It's that time of the year again, when all the back to school students are hunting for a new laptop. With Apple discontinuing their MacBook line, it is hard not to look at their MacBook Air offerings. But many, including yours truly, are turned off by the price tag. And here's where Intel steps in.
As if to remind us how fast technology moves, our MacBook Air alternative report just published last month is already out of date. Intel announced, back in May at Computex, a brand new segment of ultra thin laptops dubbed the Ultrabook, named for its impressive size without loss to performance. More importantly, promising the whole package at a price tage coming in below $1000. Without missing a beat, four PC makers already announced their entries. Lets take a look at their offerings and what you can spend your money on.
What made Ultrabook possible is the Intel's new line of ULV processors, Ivy Bridge. These processors draws less power, which allows manufacturers to put in a smaller batter which in turn makes the laptop form a lot thinner and more portable. But unlike Intel's Atom line, these processors remain as full-fledge workhorse coming with Core i3, i5 and i7 flavors. All of these may sound quite familiar as they are similarly spec-ed with the MacBook Air. What separates the incoming competition with the current king of the throne is going to be mainly in pricing as well as some of its features unique to the PC market.
Enough with the tech talk, lets take a look at what the PC makers have come up with so far for this new class of laptops, starting with the…
Asus UX21, announced back in May at Computex, is probably the most visually striking of the bunch. We love its polished aluminum body with its metal keys and anodized bezel, the industrial design of the UX21 can definitely rival that its Apple cousin. As the sole 11 inch model of the bunch, weighing in at 2.42 pounds and 0.68 inches it is on par with the 11 inch model of Macbook Air. In terms of design, the Asus is probably our favorite of the bunch, but with port options also on par with the 11 inch Macbook Air, it's difficult for us to love it over its siblings.
From another Taiwanese PC maker, Acer announced its Aspire S3. Coming in at 13 inches, and weighing in at 3.08 pounds, it is very similar in dimensions with the 13 inch Macbook Air. The resolution of 1366 x 768 comes in just a little smaller in comparison with its Apple counterpart of 1440 x 900. Taking a page from Apple's signature unibody design, the S3 is also unibody, and made of magnesium. Also Acer ditched tradition plastic bottom with vent, instead went with solid piece of magnesium for cover. Measuring at 13mm, it is a tad thinner than the 17mm of the Macbook Air, an impressive feat in itself. In terms of port options, the S3 has all the ports offered on the Macbook Air with the notable addition of an HDMI port for display.
Next up is the Toshiba Portege Z830. The Toshiba flavored Ultrabook is also 13 inches, with the same screen resolution as the Acer, coming in at 2.5 pounds and 0.63 inches thick. it's both thinner AND lighter than a Macbook Air. Also covered in magnesium, the Z830 should feel just as upscale as the Macbook Air. The key physical difference between the Toshiba and the Acer is the backlit keyboard that the Z830 comes with. In terms of port offering aside from the usual, the Z830 comes with one USB 3.0 port as well as and ethernet jack and a VGA output.
Saving the best for last, lets take a look at the Lenovo U300s. Not expecting anything less from the premium PC maker, Lenovo's entry is every bit as impressive as its competitions (including Apple). Coming in at 2.95 pounds and 0.59 inches, it is not only lighter than the Apple, but significantly thinner than all of its competition. True to Lenovo's Thinkpad tradition, the U300s also features a spill-proof keyboard, in case you have a mishap while working at the coffee shop. Another intriguing thing about the keyboard on the U300s is that the machine is actually uses it as vent, instead of the bottom vent of traditional laptop. The U300s will not only rock one but TWO USB 3.0 ports, so you'll be able to plug in those super fast peripherals you own.
We really loved seeing all of the competition entering the market after Apple's long-time dominance. Especially with Apple forcing its competitor to step up not only in performance but also in industrial design. We're definitely looking forward to the Age of Powerful, Aesthetic and Portable Laptops. Look out for these great options near the end of the month