Best Ultra-Portable Notebooks - Introducing the new breed of ultra-thin computers

Written by:  • Edited by: Bill Fulks
Updated Oct 16, 2008
• Related Guides: Macbook Air | Dell

Notebook computers are smaller and faster than ever. In this series we look at the new wave of ‘ultra thin’ notebooks from Apple, Fujitsu Siemens, Lenovo, HP, Samsung, Dell, Toshiba and Asus. They are lightweight and ‘paper thin’ in design yet fast and durable in terms of performance.

This is the introduction to a 10 part article series on the best Ultra Portable Notebooks. To read the conclusion, where we grade the Notebooks for Design, Price, Performance, Screen, Storage, Communications, Battery and Portability click, Grading the Notebooks.

Notebook computer design has changed considerably in the past couple of years. Now end users increasingly sway towards the slick and ultra thin when making a purchase decision. Not only do they offer amazing maneuverability and ease of use, but they deliver performance that is no worse than many desktops.

In the following article series we will review the eight best ‘ultra’ notebooks and conclude by making an assessment of which ones fit best in the very diverse and user specific notebook computing markets today. These notebooks are:

Apple Macbook Air

Apple MacBook Air The ultimate ‘paper thin’ notebook from Apple, and arguably the most eagerly anticipated, ‘must have’ notebook in a long time. The design itself is breathtakingly slim. The 13” screen is wide enough for most popular computing demands. The 64GB Solid State HDD provides adequate storage and with 2GB memory the Macbook Air has the potential to deliver great performance. However, even with superior energy efficiency and a groundbreaking size / weight combination the Macbook Air is limited in much of what it can offer to end users. Processor power is distinctly average and without an optical drive and many of the modern day communications ports this trend setting notebook will not suite everybody.

Read the full review of the Apple Macbook Air

Fujitsu Siemens Lifebook S6410

Fujitsu Siemens Lifebook S6410 In comparison to the Apple Macbook Air, the Fujitsu Siemens Lifebook S6410 is a hefty unit. However, compared to your standard notebook it is lightweight, slender and beautifully manufactured. Where the Lifebook delivers is in connectivity and performance. Having a large body (compared to thinner notebooks) the Lifebook offers a wealth of expansion slots, wireless, processing power and storage capacity. The 13.3” screen is stunning. Although it may not be the most trendy notebook, the Lifebook certainly outperforms many of the ‘super-thins’ on the market such as the aforementioned Macbook Air, HP Compaq 2510P and Toshiba Portege R500.

Read the full review of the Fujitsu Siemens Lifebook S6410

Lenovo Thinkpad X300

Lenovo Thinkpad X300 The Lenovo Thinkpad X300 is another ‘ultra thin’ notebook, offering great performance and ease of handling. With a similar price tag to the Macbook Air it needs to deliver, and it certainly does. Specifically designed for business use this is a great notebook equipped with Solid State storage and excellent memory capacity, outstanding speed, seamless delivery of applications, extended battery life and fabulous visuals. What is more, catering for the business market the Thinkpad X300 has multiple USB slots, audio and video capabilities and a DVD burner. Compared to its chief rivals, such as the Macbook Air, Toshiba Portege and Dell XPS range, the Lenovo Thinkpad X300 may not be the trendiest notebook, nor get the advertising coverage of its rivals, but for elegant design and solid all round performance the Thinkpad X300 is a sound performer.

Read the full review of the Lenovo Thinkpad X300

HP Compaq 2510p

HP Compaq 2510P The HP Compaq 2510P is another slender, lightweight notebook PC which does not disappoint in terms of performance, mobile operability and functional specification. It may not be the fastest, nor have an abundance of whistles and bells but what the HP 2510P does have is an excellent price tag that makes it a viable business notebook and sets it apart from the ThinkPad X300 and Macbook Air as the best business notebook for those that have a tight budget or are cost conscious. Although slightly thicker than the ThinkPad X300 and Lifebook S6410, handling of the 2510P is great. The 12” screen is clear and vibrant if a little small, storage space is adequate and for such a lowly processor and memory spec the notebook is remarkably quick. With slots for all modern day communications, wireless and a built in DVD burner the 2510P is a viable option for both work and play.

Read the full review of the HP Compaq 2510P

Samsung Q45

Samsung Q45 For speed and reliability the Samsung Q45 is the best notebook in this range on the market today. Considerably more ‘meaty’ than many others - Macbook Air, ThinkPad HP Compaq 2510P, the Q45 offers brilliant performance delivered via optimized processor power and memory, and excellent storage capacity. At an affordable price, excellent range of service for multimedia and network connectivity and a small but impressive 12.1” screen. The Samsung Q45 offers everything a mobile business or personal user could want.

Read the review of the Samsung Q45

Dell XPS 1330

Dell XPS 1330 The Dell XPS 1330 is aimed primarily at the advanced gaming and multimedia user. With such an outstanding spec, boasting of processor power, storage capacity and memory that far exceeds most ‘thin’ notebook models. Kitted out with such power, it caters for the serious gamer, can deliver cutting edge graphics, seamless audio / video and other advanced media requirements. Not many notebooks (chunky or thin) offer 3GB memory or a 320GB HDD. What is more, Dell has not scrimped on screen display or connectivity integration. As slick a notebook as Dell has ever produced the XPS 1330 is very impressive with a price tag that makes it arguably the best in range.

Read the full review of the Dell XPS 1330

Toshiba Portege R500-12S

Toshiba Portege R500 The Toshiba Portege R500-12S is a highly impressive ‘thin’ mobile notebook. Weighing in as the lightest notebook in this category, even beating the Macbook Air, yet it still possesses relevant communications ports, a DVD burner and 120GB Solid State storage capacity all of which the Macbook lacks. The processor may be slightly smaller than most and is a considerable drop from the Dell XPS 1330 or Samsung Q45 but this is a great notebook for the roaming user, stylish and with impressive visual dynamics. However compared to such notebooks as the Dell XPS 1330 or Lenovo ThinkPad X300 its overall design structure does look less durable and is definitely built for the niche market of roaming use in ‘friendly’ settings.

Read the full review of the Toshiba Portege R500-12S

Asus U2E

Asus U2E Breaking new ground in ultraportable notebook design the Asus U2E is one of the best looking notebooks in the category of Ultra portability. With its leather finish and compact design build this is a sensational device. Neither as professional looking as the ThinkPad or as lightweight as the Toshiba Porege R500 this is a beautiful minicomputer with all the punch that is required from portable PC use.

Read the full review of the Asus U2E


 
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