Five Standout Features to Watch for in an Ultrabook

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An Acer ultrabook
Ultrabooks are already hot this year. With Apple proving that thin, light laptops are desirable and Intel pushing the platform, the Consumer Electronics Association expects as many as 50 ultrabooks to be launched at CES in Las Vegas next week. With so many new models to choose from, how should your business decide which is the best fit?

Ultrabook Defined

Ultrabook is an Intel-trademarked term that refers to a platform that uses its technology to meet specific requirements. Among these, the device must boot quickly, offer more than 5 hours of general use on battery power, be less than .8 inches thick, weigh less than 3.1 pounds, use Flash-based storage, and cost around $1000. Intel competitor AMD is releasing a similar platform it calls "ultrathin", though it’s not expected to appear in as many models.

Differentiating Features

With so many ultrabook models being released, all with similar base specifications, how can a manufacturer stand out, and how can your business decide which model to go with? Here are a few important features that could make a difference in your decision on which ultrabook to buy.

1. Battery Life

When you’re working on the road, battery life is important. Tablets are great for working all day, but are still improving for enabling content creation. Ultrabooks are perfect for creating content, and if a model offers battery life beyond 8 hours, possible with a larger-than-average battery or a more efficient processor or screen, it will be well worth considering.

2. Storage Capacity

Most current ultrabooks have 128GB of flash memory, with some offering 256GB options. While this is plenty of space for some, many businesses work with more data, and will require more space. Instead of lugging around external hard drives, any model with 500GB or even 1TB of storage will be desirable.

3. Display

Though most current ultrabooks use a 13-inch screen, those who travel often will prefer smaller sizes, such as the 11-inch MacBook Air that Apple makes. For most business use, though, a 14 or 15-inch screen will be more desirable. Many businesses would also be served well by “retina” displays with resolutions up to 1800 x 2880, great for working with graphics or large spreadsheets. Screen sizes and resolutions that stand out from the crowd may best serve your needs and make your decision easier.

4. Processing Speed

With quick boot-up times, and a performance boost from the included flash memory, ultrabooks compare favorably with laptops, but for many businesses, raw processing power makes all the difference. Intel is likely to introduce its new IvyBridge processor at CEfS, which promises to offer 20 percent increased performance over the current Sandy Bridge processor. If your business needs require serious number crunching, look for models with the latest Ivy Bridge processor.

5. Thin and Light

An Asus ultrabook
The main selling point of ultrabooks is that they are thin and light. Though most will be similar in size, shape and weight, those that are more portable will attract workers who spend most of their time outside the office. As Apple demonstrated with the tapered shape and aluminum unibody of its MacBook Airs, unique design, materials, and components will make a model stand out from the pack.

In Video: First Intel-Based Ultrabooks

[For more blogs, stories, photos, and video from the nation's largest consumer electronics show, check out PCWorld's complete coverage of CES 2012]

Joseph Fieber has 25 years experience as an IT pro, with a background in computer consulting and software training. Follow him on Google+, Facebook, or Twitter, or contact him through his website ,

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