Laptops: Thin Is In

There was a time when if you wanted a very thin and light notebook, you paid for it. Ultralight laptops were for serious business travelers with serious business bank accounts who could handle spending four thousand dollars or more on a thin and light laptop, and most of the time, one that wasn’t that powerful or rich in functions like the same. the heaviest systems were at that time.

Those kinds of machines still exist, but they generally don’t have poor features. I recently spent a couple of weeks testing Sony’s ultra-sleek Vaio Z, a slim and sleek laptop with all the trimmings, and something else. This is a system that includes a media dock that comes with a Blu-Ray drive and an external graphics card for increased performance when used in a desktop-style setup. The only thing that is not cheap; At $ 3,999 it goes back to the ultralight systems that used to dominate this particular market segment.

Apple has been a disruptive force in this particular market, although even they used to sell the ultra-thin Macbook Air as a premium machine. Last year’s iteration of the Air cut things down and made SSDs mandatory while dropping prices, and this year the company effectively scrapped its simple Macbook line in favor of the Air. If you want an entry-level Mac laptop, the Air is it.

It’s not just a Mac world for cheap ultralight notebooks though, with several vendors offering what will informally be called Ultrabooks; that’s an Intel marketing term for thin and light ultraportable notebooks. Acer is set to introduce its Aspire S3 ultrabook to the Australian market, and it is expected to sell for between $ 1000 and $ 1600 depending on configuration; that’s the same price as most equivalent Macbook Air models. Toshiba also has the Portégé Z830 ultrabook awaiting an Australian launch later this year, and it will likely sell for the same $ 1,000- $ 1,500 price tag. Acer’s ultrabook has the advantage of being really thin, but Toshiba’s is somewhat lighter; At around 1.13kg, it’s the lightest ultrabook ever announced.

At that price, it’s still entirely possible to buy a decent but heavy laptop, with many models under the $ 1,000 barrier. If you’re struggling with cash and still need portability, a netbook is still a viable option, but not a powerful one. The under $ 1,000 crowd is largely older technology; In the coming years we can expect this year’s Ultrabooks to become the entry-level fodder. In other words, slim is in.