Very quiet, Long battery runtimes
The MacBook Pro 13 with Retina Display is an excellent notebook. Compared to the predecessor it is now thinner and lighter with better performance and longer battery runtimes. Case, input devices, emissions and the screen are still the benchmark in many respects. However, there are also some drawbacks. Our test showed the average WLAN performance and especially the maintainability and reparability are a big problem. We also did not like the poor Windows support via Boot Camp.
The Perfect Laptop
If you're looking at this machine, you're either new to Mac, in which case buy this and don't look back. Or, you're looking at upgrading. If you had an Air, you're not likely to notice the weight difference, and the size itself is actually a little more compact feeling. If you're a MacBook Pro user, this seems like a great update if you weren't already on the Retina machines.
When you factor in size, power and battery life (which is about twice that of my old Air), this is the perfect laptop.
Powerful, great screen, good design, brilliant battery life
The question here isn't whether the MacBook Pro is better than the 2012 model or whether it stacks up against the 15-inch version - which has also recently upgraded to include the intel Haswell processor - but whether it makes more sense than a MacBook Air.
It's a tough decision. Both devices just work, and effortlessly, which is pretty much a given. Compared to the Air the Pro offers a better screen and the potential for more power.
Excellent build quality, Very thin and light
The MacBook Pro 13 banishes any questions about its place as king of the ultraportable market. While there are some ultrabooks which match its display, battery life or performance, there are none that can do all three, and those that try (such as Dell's XPS 13 with 1080p display) are actually more expensive.
In fact, the price drop is the standout feature of the new Pro. $1,299 is still a lot of money, but it's slightly below the competition's average MSRP.
Aluminum unibody case very pleasant to the touch
Is it worth upgrading from the last generation? From our viewpoint, only if battery life is top on your priority list. The improved GPU performance is nice, and the new PCIe SSD is too, but these components only offer a significant advantage for specific applications. That's true of the new ac WLAN module too, as you'll need a corresponding router to take advantage of it.
Design and build quality are impeccable
We were worried about that 1.3 GHz clock speed at first, but the Haswell processor proves more than a match for its faster-looking Ivy Bridge predecessor while nearly a day's battery life. Combine that performance with the MacBook Air's lightweight, elegant design and you've got an ultraportable laptop that still sets the standard for its Windows rivals to copy.
Super solid yet slim
The MacBook Air remains one of our favorite ultraportable computers. It's built with incredible attention to detail, is strong yet thin and the backlit keyboard is excellent. Though the display won't win against recent full HD Windows 8 Ultrabooks or the 13" MacBook Pro with Retina Display, it's sharp, colorful and bright. And the battery life? It's simply off the charts and our Core i7 13" model routinely manages 10 to 12 hours of use time on a full charge. Wow.
Bright Full HD IPS display with high contrast
Light, thin and elegant. Samsung Series 9, Apple MacBook Air 13, Acer Aspire S7 391 and Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon - all devices make compromises to meet these requirements. The Vaio 13 Pro is the lightest Ultrabook (1,066 grams/~2.4 pounds) within this competition; the just 10 mm (0.4 inches) thick base results in a reduced keyboard quality and problems with the torsion resistance. The case material of carbon fiber is unbreakable but still flexible.
Very light, easy to carry, yet comfortable to use
The Vaio Pro may fall short in some areas, but that's only because it aims so high. Its weight and size are truly impressive, and bode well for the coming generation of Haswell laptops. However, the flexible carbon fibre doesn't instill confidence and battery life isn't on a par with the MacBook Air.
Class-leading performance, Multimedia-oriented features
Watching movies on a tablet is well and good, but to get real immersive entertainment, a 15.6-inch laptop with multiple speakers like the Asus N550JV-DB72T is the portable equivalent of a home theater system, plus it also qualifies as a power user system.
Big storage capacity, attractive case, backlit keyboard
The Asus N550JV-CN201H convinces with a decent system and gaming performance. Although the CPU significantly throttles (down to 800 MHz) under full load, you will hardly experience this in practice. The benchmark results are as expected. In addition, the notebook features a bright, contrast-rich and matte IPS display and a big storage capacity and can read Blu-ray disks. The battery life is also appropriate for a notebook with that much performance.
Attractive multimedia laptop with impressive audio and video capabilities
The slow hard drive is a cost-cutting weakness in a laptop costing almost £1000, and leaves it looking expensive in a crowded market. Nonetheless, the N550JV is an attractive multimedia laptop with impressive audio and video capabilities that could make it suited to presentations at work, or entertainment at home.
Backlit keyboard, Decent sound
Buyers looking for a versatile and a (still) attractively priced gaming laptop and who can live with the listed shortcomings should give the 15-incher a chance. The non-SLI version is not quite as interesting due to superior and/or cheaper alternatives. The surcharge for the dual GPU model is definitely worthwhile in view of performance.
Responsive high-quality keyboard
Even though the Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 clearly has a gaming focus, the device feels more like an all-around notebook.
The dual NVidia GT 650M GPUs can offer solid performance if the game is compatible, but games like Far Cry 3 which aren't currently compatible with SLI won't offer the performance you might expect from dual graphics cards.
Solid-performing gaming laptop in a smaller, lighter, cheaper package
The Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 is a great choice as a gaming laptop that's lighter and cheaper than your typical desktop-replacement monstrosity. Despite a few minor drawbacks, overall it's a great machine that offers excellent performance and specs for the price.
Excellent gaming laptop, but a few issues
I am absolutely thrilled with this purchase. If you're looking for an extreme gaming laptop for a moderate budget, I really don't think you can beat this laptop. i7, Dual SLI video cards, 1080p display, 8gbs of ram (got my 16gb to max out the board on its way now), backlit keyboard, and an amazing fit and finish. You really can't go wrong with this one!
Including gamer-level graphics, a swappable accessory bay
For those looking for something more than a feature-light ultrabook, the gamer-friendly Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 is close to brilliant, and several configurations are currently available at a deep discount -- but I can't believe it doesn't have a touch screen.
Good value, Comfortable, red backlit keyboard
The Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 is a powerhouse 15-inch laptop with a 1080p display, a comfortable backlit keyboard and an affordable price. It does suffer from below average-battery life and it does get quite hot, but overall it's a fantastic laptop for the money.
Good workmanship, Extremely thin case
Without question Acer delivers an interesting and high-quality 13-inch ultrabook. It's the better S5-391, because the S7 has by far the higher quality display panel. The Full HD screen competes with the Samsung's Series 9 900X3C-A04DE (HD+) and the Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A (FHD) and can also be operated with fingers. Strictly speaking, the Zenbook has the ultimate IPS panel.
Superb quality, Beautiful IPS screen, Good performance, Good keyboard
The Acer Aspire S7 is one of the highest quality notebooks we've reviewed; the design looks great and the attention to detail is outstanding. The 13.3" full HD display is bright, beautiful and has unlimited viewing angles thanks to IPS technology. Touch works great thanks to the unique hinge design with progressive resistance. Additionally the Aspire S7 has a good keyboard and excellent overall performance.
Aspire S7 - Beautiful but not completely perfect
The Aspire S7 line has quite a few models with flavors of processors, screen size, and what not. One of the newer models is the 9427 iteration. I have used it for about 3 weeks now, and the S7 is a very well designed product, well thought out, and durable. The aluminum chassis is a things of beauty and durability, making the ultrabook lightweight as well, 2.8lbs. The bottom is a tough plastic or polycarbonate which is well designed and looks very good.
Good performance, Excellent battery life
If you're in the market for a Windows 8 ultrabook and the relatively high price doesn't scare you off then you'll no doubt dig the Acer Aspire S7. With its list of speedy components, amazing display and svelte size, it pretty much is the Windows 8 ultrabook to beat right now.
Beautifully designed, super-slim
Acer has produced what we can easily call its most attractive laptop ever with the Aspire S7 13-inch Ultrabook. This incredibly slim and sleek laptop sports a stunning design that combines glass and metal to great effect, without sacrificing power or connectivity. It also offers a glorious 1080p IPS screen with 10-point touch and good speakers, yet can be had for a very reasonable price.
Truly luxurious product, with great attention to engineering detail
Ultimately, though, we do wonder whether the traditional Ultrabook design will work against the S7. There are a myriad other products coming out that blur the line between laptop and tablet, and one can't help but think that these will make for more compelling purchases. After all, if you can use your laptop as a tablet as well, why would you settle for a traditional laptop with touch features?
Full HD IPS screen, Premium feel
Acer is taking a step up into premium land with the S7. The AU$1799 price tag might seem steep at first, but given the full HD IPS screen and RAID 0 256GB SSD set-up, it's not too bad. The question is, will the buying public care about these high-end parts, or will they just see the price tag and walk away?
From our perspective, it's a great little machine, but it's crippled by its battery life.
Incredibly fast CPU and application performance for the size
The changes that the X1 Carbon brings are not just skin deep. Many of these changes have addressed some of the common complaints about the original X1, but at the same have introduced new criticisms. The new 14-inch matte display, for example, is an entirely different beast compared to the glossy 13.3-inch Gorilla Glass-protected display of the older models and offers better color reproduction, higher resolutions, higher contrast and lighter weight.
Matte display, Solid construction, Good overall performance
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon takes almost everything that was great about last year's ThinkPad X1 and combines it with the latest Ultrabook technology to deliver an outstanding business Ultrabook. While most professionals looking for a thin and light laptop will probably be happier with the ThinkPad X230, the X1 Carbon softens those rough ThinkPad edges and provides a more refined, stylish PC for salespeople and executives who don't want a boxy business laptop.
Extremely Thin And Light, Superb Display With Anti-Glare Coating
Lenovo's Thinkpad X1 Carbon offers such an extremely thin and light system but doesn't skimp on features that it is going to be the corporate laptop to get. The new carbon fiber chassis is certainly going to stand up the the abuse of anyone who travels frequently. The display is also the largest of the ThinkPad X series and one of the best available on an ultrabook to date. It also has Lenovo's famous keyboards that is accurate and comfortable to use.
Great battery life, Top performance, Great build quality
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is a boardroom winner that offers great all-round performance and comfort in a lightweight package.
The few niggles with the screen and connections aside, if we chose one Ultrabook to be our business companion, we'd hire the comfortable, high performance and long lasting Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon every time.
Superb backlit, spill-proof keyboard
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is everything the original X1 should have been. Though its TN screen doesn't quite match up to the premium style, build and features of this stunning Ultrabook, in every other regard it's easily the best business ultraportable around. Its soft-touch chassis is a pleasure to carry or rest your hands on, and despite being stuffed with features, it retains an incredibly slim and sleek profile for a 14-inch machine.
This was enough to make me give up my Retina Macbook Pro and go back to Windows
All told, I am incredibly happy with this. The QHD screen is frustrating at times because some things like RDP make the remote servers I work on impossible to see, but I've found workarounds for most things. I may have switched back to another Surface Pro and gotten the new Haswell version of the Pro 2, but my work really needs a usable trackpad, and I just never could stand the one on the Surface's keyboards. Too small and not very smooth to operate.
Good screen resolution for a 13-inch laptop.
The new Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (Mid 2012) is a simple upgrade of the class-leading line, with a $100 price drop. Although a new processor gives you a little extra performance and some tests, the real additions are things like the new (for Mac) USB 3.0 ports and free upgrade to OS X Mountain Lion.
High manufacturing quality, Low weight, Compact size
In the review of Apple's 2011 MacBook Air we wrote, "Overall there is not much new to report about the latest MacBook Air, and that is a good thing." That is basically also true for the MacBook Air 13 Mid 2012. However, there are a few improvements worth mentioning as well as things that could still be improved in our opinion.
Little bit faster in general speed, a lot faster in graphics speed
This revised 13in MacBook Air is a little bit faster in general speed, a lot faster in graphics speed - if only catching up with 2010's Air - but with approaching an hour of extra battery life. We also appreciate the even quieter fan. This is the original ultrabook, and with extra details and quality touches it still beats all Ultrabooks we've seen so far.
Incredibly thin and light.
While Apple doesn't own the exclusive rights to the super-skinny notebook guest list any longer, it is still the market leader. But while the latest MacBook Air impressed us greatly, the wow-factor has worn off slightly, due to this being the third iteration of the current design.
In a market becoming densely populated with slim-line laptops from a massive range of manufacturers, Apple still holds the trump card with the MacBook Air - but only just.
Apple has updated what was already one of the better ultraportable laptops on the market to keep it competitive, with a downright impressive set of specification upgrades and (in theory) some of the best connectivity going thanks to its dual USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt combination. However, we canâ?? t say weâ??
Incredibly light, yet well built
The MacBook Air 11 continues to be a wonderfully portable laptop, suiting travel or those who are constantly on the move. While an IPS screen would be nice and the default storage sizes need to be raised, this is a lovely piece of engineering that has well and truly carved its niche.
Elegant aluminum casing, awesome 1080p touch screen
The Samsung Series 7 Ultra is an easy Ultrabook to recommend. It has excellent build quality and materials, an attractive aluminum casing that resists fingerprints and a superb 1080p touch screen. The Samsung Series 5 is an attractive and more affordable model, but the display can't compare and most ship with slower conventional HDDs.
Attractive, if somewhat predictable, exterior, Excellent display
At first glance, Samsung's Ativ Book 7 seems like an Ultrabook that should have been released two years ago. The system is sleek, but materials and build quality don't back up the premium appearance or $1,060 price tag. A current-generation MacBook Air, Lenovo Yoga 13, or even Acer S7 can put the Book 7's look and feel to shame, and the first two alternatives can be had at a slightly lower price.
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