If you’re after a laptop this Christmas, you’ve probably scoped out the candidates already: the lust worthy MacBook Air, and its Windows 8-powered Ultrabook rivals, a thin category of laptop from Intel and Apple’s rivals. But which one to get? With our handy tips you won’t fall into any traps.
To touch or not to touch
Many of the newest Ultrabooks, timed to arrive with Microsoft’s finger friendly Windows 8 operating system, are touchscreen, letting you prod your way around instead of using a mouse or the trackpad for everything. Of course, a touchscreen layer will usually cost you extra, but we find it does come in handy, when you want to tap one of the Windows 8 start screen’s big, juicy icons, or a link on a web page.
Not all Ultrabooks are born equal
Intel and its partners have played quite fast and loose with the term “Ultrabook” – and the result is that some models are neither that thin, that light, or that portable. Some Ultrabooks pack in DVD disc drives and mechanical hard drives, which are both useful additions, but add serious bulk. For portability, avoid anything larger than 13-inches, and if you can, check out the Ultrabook you’re after in a store first.
New form factors ahoy
Intel’s Ultrabook branding has also expanded to include new form factors beyond the traditional laptop. Lenovo’s Yoga laptop flips around to form three different models: laptop, tablet and stand, which is useful in the kitchen, or on a train. Watch out for other convertibles though, where the tablet separates from the keyboard, or the screen rotates on a central hinge like Dell’s models: they’re often bulky and poor performers without the keyboard.
Choose your OS
Not every Ultrabook comes with just Windows. Dell’s just launched an Ultrabook that comes pre-loaded with open source Linux, so if you’re not a fan of Microsoft, you don’t have to settle for Windows on your sleek new machine. Speaking of which…
Back to the Mac
If it’s a super thin Windows laptop you’re after, don’t forget the MacBook Air. It’s not an Ultrabook, but it’s what inspired them. You can install Windows on all Apple’s computer, and you don’t need us to tell you how powerful and beautiful this samurai sword of a laptop is. Of course, you’ll have to pay extra for a Windows licence, and it doesn’t have a touchscreen, but what price can you put on looking good?