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Best Ultraportable Laptops

Selection of Various 11 to 13-inch Laptops Based On Usage


Nov 1 2013 - Ultraportable laptops are designed to be highly portable even at the expense of certain features. A typical ultraportable weighs less than 4.0 pounds making it extremely easy to carry while traveling. Screen sizes range from 11 to 13.4-inches in size. Some may completely remove or externalize components such as the DVD drive. Here are my selections for the best ultraportable laptops based upon a different tasks or features.

1. Best Value - ASUS VivoBook Q200E 11.6-inch

ASUS VivoBook Q200E 11.6-inch
asus.com / ASUSTeK Computer Inc.

Most of the new ultrabooks and laptops in this size range are extremely expensive, but if you don't mind some slightly older hardware, you can get some great values like the ASUS VivoBook Q200E which can be found for under $400. It uses the older Core i3-3217U with 4GB of memory which is sufficient for many people's basic computing needs. The 11.6-inch display is a touchscreen which is nice with the Windows 8 operating system. It does lag behind most ultrabooks though because it relies on a 500GB hard drive and it certainly does not have long battery life either.

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2. Best Battery Life - Apple MacBook Air 13

Apple MacBook Air 13

The Intel Haswell processors have brought a lot of longevity to laptops that was missing from past models. No better example of this can be found than the Apple MacBook Air 13. While the redesign did not add in the Retina display or change the general performance much, the new Core i5-4250U allowed the system to achieve over ten hours of running time which was unheard of in a laptop. The system also has some of the fastest storage on the market thanks to the new PCI-Express based 256GB solid state drive. Apple even reduced its price down to just $1299 for this configuration. If you want a bit more performance, better display yet still have lots of running time, the Apple MacBook Pro 13 with Retina Display also achieves some long running times of just under ten hours.

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3. Best Ultrathin - Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus

Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus

There are plenty of extremely thin ultrabooks on the market now but Samsung has gone and made their ATIV Book 9 Plus unique because it offers the highest resolution display in its class thanks to the 3200x1800 display panel that is even higher than the MacBook Pro with Retina Display. It is incredible to look at but the system also offers good performance with its Core i5-4200U dual core processor, 4GB of DDR3 memory and 128GB solid state drive. All of this in a chassis that is just .54-inches thick and weighs just over three pounds. Pricing starts around $1400. An alterntive option if you don't need such a high resolution display is the Acer Aspire S7-392 that is a bit less expensive at just $1300 and is a bit thinner and lighter.

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4. Best Convertible - Dell XPS 12

Dell XPS 12

If you want a laptop that can also double as a tablet from time to time, there are a number of convertible or hybrids on the market. The Dell XPS 12 offers a nice 12.5-inch display that has the ability to rotate around in its lid frame to switch from laptop to tablet modes. The 2013 version gets a nice boots from the Core i5-4200U dual core processor which really helps boost the battery life and gives it decent performance. Storage is limited to just 128GB solid state drive but that is common to most ultrabook based systems. The only downside is that the hybrid laptops are generally a good deal heavier than a straight tablet. Pricing starts around $1200. An alternative is the newly released Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro which is a bit lighter and has a higher resolution display but shorter battery life.

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5. Lightest - Sony VAIO Pro 13

Sony VAIO Pro 13

Laptops continue to get lighter but the Sony VAIO Pro 13 comes in at an amazing lightweight 2.34bls for a 13-inch display equipped ultrabook. This makes it the lightest available and it is also quite capable thanks to the Core i7-4500U dual core processor with 8GB of memory and 128GB solid state drive. Sony achieved the light weight through the use of carbon fiber but it does lack a bit of the rigidity one might expect in this class. The 13.3-inch display features a nice high 1920x1080 screen resolution and the battery life is decent considering its weight and performance. Priced around $1500. Of course if you want something a bit more compact and nearly as light, Apple's MacBook Air 11 weighs just 2.4 lbs and is a bit more sturdy and affordable at the cost of performance and screen resolution.

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6. Best Gaming Origin PC EON13-S 13.3-inch

Origin PC EON13-S
©Origin PC

All sorts of laptops keep getting smaller including those that are designed specifically for gaming. This includes a number of options based on the Clevo W230ST chassis including the Origin PC EON13-S. This one stands out from the others because it features a dual 120GB SSD drive array plus a 750GB hard drive to offer fast performance and lots of storage. It also uses the Core i7-4700MQ quad core processor with 8GB of memory plus a GeForce GTX 765M graphics processor to provide a capable gaming system in a small package. Just be warned that it can get quite loud under heavy loads. Priced around $1750. A similar but slightly more affordable option might be the Digital Storm Veloce that skips an SSD but is just $1300.

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