5 Great Windows 8 Ultrabooks For School And Uni

It's back to school time, and that means getting your books, bags and timetables in order. More importantly though, it's time to think about the year ahead. You're not going to be stuck typing your assignments on a dodgy library computer again, or left with a book full of paper notes you can't digitise are you? Here are five of the best Windows 8 Ultrabooks you can get to make sure you'll top the class this year. Pay attention, students.

We've listed some of our favourite Ultrabooks below, but you can find more over at Lasoo.

Tomorrow we'll run through our favourite convertible ultrabooks that also double as tablets.

HP Envy Spectre XT

The original Spectre was an awesome laptop, no question about that. So what could have made it a more spectacular follow-up than turning it into a fancy ultrabook with more power?

The XT upgrade gives you more power and better bang for your buck. It packs a 1.7GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB solid state drive for super-fast boot and data transfer, all buried underneath a fabulous touchpad, sleek keyboard and 13-inch (1366x768) display.

You'll also get two USB ports (one of them USB 3.0), dual-channel Wi-Fi as well as Gigabit ethernet for network blitzkriegs when you're under the gun, and HDMI out for all those presentations you'll be doing (read: putting movies on your TV).

The Spectre XT doesn't boast a touchscreen, but then again it went on sale in September 2012 for $1399. I'd also wager you'll pay less than that today for what is still a great machine for school and uni. [HP]

Acer Aspire S7

Beneath the amazing advertising for the Acer Aspire S7 actually lurks a $1799 ultrabook that walks the walk.

This 11.6-inch slab of chiseled silver and white not only beats the beauty of anything Cupertino has done in the ultraportable space, but it also packs a punch. On-board you get a 1.9GHz Intel Core i5 Ivy Bridge processor, 4GB of RAM and a pleasant 256GB of solid state storage.

You'll also get a touchscreen for all the Windows 8 fun, two USB 3.0 ports, a micro-HDMI out and dual-band Wi-Fi. [Acer]

Samsung Series 9

The Samsung Series 9 looks like a machine that was discovered in a vein of precious metal: buried deep in the earth waiting to be found. This brushed aluminium delight comes in both a 13- and 15-inch model, with specs ranging to a 1.7GHz Intel Core i5 Ivy Bridge processor, a whopping 8GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD and a slew of fast ports. That includes two USB 3.0 ports, an additional USB 2.0, HDMI and an SD card reader.

It's $1899 in Australia which puts it at a slight premium against even the Aspire S7, but this ultrabook is both a power packer and a fashion statement around campus.

While the Series 9 is amazing, it's worth noting that if you wait a term or two, Samsung will reward your patience with the Series 9's beautiful follow-up: the Series 7. We don't know much about the elusive Series 7. It made its debut at this year's CES, and it looks set to knock our socks off when it hits the market. [Samsung]

Asus VivoBook S400

Clearly the dark, smokey, brushed aluminium look is in this season, because the Asus Vivobook is dressed almost in exactly the same garb as the beautiful Samsung Series 9.

Vivobook specs start from an entry-level Celeron chip and move right up to a 1.9GHz Intel Core i7 Ivy Bridge processor. You can get away with the Celeron-powered model for under $500, but if you want the goods from the S400 Ultrabook model, you'll be looking at double that price.

On the premium model, buried beneath a 14-inch touchscreen display is a 1.9GHz Core i7 Ivy Bridge processor, 4GB of RAM and a whopping 500GB hard drive. That's pretty impressive for sheer storage space, but you have to remember it's good, old mechanical drives at work here, and not the lightning-fast solid state drives buried inside all of the Vivobook's competitors. Still, if you're a graphics student or someone with a bangin' set of tunes you're not ready to part with just yet, this might be a great option for you. There is a 24GB caching SSD option available, but that won't do you a whole lot of good if you want to soup up the whole system.

It's a mixed bag with the Vivobook, but the sheer number of choices available when it comes to the guts means you can spec it any way you want. And of course, if touch isn't your thing, you might also want to check out the stylish Asus Zenbook series. [Asus]

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon

The X1 Carbon redefined the clunky, awful Thinkpads of the past. No longer is it a machine relegated to the boring recesses of the corporate IT pool. These days it's a svelte, thin and rubbery machine designed to be super-portable and twice as fast.

It occupies a 14-inch footprint and packs an Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. You also get two USB ports (one of them USB 3.0) and a card reader. The only problem with the Carbon is the price.

A tremendous device that you certainly should pick up if you have the cash to spare. It packs a real punch and you can't deny the reliability of a Thinkpad at the end of the day. It will go until the cows come home. [Lenovo]

What's your perfect back to school & university ultrabook? Let us know in the comments.



    Tomorrow we’ll run through our favourite convertible ultrabooks that also double as tablets.


    See if the Asus VivoTab 810 (The one with the Atom processor and the Dock) fits in, Seriously considering one due to it's battery life and in general usefulness.

    Also haven't seen a review of one here unless I missed it, would love to see one :)

    For the convertible test tomorrow, please include pen support and what type of digitiser they have. :D

    I purchased a brand new (sealed in factory box) Lenovo X1 Carbon from the eBay US for $1130 AUD delivered. It came with i5, 4GB RAM and 256GB SSD. and comes with a 3 year Lenovo International warranty. You cannot go wrong !!!

    Wouldn't mind getting myself a zippy little 13' i7 in the near distant. You can stick the Windows 8 though.

    Last edited 11/02/13 2:48 pm

    Can't wait for the Samsung Series 7! Wish it would come sooner though, no updated news on that ;D

    Are there many (any) ultrabooks on the market atm with 1080p resolution and mini displayport socket instead of HDMI? The Surface Pro has this.

      Sure, but I think Surface Pro has it because it needs it to maintain spec with things like iPad, not because it is actually useful. Nearly every review I've read says the screen is just way too small for that res with the Windows 8 desktop. I reckon the 1366x768 in the SurfaceRT is about the limit for a 10" screen and I never thought the 1024x768 iPad 2 was desperately short of pixels, either. In fact, it is only under very specific circumstances that you will notice the difference between an older iPad screen and a newer, Retina one. I actually had to ask the "genius" in the shop which model I was looking at.

      Last edited 11/02/13 6:51 pm

        I dont understand. Cant you just turn down the resolution to the one you want? With my VivoTab Smart, I can even turn it down to 1024x768.

        I don't understand why you would need Ultrabooks for school. I got myself a VivoTab (not RT) for work and the performance has been enough for me to do remote support and run some legacy enterprise apps.

        I would say W510, VivoTab or Envy x2 would be good for students. Light and enough battery life that doesn't force you to sit at a specific spot in the library just to get access to power points.

          You can turn it down but TFT screens always look their best at their native resolution, when one pixel on the image is mapped directly to one pixel on the physical display. e.g. If you run your 1080p screen at 1280x720, then each pixel of your image is being mapped to 1.5 pixels in the display. Needless to say, you can't do that so what ends up happening is that you get one sharp pixel and a bunch of pixels around it that re blended with adjacent pixels, resulting in a less sharp image. It wasn't an issue with old style cathode ray tubes, as they simply had a coating on them and the ray itself (or rays in a colour screen) created as many pixels as you needed. it was very analogue, where flatscreens are very digital.

        I wouldn't have any problem with a 1080 res on screen that size. I understand that's not for everyone but for people that wanted larger icons, etc, just go to personalize -> display and change size of all items. I've used this a fair bit on Win7/8 for people that have issues with native screen resolution and it's worked a treat but most people don't know it's there because it's fairly hidden (I'm sure you'd know about it though). I reckon especially for the surface, Microsoft should make this setting easy to toggle, especially if you're going from tablet to laptop mode.

      acer aspire s7

      The Acer S7, beautiful machine in person and the screen is amazing.

      Lenovo ThinkPad Helix & Lenovo X1 Carbon Touch.

    Change the Asus S400 to the Asus S550,
    The newer model is a lot more powerful! I picked it up with an i7, 16gb ram, 256 SSD, touch screen and dedicated 2GB graphics all for under $1200!

      May I ask where? It sounds great and I'm currently in the market for an ultrabook.

        Got it from FlingShot, but it's since been removed as they've had trouble getting stock. It's only just been released so its understandable. I think DickSmith have them now but no way as cheap

    Gizmodo pls do review/comparison of the atom based windows 8 convertibles/hybrids please, and then do a separate one for the intel i5 based, i know you guys can. cheers

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