Back to school: Ultrabooks

Ultrabooks are thin, light and have more than adequate processing power for typical school work

The Ultrabook has been hatched in an effort to make thin and light computers more prominent in the marketplace. It's an initiative by Intel that challenges hardware companies to come up with MacBook Air-like designs for Windows users and so far there are a handful of vendors offering these products.

Why are they so good for the back to school crowd? Well, all the Ultrabooks we've seen so far are less than 2cm thick (with the lid closed), less than 1.4kg and they come in configurations that are perfect for day-to-day work. Their mobility is key and you could easily carry around an Ultrabook with its power supply all day and not get too tired of it.

Sizes for Ultrabooks are up to 13.3in so far; almost all models have solid state drives rather than typical hard drives; they have a focus on wireless connectivity, so not all models have built-in Ethernet ports; most models have USB 3.0 and HDMI and some even have backlit keyboards so that you can work easily in the night.

Battery life will depend on how the Ultrabook is being used and how bright you keep the screen, but some models may allow you to work on documents on browse the Web for a whole work day before recharging.

Our picks for the moment are the Toshiba Satellite Z830 and the HP Folio 13, but there are also models from ASUS and Acer to consider. Before buying, head down to the store to play with the model you desire. Pay attention to its screen, keyboard and touchpad, and make sure that you feel comfortable with them — especially the keyboard and touchpad, as not all of them are up to scratch.

We've rounded up all the models we've reviewed (to date) below.

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HP Folio 13-1008TU Ultrabook

The Folio 13 is one of the best Ultrabooks on the market, simply because it's a joy to use and it has all the right features: long battery life, a thin chassis, responsive performance, an SSD, USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet, full-sized HDMI and a backlit keyboard. It's a little heavier than other Ultrabooks, but it's so well balanced that you don't really notice the extra weight. We recommend it.

  • Review Date:
  • Reviewer:
  • Manufacturer:
  • 14th Dec., 2011
  • Elias Plastiras
  • HP
  • Rating:
  • Price:
  • Pros:
  • Keyboard and touchpad
  • Build quality
  • USB 3.0
  • Cons:
  • No backlight timer
  • Only two USB ports
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Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

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Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

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Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

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Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

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Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

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HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

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Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

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