The single biggest reason to get an Ultrabook is that it makes computing on the go infinitely more convenient. Ultrabooks are nearly as portable as tablets while retaining the performance of full-sized computers. And an Intel requirement that all Ultrabooks should have at least 5 hours of battery life means that, with light use, they will last most of the day on a single charge.
Some staff on our publication have now switched almost exclusively to Ultrabooks when needing to work while travelling, typically on trains or aircraft (or taxis on the way to a meeting). Ultrabooks can be carried in a smaller bag and when you use them in a public place are not as intrusive. One staff member recalls an occasion from a previous era when a fellow passenger on a train complained about being scalded (literally) by jet of very hot air shooting out of the side of a big 15.6in laptop the staffer was using. That will never happen with an Ultrabook because of its much lower heat output, which also means there will no whirring fans and attendant noises.
2. Tablet-like characteristics
People have taken to tablets for many reasons, but one of the biggest is "instant on," or virtually instant access to apps and data. Although Microsoft claims that Windows' resume from sleep function is now very quick (3-4 seconds) the truth is that it's highly inconsistent and most people still shut down their notebooks after each use, which means at least a minute or more waiting for the system to boot up. Ultrabooks are required to implement Intel's "Rapid Start Technology" which writes the contents of RAM to NAND flash memory at sleep time, ensuring it can be read back in a couple of seconds. In short, when you want to do something on an Ultrabook, your apps or data are no more than 2-3 seconds away. Brilliant. And a cold boot takes no more than 20 seconds compared to a minute or more for a normal laptop.
3. Ultrabooks have performance comparable to that of full-sized laptops
In a direct,head-to-head battle, the low power Intel Core processors in Ultrabooks would lose against full-power ones in a standard laptop. However, processor speed is not the whole story. Ultrabooks have excellent performance because they combine the processors with solid state drives, which speed up boot and application load times from 50% to 300% and more. The end result is that the Ultrabook CPUs are not hobbled by the kind of slow mechanical hard disk drives found on full-sized notebooks and are able to deliver performance that belies their low-voltage, super-slim, super-light status.
We saw this for ourselves first-hand, not in our labs running synthetic benchmarks, but on the production floor. We were able to test the Acer, ASUS and Toshiba Ultrabooks in the APC office (using them as our daily machines for magazine production work instead of our standard, corporate-issue desktops) and they were able to handle it. This meant they ran all day with lots of Office apps open simultaneously (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), multiple browsers and intensive programs such as Photoshop and InDesign running often, too. The Ultrabooks handled it.
4. Expect much better reliability
Ultrabooks are built more like telephone and tablets to incredibly fine tolerances, so that all that componentry can fit inside the amazingly thin cases. Because Ultrabooks are so slim, the cases need to be stronger so they're made of ultra-strong alloys, and in the case of the ASUS UX series, use unibody construction, where the entire case is milled from a solid block of metal (just like the MacBooks). Since there are no mechanical drives, there's fewer moving parts to break down. And critically, because Ultrabooks use components with a lower thermal output, they can stand up better to the great destroyer of computer parts: too much heat or poor heat dissipation.
5. The technology is finally affordable
When Ultrabooks first appeared in late 2011, they were relatively expensive and well above the Intel ideal of $1,000 for the category. But predictably, prices have been sliding quickly, and Ultrabooks that appeared for $1,399 can now already be picked up for $200 less. And one, the Acer S3 (which is cheaper because it incorporates a mechanical drive) has now dropped under the magic $1,000 mark.