD cache. Plus, its 14-inch TruBrite LED-backlit display features HD 1366 x 768 resolution. It also provides a 7-in-1 media card reader, Wi-Fi connectivity and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology.

Like the Toshiba Satellite, the ASUS Zenbook 13.3-inch Ultrabook also uses Windows 8. Plus, it features a 1.9GHz Intel Core i7-3517U dual-core processor, 4GB of 1600MHz RAM memory, a 500GB, 5400 rpm hard drive, and a 24GB SSD cache. The Zenbook is also equipped with nVIDIA GeForce GT 620M Graphics, a 13.3-inch Full HD IPS display, Wi-Fi connectivity, Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology, and Bang and Olufsen ICEpower speakers.

Two of the best sellers with multi-touch displays that haven’t been mentioned earlier in this article are the Sony VAIO T15 15.5-inch Multi-Touch Ultrabook and the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 14-inch Multi-Touch Ultrabook. The VAIO T15 provides a 15.5-inch Full HD 1920 x 1080 multi-touch display, a 2.0GHz Intel Core i7-3537U dual-core processor, 8GB of 1600MHz DDR3L RAM memory, a 1TB, 5400 rpm hard drive, a 32GB SSD cache, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi connectivity, and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology. It even includes a SuperMulti DVD Burner, an integrated webcam, stereo speakers, and a digital microphone.

Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon is a sleek Ultrabook that features a 14-inch, 1600 x 900 multi-touch display with LED backlighting, Intel HD Graphics 4000, a 2.0GHz Intel Core i7-3667U dual-core Ivy Bridge processor, 8GB or 1333MHz DDR3L RAM memory and a 240GB SSD. Like most of the other models in this article, it also provides Wi-Fi connectivity, Bluetooth 4.0 technology, and the touch-friendly Windows 8 operating system. It features USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 connectivity as well.

The last model on this wedding gift short list is the Toshiba KIRAbook, which features Windows 8 and a 13.3-inch PixelPure multi-touch display with impressive 2560 x 1440 native resolution that translates to 221 pixels per inch (ppi). This model also features a 2.0GHz Intel Core i7-3537U dual-core processor, 8GB or DDR3 RAM memory, a 256GB solid-state drive, Intel HD Graphics 4000, Wi-Fi connectivity, and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology.

We have just glossed the surface—all of the Ultrabooks in this article are endowed with loads of other features and connectivity options. Many of these models are also available in other setups with different displays, processors, memory, and storage capacities.

If you’re interested in viewing all the possible setups, as well as the rest of the Ultrabooks not mentioned in this article, be sure to stop by the B&H website or visit the B&H SuperStore in Manhattan, or call us on the phone at 1-800-606-6969. You can talk to an Ultrabook expert using B&H Live Chat and you can also read more about Windows 8 and the Ultrabook concept by visiting the B&H InDepth website.