Archive for January, 2012
Ultrabooks are all about getting full computing power in a lightweight, stylish and long-battery life solution. Core i3, i5 and i7 ‘ultra low voltage’ platforms are the core of these systems but there are a few non-ultrabook solutions that use this platform and still provide a thin and light solution. One of them is a true alternative. It’s a tablet/docking station combo that I’ve written about before. The Samsung Series 7 XE700 and today the prices are looking a lot better than they did a month ago.
Thanks-you for your 600+ votes in the recent ‘Favorite Ultrabook’ poll. The results are worth discussing. The top three remain the same as in November last year when we ran the same poll with only 5 Ultrabooks. The Dell XP 13 and HP Envy 14 Spectre enter at #4 and #5
I suspected that the Acer S5 shown at CES was going to be an Ivy Bridge Ultrabook as it fits with the Q2 timescale, previous leak and hidden CPU information on the demo we saw at CES. it looks like another tech site saw the possibility that the S5 is based on Ivy Bridge too and took the chance to benchmark it. CPU figures are slightly better than on Sandy Bridge but the GPU figures show a marked improvement.
Step into a German newsagents, look at the magazine rack and you’ll find more testing notes than in a NASA launch sequence. That’s why I pay attention to the German tech press – they know how to analyse a product. Chip.de is one of the more well-know computer magazines in Germany and as you’d expect, they’ve got early hands-on with the HP Envy 14 Spectre that will be available in Germany in March for about €1400. It’s a sample unit rather than a final retail build but it’s unlikely to be very different to the final retail version. The article is obviously in German and you can read it via Google Translate but let me highlight a few things for you.
You might think of Ultrabooks as a marketing push by Intel or an attempt to copy the successfully MacBook Air and in some respects you’d be right but there’s a whole lot more to it than that. We’re witnessing a complete change in laptop design, manufacturing, performance, efficiency, weight, aesthetics and features. It brings real advantages to the end user. It also brings advantages to the design and manufacturing process too and, you might be surprised to hear, will reduce the cost of laptops over time.
At the end of the day (circa end of 2013) the manufacturer will end up with a laptop that’s quicker to design, develop and cheaper to manufacture, ship and support than any laptop before it. The advantages aren’t limited to ‘Ultrabooks’ either. Every part of the laptop market should benefit. Here are 10 reasons why.
Ugly? Practical? Heavy? Flexible? The HP Folio 13 is a strange Ultrabook in that while it doesn’t follow fashion in terms of looks and weight, it’s possibly a good thing because it also packs ports, features and battery capacity that other Ultrabooks don’t. The HP Folio 13 could turn out to be the sensible choice among Ultrabooks in the first half of 2012
Video overview below. Full specifications, gallery, links to videos and reviews available in the HP Folio information page.
Producer, musician, rapper and Intel’s Director of Creative Innovation will.i.am is the centrepiece of the Ultrabook Project that launched at CES earlier this month. The project sees will.i.am taking an Ultrabook (in this phase it looks like the Toshiba Z830) to 12 city locations over the course of the year. At those location he’ll be taking part in charity activities, producing a track for the Ultrabook Project and starring in a video about each event. Part 1, Tokyo Japan, is now live.
We’re through CES and have now got details on all the (true) Ultrabooks that will be available before the end of Q1 2012. This is likely to be very close to the final count for Sandy Bridge-based (2011 architecture, Phase 1) Ultrabooks so it’s a good time to take a poll.
What’s your favorite Ultrabook? Which one is at the top of your list?
I’ve been tracking ‘smartbooks’ for a few years now. I’ve tested the Android-based Compaq Airlife 100 and owned the Toshiba AC100. I also have a couple of Android tablets here in my life, one of which I use daily for work. I have tried many times to integrate them into my work processes but only the Galaxy Tab 7” has made any impact because it fits nicely as a microblogging and social networking tool. There are some good music, radio and podcast apps that I use too. The problem with the ‘laptop’ style devices is that although they are light, fun and have good battery life (8hrs out of the 800gm Toshiba AC100 was great!) the quality of apps doesn’t match the scenarios where you use the product – on the desk.
There are talks of a 17W TDP Trinity CPU with the same processing power as the 2011 A-Series and that sounds fantastic although I’m yet to see any real figures. The only conclusion I have come to in my research was what I wrote in December –
We were told that 30-50 ultrabooks would appear at CES last week and while there was indeed a lot of buzz and news, there really are only two truly new models to consider today. Everything else was either already reported, a future, demonstrator or prototype Ultrabook. Some will make it to the shelves, most won’t. In total we added 9 devices to the database (along with a ton of links, images and videos) and there are a few more that may appear later in the year but let’s go over the important devices to be considered over the next month and mention a few brands that still aren’t in the game. After you’ve read the article, let us know what your Ultrabook shortlist looks like.
You can view all the current Ultrabooks and many Ultrabook alternatives in our comprehensive Ultrabook product database.
Don’t expect touch to roll-out to the whole Ultrabook category but expect that Windows 8 will make manufacturers think about making touch-enabled options in their Ultrabook portfolios later in 2012. Sensors, on the other hand, could find themselves in most of the devices hitting the market. Location and context-sensitive applications in Metro apps could really boost the usefulness of an Ultrabook, especially with instant-on and smart/always connected features.
Three manufacturers have launched Ultrabook devices at CES that sit below premium version of their thin-and-light laptops and in some cases, their premium Ultrabooks I take this as an indication that the Ultrabook design and build method is spreading into wider laptop categories.
While I’ve got the chance to test the Series 5 13.3” and 14” at the Samsung Media Lounge here at CES I downloaded CrystalDiskMark, did a boot test and a few other tests.
I’ve already talked about the keyboard which is as good as the keyboard I’m using right now on the Samsung NP350. I’ve also mentioned the good selection of ports and the Wi-Di which put it ahead of devices like the Acer S3.
With such a short amount of time it’s really impossible to say anything definitive about the new Samsung Series 5 Ultrabooks but I’ve had a chance to have some uninterrupted time with the two devices at the Samsung Media Lounge here at CES and the devices do seem well-rounded. I’m especially impressed with the keyboard, ports and Wi-Di . If you’re thinking about the Acer S3, I would advise to wait for the NP530.
More images and two overview videos below.