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Ultrabook Recommendation Guide for 2017

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Ultrabooks are high-end sub-notebook computers featuring reduced bulk without compromising battery life. Ultrabooks use low-power Intel Core processors, and solid-state drives to reduce weight and construction size making them very portable. Due to their limited size, Ultrabooks typically omit common laptop features such as optical disc drives and replacing Ethernet with WiFi technology.

In my research and experience on what specs to include in a Ultrabook, I specifically have moved away from recommending 2-in-1 and 3-in-1 Ultrabook to tablet convertibles. The reason for this is that in my experience with convertible Ultrabook hardware failures and the research I have done, the longevity of these models are suspect. Convertibles have too many moving parts in terms of the way it converts from tablet to laptop mode which can cause flexing that results in damage to the components. If you want a tablet buy a tablet, if you want a laptop by a laptop. I have yet to see any manufacture design a convertible Ultrabook that is built to last, to many moving parts in my opinion. In this Ultrabook recommendation guide, I recommend three models based on my research on what models will cause the least headaches and be built to last.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 5th Generation Business Ultrabook 14in

Lenovo X1 Carbon


Depending on the model, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 comes with a 7th generation Intel processor ranging from an Intel Core i5-6200U Processor (3MB Cache, up to 2.80GHz) all the way up to the Intel Core vPro i7-7600U. The U version processors are in the mid-range in terms of speed in this particular class. vPro version processors are optimized for performance, battery life and wireless capabilities. These processors are built for serious business computing on the go. The X1 Carbon supports up to 16gigs of ram and has a Intel HD 620 video chip which is designed for low power business use. Most Ultrabooks come with integrated graphic chips on the main board providing limited features. They're decent for displaying HD video, text, and graphics but they are not really designed for high end graphics and gaming. These particular graphics chips also use the main memory of your system to store calculations for the display. This memory will be subtracted from the systems maximum main memory decreasing the amount of memory you have left over for application/system use. Its not a huge deal for most people but it is a concern you should be aware of if you have high memory requirements for your business operations.

The X1 weighs just under 3 lbs, making it the heavier model out of the three in this recommendation guide. Battery life is reported at 6.5 hours but you will probably get around 3hrs to 4hrs batter life on average, and it also has a back lit keyboard. The X1 comes with a high quality 14.0" FHD IPS Anti-Glare LED Backlight 1920x1080 display 1 , one of the best currently on the market that doesn't break the bank. Its got a mini-display port so you could hook the X1 Carbon into many modern external displays without a problem. It disappointingly only has 2 USB 3.0 ports, one on each side of the unit. The dimensions are 12.7" x 8.5" x 0.6" (323.5 mm x 217.1 mm x 15.95 mm) making these Ultrabooks slightly thicker than the Asus Zenbook. The Zenbook being the slimmest one of the three. This Ultrabook comes with a 3 year warranty from the manufacturer. You can pre-configure a X1 Carbon by purchasing it from Lenovo's website or a third party site like Newegg with a specific SSD storage and memory size. I do not believe you can upgrade the ram once you purchase the model . The X1's also do not have a touch screen option.

The X1 comes with a 3 year warranty which is a lot better than most manufactures offer on comparable Ultrabooks. Lenovo also has a reputation of having decent support if you have to have it serviced for some reason.

ASUS Zenbook UX390UA-DH51-GR 12.5" Ultraportable Laptop i5-7200U 8GB, 256GB SSD, Silver Grey 12in



The ASUS Zenbook UX series Ultrabook is the sleekest model I have ever seen. The dimensions are 11.65 x 7.52 x 0.46 inch (WxDxH) (w/ 6cell battery), weighing at 2 lbs (910g) It's constructed with a solid It has a brushed aluminum look the uses aerospace-grade alloy for the frame that prevents flexing when opening and does very well and keeping the unit cool. ASUS designed this model with very good cooling technology which prevents the unit from overheating under heavy use. These unit comes with with a Intel i7 Core processor up to 3.1 GHz, DDR3 Ram up to 16GB and a PCIe 3rd Gen SSD up to 1TB. It offers the best battery life out of the three in this recommendation guide with up to 9 hours of battery life and a real world 7 hrs so it actually holds up pretty close to the advertised battery life. It also charges under an hour. The ASUS UX series has a 802.11ac wireless card with up to 867 Mbps speed using dual band Wi-Fi. Previous models suffered from poor Keyboard placement and tactileness. Based on the reviews I have read on this model it looks like they improved the design. The touchpad has moved from the off center left alignment that made it difficult to type without making inadvertent contact with the touchpad. It looks like the touchpad has been moved to the center which should make the contact while typing less of a problem. It has a 12.5-inch, 1920 x 1080 IPS high quality display.

Asus has a history of poor technical and service support. If you run into a warranty problem with this unit it takes time to get the right response, unfortunately. Asus make good products for the most part but its an Asian company so they have to outsource its support service. From my personal experience in dealing with Asus technical support, the quality of service suffers from insufficient support rep training, problems with customer communication and failures in communication between it's support staff and its service centers. Asus also offers 1 year warranty, the worst warranty length I have seen. If you purchase an Asus try to find a 3rd party return guarantee of some kind or purchase it from Amazon or another company that offers some return policy so you are not completely dead in the water trying to get Asus to move on returns.


Protoege Z30 Photo


The Portege Z30 looks promising, its a brand new cost effective Ultrabook from Toshiba that has a new build construction material called magnesium alloy which is supposed to stiffen the case, preventing flexing similar to the Asus UX but not as strong as aero-space grade alloy. Since its brand new there isn't much information about how it holds up in the real world so I can't guarantee it's construction reliability. Its slightly heavier than the ASUS UX at 2.5 lbs, but also slightly larger in size as a 12.5 in Ultrabook. The Portege's promotional material reports the battery life to last up to 15 hrs. Reviewers of the model are clocking it just under 9 hours of regular use which is pretty good real world battery life. I like that it has 3 USB ports. It has a back lit keyboard and It comes with 8 gigs of DDR3L 1600 of ram with a Intel® Core™ i5-6200U Processor. The Portege Z30 comes with a WXGA HD LED panel, which is a lower end display technology compared to the other models in this recommendation guide. The max resolution 1366 x 768 is much lower than the other models as well. I think Toshiba made this design decision to keep batter life high. The screen darkens when you view it from angles, but it does have a really good anti-glare look when view head on.

Depending on the model, the price range is from $900 to $1,500. The $120gig drive is really cutting it on size in the system requirements for the operating system, It can work but you wont be able to store much data on it depending on your size requirements. If you use a USB memory stick I suggest that. The really good point about this unit is that its upgradeable. Most Ultrabooks have construction limitations that make upgrading them difficult and time consuming so upgrading the SSD if needed shouldn't be a problem. Toshiba customer support is reported as hit and miss, but probably better than ASUS. Reviewers of this model have reported tactile problems with keyboard's size and the touchpad's failure to register taps intermittently.


As a heavy use kind of person, I personally would go with the Asus laptop myself due to the specs. But I can handle support issues on my own. But I would see if I could order it on amazon due to its 30 day return policy if something is wrong out of the box. When you order from Asus, you will get problems right away with something like this. If you get it, pay close attention to any problems while using the unit. Asus laptops are good laptops, but sometimes you get a lemon. With only a one year warranty if something goes wrong, you're screwed. If you want good support you could go with the Lenovo. If you want to save some money you could go with the Portege and deal with the limitations.

I offer solutions that simplifies technology for the community at Santa Rosa, California. If you have any questions about my results or are looking for more information on purchasing please contact me by phone 707-536-1527, or submit a service consultation for help on my website.

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