Best ultrabook

Laptop Computers

Ultrabooks are a niche category of slim, sleek and beautiful mobile computers that are somewhere between tablet computers and lightweight laptops.

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Which ultrabook is best?

Not sure if you want a laptop or a tablet? You might actually want an ultrabook. This category of computers slips between tablet computers and lightweight laptops. They are the high-fashion supermodels of portable computers because they have all the power and storage of bigger, thicker, heavier laptops but are aesthetically much more pleasing and much easier to carry around with you. 

One such option is the Dell XPS 13 9310 Touchscreen Ultrabook, which is a powerful laptop computer with the bonus of touchscreen technology.

What to know before you buy an ultrabook

Ultrabook was the term trademarked by Intel, which defined an ultrabook as a lightweight laptop computer with an Intel processor. That’s the technical definition, but now, an ultrabook is considered to be a sleek and beautiful device with the computing power and extended battery life equivalent of a laptop, all contained in a very thin, very lightweight body.

Laptop computers are the workhorses of road warriors everywhere. Full-featured laptops have the same power and storage as desktop computers, but with somewhat smaller screens and keyboards.

Notebook computers are designed as smaller and thinner laptops. They get this way by giving up power, storage and screen size, which means they are almost always less functional than laptops.

Ultrabook computers are very thin and very lightweight laptop computers. The thing that keeps them from being notebooks is that they have the same performance and battery life as high-end laptop computers but with added elegance. Ultrabooks achieve their thinness and lightness by using one-piece alloy unibody housings and solid-state drives (SSD) that have no moving parts. Ultrabooks will have only USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt ports.

What to look for in a quality ultrabook

Screen

Image quality is the most important consideration for any electronic screen you will look at for hours on end. Screen resolution is measured in pixels per inch, and the industry has created a shorthand version that is easy to understand. Ultrabooks will have either High Definition (HD), Full High Definition (FHD), or Ultra High Definition (UHD)/4K screens:

  • HD images have 1280 horizontal pixels and 720 vertical pixels for a total of nearly 1 million pixels.
  • FHD delivers images at the 1920 x 1080 pixel level, which is about 2 million pixels. 
  • UHD/4K images have a resolution of 3840 by 2160 pixels, a total of more than 7 million pixels.

The step-up from FHD to UHD/4K is a big one, and a side-by-side comparison shows the difference in sharpness and image quality to be quite remarkable.

Screen size has the biggest effect on the dimensions of any ultrabook, but by definition, small, lightweight laptops will not have screens as large as some of the ones you will find on high-end laptops. Most ultrabooks have screens from 13- to 15-inches.

Touchscreen

The type of touchscreen on any ultrabook is tied directly to the image quality of its display screen. 

  • Ultrabooks with FHD touchscreens can only perform single functions triggered by the movement of one fingertip.  
  • Ultrabooks with UHD touchscreens are built to perform advanced functions with multiple fingers combining to swipe, pinch, expand and more.

Battery life

There is no agreed-upon standard for measuring how long any battery can continue to deliver usable power under a specified load. However, it is reasonable to expect that an ultrabook with a battery life that is significantly longer than other competing products is likely to use a better battery.

How much you can expect to spend on an ultrabook

There are no cheap ultrabooks. You will find many good choices for $1,000-$1,500. You might find some cheaper, but they will have cheaper components and run older-generation systems. Top-end ultrabooks will be $3,000-$5,000. 

Ultrabook FAQ

What’s the difference between a touchscreen and a multi-touch screen?

A. Touchscreens identify and react to contact at a single point on the screen. Multi-touch machines can read and react to ten separate contact points. They are also capable of reading relative pressure, where a harder touch intensifies the command.

Aren’t Chromebooks and Ultrabooks the same thing?

A. No. Ultrabooks run Windows, but Chromebooks do not. 

What’s the best ultrabook to buy?

Top ultrabook 

Dell XPS 13 9310 Touchscreen Ultrabook

Dell XPS 13 9310 Touchscreen Ultrabook

What you need to know: This Alexa-enabled ultrabook has a full 1920 x 1200 HD InfinityEdge touchscreen.

What you’ll love: Dell’s Migrate System allows you to easily move all your files and settings from your old computer to your new Dell computer. This ultrabook has a Windows operating system, 512 GB of storage, two Thunderbolt 3 ports and a 3.5 mm jack for headphones and a microphone. It also has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.1. 

What you should consider: This ultrabook has 16 GB of memory, which is less than other options.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top ultrabook for the money

Acer Swift 5 Ultra-Thin and Ultra-Lightweight Laptop Computer

Acer Swift 5 Ultra-Thin and Ultra-Lightweight Laptop Computer

What you need to know: Acer is well-known for making some of the finest affordable high-quality computers, laptops and tablets available.

What you’ll love: This 2.2-pound ultrabook that runs Windows 10 has 3-D fingerprint security technology, a vibrant 15.6-inch LED touchscreen, an HD webcam and a backlit keyboard. It has two USB 3.0 ports and one USB-C port.

What you should consider: The battery life is approximately eight hours.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3

What you need to know: The Surface Laptop 3 has up to 11.5 hours of battery life and fast charges in about an hour.

What you’ll love: This ultrabook has an outstanding 2256 x 1504 screen resolution. It has a Windows operating system, 128 GB of solid-state flash memory, 8 GB of RAM and a 1.2 GHz processor.

What you should consider: This ultrabook weighs 3.4 pounds.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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David Allan Van writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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