Ultrabooks in Australia

We round up all the models we've reviewed

Ultrabooks are the new netbooks in terms of products that vendors are now trying to push. Barely any new netbooks were released in 2011 and it seems most vendors are not willing to make any more of the small and basic models that were only good for Web browsing, document creation and light multimedia tasks.

There aren't any similarities between netbooks and Ultrabooks except for the fact that both aim to be easily portable as well as affordable. While netbooks started with pricing below (or near) the $1000 mark, Ultrabooks have started closer to $1500 with Acer being the only vendor so far to release a model with an official RRP of under $1000 in Australia. Given time, this will change; it always does.

What is an Ultrabook

An Ultrabook, based on Intel's reference design, is meant to be a thin and light computer with good battery life that can also supply plenty of speed (by using an Intel Core CPU). So far, we have seen configurations using low-voltage Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs with 4GB of RAM and solid state drives (although Acer has released a model with a Core i3 CPU and a conventional hard drive).

All Ultrabooks that we've seen have a thickness up to 18mm (the Intel reference design calls for a thickness under 21mm) and a screen size of 13.3in (although 11in models are available). Ultrabooks are designed to be comfortable to use and quick to resume from sleep in addition to being light and mobile. The heaviest model we've seen so far is 1.5kg (HP's Folio), with the lightest being 1.1kg (Toshiba's Satellite Z830).

In this roundup we've included all the models that we've reviewed to date, but there are a couple of other models on the market, too, such as the ASUS ZenBook UX21, which is an 11in version of the UX31 that we reviewed, and also the sub-$1000 Acer Aspire S3 variant that we mentioned earlier.

More Ultrabooks are to be released early next year, so if you don't like what you see now, then bide your time. We think a couple of vendors rushed their products to market and didn't include good enough keyboards and touchpads. However, if you can't wait, then we recommend the HP and Toshiba models. We loved using both of these units and think anyone will be happy with them.

We'll be updating this roundup as more review models become available.

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ASUS Zenbook UX31 (CUX31E-RY010V) Ultrabook

With so much going for it as far as size, build and looks are concerned, it's a shame that the Zenbook UX31 offers a below average user experience. Its input peripherals aren't great, it feels uncomfortable to use and we had to install drivers to get things working properly. technically, it's a good laptop, but it could have been so much better when it comes to user friendliness. We'd probably sit this one out and wait to see what the next models offer.

  • Review Date:
  • Reviewer:
  • Manufacturer:
  • 16th Nov., 2011
  • Elias Plastiras
  • ASUS
  • Rating:
  • Price:
  • Pros:
  • Thin design
  • 1600x900 resolution
  • 256GB SSD and Core i7 CPU
  • Cons:
  • Input devices not great
  • User friendliness not great
  • Keyboard not backlit
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