Category Archives: Ultrabooks

Windows 8 Laptop Choices

My wife’s laptop recently destroyed itself. It was a feat of harakiri hitherto unheard of from inanimate electrical objects.

So like any good household support husband, I showed her how to use my desktop with Windows 8. Then like any good household support husband, I got the itch to buy something so I started looking at laptops.

My wifes’ use case for a laptop is mostly for emails, excel/word/powerpoint, music/YouTube, occasional Hindi movies from websites I’d rather not know about (must display on a TV) and video chat with family. Hearing that, I decided to come up with the ‘actual’ list of requirements that any married couple conveys via telepathy that is only understood by them.


  1. The device must connect to various email systems.
  2. The device must support 3rd party email clients with connectivity to IMAP, POP and SMTP.
  3. The device must provide portability throughout the house and connect to g/n Wi-Fi.
  4. The device must provide office tools for productivity.
  5. The device must connect to SkyDrive.
  6. The device must connect to Drop Box.
  7. The device must be easy to backup and restore if something goes wrong.
  8. The device must be able to run windows apps (thunderbird, chrome, etc.).
  9. The device must allow the hosts file to be modified (ok that is one of MY requirements).
  10. The device must allow Netflix streaming.
  11. The device must allow YouTube streaming and playlist management.
  12. The device must allow mp3 songs to be played through cloud or local storage.
  13. The device must allow flash for Hindi movie watching.
  14. The device must connect to a TV via a HDMI port.
  15. The device must have a front facing camera and run Skype for video chat.
  16. The device must be small enough to carry and must have a keyboard.
  17. The device must be usable on the couch.
  18. The device must support an external keyboard and mouse.
  19. The device must support USB 3.0 for USB sticks and external drives.
  20. The device must run for at least 5 hours on battery.
  21. The device must use a true SSD.
  22. The device must have at least a 128GB SSD drive.
  23. The device must support smooth PDF reading.
  24. The device must have 4GB of RAM and Core i5 at a minimum.
  25. The device must be responsive and no lagging should be encountered in any usage scenario described above.
  26. The device must be future proof and work with with any OS released for at least 3 years.
  27. The device may have a touch screen.
  28. The device must have a tablet mode if it has a touch screen.
  29. The device must allow printing to the home Wi-Fi printer.
  30. The device must support or contain a CD/DVD drive (or external USB drive).
  31. The device must connect to an external monitor.

Laptop Options – Cost

As far as laptop choices go, I want to stay below $1200 before tax & shipping. Without checking the requirements above, I am looking at the following

Machine Cost
SAMSUNG Series 9 NP900X3D $700
Microsoft Surface Pro + Touch Keyboard $1030 *
Lenovo Yoga 13 21912XU $1150
DELL XPS 12 Ultrabook $1200
Acer Aspire S7-391-6478 $1323

* – Not sure of the exact price since it hasn’t released yet.

I’d like to consider the Acer Aspire but its over the $ threshold so its out.

Laptop Comparison – Full

  Series 9 Surface Pro* Yoga 13 XPS 12
Cost $700 $1,030 $1,150 $1,200
Dimensions 12.3 x 8.6 x 0.51 10.81 x 6.81 x 0.53 13.1 x 8.9 x 0.67 12.48 x 8.46 x 0.79
Screen Size 13.3 10.6 13.3 12.5
Touch Screen No Yes Yes Yes
Screen Resolution 1600 x 900 1920 x 1080 1600 x 900 1920 x 1080
Weight 2.49 lbs 2 lbs 3.4 lbs 3.35 lbs
CPU Intel Core i5-2537M dual core Sandy Bridge 3rd Gen Intel Core i5 Processor 3rd Gen Intel Core i5-3317U processor 3rd Gen Intel Core i5-3317U processor
Memory 4GB DDR3 1600 4GB 8.0GB PC3-12800 DDR3 SDRAM 1600 MH 4GB Dual Channel DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 3000 Intel HD Graphics 4000 Intel HD Graphics 4000 Intel HD Graphics 4000
Camera 1.3MP webcam  720p HD 720p HD 1.3MP webcam
Storage 128GB SSD 64GB SSD 128GB SSD 128GB SSD
Battery Life 7 hr 5 hr 5 hr 5.5 hr
Warranty 1 yr 1 yr 1 yr 1 yr

* – The actual specs for the Surface Pro are not yet known so this could change.

The Series 9 is out because it uses the second gen Core i5. Not something you can use for the next 3 years. Also reviews show that high def video causes stuttering. Performance wise, this machine is now off my contender list.

The Surface Pro is 10.6” and has a 1920 x 1080 resolution. I’m worried that text will not be easily readable on a screen that small with such as high resolution. At this point I don’t know and will have to go see it personally when it comes out. Ignoring resolution, the screen size is just not viable for working and producing content with ease. Having multiple windows open is a necessity and I think this device would fit well as a consumption device instead.

The cost of a 128GB SSD is approximately $100 on NewEgg. If you can get the Surface Pro with 128GB SSD for $1130, it would still be missing 4GB of RAM when compared to the Yoga 13. I’m taking the Surface Pro off the contender list because for $120 more, the Yoga 13 gives more bang for the buck. And really, you can’t do much with 64 GB.

The XPS 12 is almost an inch smaller in screen size to the yoga 13. It also has a higher res screen. But at the higher cost, it has only 4GB of RAM. I’m not sure I’m gaining much with the XPS 12 over the Yoga 13. Same graphics, same CPU. So performance wise, more RAM is a winner especially when the Yoga 13 is $50 cheaper.

Right now, I feel that the Yoga 13 has the best value for money. I also think the Yoga 13 would handle the list of requirements I set forth earlier as well. My only worry is having a Core i5 instead of a Core i7.

If I were to do a Core i7 for the Yoga and the XPS 12, the prices change to $1330 and $1400 respectively. The Yoga 13 is still a better choice at that level being $70 cheaper for an almost identical spec sheet.The Surface Pro does not support a Core i7.

The Final Countdown

Yoga 13 FTW!

Websites were not harmed in the making of this list. However, much voodoo was practiced and entrails read while sipping tea.

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