Ask LH: Which Non-Touch Ultrabook Would You Recommend?

Dear Lifehacker, I am in the market for an Ultrabook and am looking for one without a touch screen. I know touch screens are the way of the future but I am quite happy living in the past for a while longer! Also I don't really want to pay for something that I am never going to use. What would you recommend? Thanks, Untouched

Dear Untouched,

I'm presuming from the question that you're after a thin and light laptop; technically speaking an Ultrabook has to refer to a device that meets some specific Intel guidelines, because Ultrabook itself is an Intel trademark. So for example while a MacBook Air might pass the "it looks like an Ultrabook" test, it can't be one, because it's a MacBook. In some ways that reduces the choice parameters a bit if you absolutely must have an "Ultrabook", because Intel's specific rules make for some very similar devices. In that vein, our Windows 8 Ultimate Buyers Guide is a good place to start reading and deciding precisely what you're after.

It's also an interesting time to be looking for an Ultrabook specifically, because Intel's tightened up the definition for its fourth generation "Haswell" processors, and touch is now a mandatory inclusion.

The other factor with touchscreen compatibility is that it's often used to justify slightly higher Ultrabook prices, but not always. You can spend around $700 for an entry level Ultrabook with very basic specifications, but that can ramp up quickly depending on your other needs. The key reason why I'd suggest anyone buy an Ultrabook (or Ultrabook-style laptop) would be for the convenience of a thin and light laptop platform, and the mobility benefits it brings. The cheaper end of the Ultrabook scale is often a tad on the plastic side, which may not be the most durable.

While it's not technically an "Ultrabook", Apple's MacBook Air is the first place I'd suggest as a non-touchscreen based Ultrabook, because they're rather well built machines that often do very well even if you're not running OS X on them, and as yet, Apple's resisted the urge to make them touchscreen compatible. I'm also a fan of the design of HP's Spectre Ultrabook lines if absolute Ultrabook compatibility is a must.

Cheers Lifehacker

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    And where are the ultrabooks with screens larger than 13"?

      most people buy ultrabooks for their portability, and anything larger than 13 inches is generally too big to be practical.

    The Razer Blade or Razer Blade Pro may also be of interest.

      If you're after a portable gaming computer, then it'd be an option. But essentially you're paying a premium for the gaming focussed hardware and branding. Not really necessary for most people.

    +1 for a MacBook Air. I've had one for about 6 months now for Uni, and it's fantastic.

      Could not live with out mine, or at least be as mobile as i am without mine.

    I bought an HP Spectre XT laptop just before christmas for $1000 which included ten percent off at JBHIFI (So it could be cheaper now) and the specs were practically equivalent of high end ultrabooks. i7, 256 SDD, decent battery life (about 5 hours max) and a decent design.
    The only downsides are that it has 4gb of un-upgradeable memory, the screen is a little lackluster (but works perfectly fine) and it ran windows 7 (which I updated as soon as I received the laptop). The laptop is honestly great and blitzes through self-created programs with gaming being an average experience.
    All in all it's a great laptop but it might be worth waiting for Haswell to come out as it may drive down the price of current ultrabooks or being used as a replacement for current processors.

    I have to put in a plug for the Dell XPS 13. Really wanted the Developer Edition but that is not sold in Australia so has to roll my own after buying it with Windows 8. Kubuntu 13.04 installed, everything worked out of the box. I got the i5, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, 1080 version for $900 from the Dell outlet store and it has been nothing but brilliant.

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