Update: Hot on the heels of our top rated five star review of the Dell XPS 13, this amazing piece of laptop design has joined our short list of the Best Ultrabooks
Computers are a part of our everyday lives, but most of us don't actually need the amount of processing power available to us in large, hefty desktops or laptops. The idea of the Ultrabook is to make laptops a bit more convenient, but powerful enough for most tasks.
The term "Ultrabook" is actually pure marketing, dreamt up by Intel for a new generation of portable PCs featuring its technology. The best way to think of an Ultrabook is a 13-inch MacBook Air that isn't made by Apple, a netbook that isn't underpowered or a laptop that's been on a crash diet.
The term Ultrabook was coined by Intel, and it specifies laptops with particular specifications, separating them from other ultraportable laptops. They all have Intel Core i3, Core i5 or Core i7 processors, fast SSD storage to some degree, and now USB 3.0 connectivity, for speedy file transfers.
Ultrabooks are made with design in mind, so they tend to start from around $999 (around £584, AU$1,064) in the lower end, going to nearly $2,000 (around £1,169, AU$2,131) at the very high end. Ultimately, you're likely to spend between $899 and $1,500 for a newer model, though you can get some older models for good prices. Below are our five favorite Ultrabooks at the moment, based on our comprehensive reviews.
Dell XPS 13
We thought the Dell XPS 13 from 2014 was already a brilliantly thin and light 13 inch machine, but this year the company has really pulled all the stops with the 2015 model. The new Dell XPS 13 is a 13.3-inch notebook, but it has the small footprint of an 11-inch machine.
Fortunately for us, the XPS 13 isn't all beauty and no brains. This laptop features the horsepower to make work and play enjoyable, and it has just enough battery life to never leave you in a lurch. Regardless of whether you choose to upgrade to the touchscreen quad HD+ version, or if you stand pat with the full HD model, the Dell XPS 13 will provide you with a delightful experience for years to come.
- Read our Dell XPS 13 review
Asus ZenBook UX305
While the Asus UX305 does not necessarily break any new ground in the Ultrabook scene, it's a nearly flawless device, for an extremely affordable price and that in itself is worth high praise.
The ZenBook UX305 is a superbly-built, fully metal machine that's thin, light and very attractive. This lightweight system' also easily handled all my daily tasks whether I was browsing the web, watching video or editing images. What's more, you can get excellent battery life out of the machine considering its 1080p display.
Of course, the most striking thing about the UX305 is that it comes at a $699 or £649 (about AU$902) price. This is a great price for any mobile computing machine, but in this case you're getting a premium, full-metal Ultrabook with an excellent full HD display and a 256GB SSD to boot. While isnt' exactly a shining symbol of innovation in the Ultrabook space, it is the most affordable Ultrabook out today and it won't disappoint you.
- Read our Asus ZenBook UX305 review
Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro
If you're all about style and don't need a super powerful machine, it doesn't get much better than Lenovo's latest flagship Ultrabook. While it may not be as punchy as its predecessor (thanks in part to its low-power, fanless Intel Core M chip), it can still manage all of the usual tasks you would throw at it.
And given its new metallic hinge and super thin design, the Yoga 3 Pro makes a better case than ever for its multitudes of usage modes. At any rate, this is one of the thinnest, lightest and sharpest Windows laptops to date. And while you'll certainly pay for it, the price for such panache will be worth it for style nuts.
- Read our Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro review