PRODUCTS MENTIONED IN THIS ARTICLEBy Staff Writer, IDG Creative Lab
If you’ve been eyeballing an Ultrabook™ but think your budget won’t accommodate one, fear not: There are plenty of ultra-thin, ultra-light, ultra-speedy systems that won’t break the bank. In fact, for $800 or less, you can replace your aging, under-powered laptop with one of these state-of-the-art machines. Why opt for an Ultrabook? They’re ideal for business travelers, offering not only slim, lightweight designs, but also lightning-fast boot speeds and enough battery life to survive a coast-to-coast flight. Here’s a look at four of the best models you can get for under $800.
Lenovo ThinkPad Twist S230u
A dual-personality Ultrabook: half laptop, half tablet
Can’t decide between a laptop and a tablet? Who says you have to? True to its name, the business-friendly ThinkPad Twist can alternate between the two: The screen pivots and folds down atop the keyboard when you’re ready to stop typing and start tapping. In meeting parlance, that means you can sit at a conference table or stand on the factory floor and still have easy access to your documents. Plus, you get 500GB of storage along with extra gigabytes of solid-state space to improve performance. If there’s a downside here, it’s that the 12.5-inch touchscreen is a little smaller than ideal laptop size, while the entire system feels a little heavy when used as a tablet.
ASUS VivoBook S400CA-DH51T
A midsize Ultrabook with a downsize price tag
Want to use Windows 8 the way Microsoft intended? Choose an Ultrabook that has a touchscreen so you can tap, pinch, and swipe your way through apps and operations. The Asus VivoBook features a 14-inch multi-touch display and a 500GB hybrid drive: ample storage for your stuff, plus a 24GB solid-state drive to help Windows boot faster. However, if you use a lot of peripherals, you may be disappointed to learn that only one of the system’s three USB ports supports USB 3.0.
Acer Aspire S5-391-6419
Style, speed, and portability in one streamlined package
Acer’s dazzling matte-black Aspire S5 is without a doubt one of the most travel-friendly Ultrabook systems in the group, weighing just 2.6 pounds and measuring a scant 0.6 inches thick. What’s more, it comes with a 128GB solid-state drive, meaning Windows 8 boots, runs, and shuts down even faster than laptops with hybrid drives. The 13.3-inch screen lacks touch capabilities, though, so you’ll have to rely on the roomy touchpad if you want gesture-powered interaction with Windows 8.
Big screen, fast storage, small price
Ultrabook systems are designed for easy portability, but some users need a bigger workspace than the typical 13- or 14-inch screen affords. The Vizio CT15-A4 raises the bar to 15.6 inches, at the same time bumping screen resolution to 1,920 x 1,080—same as you’d get from a big desktop monitor. Translation: more words, windows, and spreadsheet cells on the screen at a time, and sharper-looking movies. The system also packs a 128GB SSD for blazing performance. Just keep in mind that at around five pounds, this outweighs some smaller systems. It might make your carry-on a little harder to carry on.
This originally appeared here.