By Dean Evans
Is 2012 going to be the year of theUltrabook?
At this year's subdued CES, these MacBook Air-a-likes are everywhere. But there's more to this new category than a super-skinny chassis.
According to Intel, Ultrabooks also have "ultra-capabilities" - security features, battery power, instant-on and standby. They'll provide a lightweight alternative to tablet devices for people who just can't work without a full QWERTY keyboard.
But what's the best Ultrabook to buy? Check out the best Ultrabooks that were on show at CES 2012...
LG Z330 Super Ultrabook
Rather than a tapered design, the chassis on the 13.3-inch LG Z330 Super Ultrabook is 14.7mm thick from front to back. It runs Windows 7 (for now) and has a bigger brother, the LG Z430, which comes with a 14-inch display. Why is it 'Super'? Because LG says so.
Samsung Series 5 Ultra
Packing an Intel Core i5 processor, the Samsung Series 5 Ultra is small but perfectly formed. Available in 14-inch or 13-inch models, the 13 incher is 17.6mm at its fattest point, narrowing to 14mm.
It comes with a 128GB/256GB SSD or a 500GB hard drive and incorporates an LED SuperBright screen. The only worry? Battery life is pegged at around 6.5 hours, which is about 2 hours too short in our book.
Samsung Series 9
While the original Series 9 was one of the world's thinnest laptops, the newSamsung Series 9 Ultrabook is even thinner.
The design team has shaved off another 4mm, giving this 13-inch (1600 x 1200) laptop a waistline of only 12.9mm. Inside, a 1.7GHz Core i7 chip does all the hard work, ably assisted by up to 8GB of memory and SSD storage.
HP Folio 13
As the moniker suggests, the HP Folio 13 is yet another 13-inch Ultrabook. It's not much of a looker and, at 18mm around the middle, it's not the slimmest Ultrabook at CES.
But HP is claiming a 9-hour battery life for the Folio 13, which will be ideal for regular mobile workers who value staying power over pretty design.
HP Envy 14 Spectre
The HP Envy 14 Spectre is a little bigger than your average Ultrabook and a little fatter because of it. Intel specifies a sub- 18mm chassis for 13-inch models, but 14-inchers like this can bulk up to 21mm.
With a Core i5 (or i7) processor and 128GB HDD inside, HP claims a 9 hour battery life for the Spectre. And... that's really the only appeal.
Dell XPS 13
The Dell XPS 13 might be a little late to the Ultrabook party, but it's one of the prettiest portables we've seen.
Amazingly, Dell will squeeze an Intel Core i5 or i7 inside the trim chassis, along with 4GB of memory and a 128/256GB SSD. How thin is it? 6mm at its slimmest point.
Lenovo IdeaPad U310
The Lenovo IdeaPad U310 has a distinctly MacBook Pro vibe to it. Packing a 13-inch display, the U310 tips the scales at 1.7kg and is squeezed into an aluminium chassis that's 18mm thick.
A Core i5 chip is expected to provide the processing grunt, with the choice of a 64GB SSD or 500GB hard disk for storage.
Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga
We're loving the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga. This flexible, foldable Ultrabook also converts into a 16.9mm thick tablet with a 13.1-inch (1600x900 pixel) touchscreen.
Running Windows 8 you get the best of all worlds - a QWERTY keyboard for heavy duty working and a tablet experience for after hours net sessions on the sofa. The downside? It probably won't be cheap.
Acer Aspire S5
Thin (15mm) and light (1.35kg), the new Acer Aspire S5 isn't much of a design departure from the older Acer Aspire S3.
But it takes advantage of its Ultrabook DNA with a 13.3-inch display, Thunderbolt technology, SSD storage and a fast (but as yet unspecified) Intel CPU. Are we excited? Meh.
The Intel Nikiski concept
While not technically an Ultrabook, Intel tells us that a Ultrabook version of the oddball Nikiski is on the cards for later this year.
What makes it stand out is the glass touch pad that turns into a touchscreen layer to enable you to browse a slimline view of key information such as new emails.