Getting The Right Thin-And-Light Laptop

If you are looking for a sleek ultrabook, now is a good time to shop. With Windows 10, Microsoft has resurrected the familiar desktop interface for the classic clamshell laptop while keeping the option open for hybrid touch-screen devices with reversible displays and multiple modes of use. Here are five ultrabooks to consider.

The Pretty One - Dell XPS 13 ($1999)

For those who prioritise good looks and style, look no further than the Dell XPS 13. This machine is sexy; it is the definition of aesthetic form and function. The nearly non-existent bezels on its 13.3-inch “Infinity” display means you get more screen with less to carry. It is only 15mm at its thickest point, and weighs a touch over 1kg with its aluminum and carbon fibre construction. We cannot emphasise enough how pretty and sleek this machine is.

In terms of performance, its Intel i5 processor clocked at 2.8GHz paired with solid state storage keeps it lightning fast in tackling everyday tasks. Dell has outdone itself in ticking all the right boxes of what an ultrabook should be and has set the bar high for other manufacturers to follow.

Tech Specs

Processor: Intel Core i5-6200U 2.8 GHz
RAM: 4GB LPDDR3
Storage: 128GB SSD
Graphics: Intel(R) HD Graphics 520
Display: 13.3 inch FHD AG (1920 x 1080) InfinityEdge

The Flexible One - Acer Aspire R13 ($1198)

If you are looking for a super contortionist, look no further than the Acer Aspire R13. Two display options are available at this price point, a WQHD (2560 x 1440) or HD (1920 x 1080). This machine bends over backwards and does backflips for your viewing pleasure.

It is a joy to handle at about 1.5kg. It’s a tough cookie too, with zero air gap construction and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protecting it from accidental drops. Picking up an Acer Active Pen1 as well would be a great option for designers.

What’s under the hood is what really sets it apart from competitors at this price bracket. While most hybrids feature an i5 chip and 8GB of RAM, they are very different when it comes to storage options however. The Aspire R13 comes with twin 128GB SSDs, making it noticeably snappier than the HDD-mounted competition. Overall, it’s a good buy if you want to have a go at this form factor.

Tech Specs

Processor: Intel Core i5-5200U processor 2.20 GHz

RAM: 8GB LPDDR3

Storage: 2x 128GB SSD

Graphics: Intel(R) HD 5500

Display: 13.3" Full HD (1920 x 1080) 16:9 IPS Touch / 13.3" WQHD (2560 x 1440) 16:9 IPS Touch

The Value One - ASUS UX303 ($1,398)

Be it gaming machines or something more affordable, Asus has always provided great value in its offerings. And even among Asus’ wide range of value-for-money laptops, one stands heads and shoulders above the rest.

The UX303 boasts very respectable specs for its price. With an Intel i5-6200U clocked at 2.3GHz, 8GB of RAM, and a dedicated 2GB Nvidia GeForce 940M graphics card, this stalwart outperforms some machines twice its price. Handling a multitude of tasks and even online gaming decently shouldn’t pose an issue.

If you’re able to splash a little more cash, it is also worth checking out the higher-end variant, which comes with an i7 processor that clocks up to 3.1GHz and comes with a QHD 3200x1800 IPS Touch Display. It’s a steal at less than $1700. Both are great options if you’re in urgent need of a decent all-rounder. They even look pretty in a MacBook-like silver finish.

Tech Specs

Processor: Intel Core i5-6200U processor 2.30 GHz / Intel Core i7-6500U processor 2.5 GHz

RAM: 8GB LPDDR3

Storage: 1TB HDD

Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 940M 2GB DDR3

Display: 13.3" HD (1920 x 1080) 16:9 IPS / 13.3" QHD (3200 x 1800) 16:9 IPS Touch

The Hybrid One - Dell W10 ($1,198)

Imagine the Acer Aspire R13 and the Asus UX303 tied the knot and had an offspring. That’s the Dell W10 which combines the versatile form factor of the Acer with value for money specs of the Asus. While it doesn’t measure up as well as either ultrabooks in both criteria, it does find a reasonable compromise that earns it a spot on this list.

The Acer Aspire R13 may boast higher quality construction and SSD storage, but the Dell is sitting on a whopping 500GB of storage out of the box and is 300g lighter. The Dell also feels more solid in hand when reversing its display due to less moving parts. We were curious to see which would fare better in a drop test, but we’ll save that for another day. Overall, it’s a worthwhile contender on this list.

Tech Specs

Processor: Intel Core i5-6200U 2.8 GHz

RAM: 8GB LPDDR3

Storage: 500GB HDD

Graphics: Intel(R) HD Graphics 520

Display: 13.3" HD (1920 x 1080) 16:9 IPS Touch

The Serious One - HP Envy Notebook 13 ($1,375)

If you are looking for a classic clamshell laptop, the HP Envy Notebook 13 is the one to consider. It is one of the few ultrabooks that offer a scintillating 3200 x 1800 resolution screen at a sub $1,400 price point. For road warriors who just want a machine for them to work on the move without the additional weight of the touch-screen, this is a great choice. Its all-metal body is a head turner and it is amazing that it is able to pack in a full-sized HDMI port while maintaining its svelte figure. A rare fingerprint-reader is a welcome add-on for users who prefer an additional layer of security.

Below the hood, it offers pretty much the same configuration and hardware as the Dell 7359, with one key difference; the HP Envy is running off a 128GB SSD. It is also the thinnest offering on the list at only 12.9mm and weighs a measly 1.27Kg. This ultrabook is clearly best suited for professionals on the go. We imagine it would serve well as office workhorses in bulk-purchases.

Tech Specs

Processor: Intel Core i5-6200U 2.8 GHz

RAM: 8GB LPDDR3

Storage: 128GB SSD

Graphics: Intel(R) HD Graphics 520

Display: 13.3" QHD (3200 x 1800) 16:9 IPS