Do you need to Lap Up an Ultra Laptop?

If you are looking for an Ultra Laptop where do you start?

Do you chose on the basis of looks, power, size, weight, brand, operating system or screen size?

Well its probably a combination of all of these and more technical features to boot.

I think the first thing to do is to priortise which features are most important to you and what you want to use the laptop for.  If you are a power user or a gamer then a full specified machine will be important.  If you are travelling a lot, then weight is critical.  If you are doing lots of spreadsheet work then (believe me) screen size is critical.

Here are some suggestions to wet your appetite and to help you start sorting the wheat from the proverbial chaff.  You can find out much more about the machines by following the links to the Amazon page.

Full disclosure: These links are Affiliate links to Amazon.  If you click on them an buy something, I will be financially rewarded by Amazon.  You can of course go directly to Amazon and search if you prefer.  If you do make a purchase, please let me know so that I can personally thank you for supporting my site.

Operating Systems

I am an avowed Mac fan but the Microsoft platform has been making great improvements in recent years and Windows 8 is eagerly awaited.

Apple Laptops

Apple 13-inch MacBook Air (Intel Dual Core i5 1.8GHz, 4GB RAM, 256GB Flash Memory, HD Graphics 4000, OS X Lion)

In this review I will focus on the ultra portable MacBook Air which was first introduced in 2008 and created the market for ultra thin laptops.

Despite having no CD or DVD drive and solid state memory rather than a hard disk it was an immediate hit.

The latest versions have 256GB of SSD (Solid State Drive), 4GB of RAM (Random Access Memory) and two USB sockets.

The Keyboard, as with all Macs, is excellent and the quality of the finish second to none.  Battery life is around 7 hours and it takes around 13 seconds to boot up which compares well to other operating systems.  This comes with OS X Lion but is easily upgradeable to Mountain Lion if desired.

Windows Laptops

Sony Vaio SVT1311X9E 13.3-inch Ultrabook (Silver) (Intel Core i5 3317M 1.7GHz, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD, LAN, WLAN, BT, Webcam, Integrated Graphics, Windows 7 Professional 64-Bit)


This is a similar ultra laptop to the Apple but has half the SSD storage and a single core i5 chip compared to the Apple’s dual core.

That aside it is tough and attractive.  The keyboard is well laid out and the screen is good, albeit a little glossy.

This machine comes with Windows 7 but will be upgradeable to Windows 8 in due course.  The manufacturer claims up to 7 hours battery life but this, as with all Laptops, depend on how you look after your battery.


Acer Aspire S5-391 13.3-inch Ultrabook (Intel Core i7 3617U 1.9GHz, 4GB RAM, 256GB SSD, LAN, WLAN, BT, Webcam, Integrated Graphics, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit)

This is one of the most slim (11mm) and lightest machines on the market (1.2kg) so if you do a lot of travelling this could be the machine for you.

This machine is specified with an Intel i7 chip and comes with 4GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD, like the MacBook Air.

It also comes with a USB3 port and a Thunderbolt port which can transfer data at 20 times the speed of USB.  The manufacturers claim 6.5 hours of battery life.  A powerful little machine with a lot of appeal.
Asus UX31A-R4003V 13.3-inch Zenbook Prime (Intel Core i7 3517U 1.9GHz Processor, 4GB DDR3 RAM, 256GB SSD, Intel HD Graphics, Full HD IPS Display, Ultra-Slim, Windows 7 Home Premium)

This is a power user machine.  The 13.3 inch screen with its matt finish is great to use and it comes fully specified with an i7 chip, 4GB RAM and 256GB SSD.

This new Zenbook measures just 3mm at the front and 9mm at the rear, setting down the gauntlet to its competitors.

The machine has USB 3 connectivity and a battery life in the region of five hours.

As a feature packed machine it is worth of consideration by power users.

Lenovo Ideapad U310 13.3 inch Ultrabook – Aqua (Intel Core i5 3317U 2.6Ghz, 4Gb RAM, 500Gb HDD + 32Gb SSD, LAN, WLAN, BT, Webcam, Integrated Graphics, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit)


This lovely little machine unashamedly competes on price.  While it is difficult for any of these PC brands to compete with the Apple brand,  this machine is about half the price of a MacBook Air.

The machine is well built and although not the lightest of this group at 2.7kg, it has good build quality, an excellent keyboard and is available in blue, pink, silver and graphite.  Pink is sure to be a hit with the girls.

The battery life is around four hours and the cooling vents are on the bottom of the machine.  It is well specified with 500GB hard disk drive, thats half a terabyte to you and me as well as a 32GB solid state drive.

It also has 1 USB 2.0 connector, 2 USB 3.0 connectors as well as an HDMI connector and a SD card reader as well.  The built-in 720p webcam should give you great resolution for your Skype calls.

If your budget is limited, this is certainly worth a look as a value buy.

HP Envy 14″ Spectre Ultrabook 14-3010NR (Intel Core i5-2467M, 4GB DDR3, 128GB mSATA, Windows 7 Premium, Radiance Backlit Keyboard, WiFi, Bluetooth, HD Webcam)

This machine’s name says it all – Envy!

From a design point of view, HP clearly decided to give Apple a run for its money.

The 14 inch screen is also slightly larger the others in this review and that might be important to you.

The Processor is an i5 dual core which is fine but it only has a 128GB SSD and you might want to future proof yourself by going for a larger drive.  At 3.2kg, this is on the heavy side and so may not suit frequent travellers. It has 2 USB ports, a full size HDMI port as well as a mini-display port.  The CD/DVD drive is absent but it has an SD card reader which to many is a better option.

On the whole, I think this is a beautiful machine but on the expensive side.

Let me know if you think these brief reviews are helpful to steer you towards resolving your latest technology conundrum or fulfilling your need for a gadget fix.  Is there an area you would like me to look at  – email me jbdcolley[at]aol[dot]com

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1 thought on “Do you need to Lap Up an Ultra Laptop?”

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