We flew down to Melbourne on Friday, courtesy of Epson, to check out the Digital Show.
Stories by Elias Plastiras
The Acer TravelMate 8481G weighs only 1.6kg and is 25mm thick (with the lid closed). It's a 14in laptop with a low-voltage Intel Core i5 CPU, NVIDIA graphics, 4GB of RAM and a 120GB solid state drive. With this type of configuration, business tasks can be completed effortlessly, and that's the prime target market for this laptop as it also includes security features such as a fingerprint reader and a trusted platform module — not to mention it has a price tag of $1999.
The way we hoped Ultrabooks would materialise when we first heard about them is about as close as Toshiba has gotten with its design of the 13.3in Satellite Z830. It's a magnificent piece of work that fits necessary ports and slots into an almost impossibly thin and light chassis, a chassis that also houses speedy enough components to make everyday computing tasks a breeze. While most vendors talk of no-compromise thin-and-light computing when it comes to Ultrabooks, only Toshiba has walked the walk thus far.
HP's Mobile Workstation notebooks are beasts worthy of the professionals that they target. Solid build quality, plenty of features and fast performance are the hallmarks of these machines, but they also carry a hefty price tag.
HP's Folio 13-1008TU is an excellent Ultrabook. It's slim, well built, light and it has a good range of connectivity built in to it. Most importantly, it's a very comfortable laptop to use: it comes with a smooth and responsive Synaptics touchpad and its keyboard has soft, backlit keys that are a joy to hit.
The Lenovo ThinkCentre M71e is a mini tower PC with a classy design that's not at all boring for an office. Indeed, it has a little more flair than a typical business-class machine (although some may argue this) and, most importantly, it possesses good speed and adequate connectivity.
Fujitsu's LifeBook SH771 is a 13.3in laptop that's designed for business users who want something attractive, fully featured and powerful. It's almost as thin and light as an Ultrabook, but it contains a full-voltage Intel Core processor.
The aluminium-finished HP ProBook 5330m looks a lot more expensive than it actually is. It's a $999, 13.3in laptop with a full-voltage Second Generation Intel Core i3 CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive located in its 17mm thin chassis. It's designed for business users who want something reasonably small and stylish that can be easily transported, and we think it's a great proposition considering its low price.
The Fujitsu LifeBook S761 is a 13.3in laptop that weighs only 1.7kg, yet it has a powerful configuration and a lot of features in its robust chassis — including a DVD burner. Being a business-oriented model, it also has lots of security features, some of which work well, some of which may require the help of Fujitsu's tech support set up.
This 12.5in HP EliteBook laptop packs an Intel Core i5-2540M CPU and a DVD burner in its small base, which are features that make it both a powerful and a well-equipped business tool. It has strong build quality and it feels comfortable to type on thanks to a good keyboard, but it does feel quite heavy for what it is. Part of that is due to the built-in DVD burner, and also because of the six-cell battery that sits in the spine.
The ThinkPad Edge E320 (129834M) is a 13.3in, Intel Core i3-based laptop that's designed for small business users. However, it's a great model for home users and students to consider as well: it has a decent features list, long battery life, it's very comfortable to use and it even looks good. There's not much wrong with this laptop at all, although we think its touchpad and screen could be better and we wish it came with USB 3.0 and a solid state drive as standard (a 128GB SSD is an option).
The Samsung SCX-5637FR is a monochrome, laser multifunction device that's designed for small business users. It can be used to print, scan, photocopy and send and receive faxes, and it can be connected via USB or Gigabit Ethernet. It has a straightforward design with a primitive 4-line LCD menu display, but it also includes Web features that allow for more convenient monitoring and management. It also has onboard storage that allows regularly-used documents to be stored directly on the printer for quick access.
With strong build quality, a fast configuration based on Second Generation Intel Core technology and a large focus on security and management features, the 14in HP EliteBook 8460p (LW959PA) is almost a perfect business tool. But at $4099 it's a really expensive tool, too.
The 2.6kg, 15.6in Toshiba Satellite P750 (PSAY3A-02T001) is designed for home users who want a good value and stylish laptop that can be used for office work and entertainment. It ships with a large range of features and has a configuration that supplies swift all-round performance.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 is one of the best 13.3in ultraportable laptop on the market. It's a no-compromise solution that features a full-voltage Intel Core i5 CPU, integrated mobile broadband, plenty of fast connectivity options, and it's very comfortable to use. It's also very strongly built, which also makes it a tad heavy, and some of its features (such as the integrated 3G modem) still need work.