It’s been a while since I tested an Ultrabook. Yes the Surface Pro is built on Ultrabook standards but the simple fact is that if you want to get the most out of any processor you need to give it room to breath. The laptop form-factor, where fans are acceptable and screen backlighting doesn’t sit layered over the processor is the one to choose if you really need to get things done. It’s been an absolute pleasure to run the ASUS UX305LA through its paces for a Notebookcheck Tech Review video and having done that, I now want one.
It feels like the Lenovo U300S is an Ultrabook that many many people had been waiting for. The first reviews were out in November last year but availability has been limited in the consumer channels, which is surprising because this isn’t a B2B product. In Europe today, just weeks before the 2nd-Generation Ultrabooks launch, there’s still a limited number of places where you can buy it, and still at original prices. Surprising, because this is a good Ultrabook. It’s not without a few issues but you’ll find out about them in our full review below.
It’s not going to be possible to get a full review of the ASUS UX31 together as unfortunately I’ll be returning it tomorrow to exchange it for a Toshiba Z830 and settling on that for my work at CES, Mobile World Congress and probably CeBIT in March. It has been a tough decision but it’s time to bite the bullet and get to work. Before I do thought, let me tell you what I have learnt about the UX31 in the last 4 days.
Along with three other models, the Core i7 variant of the Z830 has surfaced for order in the U.S, with a fingerprint reader but no 256GB SSD option yet.
Following previous announcements in Europe that appear to have held back the Core i7 version of the Toshiba Z830 [seen in testing results] from the shelves, it’s good to know it’s actually available in the U.S.with a max 6GB RAM. It’s dissapointing not to see a 256GB SSD storage option as that could have been a way round the relatively slow 128GB drive. Toshiba doesn’t, as far as we know, have a 256GB in their ‘value’ SSD range so it could have come from a faster family of SSDs. We’ll keep an eye out for that.
First, lets take a look at the SSD they’re using. It’s a critical part of an Ultrabook. Toshiba have obviously dropped their own part in and it’s a TOSHIBA THNSNB128GMCJ , 128GB, SSD, SATA on the Core i7 model tested and a TOSHIBA THNSNB064GMCJ , 64GB, SSD, SATA on the Core i3 model tested.
Ive just read through 8 pages of Asus UX21 review and come away with a very positive feeling. You’ll probably experience the same too because the UX21 beats quite a few more expensive devices in a general performance test and even gets some positive comments about gaming on the platform but it is the SSD that’s really responsible here. The balance of great processing capability and an SSD that removes any significant traces of bottlekneck is proving itself.
“If ever there was a “Poster Child” for the benefits of SSDs, especially in notebook platforms, it would have to be the Zenbook UX21. “
As a result of the extremely fast SSD the UX21 beats more expensive laptops in the general computing benchmark, PC Mark 7.
I’m typing this article on a 1.4Ghz Core i5 2357M device. It’s fast and efficient and representative of the type of performance that you’re going to get from Ultrabooks. It’s not quite the platform that the Asus UX21 will use when it launches though. On that you can expect one of the three new Sandy Bridge ULV (Ultra Low Voltage) CPUs that CNet highlighted today. There are two additional Core i3 parts I see too which brings the total to 8 CPU/GPUs, one of which is for embedded markets.