1. Acer Aspire S7
While I'm torn on the utility of such a sharp display in 2014 on the Acer Aspire S7, it's purpose is clear. This 2560 x 1440 panel is prepared for the day when hyper-HD content is finally viable to watch over wireless internet. In the now, text looks gorgeous, as do images – thus adding to the near-future feel of this device.
The build quality on display here, from the Aspire S7's aluminum and Gorilla Glass frame is palpable. That goes for the snappy keyboard, with its fancy electroluminescent lighting, too. And that the Aspire S7 never gets uncomfortably hot is a major plus. Frequent travelers and bathroom laptop users (you know who you are) need not worry about scorching their laps here.
The Aspire S7 truly feels like a machine built for the now, 2014, and one that you won't mind using well into 2016, possibly longer. So love the Aspire S7 for its cutting edge build, fine typing experience and premium specs.
- Read our Acer Aspire S7 review
2. Samsung Series 9
The Series 9 isn't a cheap laptop though, and has the specs you'd expect from a premium machine. It used to be the case that ultraportable laptops were somewhat underpowered, but thanks to processors that use less power but offer higher performance, this is no longer an issue.
Despite some issues, we believe the Series 9 is a good buy, if not a truly excellent one. You won't walk out of the shop feeling like you've been ripped off, but you certainly won't feel like you've got the steal of the century, either.
- Read our Samsung Series 9 review
3. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
The ThinkPad X1 Carbon does a fantastic job of straddling the line between function and form. An improvement on the previous X1 Carbon in every way, it's the details that might turn veterans away and lure in new fans.
Those with a penchant for aesthetics, here's a brand new design with some fantastic new features. And to keep the no-nonsense business user happy, this is a plenty powerful piece of hardware.
The connectivity on offer through this Ultrabook's super slim design profile alone is impressive. And the adaptive keys, while divisive, add a ton of function in a limited amount of space and an attractive presentation. Look out, MacBook Pro, you're no longer the only thin and light business option on the block.
- Read our updated Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon review
4. Dell XPS 13
The Dell XPS 13 is a pleasure to look at, and at first glance it's hard to see the differences between it and an Apple Macbook. Thanks to the latest components, this Ultrabook will handle pretty much anything you can throw at it.
Dell has finally added wonderful FHD touchscreens to the XPS 13 line, in addition to slightly larger batteries and 802.11ac networking. However, there's still no SD card slot available on this model, and the battery life we witnessed wasn't all that great for a Haswell machine.
Photography buffs and frequent travelers might want to take heed. Regardless, the Dell XPS 13 is still one of the best laptops you can buy, offering top performance, excellent build quality and superior usability.
- Read our Dell XPS 13 review
5. Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus
Samsung makes great Ultrabooks (obviously, since there are quite a few Sammies on this list) and the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus is one of them. Albeit a bit on the pricey side, it's to be expected from the premium 13.3-incher.
The biggest talking point with the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus has to be its screen - it's a thing of beauty, with perfect viewing angles at 3200 x 1800 pixels, coined by Samsung as QHD+. That puts the resolution firmly into 4K territory (3840 x 2160) and it helps to elevate an already impressive screen into something we've not seen before.
Underneath that slender aluminium chassis is a splendid selection of components, including a Core i5 4200 running at 1.6GHz, which can happily throttle to 2.6GHz for a temporary burst of speed. There's also 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD.
- Read our Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus review