8 Point Ultrabook Buying Guide

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Ultrabook is a range of laptops that have a sleek design, weigh light yet deliver solid performance. Manufacturers of Ultrabook meet a standard of specifications laid down by Intel. Ultrabook is the right choice for a user who is looking for a stylish, travel-friendly notebook that operates on Windows.

With manufacturers meeting the standards set by Intel, there is a very mild difference in the features offered by various manufacturers and hence it becomes difficult to pick an Ultrabook that is top-notch.

Users are confused if they should opt for better battery life over bright display or design over processor. Hence, the list of factors provided here would help you make the right purchase. Before we dive into the factors that help you make the right choice, let us understand what qualifies as an Ultrabook.

Intel mandates that an Ultrabook should have touch screen capability, form factor of 0.9 inches thick, battery life of 6 hours to playback HD video, hardware ready for voice command, ability to wake up from sleep mode in 3 seconds apart from containing an Intel mobile CPU. Ultrabook must also ship with anti-virus software.

how to choose a ultrabook1. Stylish design isn’t always better

It is natural to fall for gadgets that look classy and chic. But, remember designing a sleek, lightweight Ultrabook comes with its own trade-offs. All Ultrabooks must confirm to the 0.9 inches thickness form factor and hence picking an Ultrabook that is 1-2 inches lesser is not going to make much of a difference. You will have to put up with a flimsy chassis and awkward built for a classy look. Sometimes, these lightweight Ultrabooks produce more vibrations than usual. Hence, if you are keen on a trendy design then, pay attention to details such as quality of material used, fabrication and surfaces.

2. Touchpad functions

Even though your Ultrabook comes with a touch screen, you can’t dispense the need of an effective touchpad and keyboard. In order to keep the design sleek, many manufacturers provide buttonless touchpad which lacks accuracy. Such details may appear minor but over time it is these aspects that cause frustration. Move your fingers over the clickpad and test the integrated buttons to see if you find it comfortable to operate. Some of these clickpads are jumpy and render a poor user experience. Try them out before you make the final decision.

3. Display considerations

Screen size, resolution and quality of display are an important factor to consider. Ultrabooks have display screens in the range of 13-inch to 15-inch. Any resolution exceeding 1080p offers clarity and sharpness. Some ultrabooks boast of ultra-high resolutions such as 3200×1800 pixels. You must remember that very high resolution yields smaller pictures and reduces the size of fonts and icons. Higher resolution must be backed by scaling technology to render more pixels per inch and the technology is constantly evolving. For now, it is safe to go for decent resolution that offers both clarity and more pixels per inch.

 4. Ports and Slots

The ports and slots vary from one Ultrabook to another as Intel does not lay any specification on the number of ports. Many manufacturers compromise on the ports to achieve thinner designs. Hence, check if the slots offered is sufficient for your usage. Many ultrabooks don’t provide a SD card slot and if you prefer transferring your photos this way then, you might as well look for those that offer the slot. Most manufacturers include 2-3 USB ports and some come with an Ethernet port.  Check if at least one of the USB ports is a USB 3.0 port even if you don’t require it now.

5. Battery life

The battery life of an Ultrabook could be an important aspect for many users who work on the move. Most Ultrabooks come with sealed batteries and hence it is important to a pick a model that offers more endurance.  Some manufacturers such as HP and Lenovo have focused on providing excellent battery life and some of their models average around 7.5 – 8 hours. If you are someone who is keen on the battery life then, you can pick an Ultrabook that provides more than 7 hours of life which is an excellent runtime by standards. Our post on ultrabooks with best battery life might be useful.

6. Internal Disk Drive

One of the biggest concerns for a buyer is whether to buy a hybrid drive that pairs flash memory along with a traditional disk drive or not.  Samsung Series 5 Ultrabooks offer 500GB traditional drive with 16GB SSD. You can benefit from the best of both drives but SSD-only drives provide better performance. Hybrid drives are cost effective and offer both storage space and fast boot ups.  If you can afford a SSD drive and don’t require large storage then, you can go in for SSD-only Ultrabooks.

7. Memory

A sizeable RAM is essential for experiencing good performance speeds. It is recommended to buy an Ultrabook with at least 4GB RAM because anything less than that would have an impact on the performance. With lesser RAM, you will soon run out of memory and upgrading RAM won’t feasible with some models. If you are buying models with sealed chassis then, it is better to look for options where the vendors offer upgrade to 6 or 8GB of memory. You might be paying a little extra but it is definitely worth the money.

8. Heat and Noise

Generally, buyers tend to overlook this aspect. Since Ultrabooks are small in size, heat and noise related issues are frequently reported. It is difficult to amalgamate cooling components inside an Ultrabook due to its ultra-thin design.  This is one factor that is difficult to assess before you make a purchase. Hence, you must check reviews of Ultrabooks on Tech sites to know the noise and heat levels that various models generate before you decide.

About the Author
Michelle, author at Mach Machines. A tech lover and an insatiable latte drinker. Michelle blogs about improving the personal computing experience.

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