If netbooks are too compromised for your school and traditional notebooks are too bulky, heavy and expensive, there’s hope. Intel has created a basic design that might be just right. It calls for thin and light laptops that can be carried around a school day, and at roughly $1,000, will give the MacBook Air a run for the money.
So far, there are four Ultrabooks that should be available by the Thanksgiving break, but by 2012, there should be a dozen different models on the market. There will be a lot of variation among the first generation of Ultrabooks, but one thing is for sure: they will be a lot more powerful and cheaper than a MacBook Air.
The first Ultrabooks available will likely be the Asus Zenbook UX21 and UX31, and in fact you can pre-order one now. Available with an 11.6-inch (UX21) or a 13-inch (UX31) screen, the Zenbook is just 0.8-inches thick and weighs in at 2.4- and 2.8 pounds, respectively. Both have either a Core i5 or i7 processor, up to 256GB of solid state flash memory storage, USB 3.0 and built-in WiFi. Pricing ranges from $1,000 to $1,500.
By contrast, the Acer Aspire S3 will only be available with a 13-inch screen and a Core i5 processor. It weighs a slightly hefty 3 pounds, but leads the field with a thickness of only 0.6-inches, or roughly half that of a traditional notebook. It has WiFi, but does without a USB 3.0 port and because the Aspire S3 uses a traditional hard drive, its $900 price tag is midway between the more expensive Zenbook and the less expensive IdeaBook.
At just under 0.6-inches thick and weighing 2.9 pounds, Lenovo’s IdeaPad U300s is a great compromise between configuration and price. It comes only with a 13-inch screen and either a Core i5 or i7 processor so you can choose the best balance between performance and battery life. The U300 comes with 4GB of RAM, has USB 3.0, WiFi as well as either a traditional hard drive or flash storage. It’ll be available in orange or gray and could be the most budget friendly with a starting price of $800.
At just 2.5-pounds, the Toshiba Portege Z830 is the lightweight of the Ultrabook crowd. Its 0.6-inch profile is slim and you’ll be able to order it with either a Core i3, i5 or i7 processor, providing the best freedom of choice. It comes with a 13-inch screen, can be outfitted with up to 6GB, rather than 4GB, of RAM and comes with a 128GB flash storage drive. No word on pricing at this point.