HWM+HardwareZone.com Tech Awards 2013: Editor's Choice - Part 2


Best Windows 8 Ultrabook

 Best Windows 8 Ultrabook

There is no denying that the tablet form factor is taking over the personal computing landscape. With the tablet, comes an additional input option - touch - that has burst out of its 'novelty' shell and gone mainstream in the past few years. A pioneer in touch-based notebooks, Microsoft has not been at the forefront in this area in the past few years. But the company hopes to regain the lead with the help of its latest OS, Windows 8. In order to fully utilize Windows 8, manufacturers are now compelled to add touch input on their flagship Ultrabooks. However, for some manufacturers, simply adding a bit of Gorilla Glass and a touchscreen isn’t enough. Some have even gone out of their way to enable their Ultrabooks to transform into tablets. While we applaud the effort to differentiate their products, we wonder if it will make a difference to its prospective customers. For this category, we rounded up various multi-touch display-equipped, Windows 8-running Ultrabooks.

Nominees:

 

  • Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga
  • Acer Aspire S7
  • Dell XPS 12
  • Sony Vaio Duo 11
  • Toshiba Satellite U920t
  • Samsung Series 5 Ultra
  • HP Envy Touchsmart 4 Ultra

 

And the Winner Is...

The Lenovo Ideapad Yoga 13 is a winner in our eyes on many different levels. Firstly, it’s got a build quality that other notebooks can only dream about. Even many of Lenovo’s own IdeaPad creations could stand to benefit if they’d learn from the Yoga. Its rigid build and the fact that it’s covered in a gorgeous metallic-looking, scratch-proof coat isn’t even the main reason why the Yoga is the winner here. One strong reason, as its name suggests, is that this machine is able to bend its body in ways you’d never thought possible for a notebook.

Thanks to patented (and rigid) hinges, the Yoga’s screen is able to tilt and fold 360 degrees backwards. This gives the Yoga increased functionality over the other Ultrabooks here. On top of its regular laptop and tablet mode (held firmly in place by magnets), the Yoga’s unique bending ability lets it have two extra usage modes - 'Stand' and 'Tent' modes. The two extra modes allow the machine to adapt to more usage scenarios.

While the Yoga doesn’t have the highest resolution screen, we found its 1,600 x 900-pixel display sufficient for a 13-inch notebook, even when used for multimedia consumption. Yes, images might not be as sharp as those on a full HD screen, but this also means that icons and text are displayed at a more comfortable size. And thanks to its IPS panel, it has wider viewing angles compared to screens on other notebooks.

All of these advantages are great, but the Yoga has one other ace to add its crown - its superb battery life. Battery capacity is much larger than the other contenders, allowing it to stay alive unplugged, for 4 hours straight when going through the crunch of our Powermark benchmark test that mimics actual usage from productivity to entertainment tasks. That’s enough to get plenty of work done, lasting nearly an hour longer than the closest competitor.

The only real downside to the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 is that its computing prowess is quite average. But that's the same story with the others, as they sport roughly the same components (CPU, GPU, SSD, and RAM). However, as an entire package with a price tag of S$1,699 (for the base model configured with an Intel Core i5 processors, 128GB SSD model), the Yoga is hard to resist.

 

Scoring Breakdown
Criteria/Model Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga Acer Aspire S7 Dell XPS 12 Sony Vaio Duo 11 Toshiba Satellite U920t Samsung Series 5 Ultra HP Envy 4 Touchsmart Ultra
Design 9.5 9.5 9.0 8 8 7.5 8.0
Features 8.5 8.0 8.5 9.5 7.5 8.0 8.0
Performance 8.5 8.0 8 8.0 7.5 7.5 8.0
Value 9.0 8.5 8.5 8.0 7.0 8.0 8.0
Mobility 8.5 8.5 8.0 8.5 7.5 7.5 7.0
Overall 9.0 8.5 8.5 8.5 7.5 8.0 8.0
Price S$1,699 S$1,895 S$1,799 S$1,999 S$2,099 S$1,549 S$1,399

*Note: Prices and ratings listed are accurate at the time of individual product evaluation.

For more details on how we selected our winners, check out the full reviews and articles listed at the References section at the end.