Intel's Consumer Ultra Low Voltage (CULV) processor based platform has been around for almost a year since its debut, but it's not till much later that manufactures started utilizing it to replace older platforms found in the 13-inch and 14-inch notebook space. The main reasons we've heard to date from various vendors point towards the pricing of the CULV processors at the time of availability and that they needed to dump the existing inventory of older platforms before they can fully embrace the new chips. In any case, sufficient time has passed and the last quarter of 2009 saw a variety of notebooks from almost all the usual vendors offering notebooks based on these new processors.
Now, you may have noticed the CULV name is cumbersome (and we've sort of taken to pronouncing it as "Cool-V"), we were told that the reason is because they couldn't get a marketing name out in time before the first few products went to retail.
Trivia aside, the CULV processor platform is aimed at the niche between the netbooks and normal notebooks. It offers more mobility via low voltage processors thus increasing battery uptime, but retains much of the performance and form factor of standard notebooks, albeit in a much slimmer and lighter design.
Price-wise, the CULV notebooks tend to be priced around the same as normal notebooks, but much lesser than business class ultralights. So while they cost more than a netbook, the performance and mobility of the CULV processor based notebooks will be enough to justify the price difference.
For this shootout, we've taken six 13-inch Intel CULV processor based models from Acer, Dell, HP, LG, MSI and Toshiba while also adding on the Lenovo IdeaPad U350 from our previous review. This should give a good indication of which notebook to get as all of them feature different price points and designs to suit the different tastes of consumers.
Note however, that some of the notebooks sport the more recent variants of the Intel CULV processors unlike some of the earlier notebook models. This discrepancy is to be expected because of the uneven adoption rate as pointed above. While this would inevitably bring about some differences in results, it shouldn't affect things too much and besides, direct comparisons in the notebooks world are difficult in the first place. As such, each is a unique contender as chosen from the retail scene at the point of comparison and it's really up to them to impress upon us and you, the consumers. Let's meet the contenders, shall we?