If you're thinking about picking up a sleek, thin Ultrabook or MacBook Air, you may want to check out FixYa's September 2012 Ultrabook Report, first. The new report reveals the biggest problems users experience with the MacBook Air and six popular Ultrabooks, including the Asus Zenbook Prime, Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, and Vizio Thin+Light.
FixYa is a troubleshooting site with more than 25 million monthly visitors. For its Ultrabook Report, the company gathered the most common complaints and questions about the laptops from its members.
The MacBook Air has unique problems, probably because it isn't technically an Ultrabook. Common MacBook Air issues include low memory (25 percent of reported issues) and thermal shutdown (25 percent), which is when the computer shuts down if it gets too hot. Owners also complained that the MacBook Air is difficult to repair and has poor speaker quality. About 15 percent of users had "other" issues.
The MacBook Air's memory can't be upgraded, but for the thermal shutdowns and overheating, FixYa recommends taking steps like making sure the vents aren't covered and turning down the screen brightness.
According to the study, the most common Ultrabook problems included poor battery life, poor screen quality, and slow performance, though the issues vary by device.
Almost half—45 percent—of Asus Zenbook Prime users reported touchpad errors. This, however, may only be for older versions of the Zenbook, since Asus upgraded the newer UX31A's touchpad. (PCWorld's review of the Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A found the overall touch experience to be better.) Zenbook owners also say the laptop has keyboard issues, runs slowly, and has heat and noise problems.
For the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, the top problem reported is battery life (35 percent), though touchpad errors come in a close second (30 percent). While you can't do much about the touchpad, short battery life can be addressed with a few tweaks. In PCWorld's review of the X1 Carbon, we found the battery life to be decent, eking out about six hours and 11 minutes.
The Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M5's top problem was poor screen quality (35 percent), another issue that can't really be fixed. The Timeline Ultra M5 has a 15.5-inch screen with a disappointingly low resolution of 1366 by 768 pixels. Owners also complained of a loud fan, heat, and too little SSD space.
Like the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, the Vizio Thin+Light's biggest issue was battery life (35 percent). In PCWorld's tests, we also found the battery life to be lacking--at just over five hours, it's a lot less than the six+ hours of other Ultrabooks. Other user complaints regarding the ThinkPad X1 Carbon included issues with the keyboard, slow performance, and Wi-Fi troubles.
FixYa's report also includes the Dell XPS 14z, but that might not even be worth mentioning, since Dell has discontinued that model. The biggest problem with the XPS 14z was the wireless card, which could be fixed with updated drivers.
The report also includes Lenovo IdeaPad Ultrabooks, but because Lenovo has four IdeaPad Ultrabook models the information is very general and may not apply to all of the IdeaPads. Again, the biggest issue there was Wi-Fi connectivity, which Lenovo has acknowledged, and which can be fixed with updated drivers.
Keep in mind that these are complaints from people experiencing issues—happy users aren't weighing in. That said, it's good to know what you might expect from these laptops if you decide to purchase one.