How To Choose The Best Ultra-Portable Notebook

By Subodh / May 4, 2015

With time, the size of computers and related devices are becoming incredibly smaller. While the Smartphones and wearables are not fully fledged computers, their capabilities are on the rise. The same can be said about ultra-portable laptops. The present generation ultra-portables are almost as capable as a desktop and you can rely on them for most computing tasks. Small size no longer means compromise in speed or performance. However, selecting a suitable ultra-portable may not be easy, given the oodles of options. Top PC makers have come up with their offerings and you need, you buy the most apt one.

ultra portable notebook

Selecting The Most Apt Ultra-portable Notebook

A few things need to be on your mind when you shop for ultra-portable laptops or compare available contenders. Budget is a factor, but you also need to look at usability related aspects.

Battery Life

This is a vital parameter when you invest in an ultra-portable notebook. In general, ultra-portables run longer on battery compared to regular laptops. The MacBook Air was the undisputed champion in this department. However, of late contenders like the Dell XPS 13 have appeared on the horizon. Contenders from the stables of HP, Lenovo and Asus also offer reasonably good battery life. They will last for 7 hours or more on a single charge. You may also consider the newly unveiled MacBook, which actually blurs the line between mainstream laptops or ultraportables.

Dimension

The term ‘ultraportable’ itself stresses on dimension and so you need to buy an ultra-portable that is light and does not take up much space. When you are about to catch a flight for attending a conference or going for a business trip every extra pound matters! Once again the previous champion MacBook Air gets dethroned by contenders like Asus Zenbook UX 305 and the Lenovo Lavie Z -both of which are very petite and lightweight. The Dell XPS 13 also crams in a 13 inch screen in a chassis of 11 inch laptop.

Screen Size And Type

You are likely to use an ultra-portable outside home and office a lot. The screen is one important parameter in this context. Ultra-portable screen sizes vary from 11 to 13 inches, mostly. You will find 1080p or 2k resolution in many top notch devices. The screen type is also vital. IPS panels offer better legibility outside and generous viewing angles. There are glossy and matte screens to pick from, the latter being more suited for use outside.

CPU And RAM

Ultra-portables are usually equipped with less powerful CPUs than mainstream laptops, but things are changing. The Dell XPS 13 has a powerful Intel Core i5- CPU that can handle HD playback and multitasking with aplomb, for example. The Asus Zenbook UX 305 however, runs a fan less Intel Core M CPU that will perform well, unless you push it to the limits. However, ensure the model you buy has at least 4 GB RAM and double the amount is better. Ultra-portable with fan less Intel CPUs will get less hot and last longer on battery. It is not without reasons Apple has switched to their CPU architecture for their new MacBook.

Storage

A lot of ultra-portables skimp traditional hard disks and have SSDs. This is ideal when you prefer faster boot and app load times. However, keep in mind that SSD storage capacities cannot match or outshine that of conventional SATA HDDs. The SSDs are better for conserving battery life and they reduce noise too.

Graphics

Most of the ultra-portables do not come with discrete GPU, mostly Windows based ones. However, it is not a problem since most users do not use such notebooks for hardcore gaming. The integrated Intel graphics can take care of video streaming and playback needs. The Apple MacBook Air however deploys an NVidia GeForce 9400M GPU.

Usability Aspects

A few important aspects related to usability should be on your mind when shopping for an ultra-portable. For example, ultra-portables with specialized cooling mechanism can be convenient for long usage. Most ultra-portables deploy keyboard backlighting nowadays. You will also find some models that feature hybrid modes. Examples include convertibles from brands like Acer, Dell and Lenovo that offer mixed functionality of a laptop and a tablet in one device.