Discussion: Which Ultrabook? Why?

Updated on 04 November 2011 by

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I’ve just pushed the button on a Toshiba Z830 Ultrabook which might be here next week (although I suspect the 7th Nov delivery date is not going to be honoured.) I went for the Toshiba Z830 because I think it’s going to be the best for me. It’s very light, has the full size SD card slot I require for my photo and video work, a promising battery life and upgradeable SSD and memory. I’ve ordered a 4GB Core i5 model, the Z830-10J, for €999 in Germany.

Continued below. . .

Update: I’ve just cancelled my Z830 order based on the new SSD information.

I was planning to get a review model direct from Toshiba but the marketing team have been very unresponsive over the last weeks so I suspect they have bigger fish to fry. Someone has got to do this properly so it’s time to take an independant route, invest time and money, get my hands really dirty and expose everything I can in a live video review session and full, long-term review. . . assuming it turns up. If it gets delayed, i’ll be looking at alternatives but it needs to be in my hands soon so that I can start testing for you readers.

Have you ordered an Ultrabook too? Or have you already got an Ultrabook? If so, I think we would all love to know which one you bought and why. What are you going to use it for?

Perhaps you bought an alternative? We would love to hear details on that too.

Lets have a discussion below.

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47 Comments For This Post

  1. dean says:

    sitting this one out. i am using an HP DM1Z with that GREAT amd fusion chip… and frankly for $400 you can;t beat it.! even though they now have a 450 chip available the 350 is working fine!

  2. Chippy says:

    I had Lenovo S205 – same sort of device. Very smooth experience. I even upgraded it to SSD – it flew!
    Not quite the same as an Ultrabook for me though. Core i5 is way more powerful and the hardware video encoding works a treat. I wasnt impressed with hardware-assisted video encoding on the E-series.

  3. Jon says:

    I haven’t gotten an ultrabook yet, but I’m planning on getting one. I’m leaning towards the U300S, but I haven’t decided for sure. I like the battery life (or at least potential battery life), build quality and no vents on the bottom. I just wish it were a couple hundred dollars cheaper.

  4. Fernandez says:

    I am eagerly waiting on a Lenovo U300s as we speak. Expecting it today. Wanted one as soon as I saw one in pics and vids. Love the simple, but sophisticated style. The Lenovo marketing vids of how they designed it impressed me. Plus the reviews on the Acer and Asus (touchpad issues) did not. Can’t wait…

  5. Chippy says:

    I wish the Z830 had that quick-charge capability!

  6. Adam says:

    Congrats, Chippy!

    Super excited to hear your thoughts once you get your hands on it.

    (Super excited for you, too Dean.) 3.5 LBS, 10 hour battery life $399?!? That some serious value! I have been ignoring AMD for so long I didn’t know they had a platform capable of decent battery life…

  7. Everett says:

    Thanks Chippy! I am in the US, and I can’t wait for the z830 to be released here. I would probably have bought one already, even with a lack of hands on reviews! Thank you for taking the plunge FOR me. If I buy an Ultrabook now, the Z830 is the one. It is either that or wait for Ivy Bridge…and I don’t know if I have that kind of patience!

  8. Chippy says:

    Realistically, Ivy Bridge options available in the market could be July, August, Sept next year. I couldnt wait that long either! Happy to be diving into the Z830 especially for you ;-)

  9. Dan says:

    I still have my heart set on the U300s as well. In the US, I have seen a few sites with it for sale, but I would say it is not officially released here yet. us.lenovo.com still says November 2011, and Amazon simply says not in stock.

    I’m anxious for an “official” US release so we can see which specific models are available. I really love that orange, but so far it’s only the more expensive $1600us model… the sleek grey is growing on me. It’s the design overall, no bottom vents, excellent keyboard and trackpad that do it for me.

    It’s been great reading the wonderful and incredibly informative posts! Thank you, and keep it up!

  10. Brian says:

    I’d pretty much made up my mind to get a Z830 too. Then I read about the new Fujitsu Lifebookk SH771… I’ll have to see what my options are when the Z830 does come to the U.S.

  11. Craed says:

    Dying to know about the Z830, how much is vapor-hardware and how much is real. Thanks, Chippy, for taking the plunge – when you write your review, there is no such thing as “too much detail”. Even items like “fan noise” and “pillow-top computing” are very important.

  12. Zeljko says:

    Ordered Asus UX31 ten minutes ago. I’ve decided that higher screen resolution is a ‘must’ which led me to choose Asus despite comments that touchpad need new drivers ///I am capable of doing that :-)///
    Can’t wait until Tuesday

  13. rellZ says:

    im changing my buying plans daily for over 3-4 weeks now..

    one day it is the toshiba and the other day its the lenovo again.

    toshiba:

    + matt display

    + many ports

    + backlit keyboard

    + lightest of all and you can disable trackpad

    – 128 ‘slow’ ssd is NOT cutting it for me.. no way so id have to replace it and open the laptop on the first day of arrival thats a big MINUS part i dont feel like opening that thing now on a new buy……

    – no rapid charge as the lenovo has… and it feels like the lenovo has the better keyboard but thats my feeling

    – dont know if i will like the toshiba layout of the keyboard and placeement next to the RETURN key the home keys.. thy dont belong there.. im used to the old usual keyboard where the return button large and on the right end

    – its still not decided if thé toshiba brings the i7 but it should

    pro and cons for lenovo:

    + rapid charge function WOW WOW WOw…

    + heard good things about their build quality in general

    + maybe “best” keyboard important to me i need to type alot

    + 256 SSD+ i7 ( by default without havbing to open and upgrade it … i can just order it.. and i need 256 GB )

    + keyboard looks not only good… but has the keys where they belong to and no home keys on the right end like on the toshiba

    + glass trouchpad

    – reflections display

    – less ports and no hdmi fullsize and you need an adapter

    – NO ethernet + no vga port .. just doesnt feel right but maybe i will never need it..who knows…

    – i dont know if you can actually disable the trackpad like you can on the toshiba, i dont wanna end up on the trackpad and move the cursor when im typing and accidently hit the trackpad……

    – NO backlit keyboard and i really wanted one

    and this goes on for weeks now i simply cant decide… it switches from day to day.. at the beginning toshiba was my must buy but the 128gb ssd + the ‘weird’ keyboard layout

    if this taking too long ill maybe just do some implulse buy and order the lenovo and be happy… it should be available earlier and it has the 256GB ssd on deck..

    but its a really hard decision for weeks now…and i know whichever i pick i will regret and think maybe i should have bought the other…

  14. Dan says:

    Great summary and info!

    I would add to the Lenovo, there is full size HDMI, and I believe there is an FN key combination to disable trackpad (it’s hard to tell for sure from the pictures).

  15. Brian says:

    I’m still thinking the Toshiba over the Lenovo — with an upgrade to a SATA 3 25GB SSD later…

  16. Brian says:

    Oops. Typo. Meant SATA 3 256GB SSD later…

  17. Chippy says:

    I’ve just posted confirmation that at least one model of the Z830 has the slow SSD. For me it’s a deal-breaker. I will probably cancel my order as a results of this. http://ultrabooknews.com/2011/11/04/toshiba-portege-z830-first-impressions-retail-version-by-gottabemobile-show-slow-ssd/

  18. Sunir Garg says:

    http://www.lenovo.com/shop/americas/content/user_guides/U300_U300s_U400_ug_en.pdf
    It clearly shows there is a direct button (no need to press fn key) for touchpad enabling/disabling.

  19. johniboy says:

    I am still looking at the Samsung 9 Series. The 13 inch one. I know, its not an ultrabook per definition but who cares about names?
    Why? It probably has the best screen of the bunch. The resolution is not super high but I want to use my laptop outside. What use do you have if you have a super light laptop that you can carry around but cant see a thing when sipping a bear in a nice beer garden??
    Performance? I don´t think there will be any major differences. All of them use the same CPU and some sort of SSD. So you will have a 10%-20% difference? Keyboards, trackpads? Look OK on the Samsung. And the price is also not bad, at least in the US…

  20. Chippy says:

    I tested that one here on ultrabooknews. The screen is a peach! Ssd fast. Battery life, ok for me. Style 10/10. Prices coming down in eu too.

  21. Brian says:

    I’m still watching Samsung Series 9 too. Have had three. They need to bring the upgrades with the Intel Centrino 6300 (3 antenna) to the U.S. before I get another though.

  22. rellZ says:

    chipp

    can you confirm that just out of curiosity there is any way you could disable the trackpad on the lenovo ?

    maybe by the FN keys?

    if so this would bring me one step closer to the lenovo even tho id still miss the backlit keyboard, matt display and a few connectivity ports..

    but the 256gb ssd is so important along with a good keyboard that today im leaning towards the lenovo again – like i said – today

    its these small details im so worried about now before i can do my final decision….

  23. power__89 says:

    Chippy,
    Can you tell me something about the current status of the toshiba z830? I’m also planning to buy the z830, but i’m still not sure what’s the deal about the i7 version availibility in europe? There’s no sign of them, but the are still being reviewed (you did too, in combo with ssd) .. should i wait ‘Till they are availible, or do you think that this is not going to happen?
    Looking foreward to your review…

  24. Chippy says:

    I have no confirmation on the i7 version in Europe yet but i’ll update the our Z830 product page if I get any new info.
    http://ultrabooknews.com/database/Toshiba/Portege%20Z830

  25. rellZ says:

    chipp

    you see the SSD is a big deal and the toshiba even has the slower model and you are about to cancel your order

    not to forget it is only 128GB, so that is why my decision leans more and more towards lenovo..

    i only need the last push over the edge and im ready to go!!

    push me..

  26. FredrikAug says:

    I will go for the UX31, the touchpad I stress will be fixed with some fine tuned new updates. I can live without the backlit keyboard and the “bad” viewing angles. Those factors are irrelevant for me. Apart from that almost all reviews I’ve read has put it up close or at the equal level as the MBA, some actually better than the MBA! The importand and critical aspects for me are:

    – The extremly fast SSD (128GB a bit faster than the 256GB)

    – The solid build in full alu

    – The looks, yes I want heads to turn!

  27. Frank says:

    I finally went for d MBA 11, 256gb. Its my 1st mac but really if similarly priced i prefer to have a possibilty to try osx and gestures. Also its 11 inch, which is what i wanted.

  28. rellZ says:

    guess what, ive went the same route just today.. i got tired tired of both my favorite models not being capable to put together one masterpiece…

    so i actually went for the macbook air 13 inch / i5 version now, it wasnt worth it to go for the i7 for my daily needs…

    the performance is good, build quality is, keyboard, 1440*900 screen and that is STILL better than the lenovo or the toshiba could offer me ( and no i didnt want the asus since it had other things that threw me off, even tho i got to say asus has a nice SSD + good screen )

    as a summary its sad: i first wanted the toshiba ( backlit keyboard + matte display ) but after the ssd “disaster” i was done with it… i wont open it and install another ssd controller and / or SSD disk ..neither did i like the home, pgup and pgdown button placements and small enter + shift buttons im really picky on such minor things which would change my daily using habits…which i dont want..

    then i thought its whatever, ill simply get the lenovo then and realised it is the same 1366* screen resolution, the same weird botton placement, no backlit keyboard and much more things which threw me off again..

    so i actually changed my plans went for the macbook air today and ordered it ( and ill throw windows on it…) after 4 weeks of waiting and researches i still end up on a months old laptop but what can you do lol….

    ultrabooks i see you next year again, maybe by then ill actually find one model which covers the most of my needs..

    i will keep my eye on this site the next months and weeks, cant wait for the first lenovo and toshiba USER reviews, maybe i will regret it but i doubt it…

    see yall later

  29. Michael says:

    All these ultrabooks are a waste of money. Might as well go for a MacBook Air and just install Windows in it if you want Windows. You benefit from 2 OS systems, its super slim, tried and tested performances, and Apple holds its second hand value very well. One day, you are fed up with it, you can sell it for a good price, add a bit more cash to upgrade to something new.

  30. rellZ says:

    thats exactly what im going to do now…

    ill actually see how i like macOS in a daily use and then switch over to bootcamp and windows…

    and its not really that the ultrabooks are a complete waste of money, they have their benefits as well here and there,

    -> “here and there”

    they only need to offer equally or better specs than apple to compete… the price wasnt really the deal breaker for me, i would had paid more if any of these ultrabooks brought out THAT masterpiece which covers all aspects..

    myself, i dont see any point to pay 100-200 euro less for the lenovo largest model when i can get the same and more on the macbook…

    but once the prices drop and they work on the screen resolutions and the smaller details they have a nice future… lets hope…the whole ultrabooks idea is long overdue..

    just need to get their things together next year with the ivy bridge CPUs, so my update of the next laptop is only a year or months ahead…maybe …

  31. Michael says:

    In any mobile device, battery life is of prime importance. I think most people would agree with this. At least when Apple tells you it gives 7 hours, you can expect a good 5 hours of usage.

    But some of these ultrabooks claim to have tons of battery life. But in reality, you get a pathetic 3 hours and below. That gives you less than half a day of computing. What nonsence is this? Are peoples so blind that they they don’t mind taking the risk buying these ultrabooks?

  32. johniboy says:

    yeah, just that for Windows you have to rely on Apple to provide you good drivers. And Apple does not want you to use windows, so there you have it. Look a forums and check how well the trackpad works when you use bootcamp. Not very well. I don´t want to be forced into macOS and have to buy all my software again, thats for sure.

  33. Dan says:

    If it hasn’t been mentioned before… I just found a great user review on Amazon of someone who bought and returned the UX31 and now has the U300s and is extremely happy…

    Check out the very informative review and user comments; no idea who the person is, but the details are specific:
    http://www.amazon.com/review/R69MG4EDRVDE2/ref=cm_cd_pg_pg1?ie=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2EP06HWIJFKI4&cdPage=1&asin=B005NHPEYW&store=pc&cdThread=Tx1RY3LA215YOTN#wasThisHelpful

  34. Chippy says:

    Thanks Dan. Reading now. . .

  35. Dan says:

    Thank You Chippy… for all your research and testing and presenting it for us here so nicely!

  36. Chippy says:

    Great information. Ive linked it into the database. Am now considering the U300S!

  37. michael says:

    Chippy, one day you want the Toshiba, then another day, you want the Asus. Now you want the Lenovo.

    What is sure is this. Consumers don’t want to pay premium money for substandard products. Why pay over $1000 when you are not getting premium level specs and quality?

    Even the Lenovo is plagued by a glare screen, when you pay premium, you expect premium. Matte and anti-glare, everybody knows cost more to produce.

  38. Chippy says:

    Like many people, Ultrabooks are looking attractive in terms of specs. I want this power-weight ratio. None of them fit exactly but i need simething now for my work (not just here) and i dont want to pay $1500.

    The only thing that worries me a little about the U300S is the slightly heavier weight and the lack of SD card slot. Glossy display not a problem for me.

    It looks like we wont get any other Ultabooks this side of new year so it’s time to choose a best-fit device.

    What would.you suggest? U300S, given the new information, looks like the closest fit for me.

  39. michael says:

    I am not an Apple fanboy but I strongly suggest the MBA. At least, you are fairly sure about the battery times. Do a bootcamp and run Windows.

  40. Dan says:

    This is off subject, but have you tried EyeFi SD cards? …just a thought. I’ve never used one.

    This is a tough call for sure. For every great feature, each of the 1st gen ultrabooks have a negative. I still want the U300s, but am leaning towards the cheaper i5 model… as storage space isn’t quite as important… although from an investment standpoint, it may be worth $400 more for the 256gb over its lifespan.

    However this works out, I’ve enjoyed reading about the process and seeing each persons thoughts!

  41. Chippy says:

    Good thought on the eye-fi card.

  42. rellZ says:

    chipp

    i told you days ago already go fore the lenovo, i was almost bought myself and i still like the lenovo from the first looks and reviews…

    they almost had me only the screen resolution, no backlit keyboard and the general weird button placement on the keyboard, didnt cut it for me in the end…

    im almost sure you will not regret the lenovo order i mean it is the “best” all around package go for it!!

  43. michael says:

    Actually, you are better off waiting for the 2nd generation, if it even does come out. Most probably prices would have come down and you’d be able to accept the few elements they lack.

    For now, its crazy to pay premium prices, say $1500, for something that resembles and work like our current day light notebooks.

  44. Recan says:

    While it’s technically not an ultrabook, I would be curious to get Chippy’s impressions of the 11.6″ Asus u24e as it’s getting alot of press lately as low-priced ultraportable powerhouse.

    Most importantly, what the real world battery life will be like with a standard i5 (i7 in US) & 5200 battery.

  45. michael says:

    I am very sure it would do well. Infact, most manufacturers are introducing alternatives to ultrabooks ie shooting themselves in the foot. For example, this u24e, Asus will have a hard time pushing people to buy their ultrabook. The same with Samsung and their 1.4Kg Samsung NP350. Why should people pay double for a Series 9?

    Maybe manufacturers have a stange suspicioun that ultrabooks may fail and, as insurance, are introducing models that closely resemble ultrabooks for half the price.

    Anyway, with deals like this, how are ultrabooks going to sell? http://dealnews.com/Acer-Aspire-AO722-0473-AMD-C-60-1-GHz-12-Laptop-for-197-in-store-at-Target/516029.html

  46. Dave says:

    None yet! Want (Multi) TouchScreen / Win8 !!! I bet Apple Air get’s one day also beside normal usage a TouchScreen with IOS from iPad

  47. Dionaura says:

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