Who needs a DVD or Blu-ray writer when you can put your laptop in an envelope? Ultraportables have become incredibly popular, thanks in part to the MacBook Air and Intel's $300 million marketing fund for developing Ultrabooks.

While ultraportables don't have any specific requirements other than being thin and light, a manufacturer has to follow a defined specification to be able to use Intel's Ultrabook brand. This is based on the particular Intel chips being used and has become quite restrictive.

Some of the requirements, for instance, for a 14-inch Ultrabook using the new Haswell processors are that it's 23mm thick or less, has a touchscreen and can hit six hours of HD video playback. What this means is that the Ultrabook trademark offers a certain level of quality and performance, but it doesn't necessarily guarantee that you're buying the best ultraportable, so lets have a look at some good ones.

15. Samsung Series 7 Ultra


Samsung Series 7 Ultra

The slim and sharp exterior of the Samsung Series 7 Ultra screams quality, and that's echoed in the premium internals as well. The Ultra is powered by a Core i5, which is to be welcomed, but one of its standout features is the AMD Radeon HD 8500M graphics chip, which gives the Samsung some real graphical clout, while aiding the Full HD display in providing a pin-sharp viewing experience.

The overall package is pulled down slightly by its weight. At 1.6kg it's not as portable as others in its price range, and the small 128GB SSD isn't enough if you intend this to be your main computer.

The whole Series 7 Ultra experience is stylish and the performance is nippy nonetheless. If a quality screen is a priority and you need a little more graphical punch from your portable this is worth a spin.

16. Dell XPS 13


Dell XPS 13

The XPS 13 is Dell's answer to the MacBook Air, but has a more compact rather than thinner and lighter design than its rival.

Due to it's Core i7 processors, decent amount of memory and SSD storage, the XPS 13 will handle whatever tasks you wish to throw at it outside of power gaming, but for not as long as we'd hoped. The battery lasts for around four hours, which isn't even half as long as the battery on the MacBook Air.

If you're after a 1080p viewing experience on a portable this is a crowd-pleaser too - it's 1,920 x 1080 touchscreen is fantastically sharp. But there are few caveats, most notably the lack of an SD card reader. But all told, this is a capable and desirable, luxury laptop that will turn heads in your local coffee shop.

17. 13-inch MacBook Air


13in Macbook Air

This is the sixth generation of the MacBook Air, and although its regal position in the ultraportable world may not be on the wane yet, it did take a few tiny missteps this time.

Apple's decision to pony up for the latest gen, Haswell processor isn't one of them, although opting for the lesser Core i5 is. We would have preferred the faster Core i7, especially at this price, and the performance results aren't better across the board, as they should be, because of it. We note that the Core i5 chip does offer better integrated Intel HD Graphics than the previous MacBook Air though, offering a 40% boost to graphics performance.

But it's the battery life that astounds - 10 hours of movie playback and 12 in general use - incredible results. And we mustn't fail to mention the Wi-Fi support for the ac standard.

The 13-inch MacBook Air is still working its winning ways. It's still an oh-so very light and portable laptop with a responsive multi-touch trackpad and backlit keyboard, and everyone will love its staying power on a single charge.

18. Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus


Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus

The 13.3-inch ATIV Book 9 is on the business end of Samsung's Ultrabooks, which means performance and staying power are a crucial part of its sell. Fortunately, as well as being highly portable it also manages a solid nine hours of battery life.

That's quite a remarkable feature in its own right but when married with it's near-silent operation and a screen that has a native resolution of 3,200 x 1,800, it becomes an astonishing spec. Unfortunately, as our reviewer noted it's not entirely practical. The default desktop icons were tiny at this resolution. Note this should be resolved in Windows 8.1 as the DPI is automatically set and icons will look their normal size. As our reviewer noted though, it's likely you'll drop the screen down to 1080p, especially as this is the norm for watching films. This means that unless you particularly like the fact that the chassis can be laid flat for some tabletop touchscreen brainstorming with colleagues, the screen's full resolution becomes more of a bragging point.

We found the overall look and feel of the ATIV to be excellent, particularly the touchscreen and multi-touch trackpad, and it has all the connectivity you'll need for business purposes, including Ethernet.

19. MacBook Pro 15-inch


15in Macbook Pro

The Pro edition means, of course, a Retina display. That's a native resolution of 2,880 x 1,800, and while the basic form of the MacBook Pro is unchanged, there's been a lot removed and upgraded internally.

As with the MacBook Air, the Pro has moved to a Haswell processor for the added battery performance. The optical drive has also been dropped completely and the hard drive has been switched for an SSD. These changes amount to Apple being able to shave the laptop down to a thickness of 18mm in pursuit of even greater sleekness. FireWire has also been replaced by two much faster Thunderbolt ports.

As you might expect, the main gripe with the MacBook Pro, even with the most fantastic of screens, is the price. This is especially noticeable when compared with its own lesser siblings. But for professionals, such as graphic designers and video editors. it's still an excellent solution and the battery life is even better than before.

20. Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga


Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga

The Yoga series from Lenovo are capable and stylish hybrids, but in this setting they can also be accomplished business ultrabooks too.

Snappy performance is guaranteed with a Core i3 (Haswell) processor, 4GB of RAM and an SDD (albeit a small one at 128GB). The ThinkPad Yoga will have no trouble dealing with complicated spreadsheets or the kind of productivity tasks required at work.

And while it's versatility may not be necessary for some business settings, the fact it has a sturdy hinge means you can flip it over into a tablet when needed or just stand it up for useful reference during a meeting.

Where the Yoga's performance gets all bent of shape is in its battery life, which amounts to only 3 hours. Some of that result is likely sucked away by the Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) 12.5-inch touchscreen. The storage is a little sparse too, most business users will need more than 128GB of SSD for all their presentations, docs and spreadsheets.

The ThinkPad Yoga maybe a step too far removed from the original business-class ThinkPads, but its stylish and could do well, particularly as a commuting sidekick.