Ultrabooks and 2-in-1 convertible laptops are all rage at the moment. As businesses look to upgrade their desktops, many are considering ultra-thin laptops or notebooks with a detachable keyboard.
They not only offer a more versatile approach to productivity but they also look great, perform almost as well as comparable desktop machine and do not cost as much as they used to.
That particular segment has matured over the past six years and Microsoft's latest OS, Windows 10, delivers a wealth of functionalities (like Hello) that augment the platform's capabilities.
While mainstream laptops have quietly lost weight and thickness over the past few years, one needs to bear in mind that, to qualify as an Ultrabook, a laptop needs to be thin (20mm or less for devices with a 13.3-inch display) and light.
Most importantly, they must run on a qualified Intel processor (usually Core i5 or Core i7 or Core M) and a solid state drive.
That hasn't prevented some well-known vendors to bend the definition of Ultrabooks and we've seen some even using the term for devices with a Celeron or Pentium chip.
The truth though is that most laptops on the market would fall in the Ultrabook category as the entire laptop market has gravitated towards these specifics.
In no particular order, here are our ten favourites from the Ultrabook brigade, as compiled by Techradar Pro (note, Apple hasn't been included as MacBook's aren't Ultrabooks).
1. Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 260
Lenovo blended the DNA of its award winning ThinkPad family with that of its Yoga range to create the ThinkPad Yoga 260. A business ultrabook, from the biggest computer maker, that can transform into a tablet (with a tent and a stand mode) by simply flipping the display.
Its engineers have somehow managed to squeeze a lot of components inside a small frame. The convertible offers a 12.5-inch display, up to a Core i7 CPU, up to 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD, a fingerprint reader, a pen (the ThinkPad Pen Pro) and even NFC. Options include a smart card reader, the OneLink docking station but, sadly, not a bigger battery.
2. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
For those looking for a purer experience, there's the Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Carbon, already in its fourth generation. At just 1.18Kg, it is one of the lightest laptops with a 14-inch display and yet it still manages to pack far more than you'd expect for a device of this size.
As its name implies, its chassis is made with carbon fibre and Lenovo performed nearly a dozen military-grade tests to validate its toughness. As expected, you get all the bells and whistles associated with a top of the range business laptop: the integrated fingerprint reader, vPro technology, WiGig connectivity, a battery life of up to 11 hours and a three-year onsite warranty by default.
3. Dell XPS 12 Laptop
With the XPS 12, Dell tried something different. Rather than relying on a kickstand of a magnetic keyboard, this 2-in-1 packs a rigid keyboard base that offers a tactile typing experience similar to what you'd expect from a business laptop (the keys have a 1.9mm travel).
This 12.5-inch laptop has a magnesium alloy unibody construction and hardware options include a Core M7, up to 8GB of RAM, 512GB SSD and a 4K resolution which Dell seems to think, will not impact negatively on its battery life (up to 10 hours).
Surprisingly, in a move similar to Apple's new MacBook, Dell opted for Thunderbolt 3 technology. But at least there's two of them and you can use them as DisplayPort.
4. Dell Latitude 7370
Take the award winning XPS 13 laptop, hardened it for business use and add a three-year next business day on-site service to it and you get the Dell Latitude 7370.
Dell claims that it is the world's smallest 13-inch business-class laptop and like the XPS 13, has an InfinityEdge display. Despite its tiny footprint, there's plenty of expansion capabilities (via M.2 slots) and the four ports (including two Thunderbolt 3 ones) will allow it to cater for most scenarios.
It has undergone extensive military-grade MIL-STD 810G testing to ensure that it can withstand real-world conditions while delivering the sort of performance expected from a laptop equipped with a sixth-generation Core M processors.
5. HP EliteBook Folio G1
At just under 1Kg, this is the lightest business-grade laptop (and Ultrabook) currently available in the UK and somehow, it does manage to pack some great features while keeping it slim, with a polished diamond-cut CNC aluminium body and a 180-degree unique piano hinge to lay completely flat.
Despite its size, it still sports two Thunderbolt 3 connectors and an audio I/O. Top all this up with TPM security solution, a backlit keyboard and a three-year warranty and you get a business laptop that scores highly on any leaderboard.
6. HP Spectre Pro x360 G2
The Spectre Pro builds on the consumer-grade Spectre 360, adding vPro technology, TPM 2.0 and adherence to MIL-810G standards. What hasn't changed is the device's ability to convert to a tablet and back, within seconds.
It's heavier and thicker than most of the devices in this list but make up for that by offering a bigger-than-average 56Whr battery, a plethora of ports (including three USB 3.0 ports) and a bigger screen plus a full size keyboard.
For the rest, expect the latest Intel processors, an all-aluminium chassis and a larger-than-average touchpad.
7. Asus ZenBook Pro UX501VW
- Buy it from £1038.99 at Ebuyer
Asus new powerhouse lies at the edge of what can be considered as an Ultrabook. At just over 21mm thick and weighing just over 2.2Kg, it more than twice as heavy as HP's much smaller EliteBook Folio Ultrabook.
But this is not your standard Ultrabook. Its larger-than-average 15.6-inch 4K monitor is powered by an Nvidia GTX 960M GPU. Yes, a discrete graphics chip powerful enough to play recent games (or power a couple of 4K monitors) in a form factor small enough to be easily carried around.
But that's not all: there's also a real, quad-core Core i7 to help tackle resource hungry tasks plus a 96Whr battery, the biggest we've ever seen on a laptop on this size, means that you won't find yourself stranded within hours.
8. Toshiba Portege Z30-C
Toshiba impressed us with its original Ultrabooks and the Z930, the forefather of the Z30, was on our original guide and only serves to highlight the Japanese giant's commitment to the form factor.
The Toshiba Z30 sticks to the same design guidelines and connections of the original Z830 – but the spec sheet has been given a heck of a revamp.
Measuring at 18mm thick, Toshiba's most advanced Ultrabook is incredibly light at just 1.2kg with the company claiming that the laptop can last up to 14 hours.
Despite its svelteness, this is a laptop whose memory you can actually upgrade (up to 16GB) and yes, it has far more ports that you'd expect (three USB 3.0 for example) with a couple you wouldn't (LAN and VGA).
9. Toshiba Portege Z20T-C
Toshiba's 2-in-1 device competes with the Dell XPS 12 but is less adventurous when it comes to port compromises. Like its rival, it has a detachable, backlit keyboard and a Core M processor however, it trumps it when it comes to connectors.
There's a micro-HDMI and a full size HDMI port, an audio jack, VGA, LAN and three USB ports (including a USB Type C model). Oh and there's even TPM 2.0 and 4G connectivity.
The tablet weighs in at 730g and adding the keyboard doubles it to 1.51Kg. As for battery life, it stands at 9hr30 minutes for the tablet alone and double that if you dock it.
10. Fujitsu LifeBook S936
The S936 is surprisingly similar to the Z30 above as they both sport similar feature sets. Both have expandable memory (up to 20GB for this model), great expansion capabilities (including a modular bay option), optional 3G/4G and a staggering array of ports including, you guessed it, three USB 3.0 and a LAN one.
Unique amongst its peers are the device's palm vein sensor option and the integrated Smartcard reader.
Its 77Whr battery can power it up for a whopping 15 hours and you can add a second battery to push that up to 21 hours (that's more than two working days in the UK). At less than 1.2Kg for the non-touch display model, it is a relative lightweight give what it offers.
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