Travelling with a Wintel ultrabook has been a totally Déjà vu experience. Every time I pull it out of my back pack and open its lid, it’s awake and ready to go. And it’s so reliable that I haven’t once had to worry
about losing work, or more importantly the flow of information I often put into
my detailed OneNote files. That’s saying lot.
Until I reviewed my first ultrabook—an Acer S3 my best small
form factor portable experiences had come from two families of machines—HP’s firstthree iterations of its OmniBook line and a Toshiba Portage that had a slice
battery which provided me with my first transcontinental computing
experience—Narita to LAX, then a three-hour layover/recharge and a tedious hop
from LAX to Dublin.
The HP OmniBook 300 through 600 Series machines were transformational. They were text-book sized power houses I used everywhere. Hit the power key and they came alive—most times. I learned to love “instant on”
with OmniBook and I also quickly adapted to using its IR link to send files—and
snarky quips to colleagues across a conference table. I learned two other
things—information sent on short range IR links could be intercepted (big
“Woops!”) and battery life comes at the expense of travel weight.
My Acer S3 6646 lets me work for almost seven hours on
battery power and has fast booting local storage for those rare instances when
I need to start my machine from a cold boot. But it’s light and unobtrusive
enough to have quickly become an indispensable tool I use every day. It’s been
a very long time since I I’ve been as tightly bonded to a portable computer as
I am my ultrabook.
I briefly considered an Apple MacBook Air before committing
to an ultrabook.
Three factors won me over to Intel’s ultrabook platform. I
need local storage. My experience with SAPs like Google’s Docs and Spreadsheets
has been hampered by high traffic wireless venues such as college campi or
conferences where everyone jumps on the network and my cursor lags my keyboard input, which in my world is an axiomatic game ender.
Also I need to store large digital files—specifically
topographical or quarter-sectional maps I annotate with information I’m collecting fora writing project. The hybrid drives used in most ultra-books is fast enough topop up my maps and the multicore processor in my ultrabook zips through the computations needed to support my applications.
But what’s really kept my ultrabook by my side is its extreme portability and reliability. The system cases of every ultrabook I’veexamined are stunning examples of reference designs made for mass manufacturing. Unlike earlier thin and light notebooks, there is no flex in the
display case and the hinges connecting the screen to the system case are sturdy
and very well engineered.
Intel's ultrabook reference design is much more task-oriented
than Apple’s MacBook Air, which appears to be a thin box built for a
cloud-centric world that hasn’t arrived, just yet.
Running side by side, I prefer the ultrabooks 13-inch screen to that of the MacBook Air. I have nodifficulty reading or interpreting complex digital maps of the California Gold Country on my S3 ultrabook and it has the unbridled horse power needed to draw anddisplay the charts I create from Excel spreadsheet data. A larger screen would be attractive, but 13.3 inches works nicely for me.
The biggest reasons I love ultrabooks however are they are
light enough to be a a constant companion and durable enough that I don’t have
to worry that they won't to be destroyed in my back pack. And six hours battery
life is enough for my needs.
But the real kicker to my recommendation is its pricing—often much less than comparable Apple ultrabooks .
At last a portable thatdoesn’t impose restrictions on how or where I work. And that’s how I feel aboutUltrabook portables.. No go out and find out for yourself why I’m started toget excited about portable computing again.—Jim Forbes on 03/04/2009.