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Old January 26, 2014, 06:29 PM
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Default Ultrabooks? $500 - $1300?

I'm just curious what ultrabooks are good (for the money). No idea if I can get one soon but that is my #1 choice on my wish list. ;)

I am curious what one should try to get and what should be the priority. So, what is your choice based on these preferences?:

13 - 14" screen size (I think any bigger and it's not an 'Ultrabook')
Intel cpu and gpu - preferably Haswell generation
highest resolution possible - at least, higher than the 'mainstream' 1366 x 768-whatever

I guess you need $1300 for a good one, right?

Ultrabook Review 2014 | Best Ultrabook Laptops | Ultrathin Laptops - TopTenREVIEWS
Ultrabook - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Any comments about those that most often come up in reviews and most common in the stores?
Brands: Samsung, Acer, Sony, Lenovo, HP, Dell... ???
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Old January 27, 2014, 06:02 AM
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When you say Intel CPU and GPU are specifically excluding Ultrabooks with a discrete GPU?

What you should get depends really on your requirements, preferences and how much you want to spend to achieve those.

Do you specifically want an Ultrabook or an Ultrabook type laptop? By this I mean for example a non touch display laptop that would otherwise be thin/light, use a Haswell ULV, and fulfill other requirements technically is not an Ultrabook. Commonly someone may really just want a more portable laptop and not necessarily an Ultrabook.

Regarding your screen size range, current Ultrabook specs have a different max height requirement for 13.3 inch and lower display laptops than those which are higher.

The Lenovo Ideapad Yoga 2 Pro is a convertible Ultrabook. It has the highest resolution you will find at the price range you specified (3200x1800, albeit Pentile). Battery life is on the lower side of Haswell based Ultrabooks however (this doesn't mean the battery life is necessarily bad).
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Old January 27, 2014, 09:56 AM
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Right now, most of these Ultrabooks have Intel HD Graphics 4400 or 5000 (or newest Iris?) so this is min. (i.e. 4400).

The Lenovo Ideapad Yoga 2 Pro looks good. But, the battery life isn't? I thought it was at least 8 hrs? I would be flexible about whether it's UItrabook or just thin but I don't think the other laptops are as light and thin even at the same screen sizes?

I want thin, light, good battery life and high quality construction. I prefer the Intel gpu as I think it might help keep the price down and it seems all the nvidia or ati/amd graphics really has an impact on battery life. Plus, I won't game with it and it's better to use Linux (with Intel graphics).
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Old January 28, 2014, 06:28 PM
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You can get Ultrabooks actually with discrete GPUs. The Acer v7 482pg for example is a 14 inch (1080p) Ultrabook with a Nvidia GT 750m and is available for as low as $805 (if you do some clever price matching).

Modern discrete GPU laptops can shutoff the GPU and use the IGP (Nvidia's Opitimus currnetly works better) so there is no battery life penalty unless the discrete GPU is actually be leveraged for demanding tasks (eg. gaming).

Typically most will be using the HD 4400 however. The only HD 5000 series Ultrabook I am aware of is the Asus Zenbook UX301 this is higher than $1300 however). Otherwise you would need to get an Apple for that form factor and using an Intel Iris GPU.

The Clevo W370SU is similar to an Ultrabook and actually uses a full mobile processor (4 cores) and a Iris Pro GPU, but as it isn't using a Haswell ULV it isn't technically a Ultrabook and battery life suffers by comparison.

The Yoga 2 Pro is advertised and generally tested on the lower end in terms of battery life for Haswell Ultrabooks. But the only point you noted was wanting a high resolution and it is among the highest currently at the moment until the 15.6inch 4k laptops revealed at CES start becoming available. The Samsung Ativ Book 9 is also available with a 3200x1800 resolution but is pricier.

There are some 2560x1440 Ultrabooks as well but I believe they are priced above $1300. 1920x1080 Ultrabooks are however fairly common and even available well below $1000.

What other specs/features are you interested in? Are you interested in Pen support? Tablet functionality?

An interesting laptop if you are interested in the latter two is the Sony Vaio Duo 13 (currently on sale at Futureshop for $1300). Also the Thinkpad Yoga (although smaller than your 13 inch requirement at 12.5inches).
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Old January 29, 2014, 09:47 PM
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I am in the same boat as OP looking for a nice portable ultrabook to take travelling instead of the 17" I normally use.

So, after looking around I ordered a Lenovo Yoga Pro 2. A few things I noticed right away:

It came with an ISO layout keyboard (short shifts tall return) which I can't stand.
It has brutal backlight bleed.
The high resolution is incredibly sharp, but can cause problems with some games. IE: SC2 wouldn't show the mouse pointer until I turned the res down, incredibly low frame rates when playing anything at full res.
I personally found windows 8 incredibly frustrating even with a touchscreen.
Battery life sub 4 hours with 30% brightness and wifi on.

I called up Lenovo to ask if they could replace the keyboard or even just sell me one to replace myself and they had no idea what I was talking about. Their forums are littered with people complaining about backlight bleed, some who have ahad multiple replacements with the same problems. To their credit, they let me return the unit with very little hassle. I will be looking for something else with better battery life and 1080p resolution.




TLDR: Bought a Yoga 2 Pro, didn't like it, returned it.
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Old January 30, 2014, 08:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by limitedaccess View Post
You can get Ultrabooks actually with discrete GPUs. The Acer v7 482pg for example is a 14 inch (1080p) Ultrabook with a Nvidia GT 750m and is available for as low as $805 (if you do some clever price matching).

Modern discrete GPU laptops can shutoff the GPU and use the IGP (Nvidia's Opitimus currnetly works better) so there is no battery life penalty unless the discrete GPU is actually be leveraged for demanding tasks (eg. gaming).

Typically most will be using the HD 4400 however. The only HD 5000 series Ultrabook I am aware of is the Asus Zenbook UX301 this is higher than $1300 however). Otherwise you would need to get an Apple for that form factor and using an Intel Iris GPU.

The Clevo W370SU is similar to an Ultrabook and actually uses a full mobile processor (4 cores) and a Iris Pro GPU, but as it isn't using a Haswell ULV it isn't technically a Ultrabook and battery life suffers by comparison.

The Yoga 2 Pro is advertised and generally tested on the lower end in terms of battery life for Haswell Ultrabooks. But the only point you noted was wanting a high resolution and it is among the highest currently at the moment until the 15.6inch 4k laptops revealed at CES start becoming available. The Samsung Ativ Book 9 is also available with a 3200x1800 resolution but is pricier.

There are some 2560x1440 Ultrabooks as well but I believe they are priced above $1300. 1920x1080 Ultrabooks are however fairly common and even available well below $1000.

What other specs/features are you interested in? Are you interested in Pen support? Tablet functionality?

An interesting laptop if you are interested in the latter two is the Sony Vaio Duo 13 (currently on sale at Futureshop for $1300). Also the Thinkpad Yoga (although smaller than your 13 inch requirement at 12.5inches).
A good screen and high resolution (at least, 1080p) is desired. The Sony sounds like it has a wifi problem (with range).

Do you have any opinions on this site and how they evaluate notebooks?:
Top 10 Ultrabooks - NotebookCheck.net Reviews

If price is no object, it looks like the Samsung is a potential winner. Other than that, maybe the Acer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dustin1706 View Post
I am in the same boat as OP looking for a nice portable ultrabook to take travelling instead of the 17" I normally use.

So, after looking around I ordered a Lenovo Yoga Pro 2. A few things I noticed right away:

It came with an ISO layout keyboard (short shifts tall return) which I can't stand.
It has brutal backlight bleed.
The high resolution is incredibly sharp, but can cause problems with some games. IE: SC2 wouldn't show the mouse pointer until I turned the res down, incredibly low frame rates when playing anything at full res.
I personally found windows 8 incredibly frustrating even with a touchscreen.
Battery life sub 4 hours with 30% brightness and wifi on.

I called up Lenovo to ask if they could replace the keyboard or even just sell me one to replace myself and they had no idea what I was talking about. Their forums are littered with people complaining about backlight bleed, some who have ahad multiple replacements with the same problems. To their credit, they let me return the unit with very little hassle. I will be looking for something else with better battery life and 1080p resolution.

TLDR: Bought a Yoga 2 Pro, didn't like it, returned it.
That's interesting. Thanks for reporting your experience. It seems every one of these laptops/ultrabooks has a flaw of some kind. That's my perception/impression, anyway.

Here it is, in a nutshell, the brand and model:
Sony Vaio Duo 13 - poor wifi reception/range - some returning their laptop based on bad wifi experience
Acer S7 - 392 - poor brightness level - not very high (might not be a flaw - just not as good a design as others?) - maybe not a deal breaker?
Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro - apparently backlight bleed problem - this is probably very noticeable for most when you first use the laptop - it certainly doesn't help if you are aware that others have complained - now, potential owners will look for it?
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus - it looked to me, like the temps get pretty high on stressed load - so maybe for gamers?

The Samsung looks like the best out of this bunch to me, so far, but it's probably going to be out of my budget, sadly. I'll have to see if there's ever any discounts or what the situation is whenever I shop for a laptop.

Edit: One other thing - I mentioned integrated gpu thinking battery life might be higher. I'm not sure about being able to switch and it's a pain in Linux, I think. Although, what the design of the gpu is (integrated vs dedicated - most are hybrid now?) is not any kind of deal breaker. I just figure the ones that include a dedicated gpu will be more expensive?

Any comments?
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Old January 30, 2014, 08:45 AM
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I like the Yoga for what it is built for. It has solid hinge design, its a nice portable work laptop/tablet. I would not game on one though. I have had a couple cross my desk and will probably get one for my wife to work on. I didn't notice the crap battery life on the ones I have used but always worth keeping an eye on next time.
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Old January 31, 2014, 05:04 AM
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Forum went kaput when I tried to post this, had to retype from memory :P -

I use Notebookcheck for information as well as they do have quite a bit for a lot of different laptops. In general however my opinion for reviews is to use the reasoning and information presented to draw your own conclusions as opposed to looking at the rating system. It's more about the best fit device then the the best device. In regards to the actual test numbers make sure you also get an understanding of what they actually mean.

You can look at ultrabookreview.com for some more content as well (and get some more Ultrabooks to look into).

If you don't require the pen support for example you may want to look into the Sony Vaio Pro 13 instead as it is cheaper (was on sale at Bestbuy for $1000 for example).

My experience with back light bleed with IPS displays is really a panel lottery situation, you can get lucky or unlucky (and it depends on your tolerance level), similar to dead pixels. You still should want an IPS display however for the overall better quality. I actually feel the contrast stability partially contributes to lighting unevenness being more noticeable.

You're right, I believe Linux is known to have issues with hybrid graphics and switching.

Laptop pricing is a bit tricky as they are sold as all in one devices and actual component costs and total device costs are not as correlated. For instance the Acer I mentioned is rather cheap but other Ultrabooks might be more expensive without a GPU due to different build materials (eg. aluminum, carbon fiber, etc.) and brand value.

A lot of the higher priced laptops differentiate themselves also based upon build material, build quality (by this I mean more luxury feeling), and brand name.

The HD4400 is actually capable for gaming depending on your usage and expectations. It can provide quite a good experience if you plays games like League of Legends or Civilization V. If you want to play something like BF4 at 1080p with high settings however you will need a discrete card and even then only the rather high end laptop ones can do so.

There are some gaming capable Ultrabooks (like the Acer v7 I mentioned) but I think only the Gigabyte p34g is what you would consider a gaming laptop comparable while still being similar to an Ultrabook (thin/light, GTX 760m, IPS 1080p displays unlike the Razerblade but suffers in battery life to the full mobile quad core CPU).

Some other devices you can look into -
Asus Vivobook/Zenbook lines
Dell Inspiron 14 7000
Dell XPS 13
Lenovo Thinkpad T440s
Sony Vaio Pro 13

Some that are not quite your criteria but might be of interest interesting -
Acer V7
Dell XPS 12
Gigabyte p34g
Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga
Microsoft Surface 2 Pro
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Old January 31, 2014, 07:30 AM
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My recommendations:

X1 Carbon: Thinkpad X1 Carbon Business Ultrabook | Lenovo (CA)

Dell Latitude 7000: Latitude 14 7000 Series Business 14" Ultrabook | Dell

Remember, both Dell and Lenovo have a ton of sales that will save you a good 20-25% off the prices you see.

I'm recommending these because:

- Matte screens without gimmicky touch interface
- Affordable
- Windows 7 Pro
- Lenovo's patented Rapidcharge
- Dell's awesome customer support
- GREAT keyboards and touchpads on both
- Both have carbon fiber reinforced chassis
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Old January 31, 2014, 08:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SKYMTL View Post
My recommendations:

X1 Carbon: Thinkpad X1 Carbon Business Ultrabook | Lenovo (CA)

Dell Latitude 7000: Latitude 14 7000 Series Business 14" Ultrabook | Dell

Remember, both Dell and Lenovo have a ton of sales that will save you a good 20-25% off the prices you see.

I'm recommending these because:

- Matte screens without gimmicky touch interface
- Affordable
- Windows 7 Pro
- Lenovo's patented Rapidcharge
- Dell's awesome customer support
- GREAT keyboards and touchpads on both
- Both have carbon fiber reinforced chassis
Quick question WRT the Windows 7 Pro installations from Dell........

Since they're actually downgraded win8 licenses and ship with win8 media... does the initial restore disk application burn a win7 install to the disks or a win8 one?

Anybody know for sure?
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