Laptops of CES: Smaller, Lighter, Flashier

The big laptop story at CES is Ultrabooks, but that isn't all that laptop makers were showing off. Here are the stand-out laptops of CES 2012.

Ultrabooks Are The New Black

Like Gucci outfits at Fashion Week, Ultrabooks dominate CES 2012. These new ultra-light laptops come with long battery life and plenty of processing power wrapped in svelte, sleek cases that will make you the star of the catwalk (Or boardroom or cafe--whichever you prefer). The big question is, which one fits your style?

Lenovo IdeaPad U310 and U410

The U310 and U410 are Lenovo’s new Ultrabooks. They replace the U300 and introduce a few small changes. The larger U410 features a 14-inch screen powered by the Nvidia GeForce 610M graphics card, while the 13-inch U310 uses Intel integrated graphics. Neither model has the U300’s SSD; instead, Lenovo swapped it with a standard hard drive alongside a sold-state cache. The specs might not be the most impressive around, but the price is nothing to sneeze at--the U310 starts at just $699. Both models should be available sometime in May.

Asus 1225b Ultraportable

Asus showed off a number of new laptops at CES, including a number of Eee PC netbooks. For our money, though, Asus's most impressive product is the 1225B. This 12.1-inch Ultraportable features 2GB of memory, a 320GB hard drive, AMD’s E-450 dual-core APU, and a weight of just 3.1 pounds. But its most impressive spec may be it’s price: At just $399, the 1225B looks like an attractively priced alternative to traditional netbooks.

New Vizio Ultrabooks

Vizio made its name as an HDTV maker, so we were a little surprised to see the company jump into the PC market. That said, from what we've seen of Vizio's upcoming notebooks, we can't help but to be impressed. Vizio's new notebook line will be free of stickers that tout its processor and graphics card, and it'll ship without so-called "crapware" pre-installed. These upcoming notebooks will come in 14- and 15-inch models and will feature high-resolution screens (1600 by 900 and 1920 by 1080, respectively). Vizio has yet to announce pricing, availability, or official specs, but look for them to hit stores in five or six months.

Samsung Series 9 (2012 model)

Samsung originally announced its Series 9 line of notebooks last spring. We liked them then, and if our initial impressions are any indication, the 2012 model won't be too shabby, either. The 2012 edition is only half an inch thick and weighs a scant 2.5 pounds, but this light weight and slim profile comes at the expense of ports. The new Series 9 comes in 13- and 15-inch models and carries 128GB of storage, along with your choice of either a Core i3 or i5 processor. The base model will set you back $1400; the 15-inch model will cost $100 more. The revamped Series 9 ships in late February.

Lenovo Ideapad Yoga

The Lenovo Yoga is a tablet. And an Ultrabook. And it certainly lives up to its name. This tablet-laptop hybrid has a screen that can flip all the way back on a pair of double hinges so that the top of the lid touches the bottom of the laptop, transforming the Yoga into a tablet. Lenovo has yet to announce specs, but the company says that the Yoga is designed with Windows 8 in mind, and that it should ship in the second half of this year.

HP Envy 14 Spectre

HP's Envy 14 Spectre is 14-inch, 3.79-pound notebook that's a little larger than many of the other Ultrabooks we've seen, which typically have screens that measure 13 inches or smaller. But that extra weight and screen size gets you a high-resolution display (1600 by 900) and more full-sized ports (which means no dongles--yay). The base model, priced at $1400, comes with a Core i5 processor, 4GB of memory, and a 128GB SSD. You'll be able to get one beginning February 8.

Lenovo Ideapad S200 Netbook

Ultrabooks may be getting all the attention this year, but Lenovo is keeping the Netbook alive with the Ideapad S200, shipping in June. The newest addition to the S series features an 11.6-inch screen and it's just 0.8 inches thick--small even by netbook standards. The price is a bit hard to swallow, however--at $599, the S200 is expensive for a netbook, and it costs just an extra $10 to step up to Lenovo’s more powerful U series.

Dell XPS 13, Ultrabook

Fair or no, Dell has a reputation for making PCs that get the job done, but don't really excite. But its latest notebooks, such as the XPS 13, could change that. The XPS 13 features a 13-inch screen, as well as a slim chassis that is 0.7 inches at its thickest point and tapers down to 0.24 inches. Inside, you have a choice of an Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 processor, and up to 256GB of solid-state storage. Prices start at $999, and Dell plans to ship the XPS 13 either toward the end of February or in early March.

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