Ultrabooks vs. Chromebooks

Posted by jun auza On 1/21/2012
Ultrabooks, the much-touted ultra-slim laptop computers, which Intel announced with great pomp and expectations, have finally started making their presence felt. Recently showcased at CES 2012, these Macbook Air competitors, if successful, may revolutionize the tech world just as the tablets did. At this nascent stage though, not much can be said about them; however, we at TechSource do wish ultrabooks ran Ubuntu instead of Windows.

Ultrabooks, despite being slim and sleek in design, offer the users a complete desktop that’s both usable and powerful. That said, it would be wrong to pit them head-on against laptops or even tablets for that matter. Ultrabooks target a completely different audience, which is, oddly enough, a niche that Chromebooks have been trying to get into for a long time. Chromebooks, which we covered earlier, haven’t reached the pinnacle Google expected them to, nor have they managed to impress many customers, thus making room for competitors like Ultrabooks, and even tablet computers, to steal the show. But how does the relatively mature Chromebook stack up against the emerging Ultrabook? Let’s see.


Performance

Ultrabooks, though slim in design, provide the user with a powerful, performing desktop. For example, the recently announced Dell X13 Ultrabook: this slim beast is powered by i5 and i7 processors and comes with 128GB solid-state drive (SSD).

Chromebooks, on the other hand, are powered by Chrome OS. The breezy web browser is the only thing you’ll find on a Chromebook, thus making the whole operating system feel super fast. Unlike Windows, which tends to slow down after a while, Chromebooks would perform the same way (or even faster!) even after 2-3 years. The only thing slowing down these machines is your Internet connection.

It is thus quite obvious that Chromebooks outmatch Ultrabooks in the performance department. I know, that the i7 processor is definitely faster than the Intel Atom-powered Chromebooks, but that performance comes at almost 3-4 times the price of Chromebooks. For the $300 Chromebook, you almost get the same performance you get on an i5 device with Windows Vista on it.

Winner: Chromebooks

Samsung Series 5 Chromebook


Price

The Dell Ultrabook costs $999 whereas Chromebooks cost as little as $300. Though, you can purchase low-end Ultrabooks at even lesser prices, the ever-dipping price point of the browser-based notebook steals the show.

Winner: Chromebooks


Usability, Features, and Functionality

Chrome, Chromebook’s raison d’etre is a powerful, nimble browser that makes the notebook work real fast despite its relatively low-end specs. That said, when you want to get something done, you can’t always rely on a browser-based computer. Sometimes, you need Windows, Mac, or Linux to run high-end applications like video editors, or even games. This is where Chromebook is still lagging behind. People can’t be on the web all the time, and they need something with which they could work offline. Ultrabooks, in this department, completely outsmart the struggling Chromebooks.

Winner: Ultrabooks

Acer Aspire S3 Ultrabook


Design, Overall Look and Feel

If you’ve seen Chromebook’s reviews, you must have noticed that the little browser-based notebook is quite well designed. The nicely styled keyboard, the smooth finish, and a brightly lit display are enough to make even a full-fledged laptop user go green with envy.

That said, Chromebook’s charm pales out when compared to the stylishly designed Ultrabooks. For example, the recently announced Envy Spectre by HP will make your gadget lust reach new heights. The i5-powered beast features a Gorilla Glass chassis (scratch-resistant) and has a 1600x900 Radiance Display. Similarly, most of the notebooks in this genre feature a shiny aluminum design along with a chiclet-style keyboard. Not only does this -- to a limit of course -- succeed at curing some seriously Mac-envy, it also makes the Ultrabook an attractive-yet-powerful gadget. The winner here undoubtedly is the shiny new Ultrabook.

Winner: Ultrabooks


Conclusion

Though Ultrabooks target a market similar to the one Google is targeting, it would be wrong to proclaim the slim gadget as a Chromebook-killer. Chromebook is, and perhaps always was, a niche product, especially for those who have successfully migrated their tech life to the web. For the rest, a good old netbook or even a laptop does the job. Ultrabooks, on the other hand target the whole laptop market; so, it is quite unlikely that the twain will ever be at loggerheads.

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