Ultraportables

Thin and light laptops offer a smooth blend of performance, portability and battery life. This segment was previously reserved for super-expensive laptops that tried to emphasize all of these features. While some luxury systems still fit that description, nowadays with Intel heavily pushing 'Ultrabooks' you can find great thin and light systems priced between $900 and $1,300, many of them packing SSDs.

The typical thin and light sports an 11-, 12- or 13-inch display, Intel's second-generation Core i3, i5 or i7 processors, 4GB of RAM, 6+ hours of battery life, and start with around 120GB SSD storage or 320GB HDDs. The vast majority of them also drop the optical drive for the sake of portability.


Apple MacBook Air

88 44 Reviews Apple refreshed its thin-and-light MacBook Air lineup in July, adding Thunderbolt and Intel's second-generation Sandy Bridge processors to the mix as well as backlit keyboards on all models. The 11-inch model is available in two configurations: one with a 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-2467M processor, 2GB of memory, 64GB of flash storage for a suggested retail price of $999, and one with double the RAM and flash storage for $1,199.

The 13-inch MacBook Air model is just 0.68 inches thick and gets a 1.7GHz Intel Core i7-2637M processor, 4GB of RAM, and either 128GB or 256GB of flash storage for $1,299 or $1,599, respectively. Configure to order options include a 1.8 GHz Core i7-2677M processor and additional flash storage, but unfortunately no discrete graphics, only the built-in Intel HD 3000.

Additional views:

Quick specs | Full specs Starting price: $1,299 (13-inch base model)
Processor: Intel Core i7-2637M 1.7GHz Graphics: Intel Graphics HD 3000
Memory: 4GB of 1333MHz DDR3 Storage: 128GB SSD
Display size: 13.3" (1440x900) Optical: none
Weight: ~2.9lbs (~1.3 kg) Battery: ~7 hours


Toshiba Portege Z835

71 11 Reviews Weighing in at just 2.4 pounds the new Toshiba Portege Z830 is the lightest ultrabook yet. It also offers long battery life, a backlit keyboard, and plenty of full-size ports. Not bad for its starting price of $930. The 13.3-incher has a sleek brushed-metal lid and makes liberal use of clean lines and greyish hues to achieve a design of "understated elegance." It carries a 1366x768 display, a 1.4GHz Intel Core i3-2367M processor, 4GB of RAM and a Toshiba-branded 128GB SSD.

Additional views:

Quick specs | Full specs Starting price: $930
Processor: Intel Core i3-2367M 1.4GHz Graphics: Intel Graphics HD 3000
Memory: 4GB DDR3 1333MHz memory Storage: 128GB SSD
Display size: 13.3" (1366x768) Optical: none
Weight: ~2.4lbs (~1.1 kg) Battery: ~7 hours


Asus Zenbook UX31

76 4 Reviews In terms of specs and design the 13.3-inch Zenbook UX31 is quite similar to Apple's MacBook Air, although the Asus comes in $200 cheaper at $1,099. It offers a higher resolution display and its SSD also supports the 6Gbps SATA III interface, but lacks keyboard backlighting. The UX31 has an instant-on feature that Asus says will allow the system to resume from sleep in about 2 seconds and when it comes to battery life Asus promises somewhere around 7 hours. Build quality is top notch on Asus' ultrabook, measuring 0.71 inches at its thickest point and weighing 2.9 pounds.

Additional views:

Quick specs | Full specs Starting price: $1,099
Processor: Intel Core i5-2557M 1.7GHz Graphics: Intel Graphics HD 3000
Memory: 4GB DDR3 1333MHz memory Storage: 128GB SSD
Display size: 13.3" (1600X900) Optical: none
Weight: ~2.9lbs (~1.3 kg) Battery: ~7 hours


Sony Vaio Z

Weighing just 2.6 pounds with a thickness of 0.86 inches, the 2011 Sony Vaio Z thinner and lighter than Apple's MacBook Air, yet it still manages to pack in a full-voltage Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, along with up to 8GB RAM and up to 512GB of SSD storage. Graphics are handled by Intel's integrated HD 3000 chip, but when paired with an optional Light Peak docking station you'll be able to tap into the power of a discrete AMD Radeon card and connect up to four displays using the additional VGA and HDMI ports.

Sony's US pricing kicks off just shy of $2,000 and skyrockets beyond $4,000 with higher-end configurations. It's definitely more expensive than the latest crop of Ultrabooks, popping up for around $1,000 and offering just enough power for the average user. Then again, the Vaio Z will blow those out of the water in terms of performance without sacrificing its thin and incredibly light profile.

Additional views:

Quick specs | Full specs Starting price: $1,950
Processor: Intel Core i5-2410M 2.3GHz Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 3000
Memory: 4GB 1333MHz DDR3 Storage: 128GB SSD
Display size: 13.1" anti-glare display (1600x900) Optical: with optional dock
Weight: 2.6 lb Battery: 7 hours


Other noteworthy Ultraportable options

Lenovo IdeaPad U300s

75 Lenovo's entry into the ultrabook arena is as well-engineered as you'd expect, with good battery life, Intel WiDi and great keyboard / trackpad combo. It does lack perks that some of its rivals offer, like a SD slot and backlit keys.

Price range: From $1,095

Lenovo ThinkPad X1

76 The X1 has a lot going on for it: rock-solid build quality, clean design, backlit keyboard, a Core i3 or i5 processor and a solid-state drive. Though it's not the thinner and lighter ultraportable, ThinkPad veterans will feel right at home with this machine.

Price range: $1,299