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HP ENVY Touchsmart Ultrabook 4 is an ultrabook you may really consider when seeking for budget ultrabook. It has a starting price that is around $844.99 and this goes to show it is a budget device.

However, there are more to this than the price, you may have to check out the review on different features and functionality of this ultrabook.

Below is a review on this product by Matt Myftiu on the Dailybreeze.com website:

Text: The ultrabooks just keep on coming more specifically, the touchscreen ultrabooks keep on coming. Even more specifically, the touchscreen ultrabooks with Windows 8 keep on coming…

I recently tested out another offering that fits this category, the HP ENVY Touchsmart Ultrabook 4, and I’m back with a full report.

LOOKS, MATERIALS, SIZE

The ENVY 4 features a sharp design in silver and black (black frame around the display and black keyboard, and a silver base and touchpad). The palm rest keyboard area and cover have a sturdy brushed aluminum finish, and the bottom of the machine is a soft-touch rubber material. Overall I was very impressed with the build and look of the machine.

The once area where I see the ENVY 4 trailing its competitors in the ultrabook arena is weight, as this machine comes in at roughly 4 pounds. That’s a full pound heavier than some of its competitors, so people looking for the most lightweight and portable machine might consider other ultrabook options (to be fair though, those lighter offerings are more expensive, so there is a tradeoff.)

Overall size specs on the machine are 13.38 inches wide, 9.28 inches deep and 0.78 inches thick (again, not quite as thin as some competitors in the ultrabook arena).

This is still an ultrabook by definition, without a doubt, as it is very portable, it’s just not quite as “ultra” as some of the competitors.

HP Envy TouchSmart Ultrabook 4 (credit:Google)

KEYBOARD

The ENVY 4 has a well-designed chiclet-style keyboard, with amply spaced keys.

The function keys on the top row double as various controls (volume up/down, mute, media controls like fast-forward and play, etc.). Despite limited space in an ultrabook design, HP has gotten all the necessary keys in a very user-friendly package.

A backlit keyboard is offered for an extra $20, and I would highly recommend it, especially if you do a lot of your work at night like I do

. The touchpad on the ENVY 4 is very responsive, and can be turned off by simply double tapping the top left corner of the touchpad itself. It’s large enough, but not so large that it causes accidental cursor movement, something I rarely experienced during my time with the ENVY 4.

DISPLAY

The screen size on the ENVY 4 is 14 inches, just about the perfect size for a laptop in my opinion — not too big, not too small. The native resolution on the ENVY 4 is 1366 x 768 pixels, meaning 720p video will play without any delays, but full HD 1080p video will require some buffering time. There is no option to upgrade to a full-HD 1080p screen, and I would have liked to see that as an option for folks who wanted it.

Still, what’s offered is a sharp, crisp screen that should make most users very happy, and will provide an enjoyable media viewing experience – whether it be movies on Netflix and other services, or light game play or online video watching.

TOUCHSCREEN

The touchscreen on the ENVY 4 was very responsive, and helpful at times when maneuvering around the Web or using certain programs. Touchscreens are the route many laptop makers are going with their new Windows 8 machines, and for good reason, as Windows 8 is made with touchscreens in mind. Windows 8 is still new, so if you get it for the first time there will be an adjustment period. But it doesn’t take long to learn it, and once you do you’ll be glad you have a touchscreen machine.

PROCESSOR, RAM

The HP ENVY 4 line comes with the latest Intel chips. My machine had a very speedy i5 processor that stood up well even through serious multitasking, but the base model will come with a slower i3 processor. The i3 isn’t exactly a slow processor, but if you’re used to speedy performance I would recommend the i5.

My machine also had 4 GB of RAM, which helps with the smooth operation of the machine and should be enough for most users. Power users can upgrade to as much as 8 GB of RAM for even speedier performance and multitasking.

The machine comes with 500 GB of storage, a solid number that should be enough for most people, especially with so much being stored in the cloud these days.

BATTERY

Battery life on the ENVY 4 was decent, but not the best I’ve seen on an ultrabook got about 5 hours of life from the battery, less than the seven-hour capability listed by HP.

The machine comes with a 4-cell battery, and there are no battery upgrades, so you get what you get. Settings can be adjusted on the machine to allow for better battery life, and the life will depend on what programs you are using most often.

PORTS

In terms of ports, the essentials are there on the HP ENVY 4, with 2 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports (for faster data transfer); 1 USB 2.0 ports; 1 HDMI port (which you can use to transfer your computer’s screen to your HDTV); and slots for headphones and microphone plug-ins. Due to the smaller size of the ultrabook, there is no disc drive — so if you want to use discs you’ll need an external disc drive, an accessory that is offered by HP.

PRICE

The base price on the HP ENVY Touchsmart Ultrabook 4 is $749, but that will feature a slower i3 processor. The unit I had featured an upgrade to Windows 8 Professional (with extra features for business customers), a backlit keyboard, and the upgrade to an i5 processor, with a pricetag of $914.99. Most people won’t need Windows 8 Professional, so if you get the standard consumer edition of Windows 8 with the other specs I had, you’d pay $844.99.

BOTTOM LINE

Overall, this isn’t my absolute favorite ultrabook I’ve seen due to the extra weight and so-so battery life compared to the competition. But it holds its own in other categories, as the overall design, performance and specs are very impressive.

Also, the starting price is quite a bit lower than many of the ultrabook competition (some start at more than $1,000), and that’s often one of the biggest considerations customers have. So even though it’s not perfect, this ultrabook should get its share of customers.  Source.

Conclusively, the above has been a candid review of HP ENVY Touchsmart Ultrabook 4. The fact about this device is that there are no remarkable difference of what this product offers above the competition when it comes to comparing its battery life and extra weight. Nevertheless, it holds its own when it comes, to overall design, performance, specifications and price. This may be a good option for you to go for.

There are lots of devices now adopting the Window 8 operating system recently introduced by Microsoft.

One of the devices that should be of interest to you is the Samsung Series 5 ultrabook. Although this device was originally released in 2011 but now it has been revamped to run on the Windows 8 operating system.

The following article reviews how this ultrabook fairs with the latest operating system from Microsoft:

 I can’t help but use any other than the word cult when it comes to the new Windows 8. The rate at which personal computing biggies have adopted the brand new OS which was officially unveiled late last year is nothing short of mind-boggling. As of now there are at least 2-3 Windows 8 devices from any tech major you can think of. The sales might not have picked up yet, but when it comes to enthusiasm it looks like it’ll be a while before the PC brands’ enthusiasm abates.

Samsung which recently revamped its Series 5 Ultrabooks, originally released in 2011, has also adopted the OS of the season – Windows 8. We tried the new Series 5 Ultrabook out over a week to see how well it supplements Windows 8.

A slate grey (Titan Silver, officially) brushed aluminium body envelops the 13.3-inch display on the new Series 5 Ultrabook. The base of the notebook is made with fibreglass to cut down a bit of the weight and make it slightly resistant to wear and tear. The device looks sleek but it isn’t exactly on the lighter side. So, although it’s relatively compact and portable you are always aware of the weight when you are carrying it around.

Samsung Series 5 Ultrabook

Samsung Series 5 Ultrabook(credit: the Hindu Business Line)

Display and keyboard

The display on the Series 5 is a high-definition touch-screen. So, not only is it aimed at providing a better multimedia experience but the touchscreen is designed to help make the most of the Windows 8 user experience as well. It’s configured to support 10-finger multi-touch usage. Every time we chose to abandon the keyboard and use the touchscreen, the interaction was pretty fluid and there wasn’t a single instance of a gesture not being registered or recognised by the device.

On the other hand it was the multi-touch keypad which would sometimes incorrectly interpret moving the cursor to the right as a right swipe and bring up your previously used windows on the screen. (This is a Windows 8 gesture where if you swipe from left to right on one part of the screen it pulls up your previous activity.) This bit was slightly annoying.The older Series 5 notebook didn’t come with backlit keys so we were kind of hoping this one would. But there has been no change in that aspect of the keyboard.The keyboard layout has been tweaked to make it just a little more compact but the chiclet arrangement remains the same.

Multimedia Experience

As is mentioned before, the 13.3-inch display is designed to make for superior multimedia experience. We watched a couple of episodes of The Office (U.S Version) and streamed 6-7 HD upcoming movie trailers on full brightness and the visuals were pretty impressive. Nothing to complain about there, except maybe the fact that when we were watching stuff with low brightness the screen turned out to be pretty reflective. The audio wasn’t disappointing either. A couple of people could easily enjoy music or videos on this without the need to plug in external speakers.

The display uses Samsung’s SuperBright technology which translates into 300 nits of brightness, again the same as its predecessor.

Our review unit was powered by Intel Core i5-3317U running at 1.7 GHz and is equipped with 8 gigabytes of RAM and a 500 GB hard drive. Over the week that we used the Series 5, we pretty much used it for every task imaginable including gaming, writing articles, surfing the web, video chatting and after every full cycle of charging it gave us company for about 6 hours or thereabouts. On our standard NovaBench benchmark we got an average score of 370 points, which is on the lower side given the fact that it sports a SATA HDD instead of a Solid State Drive and uses Intel HD Graphics 4000 and not a dedicated GPU like NVidia or ATI Radeon.

Verdict

Although a little heavier than most other 13.3-inch Ultrabooks in the market, the revamped Samsung Series 5 notebook is a pretty decent machine when it comes to the activities you’ll mostly indulge in on an Ultrabook – browsing the web, watching movies, using Windows 8 apps and the usual suite of productivity apps.

Rs 64,990

Love – Excellent screen, multimedia experience, decent battery life

Hate – No backlit keys, overly sensitive trackpad

Source.

Conclusively, the Samsung Series 5 ultrabook is a  13.3-inch. It is a decent machine with features that can largely be described in the “excellent” category. It is ideal for those on the move and it is suitable for productivity and entertainment. The Windows 8 experience of this just too exciting. Checkout the Samsung website for more details.

Ultrabooks are pushing well in emerging markets as the following article will show. It describes the domestic acceptance of different brands of ultrabooks in Vietnam.

What’s more, the market for these classes of laptops is flooded with cheap brands that boost sales for vendors and improve technology advancement in this Asian emerging market. Here is an online article published January 21,2013 on the Vietnam Net website, which provides a useful analysis on the state of ultrabooks in Vietnam:

In 2012, the domestic laptop market witnessed the noisy appearance of new ultrabook models with foreign big brands like HP, Asus, Acer, Sony, Lenovo, Samsung.

Though the ultrabook market has always been dominated by foreign brands, a Vietnamese technology group, CMC, still unexpectedly jumped into the boiling market in mid-November 2012.

There are three ultrabook market segments at this moment. The first one gathers the high end products valued at VND30 million and higher. The second one is medium class product group priced at VND20-30 million, and the third is the popular one with the price below VND20 million.

With fashionable design and light weight of less than two kilos and the thickness of no more than 20 mm, ultrabooks have been hunted by people, who want the products to replace traditional laptops which are heavier and more inconvenient to carry. Especially, powerful ultrabooks also have high class features, such as the long use (6 hours) battery, strong processing speed with configuration of Core i3, i5 and i7.

However, such the ultrabooks which can satisfy all users’ requirements were very “choosy” about customers, because they are relatively expensive. One needed to spend at least VND15 million to buy a product.

However, with the appearance of a series of new products, one just needs to spend from VND10 million to VND13 million to by an ultrabook with Core i3, 1.8 kilo in weight, 14 inch screen, 4GB RAM, 320-500GB capacity of hardware, 4 cell battery with integrated DVD drive.

Dell Inspiron 14Z BMW Z4, for example, is priced at VND12.7 million dong, Asus S46CA-WX016 at VND11.9 million dong, Asus K46CA-WX013 10.6-10.9 million dong.

As for the “new comer” U135-S NoteOne of Vietnamese CMC group, the product with Core i3 is now selling at VND12.9 million dong. However, the price levels believed to make the CMC’s products less competitive than the products of other brands which have the prices just a bit higher than CMC’s but have better brands.

Some hi-tech production shops in Hanoi have been selling products with foreign well-known brands, but they are not the imports through the official channel. They are the products carried to Vietnam across the border gates by travelers or foreigners.

The owners of the shops explain that since the products do not bear the high import tariffs, they have the sale prices lower than the products imported through official channels. In general, these products are cheaper by VND300,000-500,000.

As such, ultrabooks have become more approachable than several months ago. The appearance of a lot of ultrabook models has brought more choices to users, who now have more choices that fit their budget of VND10 million dong.

Those, who bought popular models of ultrabooks in late 2012, were given valuable gifts, such as the bags for ultrabooks, optic mouse, iron or vouchers.

Dinh Anh Huan, General Director of dienmay.com, thinks that the laptop market would still be quiet in the first months of 2013, following the market performance of 2012. Therefore, retailers are likely to launch big sales promotion campaigns to stimulate the demand.

The market surveys conducted by some computer distributors have found out that consumers now tend to prefer the products with medium sale prices, but have fashionable designs, thinner and lighter than the previous generation products.

Finally, the above article was written by Buu Dien, and it reveals some interesting details on the state of ultrabooks in Vietnam.

Its good that the domestic acceptance of imported laptops is on the increase, meaning that there would likely be further push for   ultrabooks in the nex couple of months.

In summary, emerging markets like Vietnam can help the ultrabook course.

There are lots of fanciful ultrabooks on the shelves of Vendors today. The introduction of the Windows 8 operating system has made it more interesting and easier for companies to introduce hybrid and convertible ultrabooks.

These creativities that have been added to ultrabooks have resulted to users getting more options in the marketplace. If you are interested knowing the top and most appealing ultrabooks in the market today, here are some interesting options that you can go for:

Looking for a new Ultrabook? Why not let our selection of the best on the gadget market help you decide.

Dell XPS 12

With the latest Windows 8 operating system, you can combine the power of a PC with the functionality of a tablet to run your apps and spreadsheets with ease.

The slick flip-and-fold action of the screen takes it from a laptop to a tablet in one fluid motion.

Your friends and colleagues are sure to be green with envy.

Dell XPS 12

Dell XPS 12 (credit:.birminghammail.co.uk)

Asus Taichi

Light-weight, sleek and chic, this device is one of the best for speed, form and overall functionality.

It’s Windows 8 ready and thanks to Asus Simple Show, you’re able to show off your photos and presentations on the external screen, while simultaneously controlling them on the internal display.

Asus Taichi

Asus Taichi (credit:birminghammail.co.uk)

Lenovo ThinkPad Twist

Designed to appeal to business boffins, this convertible device is svelte with a screen that can rotate 180 degrees.

With 4GB of RAM and an Intel Core i5 processor, you will be up-and-running in moments – it’s a decent all-rounder.

Lenovo ThinkPad Twist

Lenovo ThinkPad Twist (credit:birminghammail.co.uk)

Toshiba Satellite Ultrabook 12.5in

This is a perfect performer in the transformation stakes – moving from tablet to laptop in a rather swish sliding movement.

But this hybrid’s performance in the computing stakes shouldn’t be forgotten too.

It comes with pre-loaded software and packs a lot of storage to give you that PC experience while on the go.

Toshiba Satellite Ultrabook 12.5in

Toshiba Satellite Ultrabook 12.5in (credit:birminghammail.co.uk)

Source.

These are some of the most appealing ultrabooks you can go for today. There features and performance to meet the need of the individual or enterprise are most impressive.

You  can checkout more reviews on each of these products for more details.

There is no doubting the fact that quite a lot of ultrabooks are really impressing and appealing to look at and to use.

The Lenovo IdeaPad U310 is an ultrabook you will find quite affordable and attractive. It is made to keep in line with other notable ultrabooks like the IdeaPad Yoga and the Asus Zenbook UX32A.

You may want to check out if this model is really what you need as a computing product. The truth is there are lots of advantages you can enjoy from this product even as it comes with an affordable price.

Below is a review of this ultrabook you will find useful for quick decision making when it comes to selecting this product:

Since the introduction of Ultrabooks, Lenovo has been at the forefront of thin and light machines. We’ve seen it do well at both ends of the pricing scale with the Lenovo U410 and ThinkPad X1 Carbon, but those are both 14-inch machines.

The IdeaPad U310 is a 13-inch Ultrabook, more in keeping with the likes of the Asus Zenbook UX32A, Lenovo’s own IdeaPad Yoga (but without the touch capabilities, or the flexible spine), or the MacBook Air.

Though it trims down on screen size from the IdeaPad U410, it keeps the funky design sensibilities. With a choice of finishes for the outside, including the fetching blue colour we had, and stark white (with slightly sparkling finish) on the inside, it definitely looks like more of a home laptop than the usual dour business fare.

Lenovo IdeaPad U310 review

Lenovo IdeaPad U310 review (image:Gear Burn)

There’s a spacious trackpad, and a good-sized keyboard too, with simple black keys. It’s definitely a handsome computer, and one that manages that special trick of looking friendly, rather than like a serious work machine.

Inside the model we tested, you’ll find silicon fairly comparable to other machines at the lower end of the Ultrabook market. There’s a 1.8GHz Intel Core i3 processor, a 500GB hard drive with a 24GB SSD for rapid booting and waking from sleep, 4GB of RAM and Windows 8 powering it all.

The model we had has a full recommended price of £599 in the UK (around AU$912) or US$729 in the US, but can be found a bit below that online.

The Lenovo U310 comes in a few configurations, which can affect the price. You can also find it with a more powerful Intel Core i5-3317U processor, or even an Intel Core i7-3517U, for more money (we’ll touch on the processor differences on the Specification page).

Though a quick glance at the specs and price of the Lenovo IdeaPad U310 leave it looking pretty middle-of-the-road in the lower end of the Ultrabook range, it’s an incredibly appealing thing to see in the flesh. Something like the Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A is designed to be severe and sexy; this is designed to be fun and inviting.

At 18mm (0.7 inches) thick, it’s hardly the thinnest of Ultrabooks, and at 1.6kg (3.5lbs) it won’t win any portability awards. But it’s still slimmer and lighter than most home computers, so the advantage isn’t something to be ignored.

As we mentioned, this isn’t a touchscreen laptop (although a Lenovo IdeaPad U310 Touch is “coming soon”, it has been announced), so if you’re looking for a more hands-on way to use Windows 8, you’re better off with the aforementioned Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga or something like the Asus VivoBook S200.

It comes with three USB ports (including two that are USB 3.0), an Ethernet port, an SD/MMC card reader, an HDMI video output, and a headphone jack.

Colour options for the Lenovo IdeaPad U310′s cover are Aqua Blue, Graphite Grey or Cherry Blossom Pink. Source.

So, there are so much to say and know about the Lenovo IdeaPad U310 ultrabook. It looks simple and attractive, but it is much more powerful and affordable.

Although this model may not give you all you may desire from an ultrabook, it sure is a good starting point since it readily surpasses the benchmark of most standard ultrabooks.

What’s more, you can access variety of colors to fit into your peculiar choice.

The ultrabooks coming on the shelves of computer vendors today are those running the latest Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system.

It just seems like the predecessor of this operating system, Windows 7, is already going extinct. This is not true, there are pretty much a lot of Windows 7 ultrabooks around. The good thing is that you can shop for these devices and save more.

Windows 8 may be the ‘prime’ operating system for most ultrabooks these days, however users still find its use uneasy and frustrating. This is more particular when it comes to the new User Interface(UI).

If these were your concerns then you can still make do with ultrabooks running the Windows 7 operating system. They are still reliable, user-friendly and powerful.

Shane O’Neill of CIO highlighted the above facts in an online post he made January 18, 2013 in his blog at CIO.com. Extract from the blog post are cited below:

I had assumed that Windows 7 was off the market. At brick-and-mortar retail stores you are not likely to find many Windows 7 machines on the shelves. If there are any they are greatly outnumbered by Windows 8 hardware.  But there are more options online. Amazon, in particular, has many eye-catching deals to help keep the Windows 7 dream alive.

I’m rarely an advocate of using older technology when newer tech is available. But Windows 8 is proving to be a complicated beast. A recent animated review of Windows 8 drives that point home with humor and a sort of crazed passion.

In its own way, Microsoft is trying to drive people away from a slowly dying PC market and into the arms of the flourishing tablet market. Can’t say I blame them.

But the Windows 8 tile-based UI — formerly called “Metro” and now nameless – remains an uneasy experience if you are using anything but fingers on a screen. As a multi-touch tablet UI, Windows 8 is pretty good, even if the stacked and cluttered tiles will never win any design awards. However, using a trackpad in Windows 8 tile-based UI mode is still uncomfortable enough to frustrate users and using a mouse is an exercise in futility.

On the flip side, the “Desktop” mode in Windows 8 looks and feels like the Windows 7 UI (just without the Start button), but it’s treated as an afterthought. When using it, you will inevitably feel like you are missing out on something. What are all those tiles and apps on the other side? Did I pay for those? And what about the Windows app store? Why am I not using that?

But you shouldn’t feel guilty. Microsoft wants to move on from the PC business while still appearing to provide a traditional PC operating system. Hence the awkward mash-up that is Windows 8. I like to call it a “Tabtrabooklet.” Catchy, isn’t it?

Windows 7

Windows 7 Ultrabook( image:CIO)

But if you don’t want a tablet interface hanging over your head, there’s still good old reliable, likable, agreeable, traditional, user-friendly Windows 7. Maybe it’s OK to live in the past sometimes.

Conclusively, Shane O’Neill has pointed out some interesting reasons why you should consider the Windows 7 ultrabook. Meanwhile, he recommends the following three affordable Windows 7 ultrabooks available at the Amazon: Dell Inspiron i14z-5000sLV 14-Inch Ultrabook, Lenovo IdeaPad U310 43752BU 13.3-Inch Ultrabook, and Samsung Series 5 NP530U3B-A01US 13.3-Inch Ultrabook.

A review helps you to know more about a product so you can easily make good buying decision.

When it comes to the reviews for ultrabooks, ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ should be revealed. These are just what you get to see and read about in the following review on the Sony VAIO T13 Touch Windows 8 Ultrabook.

The review was made in Silicone Republic and its quite a frank review:

Review: Sony Vaio T13 Touch Windows 8 ultrabook

Review: Sony Vaio T13 Touch Windows 8 ultrabook (image credit:Siliconerepublic.com)

Seeing as the Sony Vaio T13 Touch is the first Windows 8 computer we’ve had our hands on to review, it’s hard not to critique both the glossy new hardware and the colourful new operating system in this feature.

Look and feel

Sony’s T-series ultrabooks have received a Windows 8 upgrade, which means an added touchscreen, and a price boost for good measure.

The magnesium and aluminium casing, edge-to-edge display, plus the slim build that is essential to achieve ultrabook status makes the T13 Touch reminiscent of a MacBook Pro in looks. However, there’s no mistaking the inlaid chrome ‘Vaio’ logo emblazoned across the top of the lid and the chrome strip at the rear, as well as the T13’s more angular design.

The rear strip has two black protrusions and, when you open up the laptop, the hinge shifts the display to tuck in behind the base, so these supports are essentially providing a more solid base for the slanted edge of the display. However, they don’t particularly provide any additional grip or prevent the display from ‘bouncing’ when using the touchscreen – a problem that continually arises when using Windows 8. On top of that, all the tapping, swiping and gesturing will leave you with a grubby screen fairly quickly.

The indicator lights on the front of the machine also protrude slightly and, being so small and thin, they’re practically sharp to the touch.

Sony Vaio T13 Touch Windows 8 ultrabook

Sony Vaio T13 Touch Windows 8 ultrabook(credit:Silicone Republic)

The 13.3-inch touchscreen with a resolution of 1,366 x 768 features a glossy, anti-reflective finish that’s meant to provide greater colour intensity without any glare. But, while I marvelled at the vibrancy of the display in dimly lit situations, I found the screen to be almost mirror-like in locations with strong overhead lighting (which is common in office spaces with fluorescent lighting).

There’s no optical drive on the T13 Touch and the full-size keyboard isn’t backlit. It is nice and tactile, though – so no slipping off the keys – and, while the T13 Touch is on the heavy end of the scales as far as ultrabooks go, it still feels particularly light for a laptop.

General operation

The T13 Touch’s Intel Core processors have no real problem handling the Windows 8 interface and everyday tasks, and integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000 are sufficient for casual gaming. However, I did note quite a few occasions where the screen would inexplicably flicker and sometimes there was a bit of lag when using the touchpad for gestures.

Rapid Wake technology means you can start up in seconds and the computer can stay in sleep mode for days unplugged. Dedicated keys above the keyboard automatically launch Vaio Care (to diagnose and fix problems) or the default web browser, and a third key can be assigned by the user. Only the ‘Web’ key will launch directly from sleep mode, though.

Sound from the integrated stereo speakers (using Sony’s Clear Phase and xLOUD technologies) is decent, but picture from the built-in 1.3MP webcam is poor, with everything washed out in a pallid colour, despite having an Exmor sensor.

As well as touchscreen control and a touchpad that recognises gestures, the T13 Touch also recognises motion control using the webcam. This can be enabled or disabled on the computer and gestures can be used to swipe, adjust volume and pause within a select set of programmes. In my tests, the motion recognition worked so sporadically that I gave up fairly quickly.

Overall, the new T13 shows good performance and solid battery life of up to five hours. There’s also the option of added security by using a picture password.

Woeful Windows 8

The biggest hump to get over with the Vaio T13 Touch was becoming accustomed to Microsoft’s all-new Windows 8 interface. A quick guide in the selection of Vaio apps (and a physical copy, too) helped me come to terms with the various commands but, while I got a handle on the basics, the number of issues that cropped up with this UI were startling.

So many things bothered me about this OS and left me pining for Windows 7. There’s the fact that you can’t just close an app with a simple ‘X’; there’s a specific gesture for that now. You can’t just glance at a taskbar to jump from one open app to another, you have to pull up a sidebar menu first and hope this isn’t confused with a swipe or a split-screen command. And the emphasis on minimalism in the design means there are lots of icons that we’re presumed to understand, when some words would be a lot more useful.

Sure, you can switch back to the traditional desktop view at any moment – but that doesn’t necessarily make things easier.

Any programmes on your computer not optimised for Windows 8 will have to open in this mode, but it’s not the full desktop you’re used to. You no longer see a Windows start key and you can’t access the Windows 8 apps from this screen.

Also, when using desktop, you’re locked out of some of the key features of Windows 8. The ‘Share’ and ‘Devices’ buttons in the charms bar (the pop-up menu on the right-hand side of the screen) are dead handy for quickly sharing files – except, oh no, it can’t be used in desktop view.

Screenshot from Sony Vaio T13 Touch Windows 8 ultrabook

Screenshot from Sony Vaio T13 Touch Windows 8 ultrabook(Iimage:siliconerepublic.com)

For file management you will still be using Explorer on the desktop as this hasn’t been carried over to Windows 8. You can search and find files via the Windows 8 search function, but you need to know what you’re looking for as browsing folders is not an option.

Overall, Windows 8 will take some getting used to. Even if Microsoft is trying to make it out as child’s play – everything is easy when you know how, but that know-how won’t come immediately.

Apps and programmes

In terms of apps, Windows 8 continued to be a frustrating let down. Unless you have a full suite of Windows 8 apps, your start screen will be littered with low-resolution icons on grey tiles that mar the look of the colourful new interface.

And far too many essential programmes just aren’t ready for the new OS. We’re still awaiting the release of Office 2013, so this entire suite – I would say the most essential programmes on most laptops – is stuck in Windows 7 mode, as is Windows Media Player and most of the Vaio apps and Sony Media apps (including PlayMemories).

Want Spotify? Well, you can’t have it. Or Deezer. Even Sony’s own Music Unlimited service doesn’t have a Windows 8 app. Searching for music apps in the Windows Store I found TuneIn Radio, which was woefully slow to connect, and Music by Sony, which only plays back the music you have and has no discovery services.

Screenshot from Sony Vaio T13 Touch Windows 8 ultrabook

Screenshot from Sony Vaio T13 Touch Windows 8 ultrabook

Dropbox for Windows 8 seems incomplete, giving users access to files but no way to upload and no installed folder. But it’s not all bad. Netflix looks great with the Windows 8 interface and performs really well and, though I’m still not an Internet Explorer convert, admittedly it works just fine in Windows 8 (though not blazingly fast). Apps like People Hub, Mail and Messaging also work well, and the live tiles providing constant updates can be useful or headache-inducing depending on your disposition, but you can at least switch them off if it’s the latter.

For gaming, nothing is simple anymore. Everything’s now connected via Xbox Live Hub and comes with all these extras like awards and leaderboards, even with casual games like Minesweeper and Taptiles. That said, these simple games look great with their glossy Windows 8 update.

Verdict

This isn’t a review of Windows 8, it’s a review of the Sony Vaio T13 Touch ultrabook. However, the operating system is too integral a part of the machine to be overlooked.

With Windows 8 you’re given a glossy sheen that obscures the real nitty gritty of your computer. This was the Windows philosophy from the get-go: to distance users from things that – if they were uninformed – could be risky to mess around with, and give them a clean, accessible UI. But Windows 8 is a step too far in that regard. On my smartphone I need a simplified UI as that’s how I get things done quickly, and the tasks are low duty. But when computing I want to feel in control, not like my computer is babying me.

This is not what I would want from an ultrabook. Why would I invest in such a powerful machine only to receive something that feels scaled back? If you want a portable computer that performs like a smartphone, surely you’d get a tablet?

It’s a terrible waste to take a powerful ultrabook, dumb it down and somehow make it difficult to use. Think about the intensive work you might need to do on a portable computer – we don’t want to do these things on our phones and (as far as I’m concerned) not necessarily on a tablet, either. What you need is a robust computer.

Sony Vaio T13 Touch Windows 8 ultrabook

Sony Vaio T13 Touch Windows 8 ultrabook(credit:Silicone Republic)

Source.

So,from the verdict made after the review of this ultrabook, it is not to be doubted that there are lots of flaws when it comes to this ultrabook.

Sony VAIO T13 is built with admirable hardware and software but it should provide the user with the needed functionality.

This is a frank review showing some of the shortcomings of this product. You can still go for it a you seek for a device that would give you an above average performance.

Intel is a major player when it comes to computing. It supplies majority of the chips or processors manufacturers or vendors install on their products.

Ultrabook is the brainchild of Intel which it inspired to tackle the dominance of the MacBook Air. At the CES 2013, Intel revealed plans on what its next generation of ultrabooks would be made of.

Sean Hollister of The Verge made analyses of the new features of the new ultrabooks and wondered whether these new features can change the future of computing:

There aren’t many companies that can set a new direction for the entire computer industry. Right now, three come to mind: PC manufacturers march to the beat of Microsoft’s Windows drum, and many follow Apple’s design. The third is Intel, which influences the market behind the scenes with ever more powerful processors and aggressive marketing campaigns.

In 2011, Intel told every PC manufacturer that it needed to have an answer to Apple’s MacBook Air, and offered $300 million, among other persuasions, to help OEMs develop and market new designs. Intel called it the ultrabook, and specified a set of ultrabook requirements in terms of thickness, responsiveness, and battery life. The manufacturers complied. While some PC vendors champed at the bit by selling machines that were visually identical to existing ultrabooks but that didn’t meet the specification, the new laptops still made a splash at first.

Now, for the first time since its inception, Intel is pushing the ultrabook slightly beyond its Apple inspiration. Specifically, with the new Haswell chips due in late 2013, Intel will require that every ultrabook have a touchscreen. They’ll need to support Intel’s proprietary Wireless Display (WiDi) screen-sharing technology. Intel’s promising all-day battery life as well, and a feature called Connected Standby that lets apps check email and pull down updates even when a computer is in sleep mode. With these new features, Intel is all but mandating what the high-end laptops of the future will look like in 2013 and beyond.

At CES 2013, we sat down with Intel’s consumer PC boss Kirk Skaugen to find out if Intel is truly driving the industry forward this time around. Let’s tackle each new feature in turn.

“All-day battery life”

The holy grail of laptop computing, Intel’s been working on the so-called “all-day battery life” for over a decade. The company founded the Mobile PC Extended Battery Life Working Group back in 2002. Since then, Intel and its partners have announced any number of times that they’ve achieved the goal, but we’ve learned to take those claims with several grains of salt.

Technically, we’ve tested quite a few laptop computers that can last over eight hours, and seen some that can go a full 24 hours on a charge, but we’re usually talking about devices that are running completely idle, with the screen brightness turned down unnaturally low, and often with a sizable extended battery bolted onto the bottom. In the real world, we’re lucky to see five or six hours of use from a lightweight machine.

And yet, Intel’s Kirk Skaugen says this will change:

On 4th-gen Core, we are going to have the largest battery increase generation on generation in Intel’s history. So that will deliver the ability to leave your power brick at home, truly, once and for all.

So, you really mean it this time?

We really mean it this time. There’ll be some details in the specification in terms of what that means across a range of workloads.

Should we take him at his word?

Touch

While Intel just made touch a requirement for the next generation of ultrabooks, it’s not clear that consumers even want touch at all. Sure, we found it exceedingly useful for Windows 8 laptops, even ones that don’t have fancy convertible hinges, and we also found that Windows 8 doesn’t make as much sense without touch, period. Yet it’s hard to say whether Windows 8 will succeed in the first place, which could make an added touchscreen irrelevant. So why require touch now?

“Driving our fourth-gen ultrabooks to include touch is really been part of industry pull as much as it’s a push from Intel,” Skaugen told us.

The retailers want higher-end ultrabooks, and convertibles and detachables will need touch because they convert to almost a tablet form factor. But they want a consistency. With the OEMs, things stall when they’re second-guessing touch, non-touch, “do I have to do both,” so this provides them some clarity and some consistency in the higher end.

Skaugen had a lot to say about how much touchscreens are being appreciated, citing excellent results from a huge survey of 220,000 individuals trying Windows 8 machines with touch at the helm… but when it came to the “why make it a requirement now” question, the closest thing to an answer was this: “Windows 8 obviously being designed around touch makes it a natural time for us to do this.”

WiDi

Intel’s Wireless Display (WiDi) has been around since 2010 — predating Apple’s AirPlay by quite a bit — but the screen-sharing technology hasn’t had much to show for the lead time. You not only had to have an Intel-powered laptop with integrated Intel graphics and an Intel Wi-Fi chip inside, but also buy a $100 dedicated TV adapter or one of an exceedingly small number of WiDi-equipped televisions to make it work. So what’s changed now?

Click here to read more.

From the details above, only time will tell if the latest designs suggested by Intel will really change the future of computing. There is no denying the fact that most of the features like screen resolution, WiDi,”All-day Battery life”, and touch etc can make great impact on the way the existing ultrabooks are looked upon. Like I said earlier, only time will actually tell the real impact because there are still other factors to be considered.

What You Should Consider Before Buying An Ultrabook

At the CES 2013, quite a lot of ultrabooks were on display and it may be difficult for you to really take hold of the best of these ultrathin laptops.

However, there are still some considerations and tradeoffs to note so you readily buy one of these products without having to regret. Of course there is need to be caution and this specifically has to do with your expectations.

Doug Bardwell, on January 15, 2013  published a post in Technorati and the details reveals some of the things you really need to consider when it  comes to knowing what features to expect from an ultrabook.

Excerpts from the article buttressing this point pointed out that features like the CD/DVD drive, storage devices, input devices, USB ports, etc are all functions of what you are to use the ultrabook for. In other words, the volume of work you do or the how you intend using your ultrabook will determine what features are traded off in the product.

In the article, the following points were highlighted: First thing you’ll notice is that you probably don’t have a CD/DVD drive. If you have already ripped all your music and movies – no problem. But, if someone gives you a disk with their company information and photos on it, or maybe a movie they want you to watch – you’ve got no way to access the information unless you brought an external USB disk drive.

Do you file a lot of reports or do a lot of detailed work on your PC? Chances are you are more comfortable working with an external keyboard and mouse. The trackpads and onboard keyboards are usually not the best for pounding out financial worksheets or long reports.

How about storage? If you have a lot of back-up photos or video to store, your Ultrabook likely has a limited amount of storage. You’ll either need to back them up to DVD (see the external player above) or to an external USB drive.

If you need all four of those devices mentioned above – more problems. You probably only have two USB ports – maybe just one. You need three or four. Now what? A simple unpowered hub might seem like the solution, but it’s not. Most drives – either hard drives or DVD drives need the full power they get from plugging directly into your computer.

Conclusively, ultrabooks can be used for basic and advanced computing chores. Choosing the best for any task may not be an easy decision for everyone. The points highlighted above can help guide you in buying the most suitable. It’s important that you keep to heart all the necessary provisions available.

Synaptics is notable for manufacture of touch input hardware for computers. Touchpad and other touch based input devices are their specialties. At the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2013 that held last week in Las Vegas, the company unveiled some of its key touch based input devices.

What is peculiar about these products is that they are readily optimized to fit into the features and functionalities modern designs of Intel’s ultrabooks. Here is an online review of some of the best that Synaptics have to offer at the Las Vegas show:

This year, at CES 2013, we met with Synaptics to talk about the latest in their touch products as well as the latest in their other human input devices.

We first began our meeting with a follow-up to our meeting with Synaptics back in July where they introduced us to their new Forcepad touchpads as well as their ThinTouch keyboards. Back at that time, the Forcepads were only able to work in rigged systems and in prototyped enclosures. The Forcepads have not quite made their way into products, but Synaptics is telling us that they are expected to be later in the year.

The beauty of the Forcepads is that they enable for an added level of functionality with the touchpads by adding the sensitivity of force. They also reduce the overall thickness of the touchpad by almost 50% enabling thinner laptops with more fully featured touchpads. As if that weren’t enough, Synaptics is going to include their own hinges for their Clickpad line of touchpads, unlike they have done in the past where they allowed OEMs to pick the hinges they wanted. Not just that, but they’ve also made them significantly thinner as well.

The real impressive stuff, the stuff we had been waiting many months on were actually the ThinTouch keyboards. Back when Synaptics showed us their ForcePad touchpads, they also gave us a taste of what their new keyboards for ultrathin laptops would be like. Their goal was to improve keyboards on Ultrabooks and the like, while simultaneously enabling ever thinner laptops.

The ThinTouch keyboard does this using a magnetic resistance system combined with an off-set depression mechanism which increases the distance that the keys depress by making them move ever so slightly to the side. By not depressing straight down, there is more key travel distance giving it a more natural feel. The mechanism is also magnetic rather than mechanical or rubber domed, which means that it will almost always type the same the first time as it did the last time.

What is extremely interesting about using such a keyboard is that it is also a giant capacitive touch sensor because each of the keys is a capacitive sensor. The hope is to use this ability to capacitively sense on each key for other use cases, however there are not any at the current moment other than the obvious. One of the most obvious use cases of combining these keyboards with Synaptics’ touchpads is that if you’re typing or have your fingers resting on the keys, the touchpad will simply turn off and prevent errors/ghost dragging. Source.

Conclusively, Synaptics is taking steps to tag along with ultrabooks designs and features. Its touch products like the ForcePad TouchPacd are particularly offered and optimized for ultrabooks. You too can readily take advantage of the ultrabooks that come with these features.

Hopefully, by the time the Synaptics products are released, we would have course to take advantage of ultrabooks the run one on the best touch and input hardware devices ever.

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