About a year ago, when Ultrabooks were first starting to go on sale, ASUS was one of the first out of the gate with some lightweight, Intel-approved ultraportables. Since then, it’s released a handful of iterations, including redesigned models with improved keyboards and sharper screens. That’s a lot for a 12-month period, but there’s one area where it fell behind: it tended to ignore larger-screened ultraportables, even as its competitors started selling models with 14- and 15-inch screens. That changed today, as the company announced three new Zenbooks, the 14-inch UX42VS and the 15-inch UX52VS and U500VZ, all of which will go on sale next month. Though the company hasn’t issued granular pricing for each possible configuration, we know that prices in the US will range from $699 at the low end all the way up to $2,000.
So what do these have to offer, aside from a larger footprint? For starters, the UX42VS weighs 1.9kg (4.19 pounds) and has a chassis that whittles down to 6mm. It makes room for an optical drive, unlike ASUS’ smaller Zenbooks, and features NVIDIA GT645M graphics with 1GB of dedicated video memory. Like any other ultaportable worth its salt, it will be offered with Core i3, i5 and i7 processors, though this guys steps up to 6GB of RAM and up to 1TB of hybrid hard drive storage.
Moving on, the 15-inch UX525VS (pictured) has a Core i5 or i7 Ultrabook-grade CPU, up to 10GB of memory (!) and up to 1TB in hybrid hard drive storage. The graphics card is the same 645M as on the 14-inch model. As for the U500VZ, it isn’t an Ultrabook at all, as it has a standard-voltage, quad-core Core i7 processor. Other specs include 8GB of memory, a 1080p display and a beefier GT650M GPU, this time with 2GB of video memory. Despite the horsepower, though, it weighs in at a relatively light 2kg (4.4 pounds) and measures 6mm thick. Finally, wrapping things up, ASUS still plans to sell touchscreen versions of its 11- and 13-inch Zenbook Prime Ultrabooks. No word on availability for any of these, but we’ll follow up with more details as they come in.
ASUS TAICHI dual-screen Ultrabook coming in November for $1,300, 13-inch version to follow a month later
Although we’ve now seen many dozens of Windows 8 devices, the ASUS TAICHI remains one of the most memorable — it’s unusual, after all, for a PC maker to make a laptop with displays on both sides of the lid. Even when it was announced, ASUS shared some high-level specs, but now we also know how much it’ll cost, and when it will be available. As leaked the 11-inch version (aka the TAICHI 21) will go on sale next month, starting at $1,299. A lofty price, to be sure, but no one ever said dual 1080p IPS displays would come cheap. At the entry level, you get a Core i5-3317U processor, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. For $1,499, it comes with 256GB of storage. Finally, there will be a $1,599 configuration with a 256GB drive and a Core i7 processor. And what of the 13-inch version ASUS showed off earlier this year? An ASUS rep says the TAICHI 31 won’t ship until December.
Across the board, the TAICHI comes with Intel HD 4000 graphics, two USB 3.0 ports, a 5-megapixel rear camera, a 720p webcam up front, Bluetooth 4.0 and Intel’s Wireless Display technology. Again, the smaller, 11-inch version will ship in November with the 13-inch model following a month later. In the meantime, we’ll direct you to our hands-on from June if you’re hankering for hands-on photos and video
In case you haven’t noticed, Sony just announced pricing for all sorts of touch-friendly Windows 8 products — namely, the VAIO Duo 11, Tap 20 and the E14P multimedia laptop. But not everything in the company’s lineup needs to have a touchscreen. The outfit just announced the VAIO T14, a reasonably priced 14-inch Ultrabook that you’ll have to use the old-fashioned way: with a keyboard and trackpad. So far as we can tell, it’s the same metal-and-plastic industrial design as the existing T13, except now the speakers sit above the keyboard, instead of on the front edge.
As you can imagine, the 14-inch version (pictured above) is a bit thicker and heavier than the 13-inch model (3.77 pounds, up from 3.54), which means the chassis is now wide enough to accommodate an optical drive. What’s slightly disappointing, though, is that while the T14 has a larger footprint, it doesn’t add any additional ports. As with the T13, you get two USB ports (one 3.0, one 2.0), HDMI output, an Ethernet jack, audio-out and a VGA socket. Another USB connection or two would’ve been nice, is all.
In addition to announcing the T14, Sony also revealed that it will start offering the T13 with an optional touchscreen — a $100 upgrade you can add during the configuration process. (Sony’s Japanese and UK divisions already announced a touch-enabled version of the T13, but until now it was unclear whether it would ever go on sale in the US.) As you might have guessed, that touchscreen adds a few ounces to the weight. The upside, though (aside from having a touchscreen, if that’s what you’re into) is that it has a prettier, edge-to-edge glass display — a definite improvement over that standard wide bezel. (Check out the shot after the break to see what we mean.) The T13 will continue to sell for $670 and up, with the touch option becoming available this month. The T14 will also go on sale in the coming weeks starting at at $670.
Back at Computex, Acer announced the Aspire S7 series — the company’s third line of Ultrabooks, and the first of the bunch to sport touchscreens. At the time, we were told they’d go on sale once Windows 8 started shipping and sure enough, Acer just sent out a press release confirming they’ll be available October 26th, the day Win 8 officially launches. Prices will start at $1,200 for the 11-inch model (the S7-191), but you’ll pay either $1,400 or $1,650 for the 13-inch version (S7-391), depending on which configuration you choose.
For those who missed the initial June reveal, the laptops all have 1080p IPS screens and backlit keyboards. The 13-inch model in particular has a display that can lie completely flat. Another key difference: the 11-inch version has an aluminum lid, while the 13-incher’s is fashioned out of Gorilla Glass. Whichever you choose, the S7 comes with a USB to Ethernet adapter, a micro-HDMI to VGA dongle and a carrying case — a first for Acer. They also make use of Acer’s TwinAir cooling technology and are set up to work with AcerCloud, the company’s free online storage service, which you can use with mobile apps on iOS and Android.
CEATEC isn’t exactly the first place you’d expect a new notebook to turn up, but Fujitsu’s booth had a bit of a surprise on the laptop front. The Japanese company had its Lifebook UH75 Ultrabook on display running Windows 8. That OS is the real news here: no other real specs beside the 14-inch screen we already knew about. Fujitsu said this machine will launch alongside its new Arrows Tab sometime in late October or November. Check out our video hands-on below the break.
In case you haven’t noticed, there are two kinds of Windows 8 devices on display at IFA this week: laptop / tablet hybrids, and already-announced laptops, refreshed to include touchscreens. Acer’s newest two Ultrabooks fall into that second category: the company just announced touch-enabled versions of its Aspire M3 Ultrabook and Aspire V5 thin-and-light. For now, Acer isn’t saying a word about price or availability, so for now you’ll have to be content with a few spec details, all embedded after the break.
If you thought laptop / tablet mashups were trendy, we can think of at least one other theme you’re going to see repeated ad nauseam over the coming months: PC makers putting touchscreens on things that didn’t used to have them. That’s right, in addition to all those funky-looking hybrids, you’re going to see lots of familiar-looking laptops get upgraded with touch in time for the Windows 8 launch. Exhibit A: HP, which just announced two conventional notebooks with touch. This includes a finger-friendly version of the 14-inch Envy 4 Ultrabook, as well as the Spectre XT TouchSmart Ultrabook, a 15-inch version of the Spectre XT announced earlier this year. Both will be available during the holiday season. That’s the short version, but if you follow past the break, we’ve got a lot to talk about in the way of specs. Join us, will you?
Starting with that Spectre XT, this is the same aluminum-and-magnesium design introduced on the 13-inch XT, right down to that soft-touch bottom. Aside from being bigger, though, it also steps up to a 1080p IPS touchscreen, making this the first time HP’s used a 1,920 x 1,080 display on one of its Ultrabooks. It’s also relatively thin, at 17.9mm and 4.77 pounds — an impressive feat given that Intel requires Ultrabooks this size to be no thicker than 22mm (and that’s without factoring in touch-enabled machines, which are allowed to be a bit thicker). On the inside, it runs Ivy Bridge processors and can be configured with either solid-starage or a hybrid hard drive paired with a 32GB SSD.
Good things come in pairs, right? Earlier this year Samsung revamped its high-end Series 9 line with two new Ultrabooks: an impressively thin 15-inch model, along with a more portable 13-inch machine. So far this year, we’ve gotten a chance to review the larger version which remains one of our favorite ultraportables ever, thanks to its minimal design, fast performance, lovely display and long battery life.
“So what?” you’re thinking. “Why bother revisiting the miniature version?” For one, friends, Samsung only recently refreshed the Series 9 with third-generation Intel Core processors, and we were eager to make note of any performance gains. More importantly, though, the 13-inch Series 9 faces stiffer competition than its big brother. There truly isn’t another big-screen notebook quite as thin or as light as the 15-inch Series 9; if those are the attributes that matter most, that’s the laptop you’re best off getting. But the smaller Series 9 finds itself fighting for space on retail shelves amidst high-end ultraportables like the MacBook Air, ASUS Zenbook Prime UX31A, the HP Envy Spectre XT and, well, you get the idea. So how does this $1,300 system fare against such worthy opponents? Read on to find out.
Well, look at what we have here! We just swung by Samsung’s booth at Computex, and the outfit is showing off not one, but two touch-enabled variations of its Series 5 Ultrabooks. These include the Ultra Touch, a classic clamshell laptop, along with the Ultra Convertible, whose 13-inch display folds all the way back (not unlike the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga). Both devices are on their way stateside; it’s just not clear when or how much they’ll cost. Until then, we’ve got hands-on preview photos below, along with detailed impressions and a pair of walk-through videos. So join us, won’t you?
Intel already gave us a heads up that several touch-enabled Ultrabooks were in store for 2012, and here they are, becoming real before our eyes. Here at Computex 2012, Acer just announced the Aspire S7 series, which includes a 13.3-inch model and an 11.6-incher, the first in the company’s Ultrabook lineup. The S7 series will no doubt be the first of many touch-enabled Ultrabooks we see in Taipei this week, and these in particular have screens that fold back 180 degrees, allowing the system to lie flat. Unlike the original S3, which caught flack for its chintzy design, these two are made of 12.5mm-thick unibody aluminum and sport backlit keyboards and “full HD” displays, making these the most premium Ultrabooks Acer has attempted so far. In the case of the 13-inch version, too, you’ll get a glass lid — something previously seen only on the HP Envy 14 Spectre.
The FCC gave us a clue that Vizio’s first-ever PCs would be shipping soon, and the company is now spilling a few beans more directly. Although the official statement is still short on many of the details we’ve been hoping to know, Vizio is promising that the line will launch before June is up. As a refresher, the normally home theater-focused company is planning to go all-out despite being the new kid on the block, going with a trio of mid-size laptops as well as two sizes of all-in-one desktops that rely on Magic Trackpad-like input to draw attention. Mum’s the word on whether or not the 10-inch tablet will be part of the June arrivals, although there’s unconfirmed talk that Walmart will carry at least some of the lineup and trigger some jealousy in the 2012 Vizio TVs across the aisle.
It was only a matter of time before ASUS refreshed its line of Ultrabooks with Intel’s new Ivy Bridge chips, but the truth is, the company needed to improve a little more than just the CPU model number. If you recall, the Zenbook UX31 ushered in a modern metal design and unbeatable speed, but our enthusiasm waned after spending a week with the flat keyboard and temperamental touchpad.
Well, friends, it looks like Chairman Jonney Shih and co. were listening: the outfit is about to bring four of its leaked Zenbook Prime laptops to the US. These include the 11-inch UX21A, which you see up there, along with the 13-inch UX31A, UX32A and the UX32VD — essentially, the UX31A with discrete graphics. Though different configurations are bound to vary, they all bring retooled, backlit keyboards, refined trackpads and, of course, Intel’s third-generation Core processors. And while the lower-end UX32A is stuck with 1366 x 768 resolution, every other model — yes, even the tiny UX21A — will be offered with a 1080p IPS display.
First the rumor mill revealed ASUS had plans to refresh Ultrabooks with Ivy Bridge and 1080p IPS displays. Then the company confirmed the news itself when it brought some new Zenbook Prime laptops out for a demo and promised they’d go on sale in ASUS’ native Taiwan. Now we’ve got some splendid news for our readers here in the US: those fresh ultraportables are making their way stateside too… eventually. ASUS just confirmed it’s bringing four models to the states: the 11-inch UX21A, the 13-inch UX31A / UX32A and the UX32VD. What’s the difference between the UX31A and the UX32A, you ask? It all comes down to storage: the UX32A uses hybrid hard drives, while the UX31A packs an SSD. Meanwhile, the UX32VD is nearly identical to the UX31A except that it packs an NVIDIA GT 620M GPU.
As rumored, the lineup includes Core i5 and i7 Ivy Bridge processors, with 1920 x 1080 IPS displays offered even on the 11-incher. (If you don’t need that kind of pixel density, 1366 x 768 displays will be available as well.) Another thing they all have in common: ASUS has tweaked the touchpad and re-tooled the keyboard, making the pitch 12 percent deeper. Also, the keys are now backlit, for what that’s worth.
Acer has announced a new range of ultrabooks, the Acer Aspire M5 range which features 14 inch and 15 inch models, and both ultrabooks will come with Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge processors and NVIDIA graphics.
Acer hasn’t released details on which models of Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors will be available, both ultrabooks will come with NVIDIA GT 640M graphics with 1GB of RAM.
The 14 inch and 15 inch M5 ultrabooks will feature the same display resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels and there will be a choice of a range of hard drives and solid state drives.
The Acer Aspire M5 series ultrabooks will go on sale next month, there are no details on pricing or availability as yet, as soon as we get some more information we will let you guys know.
Just in case you thought NEC was done with its PC updates this week, the Japanese PC builder has thrown its hat into the Ultrabook ring with a unique contribution of its own. The LaVie Z has a 13.3-inch screen like your garden variety ultralight, but it weighs just 2.2 pounds through a new lithium-magnesium alloy shell about half the weight of the aluminum that some companies love to use. Unfortunately, that weight and the slim frame are about all we know so far: NEC isn’t providing any internal specifications, possibly because it’s waiting on Ultrabook-ready Ivy Bridge chips. Even so, if you’re hanging around Japan and want the lightest possible laptop you can get at a 13-inch screen size, the wait until the planned summer release will feel like an eternity.
We actually have one more EliteBook to introduce, and this time it’s an Ultrabook. The EliteBook Folio 9470m is ready to sidle up next to the Folio 13, HP’s first business-grade Ultrabook, as a higher-end option. The 14-inch Folio is thin and light, starting at 3.6 pounds, but the 0.75-inch chassis makes room for an impressive collection of ports, including USB 3.0, Ethernet, DisplayPort and VGA. Since this Ivy Bridge laptop is balancing its Ultrabook identity with a business classification, it features an embedded TPM security chip, a smart card reader, security lock slot, full volume encryption and a security screw. Pricing starts at $1,149, and HP will begin shipping in October. Skip past the break for the presser, and check out our hands-on gallery below.
What’s that? You’re hungry for more HP laptops? Good! Because we’re not nearly done yet! The company just expanded its line of Ultrabooks from two to five, and that’s not even counting this guy. And, the company also plans to sell so-called Sleekbooks — essentially, thin-and-light laptops that don’t quite meet Intel’s criteria for Ultrabooks. So what goodies to we have in store? First up, there’s the 13.3-inch Envy Spectre XT, whose all-metal body looks nothing like the glass-class clad Envy 14 Spectre we reviewed earlier this year. As with its big brother, the major selling point here is design — in this case, a 3.07-pound machine with a 14.5mm-thick profile. As for specs, you can expect an Ivy Bridge CPU, paired with a 128GB SSD and a battery rated for eight hours of runtime. Like the other Ultrabooks in HP’s stable, it makes room for a USB 3.0 port, HDMI and an Ethernet jack, and similar to other Envys it comes with full copies of Adobe Premiere Elements and Photoshop Elements, along with a two-year subscription to Norton Internet Security. We’re told the warranty on this Envy is one year, not two, but users owners do get a dedicated customer support line, for what that’s worth.
According to the guys over at The Verge, the next range of ultrabooks from Asus will come with full HD 1080p displays, with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels.
As well as the full HD IPS displays, there will also be versions available with 1600 x 900 pixels and 1366 x 768 pixels, and all models will come with Intel’s new Ivy Bridge processors.
There will be versions available with Intel’s Core, i3, Core i5 and Core i7 processors, and Asus will offer the full HD displays on their 11.6 inch and 13.3 inch ultrabooks.
Other options will include up to 4GB of RAM and up to 512GB of solid state disk storage (SSD), there are no details as yet on when Asus will launch these new ultrabooks.
You don’t have to be a marketing skeptic to agree that “Ultrabook” is a somewhat hyperbolic term for a class of devices designed a little thinner, a little lighter and maybe a little quicker than those notebooks that have come before. From a pure hardware standpoint there’s nothing particularly “ultra” about them when compared to a standard Wintel lappytop, but manufacturers are, thankfully, using this as an opportunity to raise their game on another front that’s becoming increasingly important in the world of portable computing: aesthetics.
Compared to clunky laptops of yore, many Ultrabooks mark a truly massive step forward when it comes to purity of design and Dell is showing some impressive chops with the new XPS 13. But, when you’re buckled in to coach class and it’s time to get to work, looks are less important than having a solid laptop that performs. Does the new XPS have the brawn to match its beauty? Let’s find out.
We knew CES would bring a slew of Ultrabooks, but who could have predicted 2012 would be the year of the franken-gadget? So far this week, we’ve seen Lenovo’s IdeaPad Yoga, two hybrids from Gigabyte and a pair of 13- and 5.5-inch tablet prototypes from Toshiba. And that’s saying nothing of Intel’s Nikiski prototype and its promise of accelerometer-based gaming on Ultrabooks. With that as our backdrop, we have the Compal QAV20, a reference design sitting in Intel’s booth, alongside all the plain, months-old laptops we’ve already reviewed. From afar, it looks like the Samsung Series 7 Slate, but up close you’ll see it has a larger, 13.3-inch, 1366 x 768 display, along with a keyboard dock. On the inside, meanwhile, it packs a Core i5 ULV CPU — the same guts you’ll find inside other Ultrabooks.
In our brief hands-on, we were stunned by how light the fiber glass device feels — certainly, it’s much less dense than the similarly sized Yoga. The dock itself is home to various ports, including Ethernet, dual USB 2.0 sockets, HDMI and a headphone jack. And though it’s no Transformer Prime dock, it’s still light enough that you shouldn’t have problem stuffing it in your bag. No word on what, if any, OEMs will re-badge this, but no matter — we’ve gotten video and photos for you to peruse even if this thing never makes it to market. And no, we didn’t film this in the Batcave; Intel just loves it some blue mood lighting.