Intel Uses Guidelines to Turn Notebooks into Ultrabooks

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While tablets and even smartphones are becoming more viable options for mobile computing, nothing can beat the convenience and usefulness of a portable notebook computer. Sure, netbooks have been around, but they lack the performance to do anything besides word processing, email checking and Web surfing. In an effort to find the perfect balance between portability and performance as well as to compete with the success of the Apple MacBook Air, Intel laid out the guidelines for the ultimate mobile notebook computer, the Ultrabook.

One of the guidelines for a notebook computer to be labeled “Ultrabook” is that each model must cost less than $1,000. This interesting price limit may have been influenced by the Apple MacBook Air starting price of $999. Another guideline is that notebooks with a screen smaller than 14" should be thinner than 0.71" (1.8 cm) while notebooks with 14"+ screens are allowed to be as thick as 0.83" (2.1 cm). They must also be able to wake up from hibernation mode in less than 7 seconds and have a minimum battery life of 5 hours. Surprisingly, there is no weight requirement, which seems odd since Ultrabooks are meant to be “ultraportable.” Generally speaking, most Ultrabooks hover at around 3 to 3.5 pounds, although there are some exceptions that can go up to almost 4 pounds, which may be pushing the term “ultraportable” to the breaking point.

ASUS

ASUS Zenbook UX21E Series Ultrabooks

The two notebook computers that really embody Intel’s definition of an Ultrabook are the ASUS Zenbook UX21E-DH52 11.6" Ultrabook Computer and the ASUS Zenbook UX21E-DH71 11.6" Ultrabook Computer. Both have 11.6" LED-backlit screens with a 1366 x 768 native resolution, a thickness of 0.67" (1.7 cm) and they weigh less than 2.5 pounds. They also both have a battery life of approximately 5 hours on a single charge. Thanks to each of their own 128GB solid state drives and an Instant On feature, these ASUS Zenbooks can boot up in less than 2 seconds from hibernation mode. While almost identical in specifications, such as 4GB of DDR3 RAM, integrated Intel UMA graphics, 1366 x 768 native resolutions, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and more, these ASUS Zenbooks have one major difference, and that’s the processor. The ASUS Zenbook UX21E-DH52 has a dual-core 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5-2467M processor while the ASUS Zenbook UX21E-DH71 has a dual-core 1.8 GHz Intel Core i7-2677M processor. Both these ASUS Zenbooks are excellent examples of what an Ultrabook is supposed to be. With enough hardware to run a version of Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) operating system, these ASUS Zenbooks possess the ultra portability of netbooks, but provide the performance that netbooks can’t.

ASUS Zenbook UX31E Series Ultrabooks

Moving up to 13.3" screens, ASUS continues to invest in the potential of Ultrabooks by providing four different models. The first two models are the ASUS Zenbook UX31E-DH52 13.3" Ultrabook Computer and the ASUS Zenbook UX31E-DH53 13.3” Ultrabook Computer. Both are similar because they have 13.3" LED-backlit screens with a 1600 x 900 native resolution, a thickness of 0.78" (1.9 cm) and they weigh less than 3 pounds. Their batteries also run up to 7 hours per charge. Just like the 11.6" ASUS Zenbooks mentioned earlier, these ASUS 13.3" Zenbooks also have an Instant On feature that allows them to boot up from hibernation mode in less than 2 seconds. While the 11.6" ASUS Zenbooks differed in processors, these two 13.3" ASUS Zenbooks differ in hard drive storage space. The ASUS Zenbook UX31E-DH52 has a 128GB solid-state drive while the ASUS UX31E-DH53 has a 256GB solid-state drive. All other specifications are identical, such as the dual-core 1.7 GHz Intel Core i5-2557M processors, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, integrated Intel UMA graphics, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and more. These ASUS Zenbooks also run the Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) operating system so you have full access to a computer while on the go.

The other two 13.3" models from ASUS are the ASUS Zenbook UX31E-DH72 13.3" Ultrabook Computer and the ASUS Zenbook UX31E-DH72R 13.3" Ultrabook Computer. These two 13.3" ASUS Zenbooks share many similarities to the aforementioned 13.3" ASUS Zenbook UX31E-DH52/DH53 models because they both have 13.3" LED-backlit screens with a 1600 x 900 native resolution, a thickness of 0.78" (1.9 cm) and they weigh less than 3 pounds. The Instant On feature, along with their 256GB solid-state drives, allows these two 13.3" ASUS Zenbooks to wake up from hibernation mode in 2 seconds as well. The one specification that separates the 13.3" ASUS Zenbook DH72/DH72R from the 13.3" ASUS Zenbook DH52/DH53 models is that the DH72/DH72R models have dual-core 1.8 GHz Intel i7-2677M processors for added performance. These Intel Core i7 processors allow these ASUS Zenbook DH72/DH73 models to run the Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) operating system while remaining mobile. Also, the difference between the ASUS Zenbook DH72 and the ASUS Zenbook DH72R is that the DH72 comes in a silver finish, while the DH72R comes in a unique Rose Gold finish.

Acer

Acer Aspire S Series Ultrabooks

Acer has also jumped into the Ultrabook fray with two of its own models, the Acer Aspire S Series S3-951-6432 13.3" Ultrabook Computer and the Acer Aspire S Series S3-951-6828 13.3" Ultrabook Computer. Both models have 13.3" LED-backlit screens with a 1366 x 768 native resolution, a thickness of 0.68" (1.7 cm) and they weigh less than 3 pounds. They also have a battery life of up to 7 hours per charge. The major difference between the Acer Aspire 6432 and the Acer Aspire 6828 is that the 6432 has a dual-core 1.7 GHz Intel Core i7-2637M processor and the 6828 has a dual-core 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5-2467M processor. Other than that, both Acer Aspire models have 4GB of DDR3 RAM, integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000 with 128MB of dedicated system memory, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and more. Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) is the installed operating system for both models.

Toshiba

Toshiba Portege Ultrabook

Toshiba decided to dip its feet in the Ultrabook pool rather than jump in headfirst like ASUS. Its model, the Toshiba Portege Z835-P360 13.3" Ultrabook Computer, has impressive dimensions for a 13.3" model. The 13.3" Toshiba Portege Z835 (2.47 lb / 1.12 kg) is almost as light as the ASUS 11.6" Zenbook models (2.43 lb / 1.10 kg). The Toshiba Portege Z835 has a 13.3" LED-backlit screen with a 1366 x 768 native resolution, a thickness of 0.63" (1.6 cm), weighs less than 3 pounds and can boot up from hibernation in seconds, thanks to its 128GB solid-state drive. This Toshiba Z835 also has an impressive battery life of up to 8.28 hours per charge. However, to achieve the impressive weight for a 13.3" model, the Toshiba Portege Z835 houses a dual-core 1.4 GHz Intel Core i3-2367M processor. It is still better than any netbook processor, but slightly slower than its other 13.3" model counterparts that have Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors. The Toshiba Portege Z835 also has 4GB of DDR3 RAM, integrated Intel Mobile HD graphics, 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0+HS and more. Also, this Toshiba Z835 has a 10/100/1000Mbps Gigabit Ethernet jack for a faster, more reliable Internet connection, something that was missing from all the aforementioned models. The Toshiba Z835 computer also runs the Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) operating system.

Samsung

Samsung Series 5 Ultrabooks

Even Samsung has decided to take a chance at making its version of the Ultrabook. Samsung hopes the quality of its HDTVs and Blu-ray players translates over to Ultrabook computers. They have three models, two of which are the Samsung Series 5 NP530U3B-A01US 13.3" Ultrabook Computer and the Samsung Series 5 NP530U3B-A02US 13.3" Ultrabook Computer. Both models have a 13.3" LED-backlit screen with a 1366 x 768 native resolution, a thickness of 0.69" (1.75 cm) and weigh less than 3.5 pounds. They can both boot up from a shut-down state in 20 seconds and resume from sleep mode in just 2 seconds. The major difference between the A01US and the A02US is that the A01US has a 500GB hard disk drive and the A02US has a 128GB solid-state drive. It is surprising that Samsung even considered putting a conventional mechanical hard disk drive into one of its Ultrabook models. While it would help keep the cost of the A01US model down, it also contributes to slower boot times. Other than that, both models have dual-core 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5-2467M processors, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000, 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0+HS, Gigabit Ethernet and more. Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) is the installed operating system for both Samsung models.

The other Samsung model is the Samsung Series 5 NP530U4B-A01US 14" Ultrabook Computer. It has a 14" LED-backlit screen with a 1366 x 768 native resolution, a thickness of 0.82" (2.1 cm) and it weighs less than 4 pounds. This Samsung 14" model can boot up in less than 20 seconds from a shut-down state and resume from sleep mode in just 2 seconds, even with its 500GB hard disk drive. The upside is that Samsung managed to add a SuperMulti DVD optical drive, something that is sorely missed in the previously mentioned models. This Samsung 14" model has a dual-core 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5-2467M processor, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000, Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0+HS and more. It can also run Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit).

Hewlett Packard

Hewlett Packard Folio Ultrabook

HP, also known as Hewlett Packard, has also decided to participate in the Ultrabook competition with a 13.3" and 14" model. The HP Folio 13-1020us 13.3" Ultrabook Computer has a 13.3" LED-backlit screen with a 1366 x 768 native resolution, a thickness of 0.7" (1.78 cm) and it weighs 3.3 pounds. It also has a 128GB solid-state drive and Intel Rapid Start technology, which lets you resume from where you left off within seconds. It can also last up to 9 hours on a single charge. The HP Folio 13.3" model has a dual-core 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5-2467M processor, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000, Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and more. Like all aforementioned models, this HP Folio 13.3" model also runs Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit).

Hewlett Packard Envy Spectre Ultrabook

HP also has a 14" model, the HP ENVY 14-3010NR Spectre 14" Ultrabook Computer. Now the HP ENVY Spectre 14" model really stretches the term, Ultrabook. It has a 14" LED-backlit screen with a 1600 x 900 native resolution, a thickness of 0.79" (2.01 cm) and weighs just under 4 pounds, like the Samsung Series 5 A01US 14" Ultrabook. While its weight is a bit of a concern, it makes up for it with three pristine surfaces of scratch-resistant glass that is fused into an all-aluminum body in nero black and natural silver. It also has Beats Audio for studio-quality sound, especially with headphones. This HP ENVY Spectre 14" model has a dual-core 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5-2467M processor, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000, Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and more. It also runs the Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) operating system.

All of the models mentioned in this article are excellent choices if you’re in the market for an ultrathin, ultraportable notebook computer that doesn’t sacrifice performance. They have more functionality than tablets and smartphones and are also excellent alternatives to the pricey Apple MacBook Air. The competition for the best Ultrabook is great because it forces manufacturers to push for innovative technologies while also keeping the cost down to appease the consumer. As we move forward, the computers are getting thinner and our wallets are getting thicker. Now that’s progress.