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Spunky, skinny, sizzling: Meet the Ultrabooks

Last updated on: September 10, 2012 13:58 IST

Spunky, skinny, sizzling: Meet the Ultrabooks

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Priyanka Joshi in Mumbai

If a laptop is priced at Rs 45,000 and onwards, does that price tag make it is extra special? Yes and No. 'Yes', there will be fewer takers for such models. 'No', that does not confirm performance superiority.

The price and Intel's Ultrabook branding though always guarantees a machine that will be packaged in a slim metal case that's mostly uni-body design (like Apple Macbook Air), will definitely deliver a better battery performance than the cheaper laptops and will be almost half the weight of the average laptop model. The display screens are stunning, and these Ultrabook models take under 10 seconds to boot.

Now that the Ultrabooks have been in market for about an year, they have managed to scale down on prices and add several models across price points bringing customer some choice. Here's the latest in the market.


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Photographs: Reuters

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Spunky, skinny, sizzling: Meet the Ultrabooks

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Sony Vaio T13
Price: Rs 45,990 onwards

Sony is the last major manufacturer to hit the market with an Ultrabook model. Sony Vaio T13 makes a good first impression. The aluminum surface renders a very high-end and elegant look. 17.8mm thick and weighing 1.6 kg, the Sony Vaio T13 is not the skinniest model.

The thickness also allows it to offer a generous selection of ports that include an Ethernet jack, VGA port, HDMI out and a full-size SD card slot on board, not to mention a USB 2.0 and a USB 3.0 connection.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Sony
Tags: Sony Vaio , HDMI , VGA , T13 , USB

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Spunky, skinny, sizzling: Meet the Ultrabooks

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Powering the T13 is the Intel Core i3 processor dual-core processor clocked at 1.4GHz, with Intel HD 3000 integrated graphics and 4GB of RAM.

Running the Windows 7 Home Premium Edition (with the option of upgrading to Win 7 Professional for an extra cost), the Sony Vaio T13 promises quick response from sleep mode, thanks to the hybrid storage system made up of a 320GB HDD and a 32GB SSD.

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Spunky, skinny, sizzling: Meet the Ultrabooks

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There is a standard SSD option too, which will give you some extra hours of battery -- nine as opposed to seven. The T13's 13.3 inch screen with a resolution of 1366x768 pixel LED display does not offer the best viewing angles and needs to be tilted to avoid washed-out images. As a result, it gives a hard time outdoors. In addition to low contrast and brightness, the screen's glossy surface affects the visibility.

A few users might be wowed by the built-in VAIO gesture control that enables navigation between songs, images and Web pages on Windows Media Player, Media Gallery and Internet Explorer with a wave of hand to the left or right in front of the webcam. Apps like MS Office, light to moderate Photoshop work and social networking work smoothly, thanks to the SSD.

Bottom line: The offered price tag undercuts a lot of Ultrabooks in market today and that could well be Sony's trump card.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Sony
Tags: SSD , VAIO , MS Office , LED

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Spunky, skinny, sizzling: Meet the Ultrabooks

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Lenovo IdeaPad U410
Price: Rs 52,990 onwards

In looks, the Lenovo IdeaPad U410 would get top marks. Featuring a 14-inch screen, IdeaPad U410 comes in a ruby red aluminum chassis, and stands out. 21mm at its widest point and slightly heavier at 1.85 kg, it will feel more like a high-end notebook.

The connectivity offered: two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, microphone/headphone combo jack, SD card reader and HDMI. The VGA port has been omitted and could be a drawback.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Lenovo
Tags: U410 , HDMI , VGA , USB

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Spunky, skinny, sizzling: Meet the Ultrabooks

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IdeaPad U410 does not disappoint with performance, thanks to its 1.7-GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 500GB HDD with a 32GB SSD cache. Windows 7 Home Premium boots in 20 seconds.

Lenovo has added Nvidia GeForce 610M graphics, which is put into action when serious graphics acceleration is needed. The speakers do not enable bass rendering, but they do a good job.

It's hard to ignore how Lenovo tries to replicate the feel of the Apple Macbook's touchpads.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Lenovo

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Spunky, skinny, sizzling: Meet the Ultrabooks

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Though the display is slightly bigger, the resolution is still the 1366x768 pixels and viewing angles are decent, but the surface is shiny, so reflections can distort viewing outdoors. Battery can be pushed to six hours.

Lenovo packages the IdeaPad U410 with a few apps and utilities of its own. Lenovo One Key Recovery is a quick, painless way to backup and recover system files. Third-party software includes Adobe Reader X, Google Chrome, Oovoo, Microsoft Office Starter and Windows Live. There's also a 60-day free trial of McAfee AntiVirus Plus software and a 90-day free trial of Absolute Data Protect.

Bottom line: IdeaPad U410 is not the slimmest of Ultrabooks. It does have the spunk (read colour) that sets it apart and makes it worthy of being an everyday companion.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Lenovo

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Spunky, skinny, sizzling: Meet the Ultrabooks

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Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook
Price: Rs 80,943

It's inspiring to see the burgeoning ultrabook market take flight and Dell's efforts to set itself apart.

Dell's 13-inch edge-to-edge Gorilla Glass strapped LCD display comes as one of the nicer screens out there among slim laptops. The display sports a glossy black screen that runs all the way to the screen's edge, giving it the impression of having no bezel.

A machined anodised aluminum top cover feels great, won't slip out of your hands and doesn't pick up fingerprints like other glossy top finishes. It measures 6 mm at the thinnest point, rising up 18 mm and weighs 1.4 kg.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Dell

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Dell powers the XPS 13 with an Intel i5 low voltage processor, 4GB of memory and a 128GB SSD (other configurations which substitute the i5 with a i7 processor and the SSD for a 256GB unit available at extra cost).

The hard drive has been replaced by a 256GB solid state drive. There's also Intel HD Graphics 3000 and Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. It's okay to use this ultrabook for some casual video watching (including in full HD) and some minor photo editing, but anything beyond this will have the XPS 13 struggling.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Dell
Tags: SSD , Intel , XPS

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What we also miss on XPS is a healthy helping of USB ports -- XPS 13 has one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0 port. There is also an HDMI port to link the XPS to a bigger screen such as a projector or HDTV. Up to 7-8 hours of battery can be juiced on a single recharge.

Intel XPS 13 comes with Smart Connect feature that enables the notebook to remain connected to the web even in sleep mode. So, you get emails or Twitter updates even when it is closed, though this will drain battery quicker. Dell has kept the pre-installed software at a minimum. A trial of McAfee Security Center, Microsoft Office 2010 Starter and Skype are loaded.

Bottom line: A premium design, hardware that performs well even when put under a bit of pressure, and topped by a backlit keyboard make Dell XPS 13 a compelling Ultrabook.


Photographs: Courtesy, Dell

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