It's been a lonely month for the Zenbook and Aspire S3, but the industry's first ultrabooks are about to get some company. Toshiba's Portege Z835 will soon be available exclusively through Best Buy for $900 -- $200 less than Asus' offering and $400 cheaper than Apple's baseline 13.3-inch MacBook Air. Despite its more affordable price tag, Toshiba's ultra-thin notebook has plenty to offer. In fact, it has a leg up on Asus and Acer, according to Laptopmag.
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. Unfortunately, the flash drive isn't as snappy as you might like with sequential read and write speeds (185MB/s and 49MB/s) that aren't much better than your bog standard 7200RPM hard drive.
While its SSD won't be shattering any records, the Portege fares well in the mobility department. It weighs less than its immediate competition at 2.4lbs and its battery life outperforms the Zenbook and MacBook Air, fetching nearly seven hours when browsing the Web over Wi-Fi. Like other ultrabooks, the Portege's battery is sealed inside so you can't carry a spare. Connectivity includes USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, VGA and HDMI-out, a card reader and Ethernet.
Unfortunately for Intel and its partners, ultrabooks have kicked off to an underwhelming start. Earlier this month, industry sources said that Asus and Acer expected to ship about 100,000 units each by the end of 2011 -- a third of their original target. According to the latest details from DigiTimes, Asus and Acer have since responded to the lower-than-expected demand by reducing ultrabook orders by 40%. Both companies are confident in the platform for the long-term.
The Acer Aspire S3 is 0.51 inches thin and weighs only 2.98 pounds. Its chassis is made from magnesium alloy and under the hood it packs an Intel Core i5 processor, a 20GB solid-state drive operating system and the machine’s current state, as well as a 320GB hard drive for storage. The S3's LED-backlit display offers a 1,366 by 768-pixel resolution and is driven by the CPU's integrated Intel HD graphics 3000 graphics processor.
The 13-inch MacBook Air models get a 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-2637M 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 HD 3000 from Intel.
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