By my count, there have been more than 20 ultrabooks announced here at CES 2012. That's a lot of laptops, especially when you consider that most of them have the same attributes: thin cases, Core i5 processors, solid-state drives, chiclet keyboards and single-button touchpads. But one has to be the best right? One would think, but choosing just one ultrabook amongst all of them isn't really fair. Some are cheaper than others, some aren't coming until the end of the year, and some have put a strong focus on higher end features. Picking four of the best, on the other hand, is the way to go, and that's exactly what you will find below. Without further ado, the best ultrabooks of CES 2012:
The new 13-inch Series 9 might have the same name as the original Series 9, but this is a totally different machine. Not only does it look different, but it now has a higher resolution, 1600 x 900 display and an SD card slot. I'm a big fan of the black aluminum design — it's a nice change from the rest of the ultra thin laptops trying to mimic the MacBook Air design. It's pricey, but it's also a higher-end machine than the new crop of sub-$999 ultrabooks.
The HP Envy 14 Spectre is much thicker than the Series 9 and the other ultrabooks out there, but the Gorilla Glass covering on the lid and the palm rest make it totally different than those others. Also, it has an NFC chip in the palm rest and a beautiful high resolution (1600 x 900), Radiance 14-inch display. Again, the thickness and weight gives me pause, but there's something to be said for HP's unique design direction.
It took me awhile to get over the fact that Dell didn't make this an Adamo successor with a mind-blowing design, but Dell's focusing on value with the XPS 13. The $999 laptop has an aluminum shell, comfortable rubber bottom, backlit keyboard, and the usual array of specs — Core i5, 4GB RAM, 128GB hard drive. This is really the best mix of features and value I've seen at the show.
All of the above will be coming in the next couple of the months, but there's more on the farther-out ultrabook horizon. The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga is set to come during the Windows 8 timeframe and illustrates what I expect we will see a lot of in the second half of the year: laptops that have touchscreens and tablet functionality. The Yoga is a regular laptop until you flip its display back and stack the screen on top of the keyboard to make it a tablet. It's a crazy form factor, and even better the touchscreen and Windows 8 experience is extremely smooth.