The Ultrabook market is booming at the moment with super svelte, super portable and, crucially, super powerful notebooks that make computing on the go easier than ever. Apple kicked off the slimline revolution when it unveiled the first ridiculously skinny MacBook Air back in 2010 and now, thanks to a substantial investment and an aggressive marketing campaign from Intel, we now have mega-thin Windows stunners filling the shelves at PC superstores as well.
Intel's guidelines state that Ultrabooks need to be "ultra-sleek" and "ultra-responsive". More specifically, this equates to a maximum thickness of 18mm for 13.3-inch laptops, or 21mm for 14 inches or larger, a minimum battery life of five hours, low-voltage Intel Core processors packed inside and boot times from sleep or hibernation of less than seven seconds, thanks to super-speedy SSD storage options.
The result is a bunch of ultraportable laptops, from all the major players, that make even some tablets look chunky. At the tail end of last year the first wave of Ultrabooks arrived from the likes of Acer, Asus, Dell and HP and, since the third-generation Intel Core CPU platform (codenamed Ivy Bridge) landed in May 2012, the likes of Sony have come to the party and we've seen a tidal wave of ultra-lean innovation from all the major players.
In no particular order, here are our ten favourites from the Ultrabook brigade…
10/ Samsung Series 5 530U4B
An oldie, but a goodie – the Series 5 is still the only official Samsung Ultrabook to date. Released at the end of last year, Samsung's effort lacks the third generation Intel Core power of some of its rivals, but makes up for slightly outdated hardware by offering a slick design, a generous amount of storage and, crucially – an attractive price point.
So, if you're looking to kit your workforce out with nice-looking, decent performing portable laptops without giving your accountant a coronary, the Samsung Series 5 could be the answer - especially as it's recently seen its price tag slashed to around £530 after the £100 cashback.
Available in two screen sizes; 13.3-inch and 14-inch, the Series 5 packs a mid-level, second generation, Intel Core i5-2467M processor. The larger model comes with an optical drive and has a hard disk upgradeable to 1TB of storage space; 500GB is standard.
Ultrabooks rely on solid-state drives (SSD) for their rapid boot up times and, as such, Samsung has fitted the Series 5 with a small 16GB SSD, which is dedicated solely to booting the Windows OS. The inclusion of a HDD as well does mean that the Series 5 is slightly chunkier than some of its rivals, however. It's 20mm thick but it does boast a slick looking sloping, blade-like appearance and weighs a respectable 1.5kg.
9/ Novatech nFinity 2367 Plus
Another old timer, from the first wave of the Ultrabook revolution, this effort from British company Novatech is the cheapest way of tooling your team up with slimline Ultrabooks.
The base model, boasting a Sandy Bridge i3-2367M CPU, 4GB of DDR3 RAM and a 128GB SSD can be yours for less than £400. There's no operating system installed on this super-cheap setup but, with Windows 8 on the horizon – and Microsoft offering some fantastic small business deals – this is not necessarily a bad thing.
There is a downside to this great value, however. The nFinity's build quality isn't great with the all-black appearance being extremely minimalist; or in other words - boring.
The 2367 Plus is plenty usable though although the keyboard and trackpad are no better than what you might find on an average netbook. You do get some extra keys though, such as Home, End and PgUp/PgDn: which come in handy for quick document editing.