CES 2012 Ultrabook Roundup

Ultrabooks CES 2012

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2012 concluded last week and showed off what technologies will be coming to consumers this year. This year there were a lot of ultrabooks, phones, tablets and smart TVs (some with Google TV). Below are the ultrabooks announced/previewed at CES.

Key Points

  • Many hitting the under US$1000 mark
  • Less compromises compared those currently out with more ports and full-sized ports
  • Dell XPS 13, HP Envy 14 Spectre, Samsung Series 5 and 9 are/should be available in Q1
Overview of Devices
  • Acer Aspire S5: Thunderbolt port with AcerCloud for syncing/backing up data/devices, probably competitive on price as with most Acer products
  • Dell XPS 13: 13″ screen in a 12″ chassis. Smaller form factor for 13″ screen
  • HP Envy 14 Spectre: 14″ screen in 13″ chassis with Beats and an optional 2nd SSD
  • Lenovo ThinkPad T430u: interesting with optional nVidia graphics but looks to be released late in the year with the newer Intel processors
  • Lenovo YOGA: for Windows 8, interesting slate, tablet & laptop usage scenarios
  • Lenovo U310/U410: targeting lower end with the cheap price
  • Samsung Series 5: mainstream ultrabooks with the 14″ model having an optical drive
  • Samsung Series 9: premium ultrabooks 13″/15″ but light

Acer Aspire S5

Acer Aspire S5

Dell XPS 13

Dell XPS 13

  • 13.3″ (1366×768) screen in 12″ chasis
  • Core i5/i7 processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 128GB/256GB SSD
  • 1.4kg
  • 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0 (with PowerShare – charge devices while device is asleep), 1 x MiniDisplay ports (no SD card slot / HDMI port)
  • Backlight keyboard
  • Aluminum lid, Gorilla Glass covered screen, Carbon fibre base
  • Starting at US$999
  • Availability: end of February
  • Links: Dell, Engadgetd, TheVerge, T3 review, TechRadar Review, Ultrabook News database

HP Envy 14 Spectre

HP Envy 14 Spectre

  • 14-inch, 1600 x 900 screen in 13.3″ chassis
  • Core i5/i7 processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 128GB/256GB SSD
  • 1.8kg
  • 128GB SSD drive with an option to add a second SSD to double the storage
  • Gorilla Glass covered
  • Beats Audio system
  • 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, HDMI, Mini DisplayPort, Ethernet port, SD card reader
  • Starts at $1,399 (i5, 128GB)
  • Availability: March 2012
  • Links: TheVerge, CNET, Ultrabook News database

Lenovo ThinkPad T430u

Lenovo Thinkpad T430u

  • 14-inch (1366 x 768) screen
  • Next Generation Intel Core processors (or Ivy Bridge) with optional Nvidia graphics
  • Windows 8 ready
  • 1TB HHD
  • 1.8kg
  • Starts at US$849
  • 2 x USB 3.0 ports, an Ethernet jack, full-size HDMI socket, SD card reader
  • Availability: Late 2012
  • Links: TheVerge, Engadget, Pocket Lint, Ultrabook News database

Lenovo YOGA

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga

  • 13.1″ (1600×900) screen
  • Intel Core processor
  • Windows 8
  • 8GB RAM
  • 256GB SSD
  • 1.47kg
  • 360 degree dual- hinge flip design: screen bends all the way back so that the keyboard becomes a stand or device can be used as a slate
  • 10-point capacitive touch
  • Starts at US$1199
  • Availability: 2nd half of 2012
  • Links: ArsTechnica, TheVerge

Lenovo U310/U410

Lenovo U410

  • 13″ (U310) / 14″ (U410) (1366×768) screen
  • Intel Core processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 320 GB HHD (configurable with SSD)
  • 1.7kg (U310) / 1.9kg (U410)
  • U310: 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, HDMI, ethernet,
  • U410: 2 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0, HDMI, ethernet, SD card reader
  • U410: Nvidia GeForce 610M graphics
  • Availability: May 2012
  • Start at U$699
  • Links: Engadget, TheVerge, TechRadar, Ultrabook News database (U310), Ultrabook News database (U410)

Samsung Series 5

Samsung Series 5 Ultra

  • 13.3″ (1366 x 768) / 14″ (1366 x 768) screen
  • Intel Core i5 processor
  • 128GB SSD / 16GB SSD and 500GB hard drive combo
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 1.39kg (13″) / 1.84kg (14″)
  • 13″: 1 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0, HDMI, SD card reader, Ethernet, full size HDMI
  • 14″: 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, SD card reader, Ethernet, full size HDMI, optical drive
  • Starts at US$900 (13″) / US$950 (14″)
  • Availability: End of January
  • Links: TheVerge, Pocket Link, TechRadar, Ultrabook News database

Samsung Series 9

Samsung Series 9

  • 13.3″ (1600 x 900) / 15.6″ (1600 x 900) screen
  • Intel Core i5 processor
  • 4GB (13″) / 8GB (15″) of RAM
  • 128GB
  • 1.1kg (13″) / 1.59kg (15″)
  • 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, HDMI, ethernet, SD card reader.
  • Starts at $1,399 (13″) / $1,499 (15″)
  • Availability: End of February
  • Links: TheVerge, ZDnet CNET, GSM Arena

The Acer Aspire S3 Ultrabook

Acer Aspire S3

I stumbled upon the Acer Aspire S3 at Netcom at the Mall and it being the first Ultrabook in Brunei, I just had to take a look and play around with it.

It is a 13″ ultrabook which a form factor similar to the 13″ Macbook Air meaning it is thin and light but without an inbuilt DVD drive. Ports are similar to the Air with two USB 2.0 ports, one full HDMI port, SD card reader and a 3.5mm headset jack.

Based on reviews (LaptopMag, The Verge, Engadget) I knew that a few things to look out for were the keyboard, cursor keys as well as the touchpad. I found the keyboard to be fine but the touchpad was hard to press. It has no physical buttons but pressing the lower left or lower right sections of the pad acted as left and right mouse clicks. It can be configured to “click on tap” as a usable workaround although this still isn’t ideal for drag and drop actions. The cursor keys are indeed the smallest I’ve seen: 3 cursor keys side by side is of the same length as a single Shift key. This is surely too small for typical use.

The quick resume worked as advertised, with the laptop being on by the time the screen was at a viewable angle. The base (i.e. cheaper) model comes with a hybrid drive which combines a solid state drive with a conventional hard disk drive to try give the best of both worlds: SSD for faster disk access (faster boot up, stand by, resume times) and the typical HDD gives you space to store all your files as SSDs are expensive and have less capacity.

All in all I liked form factor of the device but was initially put off by the price of B$1778 which I was told as the based model price. However after the recording I found out that the price of B$1778 was for the higher specification model, not the base model. According to Concepts’ pricing the base model is B$1188 which is much less than the B$1728 or B$1328 for a 13″ or 11″ MacBook Air thus it may be a good deal for those who want a thin and light but capable but with a large enough screen for viewing your content. Do have a look at the device and take into account that this is a first generation device and that Acer competes more on price than actual quality.

The Acer Aspire S3 spotted at Netcom in The Mall for B$1778 (mp3)


  • 13.3″ display (Resolution: 1366 x 768)
  • 1.6 GHz Core i5 / 1.7GHz Core i7
  • 4 GB RAM
  • 300GB HDD with 20GB SSD / 240GB SSD
  • Webcam (Resolution: 1280 x 1048)
  • Connectivity: 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
  • 3.5mm headset jack
  • Ports: 2-in-1 card reader (SD, MMC), 2 x USB 2.0 ports, 1 x HDMI

Asus Ultrabook Announcement

Last week ASUS revealed their ultrabook pricing starting at US$999 (11.6″ UX21) and US$1099 (13.3″ UX31). Branded as ‘Zenbooks‘, their specifications match or beat the MacBook Air. Hoping that CF King brings them in at a good price

Brief Specifications (Specifications from ASUS)

  • UX21
    • 11.6″ screen. Resolution: 1366×768
    • 5+ hours battery life
    • 128GB SSD
    • US$999: Core i5
    • US$1199: Core i7
  • UX31
    • 13.3″ screen. Resolution: 1600×900
    • 7+ hours battery life
    • SD card reader
    • US$1099: Core i5, 128GB SSD
    • US$1349: Core i5, 256GB SSD
    • US$1449: Core i7, 256GB SSD
  • 4GB RAM
  • 2 second resume
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Ports: 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0, microHDMI, microVGA

Other coverage from Engadget, This is My Next, Ubergizmo (Ubergizmo states that the devices come with with USB to ethernet and miniVGA to VGA adapter).

Asus Ultrabook Announcement: UX21/UX31 (starting at US$999/$1099) (mp3)