Saturday, August 4, 2012

Quarter 2012 3 Ultimate Ultraportable Buyers Guide (Php50,000+)

Do you have deep pockets? These days buying the ultimate ultraportable (4 pounds or less) laptop costs a lot less than you think. A few years ago, getting one of these ultra thin and ultra light laptops would set you back over Php100,000. Today, nothing we recommend even comes close to that price. In our previous entry level and mid-priced guides we focused on price. In this one we will focus on features. 


11-inch business ultraportable: Apple MacBook Air - Php52,990 (128 GB)

Where do we start. The 11.6-inch ultraportable is a good place. This form factor is something focused more for the frequent flyer. The 11.6-inch size  fits nicely on the tray of an airplane seat.

If you want the ultimate 11-inch ultraportable, you do not have to go too far. Right now, there really is little reason to consider anything other than Apple's MacBook Air. The 11-inch MacBook Air really only has one competitor, the 11-inch Asus UX21. I have not seen the upgraded Ivy Bridge version in the local market yet. So if you want an 11-incher, my advice is get the MacBook Air, or wait for a newer Asus UX21.

Quick specifications


  • OS: Mac OSX
  • Display: 11.6-inch (1366 x 768 pixel resolution)
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-3317U (dual core 1.7 GHz)
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Storage: 128 GB SSD

  • Wireless: WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0
  • Notable Ports: USB 3.0
  • Card Reader: No
  • Webcam: Yes
  • Others: Backlit keyboard
  • Battery: 5 hour battery

So back to the Air. It is just 2.5-pounds in weight, making it easy to carry. The Ivy Bridge Core i5 1.7 GHz processor and 4GB of RAM is sufficiently powerful for anything you would normally do with a 11-inch laptop. The 128 GB Solid State Drive (SSD) storage is not large, but should be big enough to hold what you need on a daily basis. SSD's are wickedly fast, and at this price point, I really want an SSD. The rest of your files will have to go to a external drive.

It has a good backlit keyboard and a nice display. The only thing I miss is the absence of a HDMI port.

The main weakness of this package is the, so so, five hour battery life.


Excellent business ultraportable: 13-inch Apple MacBook Air - Php57,990 (128 GB)

Two years ago my dream laptop was a 13-inch laptop weighing in at 3 pounds of less with an SSD drive. I was dreaming of a Sony Vaio Z, but it is was the MacBook Air which came out in late 2010 with a steep cut in its price making it a viable option. Today, the 13-inch MacBook Air is 10-15% cheaper than it was late in 2010, making it a better deal than ever.


Quick specifications


  • OS: Mac OSX
  • Display: 13.3-inch (1440 x 900 pixel resolution)
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-3427U (dual core 1.8 GHz)
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Storage: 128 GB SSD

  • Wireless: WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0
  • Notable Ports: USB 3.0
  • Card Reader: No
  • Webcam: Yes
  • Others: Backlit keyboard
  • Battery: 7 hour battery


The 13.3-inch MacBook is larger and heavier than the 11.6-inch model, but at three pounds, it is an easy carry. It has a marginally faster processor than the 11.6-inch MacBook Air. But what will make the 13.3-inch more desirable to some buyers is the larger screen making it a more viable for use while on the road or while at home or in the office.

The larger size also allows for a large battery which gives you two hours more battery life than its smaller sibling, and you get an SD Card reader too. In almost two years, I have never used the SD Card reader on my MacBook Air.

The 13-inch MacBook Air starts at Php57,990, or Php5,000 more than the 11.6-inch version. The larger screen and longer battery life are worth the additional 5K, in my opinion. Upgrading to the 256 GB model is more iffy. That is another 15K for double the storage. I use a 256 GB MacBook Air now, but I realized I could live with a 128 GB model easily enough. Either way, you probably will store most of your archived files in a external drive anyway.

Excellent business Ultrabooks for those who need more power - three good choices






#1 Asus Zenbook UX32VD-R3001V - Php59,990.


Want large storage or more power, Asus is happy to obliged. Asus Zenbook UX32VD-R3001V is similar to the 13-inch MacBook Air but weighs a tab more at 3.2 pounds. It also cost a bit more at Php59,990. It is a good alternative choice if you want more storage or more graphics punch.

Quick specifications


  • OS: Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Display: 13.3-inch (1366 x 768 pixel resolution)
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-3317U (dual core 1.7 GHz)
  • Discrete Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GT620M with 1 GB of dedicated RAM
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Storage: 500 GB SSD with a 24 GB SSD cache

  • Wireless: WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0
  • Notable Ports: USB 3.0
  • Card Reader: Yes
  • Webcam: Yes
  • Others: Backlit keyboard
  • Battery: 7 hour battery

The Asus Zenbook UX32VD-R3001V comes with a 500 GB hard drive with a 24 GB SSD cache. While this combo is not as fast as a pure SSD drive, if you want more storage, it is the way to go. Getting a MacBook Air with a 512 GB SSD is possible, but that will cost you all of Php97,990!

In addition the Asus Zenbook UX32VD-R3001V also comes with a Nvidia GeForce GT 620M discrete graphics card with 1 GB of dedicated RAM, making this Ultrabook a pretty decent  gaming platform.




#2 Samsung Series 5 Ultrabook Core i7 (NP530U4C-S03PH) - Php54,990


If you are willing to go a bit larger and heavier, at just over 4 pounds you have the 14-inch Samsung Series 5 Ultrabook Core i7 (NP530U4C-S03PH). This is like a Asus Zenbook UX32 on steriods. You get the same Nvidia GeForce GT 620M discrete graphics card with 1 GB of dedicated RAM, but with a more powerful 1.9 GHz Core i7-3157UM processor. You also get more RAM. For storage you get 1 terabyte of storage. All this for Php5,000 less.


Quick specifications

  • OS: Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Display: 14-inch (1366 x 768 pixel resolution)
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-3157UM (dual core 1.9 GHz)
  • Discrete Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GT620M with 1 GB of dedicated RAM
  • RAM: 6 GB
  • Storage: 1 TB hard drive with a 24 GB SSD cache

  • Optical drive: Yes
  • Wireless: WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0
  • Notable Ports: USB 3.0
  • Card Reader: Yes
  • Webcam: Yes
  • Others: No
  • Battery: 8 cell battery


If not for the 4 pound weight, we would not even consider the Asus Zenbook UX32VD-R3001V.


#3 Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A-R4003V - Php69,990

The Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A-R4003V is a fairly expensive notebook. Instead of the 50K+ units we have need looking at this one comes in at Php69,900. But it does boast a 256 GB SSD for storage, and is a lot than its competition with the same large 256 GB SSD drive. The Samsung 9 Series Ultrabooks and the Apple MacBook Air with 256 GB SSD's are priced at Php76,900 and Php72,900, respectively.


Quick specifications

  • OS: Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Display: 13.3-inch (1920 x 1080 pixel resolution)
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-3157UM (dual core 1.9 GHz)
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Storage: 256 GB SSD
  • Wireless: WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0
  • Notable Ports: USB 3.0
  • Card Reader: Yes
  • Webcam: Yes
  • Others: No
  • Battery: 7 hour battery


But it is not just the lower price that makes the Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A-R4003V attractive. It comes with either a Full HD IPS (1920 x 1080) display and a fast Intel Core i7-3157UM processor.

Need even more power? Powerful ultraportables - A pair of Vaios'

While the MacBook Air's and Ultrabooks we have looked at are pretty powerful devices, they run on lower powered ultra low voltage processors and lack thing like optical drives.

#1 Sony Vaio S SVS13116FG - Php59,990

The Sony Vaio S is a "full-sized" 13.3-inch which weighs in a just 3.8 pounds. But this is not an ultrabook. I has is powered by the Ivy Bridge based Intel Core i5-3210M processor which runs at 2.5 GHz. This Core i5 processor is a tad bit faster than the Intel Core i7-3157UM you find in the Samsung Series 5 and Asus Zenbook Prime. The Nvidia GeForce GT 640M LE (1406 3DMark 11 points), also is much faster than the GT620M's (1026 3D Mark 11 points) on the Samsung Series 5 and Asus UX32VD Zenbook.  So, if none of the Ultrabook's is powerful enough for you. Sony Vaio S will give you what you are looking for. It also has an optical drive.

Quick specifications

  • OS: Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Display: 13.3-inch (1366 x 768 pixel resolution)
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-3210M (dual core 2.5 GHz)
  • Discrete Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GT 640M LE with 1 GB of dedicated RAM
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Storage: 640 GB hard drive
  • Wireless: WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0
  • Notable Ports: USB 3.0
  • Card Reader: Yes
  • Webcam: Yes
  • Others: No
  • Battery: 6 hour battery



For graphics, that Sony Vaio S has the standard Intel HD Graphics 4000 plus a Nvidia GeForce GT 640M LE with 1 GB of dedicated video memory, so it does not disappoint in terms of graphics power either. Storage is provided by a  640 GB hard drive as compared.


A slice battery is also available for Php8,000, which can double this laptops battery life from six hours, to twelve hours.



#2 Sony Vaio S SVS1315GGB - Php79,990


Last on our list, you have the more powerful Sony Vaio S.

Quick specifications

  • OS: Windows 7 Professional
  • Display: 13.3-inch (1920 x 1080 pixel resolution)
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-3520M (dual core 2.9 GHz)
  • Discrete Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GT 640M LE with 2 GB of dedicated RAM
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • Storage: 759 GB hard drive
  • Wireless: WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0
  • Notable Ports: USB 3.0
  • Card Reader: Yes
  • Webcam: Yes
  • Others: No
  • Battery: 5 hour battery

A sheet battery is also available, which doubles the battery life. 

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