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Print 33 comment(s) - last by Belard.. on Aug 28 at 8:05 PM

You don't have to be weighed down to get work done while on the road

Unlike the netbook craze that stormed the PC market a few years ago (and just as quickly fizzled out thanks to the rise of the Apple iPad), it looks as though Ultrabooks are here to stay. Whereas netbooks made use of power efficient, yet pokey Intel Atom processors and slow hard disk drives (HDDs), today's latest crop of Ultrabooks make use of fast third-generation Intel Core processors and blazingly fast solid state drives (SSDs).
 
In this piece, I'll take a look at some of the factors that make the Ultrabook platform attractive for business users that need a powerful machine that is also portable enough to tote along to meetings without significantly weighing you down.
 
Performance
As previously mentioned, today’s crop of Ultrabook computers pack the latest generation Core i5/Core i7 processors and at least 4GB of RAM to conquer your most demanding business apps. No longer do business users have to resort to heavy, desktop-replacement notebooks to get serious work done.
 
And we can’t forget the importance of the SSD. Once relegated to high-end notebooks a few years ago (a 64GB SSD added $1,000 to the price of the first generation MacBook Air just four years ago), SSDs have brought incredible I/O performance to notebooks while keeping device form-factors slim and battery drain to a minimum. And with prices of SSDs falling well below the $1/GB mark, we’ll continue to see explosive growth for SSDs in all segments of the notebook market.
 
Excellent Battery Life
One of the added benefits of moving to low-voltage third-generation Core i5 processors and SSD is long battery life. Most Ultrabooks today have battery life ranging in the 5- to 7-hour range which should be plenty for a business professional to get enough work done on-the-go before scrambling to an empty power outlet on the floor in airport terminal or in the hotel room after a day of meetings.
 
Lightweight
Many people have differing ideas of what “lightweight” means in a portable computer. For some people, lugging around something that weighs 4 pounds isn’t a problem. However, to me, the sweet spot is in the 3-pound and below range.


Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
 
While most netbooks used cheap plastic to reach sub 3-pound weight levels, many Ultrabooks take advantage of all-metal chassis construction that provides a much more durable and solid basis to work from while still meeting those weight targets. Some, like Lenovo, go for a more exotic route by using carbon fiber. Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon manages to weigh in at an even 3 pounds despite its 14” form-factor.
 
Wireless Connectivity and Ports Selection
Most Ultrabooks these days do away with ports and features that many business users grew accustomed to over the years. Two of those are internal optical drives and GbE ports. Most of us rarely use optical discs anymore, as we've become a "digital download" society. And materials that were once distributed using CDs at trade shows are now placed onto thumb drives. For those that still need to an optical drive for occasional use, there's always an external USB solution waiting to greet you.
 
As for GbE, the prevalence of Wi-Fi hotspots means that wired Ethernet is becoming less of "need" for business users. As with optical drives, there are always USB-Ethernet solutions (something that ASUS includes in the box with the Zenbook Prime UX31A) if you happen to be in some backwoods location that hasn't moved into the 21st century.
 
But beyond those two items, you'll find numerous connectivity choices in Ultrabooks including Bluetooth 4.0 and optional 3G/4G broadband when it comes to wireless solutions. When it comes to physical ports, USB 3.0 is commonplace now alongside USB 2.0, and Thunderbolt is an up-and-comer for high-speed peripherals. HDMI, DisplayPort, and in some cases – mini VGA – are there to handle your external graphics needs.
 
Multiple form-factors/screen resolutions to suit each user
11-inches, 13-inches, 14-inches, 15-inches… pick your poison. Although I don't think that many business users will enjoy typing on an 11" Ultrabook's keyboard for too long, having a powerful notebook option in that form-factor is a plus for those that don't mind have a slightly cramped typing area.


Zenbook Prime UX31A
 
But that's the beauty of Ultrabooks; there are enough form-factors in that Ultrabook space that it should be easy to find the perfect solution that fits your needs. For example, ASUS offers up its Zenbook Prime UX31A that manages to cram a 1920x1080 IPS screen into a 13" notebook. For those that prefer a larger screen (but don't mind a tradeoff in screen density), there's the 15" Samsung Series 9 with a 1600x900 display. It's a bit heavier than my tastes at 3.51 pounds, but reaching that weight is a remarkable feat for a 15" notebook.


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RE: Not so sure...
By Belard on 8/27/2012 6:18:59 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. A ThinkPad T-Series, even the T420/430 is servicable - yet its under 3lbs and 1" thick - its not an "ultra book"... Ultrabook to me, is nothing more than a non-Apple version of the MacBook Air.


RE: Not so sure...
By nocturne_81 on 8/27/2012 9:42:04 PM , Rating: 2
And here I thought that the MacBook Air was a non-MS ultrabook, seeing as we all know what came first..

It's sad that price is still the major issue for most. It makes the entire article moot, as 95% of businesses would sooner buy a fleet of $300 notebooks than a handful of expensive ultrabooks -- they couldn't care less about ergonomics and comfort let alone battery life, it all comes down to the bottom line.

And ironically, $1000-1300 is considered a 'steal' for the Air..


RE: Not so sure...
By Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer on 8/28/2012 10:30:43 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, the T430 is nearly five pounds with a six-cell battery...but as nice as the X1 Carbon looks, I definitely don't regret going ahead and getting the T430. The X1 costs a lot more and doesn't offer nearly as much. The one advantage--the slim and light-weight chassis--just isn't worth the sacrifices you have to make.


RE: Not so sure...
By Belard on 8/28/2012 12:56:58 PM , Rating: 2
Why didn't you get the T430s? At this moment, the S model costs $100 less than the regular 430 (when configured for WWAN and SSD). The T430S is just under 4 lbs and 1" thick. Its area is the same as the T430, you couldn't tell looking down that they are different.


RE: Not so sure...
By TakinYourPoints on 8/28/2012 2:51:13 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Why didn't you get the T430s?

...

The T430S is just under 4 lbs and 1" thick.


There you go. 1" thick is big these days, it is worth a couple extra bucks to get a better chassis.


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