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Ultrabook vs Notebook - Understanding the differences between the two

Updated on October 29, 2013

Ultrabook vs Notebook

First came the notebook, then its miniature version - netbook - and, recently, the tablets. Now, a new player invades the market: Ultrabooks.

At first glance, you might not notice any difference between this new category and its predecessors. But it's good to be aware because Ultrabooks are here to stay.

The origin of the name "Ultrabook"

The term "Ultrabook" was patented by Intel to define the new generation of portable computers - with the mobility of a netbook and the high performance of notebooks. Basically, the Ultrabook unites the best of both worlds in one lightweight device, but without losing power.

The rules that define what can be called Ultrabook (yes, Intel has created rules) dictate that:

  • The maximum thickness of the unit should be 0.79 inches
  • The processor must be from Intel, from second generation (Sandy Bridge) Core i line
  • 5 hours or more of battery life
  • SSD storage

In the United States (U.S.), there´s still one additional rule: the price rule: Ultrabooks should cost in the range of $1,000. However, this rule does not apply to other countries.

Leaving the "Intel world", one can say that the Apple MacBook Air is an Ultrabook also, since it fills almost all the requirements. It´s very thin, it has SSD and an excellent battery life with good performance. And worth remember that it was "born" when the Ultrabooks not yet dreamed to exist.

In general, Ultrabook combines some tablets features, such as thinner design, high response and navigation speed, and "be" Instant ON, ie, it turns on and off more quickly. We can say that these are their main advantages over traditional notebooks.

"Instant ON" is due to one of the novelties that is gaining ground along with Ultrabooks: SSD storage. This type of storage is based on flash memory, which runs at high speed and it´s already out there on flash drives and memory cards.

The SSD storage differential is that it takes less space and it´s more resistant to drops and shocks than conventional HD (hard disk). On the other hand, that´s one of the features that increases the price of Ultrabooks, besides not relying on massive storage capacity.

Ultrabook vs Notebook - The verdict

Ultrabooks are still "Ultra" expensives. For example, for half the price of an Ultrabook, you can buy a good or even an excellent notebook. So if you want a notebook for home use, internet browsing and text files, maybe you don´t need an Ultrabook, yet.

BUT, if you love technology, and you have to carry your notebook everywhere, and work with "heavy" image or video editing programs, Ultrabook is undoubtedly the best choice.

5 reasons to buy an ultrabook

5 reasons to buy an ultrabook:

1. Lightness

If a person buys a notebook it´s because she wants to carry it everywhere. After all, this is the great advantage when comparing to desktops. Although any notebook, heavy as it is, already represents a huge gain for the simple fact of being " movable " - the conventional ones with their 2 or 3 kg are remarkable in the worst way: they´re wheighing on your back .

While Intel does not establish a maximum weight for Ultrabooks, the manufacturers seem to have reached a tacit agreement with respect to this important aspect . In the current wave of Ultrabooks (codenamed Chief River), there is no model with 13.3" screen heavier than 1.74 kg - weight of the Samsung Series 5 Ultra Touch.

On average, an Ultrabook with that screen size weighs about 1.4 kg. You throw it in the bag and you will not feel like you're carrying your work, music, videos, your digital life into an object so light.

2 . Updated settings

To be an Ultrabook, there´s the need to meet a short list of requirements developed by Intel. With each generation the list gets updated with what is most modern in the industry. For you, this ensures that you´re bringing an equipment up to date - no chance to take home something with outdated specifications.

In the current generation, Intel, for example, requires that Ultrabooks contain a USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt, extremely fast transfer interfaces. Another requirement is the presence of a third-generation Core processor, codenamed Ivy Bridge, which in addition to fastness, is a friend of the battery - which ,in turn, needs to last at least five hours.

3 . Speed

The Intel Core line is acclaimed by audiences and critics. We are at the third generation of i3 , i5 and i7 Core processors , codenamed Ivy Bridge , and it is noteworthy the performance that these small pieces of silicon deliver.

In practice, any Ultrabook is able to run the most popular applications in the market without gagging. You can even risking some games without fear of catching everything.

4 . Always ready to work almost instantly

An Ultrabook boots quickly. It is part of its specifications. Aided by the SSD, a type of solid state memory tthat replaces the archaic hard disk, routine activities, such as initialization, are much faster.

The official requirement is that an Intel Ultrabook "wake" from S4 hibernation in seven seconds (maximum). In practice there are models that fall into this very limit, connecting in a very few seconds. If you are late for some appointment or to give / retrieve some information, it is not Ultrabook´s fault.

5 . Autonomy

These advantages wouldn´t matter if you had to be stuck with wires, or if, away from a plug, the Ultrabook dies in a shortly period of time. Take note: it is five hours away from the plug at least. Some models , like the HP Folio 13 stays connected nine hours on one charge only.

Despite being thin (a 13.3" Ultrabook can not be more than 18 mm thick), Intel and manufacturers do magic to squeeze a battery capable of handling equipment, of high performance, for as long as possible only with the energy of the battery. Gone is the time of notebooks with two hours of battery life. It is inconceivable today.

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