Think that all ultrabooks are expensive? Not really! Yes, the general perception states that buying from this new category of computing devices does require that you part with a significant chunk of your cash. For the most part, this trend runs true. But there are also a series of ultrabook options that don’t cost an arm and a leg.
What we have here is a list of ultrabooks that will do the job, within a strict budget. This list, for the sake of simplicity, is arranged in the order of ascending price.
Lenovo IdeaPad U310
The IdeaPad U310 does have a very impressive spec sheet - latest generation Ivy Bridge Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive and 24GB of flash storage. The 13.3-inch display has a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. The performance offered by the 1.4GHz processor is quite stable, and the 24GB flash storage really helps speed the system along by caching the data on that instead of the slower hard drive.
Boot times are massively improved as well. The build quality is quite good, and while the looks are very understated, the sophistication bit is undeniable. Some say it looks very much like a MacBook. We will not agree or disagree with that, but if it does look like a MacBook, then kudos to Lenovo for achieving that within this price bracket.
Dell Inspiron 14z
This is the affordable ultrabook from Dell, offered along side the premium XPS range. The spec sheet of the 14z makes for good reading. It comes with an Ivy Bridge series Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM, 500GB hard drive with 32GB flash storage. The display is a 14-inch one, with a fairly common resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. Interestingly, the Inspiron 14z does even offer an optical drive, something most ultrabooks miss out on.
The design and the colour theme are very similar to those found on the Inspiron R and the Inspiron R Special Edition series of laptops. The performance is quite impressive, once you remove all the preloaded software trials from the machine, and give it a thorough scrubbing with something like CCleaner. We would recommend this because this one is a proper laptop, dressed as an ultrabook.
Lenovo IdeaPad U410
The elder cousin of the IdeaPad U310, this is the IdeaPad U410 with the main difference being the bigger screen size - 14-inches as against 13.3-inch on the U310. This is powered by the same Ivy Bridge Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM and the same combo of a 500GB hard drive and 24GB of flash storage for caching.
System performance, as expected is very similar to the lesser priced sibling. However, the U410 does get a great deal of punch when it comes to gaming, with the Nvidia GeForce GT610M (1GB) graphics. Yes, this is a fairly mid-range graphics chipset, but it does give the U410 a distinct advantage over the rivals that only offer integrated Intel HD graphics.
Samsung Series 5 Ultra
Samsung has two versions of the Series 5 still available in the market. The older version features a Sandy Bridge processor while the newer one comes with the Ivy Bridge update. The ones under Rs. 50,000 are the Ivy Bridge versions, which we believe are a steal of a deal. They are powered by the Intel Core i5-2467M processor clocking at 1.6GHz. There is 4GB of RAM to help this along. Also, there are certain versions of the Series 5 with 6GB of RAM, and you could check if any of those are retailing for less than Rs. 50,000.
Even with 4GB though, the performance is quite good. There is a 500GB hard drive for storage, and 24GB of flash memory for quick boot and caching tasks. The 13.3-inch display keeps the form factor well in check, but Samsung still managed to put in an optical drive in the package, making it one of the first ultrabooks to sport one.
Sony Vaio T11
For those who want something even more portable than the conventional 13-inch or 14-inch ultrabooks, here is the 11.6-inch (1366 x 768 pixels) option for you! It is a rather unique proposition, and its footprint is quite small. The Vaio T11 could have been smaller still, but for the surprisingly thick bezel around the display. This has the Ivy Bridge series’ Core i5 processor onboard with 4GB of RAM. There is a 500GB hard drive for storage, and 32GB flash memory for caching and quick boot.
Performance is fairly basic, because the processor is clocked down to enhance battery life and prevent overheating. But still, this will have enough grunt to do a fair bit of multitasking. Removing the preloaded trials and limited version software from the machine does help quite a bit in making the performance slightly snappier.