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Do I Need an Ultrabook? What are the benefits?

Think you need an Ultrabook?

Illustration: Gordon McAlpin

Ultra means “going beyond what is ordinary” or “excessive” or “extreme”. Ultrabooks are kind of the opposite of that … it’s a word coined by Intel (trademark pending) for a really, really light and thin laptop, but one with the system power and screen size to compete with its larger, thicker laptop cousins. Kind of the PC equivalent of the MacBook Air. Though Intel is indeed seeking the trademark, many PC laptop manufacturers make light, yet powerful machines that would fit the Ultrabook classification, and these don’t necessarily have Intel hardware in them.

What’s an Ultrabook For?

Ultrabooks are designed to compete with tablets in the lightness and battery life department. They often include solid state drives instead of hard drives (meaning the access times are very low and fragmentation is nonexistent). They’re often missing CD or DVD drives altogether so the machine can be thinner. Even USB ports are too big, so Ultrabooks don’t have very many of them.

Ultrabooks are for when weight is at a premium, but performance isn’t. Or they’re for people who like really, really thin and cool electronics. You’re paying a big premium for the thinness over a standard thick laptop that has a hard drive and DVD drive in it.

Do I need an Ultrabook?

If you want a laptop that can perform well, has a decent screen size (13″ is the standard, though 14″ and 15″ are coming) and has an exceptionally long battery life (say, you travel internationally), then Ultrabooks are ideal for you, especially if the lack of PC software makes a tablet unappealing.

If you travel business class and have an outlet next to your seat, or if you stay terrestrial and have access to power, then a standard laptop is going to save you a ton of money over an ultrabook. For some, paying hundreds of dollars in premium is not worth the thinness and extra life between battery charges.

Whether you’ve got an Ultrabook or a regular laptop, check out our Battery Optimizer. You’ll want to maximize your life between charges.

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