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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