0Ultrabook logo laptop vaio sonyBetter than an ultrabook?

Intel have announced a new ini­ti­at­ive to push laptops sim­il­ar to the Mac­Book Air.  The ini­tial require­ments are a weight of up to 1.4Kg, thick­ness of 20mm and bat­tery life of 5+ hours.  For man­u­fac­tur­ers to qual­i­fy for intel mar­ket­ing money ultra­books also must have no optic­al drive, an SSD, and CULV processors.

I have been recently been look­ing for a sim­il­ar type of laptop — I was asked to find some­thing with excel­lent per­form­ance, 5+ hours bat­tery, under 2Kg, with at least a 13.3″ screen, USB3, Optic­al drive, HDMI and VGA.  A dock­ing port would be a bonus.  The faster, light­er, longer-bat­tery-life the better.

I was forced to rule out any poten­tial ultra­books due to the lack of optic­al drive, and the excess­ive cost which res­ults from the CULV CPU and SSD require­ments.  I was also in a pos­i­tion to slightly relax the weight require­ment com­pared to an ultra­book, and the thick­ness require­ment seems rather point­less — the dimen­sions that mat­ter are the width and height when it comes to space use.

I short­l­is­ted 3 mod­ern Sandy­Bridge laptops as follows…

Toshiba Satel­lite R830-143

Intel Core i5-2410M 2.3GHz, 6Gb DDR3, 640Gb 5,400rpm HDD, 13.3″ 1,366×768, 1.48kg, 316.0 x 227.0 x 18.3–26.6mm (full specs).

Price at pub­lic­a­tion time: £716.99

Acer Travel­mate TimelineX 8481T-6440

Intel Core i5-2557M 1.7GHz, 4Gb DDR3, 320Gb 7,200rpm HDD, 14″ 1,366×768, 1.7Kg, 330 x 240 x 22mm (full specs)

Price at pub­lic­a­tion time: £824.69

Sony Vaio SB custom-config

Intel Core i5-2410M 2.3GHz, 4Gb DDR3, 320Gb 5,400rpm HDD, 13.3″ 1,366×768, 1.7Kg, 331 x 224.5 x 23.9mm (full specs)

Price at pub­lic­a­tion time: £759.00

In the end the Vaio got the vote.  The lack of optic­al drive in the Acer ruled it out des­pite the bonus of the lar­ger screen, which left it a 2 horse race.  The Toshiba is light­er, smal­ler and was avail­able for £33 less, but the Sony had the bonuses of a dock­ing port and a 2 year warranty.

I ima­gine that the next gen­er­a­tion of Core iX CPU’s (Ivy Bridge) due around the new year, will bring more laptops like this to the mar­ket.  Hope­fully the Intel ultra­book mar­ket­ing pro­gram wont excess­ively lim­it the choices of thin-n-lights with an optic­al drive.


I’ve just spot­ted an excel­lent and very inform­at­ive review of the Vaio SB by Anandtech

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