Ultrabooks: A Buying Guide

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The advancement of technology leads to smaller, lighter, and faster laptops for lower and lower prices. Ultrabooks try to find an attractive middle ground between price, performance, and design.

While the advantage of a netbook is portability, the strength of an ultrabook is the combination of portability and performance. The ultrabook is not as portable as a tiny netbook, but you’ll get better performance for the size.

Intel has chalked out strict specifications for a device to be called an ultrabook, and there are several machines out there that fall under that category. Most ultrabooks come with Intel processors, mostly from the Core line. Now, let’s take a look at the factors that would influence your choice of ultrabook:

Speed

The speed of an ultrabook is generally measured by the clock frequency of the processor, in GHz (Gigahertz). Like one can guess, the faster a processor, the greater the price. The Core M processor range is lower performing than the Core i3/i5/i7 range of processors because the Core M range is meant for tablets and extremely portable devices. The Core i3/i5/i7 comprise the Broadwell U subseries of Intel’s hardware platforms.

Ultrabooks usually come with higher amounts of system memory than their cheaper counterparts. This leads to a great deal of performance in an extremely small package. Usually ultrabooks have multiple configurations available depending on your processor or memory needs. No matter how much performance you need, you’ll be able to find in in a certain laptop.

Storage

Most ultrabooks come with solid state drives for data storage. The SSD (Solid State Device) is unlike the legacy hard drive in that it does not have any moving parts, and does not have the latency of the hard drive. SSD storage modules are smaller and lighter than hard disk drives, and and they’re more reliable because of the lack of moving parts. Most ultrabooks come with solid state drives standard, but you’ll be able to choose the storage capacity depending on your needs.

Display

Many ultrabooks come standard with a 1080p resolution, but you can choose to upgrade this depending on how good you want your resultion to be. Most ultrabooks come in 13 or 15 inch screen varieties, but you’ll spend more for the larger screen. These factors ultimately decide how good the viewing experience is, whether it is good to look at from different viewing angles, and how the contrast and colours look on the screen.

Spending more on the screen depends on your personal preference. Some people think this is the most important facet of the laptop experience, so you might be willing to spend a lot of money on a nice screen. This tends to be an important factor if the device would be used for consuming media and working with videos or images.

Portability

The factors that make a device portable are the weight (or the lack of it), dimensions, and the longevity of the battery life. These are particularly important if you’re always traveling with your device and you spend a lot of time away from a wall socket.

The average battery life for an ultrabook is somewhere between 7 and 9 hours, but some computers can last for up to 15 hours. Battery life is an extremely important component of the buying process to keep in mind– your needs depend heavily on where you plan on using your laptop.

While most ultrabooks are under 3 pounds in weight, there are some that are heavier. Larger computers have more space for a larget screen and a bigger battery. You’ll have to face the trade-off between lightweight design and strong performance. It’s best to understand every facet of your ultrabook before you more forward on the purchase.

Buying any computer comes down to what you prefer in a device. For example, Apple makes computers with extremely great build quality and design, but sometimes their lighter models aren’t the most powerful. Make a list of what you think is most important in a computer, and keep this in mind while you shop.

There are devices out there to suit everyone’s needs and you should be able to find whatever you need for your use cases.

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About the Author
Divya Palaniappan is an engineer and an avid techie who considers information worthless unless verified. When she isn't wracking her brain over machines she loves spending time in her garden.

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