The Ultrabook thread

Discussion in 'Netbooks, Tablets, Slates and eReaders' started by Drillbit, Jul 11, 2013.

  1. Drillbit

    Drillbit Mobile Deity

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    Creating a thread to put all collective ultrabook experiences, opinions and thoughts here. (I know I know, there is NotebookReview to study for that stuff, but that forum is already a jungle and I like what Brighthand readers think).

    I sometimes like to handle those in displays, but my only direct experience to an ultrabook is my better half's Samsung Series 9. That's a wonderful but fabuously expensive computer, that I sometimes question and wonder if it was worth the price. In any case, beautiful and fast as it is, storage space is lacking, the screen is only so so despite the resolution and the key travel feels even shorter than my Series 330 Chromebook.

    Samsung's ultrabook lineup is impressive, but it is as self cannibalizing as their Galaxy series. There apparently is, not just besides the Series 9, but the Series 7 Ultra, Series 7 Chronos, Series 5 Ultra and probably Series 3 ultrabooks too. And recently got the Ativ 9, or Ativ 7 or Ativ 5. Well, I'm a bit confused. But they all look kind of lovely. Any opinions, or favorites? If I have time, I would probably look at other ultrabooks too (tech PC-porn for me).
     
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  2. weegie

    weegie Mobile Deity

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    I've never really given Samsung's big notebooks a second look, but really liked the series 9 13", I think impractical for me with lack of screen size, lack of ports, lack of storage, lack of GPU and cpu, but if I were rich, I'd have one just to admire, it also now only comes with windows frankenstein over here which is an instant deal killer for me, it's expensive for what it can do as a primary PC but is less than half the price of what I usually buy and easily less than half as useful when we're talking "primary" computer.
    I've bought Dell almost exclusively for ten years but pretty much hate all their current designs on anything not a Dell Precision, including the ultrabooks, the Sammy series 9 is the only ultrabook I've wondered whether I could find a use for, but I'm quite out of the loop with what's available elsewhere mostly.
     
  3. r0k

    r0k Dazed

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    I saw a Lenovo ultrabook in OfficeDepot for around $600. It looked like it had build quality closely resembling Apple products. I believe it was running Windows 8 and had a touchscreen. I went to Lenovo's web site to look for it but got lost in their dizzying array of computers. I would criticize them for having a mess of a web site but they are doing something right as their market share is growing when everyone else's is shrinking, even Apple's.
     
  4. Drillbit

    Drillbit Mobile Deity

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    Yeah, considering how much my wife paid for it (real estate agent, she needs to travel around, her old Vaio too heavy and quirky now). It only has two USB ports, a 128Gb of storage (all SSD), and an i5 CPU with no dedicated GPU. The system is fast but its not that much faster than I have seen with systems half or even a third of its price. The screen despite the high resolution is a so so, the screens on Acers look better. The keyboard feels very flat, flatter than my netbooks or my Samsung Chromebook.

    But the body is absolutely gorgeous, especially the Duraluminum construction and finish. It beats any Macbook Air anytime.

    I have seen the Samsung Series 5 Ultra. It comes at a much cheaper price, and lacks the Duraluminum, but the mixed metal and plastic body is beautiful on its own right, and it looks very well built. Its got more ports, the keyboard has a deeper nicer press and the screen also looks overall nicer. Plus its a touchscreen so its more convenient for Windows 8, albeit you can get your fingerprints on it as well. I am quite impressed with it. Both Samsung ultrabooks are gorgeous but if I were to buy one, I would pick the Series 5 Ultra. But then again, Samsung has other Chromebooks, like the Series 7 Chronos, Series 7 Ultra and Series 3 Ultra. I think they are going by Ativ names now.

    Also seen a number of Sony VAIO ultrabooks too. I think they are pretty nice but I didn't get the emotional connection I get with the Sammy books. The left brain did all the check marks but the right brain just doesn't connect.

    The Sony VAIO Duo 11 is very nice but the keyboard gives me a "what?" although the keys themselves have a very nice feel. I have reservations about the hinge mechanism though.

    The Acer V5 series isn't bad too, although I liked the styling of their earlier S3. The Acer screens look pretty good lately.

    I like to see more of Lenovo's ultrabooks. Haven't gotten the chance so much yet, except for the S400 or S405. That looks like quite an affordable piece although I think its more of a cross between a subnote and an ultrabook.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2013
  5. weegie

    weegie Mobile Deity

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    Macbook Air is around $400 cheaper for a 256GB version than the series 9 with only 128GB here which seems mighty good value comparatively, I need to actually go and have a look at some of what's available later in the week to form an opinion.

    Ultrabook seems perfect for someone in your wife's line of work DB.
     
  6. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

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    I'm a huge fan of the Vaio Duo 13. Yes, it's a convertible tablet instead of a traditional laptop, but it's also an ultrabook under Intel's definition. It fixes everything that needed improvement on the Vaio Duo 11 (roomier keyboard, traditional trackpad, 10-hour real-world battery life, and onboard pen storage) while still weighing less than 3 lbs, still offering a breathtaking-quality 1080p IPS touchscreen, and still delivering stellar build quality.

    [​IMG]

    Review: Sony VAIO Duo 13 review: a much-improved take on the Windows 8 slider
     
  7. Drillbit

    Drillbit Mobile Deity

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    I advised her earlier on a Macbook but she runs some kind of real estate software and that requires Windows.

    The Duo 13 looks very nice, but I don't really like those hinge designs and the fact that convertibles have fixed viewing angles. For that reason I would prefer an honest to bonafide clamshell, not to mention I would appreciate a truly robust hinge design. If I were looking at a convertible, the Ativ Q might be on top of my list due to being able to boot stock Android 4.2.2, and it has that super high res screen (3200x1800) vs. the 1920x1020 on the Duo 13. The Duo 13 does have a Haswell i7 though, while the Ativ packs only a Haswell i5. But both devices are just too expensive for my taste, and at that price range, the Chromebook Pixel, the MacBook Pro with Retina display, and the Lenovo Carbon X1 would come into contention.

    samsung-ativ-q-hands-on-0006.jpg

    If I were to pick an Ultrabook right now, the Series 5 Ultra would be my pick now. Its unforgivable for devices that pack Windows 8, and coming at high prices, not to have a touchscreen, which unfortunately many ultrabooks still do. But this Series 5 has a touchscreen and comes well under a thousand. The screens on these look quite nice too, better than my wife's Series 9, but note the latest Series 9 now comes with even higher resolution screens (3200x1800) with optional touch screens too.

    Series 5 Ultra
    Samsung Series 5 Ultrabook4-580-90.jpg SamsungSeries5Ultra13ThreeQuarter-579x400.jpg

    Samsung Series 5 UltraTouch Review - Watch CNET's Video & Read Our Review

    Not sure what the Samsung Ativ 9 lite is all about, but I think its the legacy model Series 9 being renamed and downpriced.

    sub04_1.jpg

    It also has a white model. When it says quad core, it turns out its not an i7, but an AMD chip, probably either an A8 or A10.

    ativ-book-9-lite.jpg

    The Samsung Ativ 9 Plus

    sub03_2.jpg
     
  8. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

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    A fixed screen angle isn't such a big deal when you have fantastic viewing angles like the IPS displays on the Vaio Duo models. I thought it would be a mark against the Duo 11, but it's absolutely a non-issue in my opinion after living with it for nine months. With a less impressive screen it'd be a pain, but not with this screen.

    The Vaio Pro 11 has a traditional laptop design (similar aesthetics to the Vaio Z2), has a 1080p IPS touchscreen and Haswell, and starts at $1149. It also weighs under 2 lbs (1.92 lbs to be specific).

    If you go under $1000, you're going to have to give up the really nice high-res, often-IPS screens that make modern ultrabooks so appealing.
     
  9. Drillbit

    Drillbit Mobile Deity

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    1080p isn't exactly a nice selling point these days for a 13" screen for a device over a thousand bucks. My Xperia Z tablet has that resolution only a smaller screen, which means its pixel density is actually higher than both the Duo 13 and 11. Let's not forget to mention the Nexus 10 has 2560x1600 resolution screen, for $100 less than the Xperia Z ($399 vvs $499). So the Nexus 10 has a screen that has the same resolution as the Retina screen MacBook Pro. The 1080p screen is actually the negative for my Sony tablet, as much as I like the processor, the screen despite Bravia engine, takes a backseat to the Nexus 10. There are signs that Samsung intends to bring the 2560x1600 screen to their own Galaxy Tab tablets, these particular top end models will be referred to as the Galaxy Tab 3 Plus.

    But going to the upper $1000 sector now, the Chromebook Pixel has a screen that is 2560x1700, and the Samsung Activ 9 has a screen of 3200x1800.

    Not saying the Sony screen is bad, its very good, but its not a competitive selling point against the competition.

    For some reason I really don't like the appearance of convertibles. They are not sleek, like true ultrabooks. It doesn't matter if the screens have wide viewing angles --- I don't set my tablets up with case stands, which is functionally similar. I just like adjusting screens so the viewing angle is perfectly 90 degress to my eyes. Of course the fixed angles are livable, I am pretty sure of it, but then again, if I am spending that much amount of money, I better be paying for more, not for less. Having said that, I like the Vaio Pro 11 more. I think that is a real nice ultrabook.

    Review: Sony VAIO Pro 11 (SVP11216CG)

    sony-vaio-pro-11-review-2013-15-450x339.jpg

    I view Ultrabooks, like MacBooks, like the computing equivalent of sports cars. You want to make a stylish statement.

    If Darth Vader uses an Ultrabook, I think he would be using a Carbon.

    ThinkPad_X1_Carbon_35299011_05_620x433.jpg ThinkPad_X1_Carbon_35299011_10_610x436.jpg
     
  10. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

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    More is not better with Windows and screen resolution, at least on the desktop, where Windows still doesn't scale very well (the Metro environment scales extremely well, on the other hand). There's a point in the desktop UI where resolution is ideal and beyond that it starts to harm user experience instead of improving it. Comparisons to smartphones are pointless because you use ultrabooks much further from your nose than you use smartphones. I would not want any more than 1080p on an 11-13" Windows PC screen because it would lead to impossibly-small toolbars and buttons and the like. 1080p is small enough so that pixels are basically invisible at normal operating distances on an 11 or 13 inch PC.

    Higher pixel densities can also lead to poor performance (MBP+R 13 stuffers from this).

    I'm not saying it's the highest number on the market. I'm saying it's as high as you want before it's just a waste. In my opinion, anything over 720p on a normal-size smartphone and everything over 1080p on an 11-13 inch screen is just for spec-sheet bragging and doesn't provide any real benefit to the user.

    I think your definition of "true ultrabook" is different than Intel's, and it's their word ;) The Vaio Z2 is a sleek notebook and the Vaio Duo 11 is a convertible. The former is not an ultrabook and the latter is.

    I've heard a LOT of complaints about build quality on the Carbon--not something I normally hear about ThinkPads. Buyer beware.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2013
  11. Drillbit

    Drillbit Mobile Deity

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    I am not comparing smartphones. I am comparing tablets. The viewing distances of tablets are similar to notebooks. 1080p on a 13" notebook offers nothing I have not seen anything better before.

    As far as I have seen and heard, both the Pixel and the MacBook Pro Retina handles those super high resolutions rather well. So did that Nexus 10 after an update or so. But then again, they're not Windows.


    I heard about this argument as well. But I am not convinced of it either. Web pages are optimized for 720p by the way.


    In any case, one other reason why I prefer adjustable screens is because of reflection. I need to tilt the screen occasionally to reduce the background glare or reflection. Something I am reminded of when I am typing from certain coffeeshops in the late afternoon at times. Like right now.

    Something to take note although I have not heard anything myself. I also have heard a lot of complaints about Sony VAIOs as well, and Sonys don't rank as highly in customer surveys as Apple, Lenovo, HP, Asus and Dell. But I don't let those things deter me. Acer isn't in the top of customer surveys and studies, but I am perfectly satisfied with their devices and tablets.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2013
  12. Drillbit

    Drillbit Mobile Deity

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    From a notebook viewing distance, I never really had any problems with 1366x768 and it certainly is fast. It is a tried and true model, and for a lower cost computer, this is certainly acceptable. But of course at over a $1000, it is not acceptable.

    The Sony VAIO Pro Duo 13 seems to be in the market as well. It costs a little more than the 11.6" screen version.

    IMG_322439.jpg 972897.jpg sony-vaio-pro13-profil.jpg
     
  13. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

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    Last edited: Jul 16, 2013
  14. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

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    I've looked around at several manufacturers and I've been unable to find a 1080p-or-better ultrabook for under $1000. Have you found any?

    EDIT: The Yoga 13 (900p) has been discounted to $899! One of the most-loved of the first-gen Windows 8 products, and a good price. And while 900p isn't the same as 1080p or 1440p, it's a whole lot better than some bargain-basement 1366x768 screen.

    http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/laptops/ideapad/yoga/yoga-13/
     
  15. Drillbit

    Drillbit Mobile Deity

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    That is not bad a price. I am quite satisfied with a good 1366x768 display, and in my opinion, a 1600x900, 1920x1020 or 3200x1800 that would cost hundreds more isn't worth it unless the latter devices offer better construction, processors, RAM, storage as part of an overall package. In fact when it comes to notebooks, I tend to look at construction, body style and keyboard quality as the top most things. An AMD A8 or A10 processor also does a decent job in running some games as opposed to an Intel HD4000. I am always an advocate for good resolution but not when you are paying much for it --- in smartphones, the difference between 720p and 1080p can only be as much as $100 for no contract prices, and for contracts, maybe $50 or even less.

    But then of course, at $800, there are also a lot of other competitive options.
     
  16. Drillbit

    Drillbit Mobile Deity

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    Pretty good deal, and a Lenovo brand too with a good solid processor. I am just curious what this thing (body construction) is made of.

    Ideapad Yoga 13_1.jpg Lenovo_IdeaPad_Yoga_13.jpg
     
  17. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

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    Like ThinkPads, it's made out of durable-and-solid plastics, not cheap plastics (like HP Pavilions) and not premium-feeling metals (Apple, MS Surface).

    Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 review
     
  18. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

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    The thing is, I'll lay money that the 1366x768 display they stuck in the "lite" model isn't a good-quality one. When a company offers both a 1080p screen and a 768p screen in the same machine, it seems like the 768p screen is always bottom-of-the-barrel because they're trying to create as much price difference as possible from the "premium" 1080p model.
     
  19. Drillbit

    Drillbit Mobile Deity

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    I have seen Thinkpads like the Edge models. The black plastic they use is some kind of rubbery matt thing that is grippy to hold, which isn't bad at all.

    Not a very well known notebook, I like what I saw and felt on the Acer Travelmate P243 (note I didn't say P253, its made entirely in a different way). The P243 has this grey magnesium carbon fiber that images don't do justice compared to viewing first hand. Its not an ultrabook but more of a professional business tool, but the fact the higher end models got an nVidia GPU got me interested as a potential gaming platform that won't cost an arm and a leg.

    View attachment 22088
     
  20. Drillbit

    Drillbit Mobile Deity

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    If its anything like the 1366x768 screen they used on the Samsung Chromebook its livable, although the Acer 1366x768 display used on the Acer C7 and AspireOne 725/756 looks bettter. In fact, that Acer display (made by AU Optronics, the fastest rising hot name in panels today) also looks better than the 1600x900 display on the Series 9.

    One thing the Samsung display has going for is the fact that its a matt surface, so its antiglare. Good to take out for outdoors in sunny cafes.

    I got more issues with aspect ratio than anything. Even with a lower resolution, I like the aspect ratio of my old HP 530 (1280x800) compared to more modern displays (1366x768, 1600x900, 1920x1020) which seemed too wide and not deep enough. Divide by width / height, I like something closer to 1.5 or 1.6 as opposed to over 1.7 or reaching 1.8. But its not a decisive consideration for any new purchases, I would consider it more of bonus icing over the cake.
     
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