Friday, 30 December 2011

What’s So Ultra About the Ultrabook?

We’re pretty well on into the 21st century, and while we don’t live in domed cities on Mars or have personal jetpacks to propel us to work every day (yet!), we do have portable, personal computers galore. Like our favorite pair of shoes, it’s hard for many of us to imagine leaving home without some form of gadget to keep us connected, on a whim, to each other and the Internet. We’ve got our tablets and notebooks and netbooks and laptops and e-book readers and smartphones, sure. And you may already be familiar with Apple’s MacBook Air, but have you heard about the Ultrabook?

Picture a laptop, but it’s ultra thin (less than 20 mm thick). It uses a lithe, flash-based SSD (solid state drive) instead of older (and heavier) CD/DVD and hard drives, so it’s also ultra light (weighing in at just a wee bit over three pounds). This combination makes the Ultrabook ultra portable, so you can carry it leisurely around the town in your backpack without getting a sore and sweaty shoulder or an aching back for your trouble. Sounds pretty rinky dink, right? Wrong. Because, aside from being ultra portable, it’s got a processor (CULV [Consumer Ultra-Low Voltage] Intel Sandy Bridge for now, with Ivy Bridge and Haswell processors projected for upcoming versions) that would be the envy of any modern desktop system and a serious graphics card that even the pickiest gamer grudgingly respects — in other words, it’s ultra powerful without sacrificing performance for size or form. Oh, and if you happen to find yourself far away from an electrical outlet for long periods of time, you’re in luck, because the Ultrabook has a battery life of five to eight hours — so it’s ultra energy efficient, too.

You might imagine that an Ultrabook, with all of its ultra features, would also be ultra expensive. But among the many seemingly contradictory surprises that this powerhouse packs, one of the nicest is that the Ultrabook is ultra affordable!

So more than simply being yet another option in the portable computer market, the Ultrabook is really an evolutionary step forward of the form itself. Why would you pay more money for a big, heavy, wimpy, dim, weak hunk of junk when you can spend the same amount of money you’ve set aside for a new portable computer on an Ultrabook?

While Ultrabooks are being made by several manufacturers (Acer, Asus, Lenovo, LG, Toshiba, Samsung, and HP), a system must conform to the aforementioned Intel-designated standards to carry the Ultrabook label.

In summary, let’s go over what this Ultrabook thing is all about.

What is an Ultrabook? An ultra thin, ultra light, ultra portable, ultra powerful, ultra efficient, ultra affordable, next generation computer.

What is an Ultrabook not? It’s not a clunky, cheap “netbook.”

Why do we need the Ultrabook? It’s as powerful as a desktop while being lighter than a traditional laptop.

What’s missing? Legacy products like CD/DVD and hard drives. Solid state, for the win!

What’s the future? A more affordable computer for the average home or business user that doesn’t sacrifice power for portability.

When it was first unveiled at Computex 2011, Intel projected that the Ultrabook would seize 40% of the laptop market by the end of 2012. And while we’ve still got another year to see how this projection plays out, the Ultrabook has enough of an edge over its comparable competition to make such predictions seem reasonable. As a consumer, can you honestly say that you wouldn’t be happy to pay less for more?

Even among Ultrabooks, though, how do you know which one’s going to pack enough punch for your needs?

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