The Fastest And Thinnest, And Thus Best Ultrabooks of 2012

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Ultrabooks combine many crucial features, from being very lightweight to being reliably fast and versatile, and they do it… pretty well. The bottom line is that the fastest computers you can get are still going to be desktops for a long time to come, and the cheapest (decent) computers you can get are still going to be, you guessed it, desktops. That’s not going to change for a while. But if you are looking for a highly portable computer that is pretty darn fast, then with a bit of compromising, you can find yourself some fine machines indeed that won’t weigh you down but will keep you up to speed.

If you’re in the market for a lightweight laptop this season, consider these before you head to the store (or to or Amazon):

5 Samsung Series 9 Ultrabook

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Samsung Series 9 Ultrabook. It’s at the #5 slot because it costs about $1,300 and that’s not chump change. But the more you pay, the less you get, weight and size-wise. This thing is about a half inch thick and weighs less than 2.5 pounds, yet will still cruise through your day of offsite office work or load up videos, pictures, etc. with plenty of speed thanks to its 1.9 GHz processor and 4 gigabytes of RAM. The screen brightness and resolution get fine marks on the Series 9 Ultrabook and its battery life is certainly decent, with an average of 4 hours of moderate active use, as long as you treat the unit it properly over time. Don’t drop it or anything, but you wouldn’t do that anyway, right?

4 Sony’s VAIO T13

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Sony’s VAIO T13 readily deserves a spot on the list first because it comes in at under $800 (though not much, admittedly) and second because it’s a VAIO, and VAIOs are good computers — simple as that. The raw stats are a 1.7 Ghz processor, 4 gigs of RAM, 500+ gigabytes of memory, and a 13.3 inch screen in a 3.3 lbs. package. The data aren’t anything to make you leap out of your swivel chair, spilling Diet Coke and pretzels in the process; we know that’s the way it looks on paper. But it’s a reliable machine. And another thing that VAIO has done well here, as they usually do, is paid attention to design: their computers look good. If that doesn’t matter to you, fine. But we think it’s a nice touch.

3 MacBook Air

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Yeah, yeah, yeah, MacBook Air. What can we say? The thing is only 11 inches on the hypotenuse and weighs just a smidge or two over two pounds. You may well have one in your pocket right now and not even know it. Except that you would be missing that thousand dollars (for the 11” screen MacBook Air, at least. The 13 incher is a bit pricier). And with a 1.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 and readily configurable up to 8 gigs of RAM (though 4 are standard) it’s just an impressively fast, competent machine for such a small package.

2 Asus Zenbook Prime

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This Ultrabook will cost you a hundred bucks more than the HP Envy but weighs a pound less. Its 13.3 inch screen is not exactly like being in a movie theater size wise, but it does have beautiful image quality for a smaller screen, and these are the tradeoffs where you compromise in this field. Asus computers are known for their desultory battery life, and sadly this guy is no exception there. But it will process with zeal, thanks to its 1.7 Ghz processor and 6 GB RAM until it quits on you (or you find an outlet). Oh, and you’ll like having 3 USB ports, too.

1 HP’s Envy 4-1043cl

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HP’s Envy 4-1043cl is at the number one spot because it’s not wildly expensive but it is a pretty fast, reliable computer. Perhaps somewhere closer to consensus builder than true category leader, the Envy boasts plenty of memory with its 532 gigs standard, and its processing power is not going to slow you down, with a solid enough 1.7 Ghz processor spinning away inside. Now, at almost 4 pounds, this computer is something of a heavyweight in the Ultrabook lineup, but in the scheme of things, 4 pounds is not very heavy.

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