Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Which Ultraportable - 11.6" or 13.3"?

Five years ago, the traditional urltraportable was a 12.1" laptop with a 10.6" x .6" x 1.1 inch chassis and weighing in at 3.2 pounds with a four cell battery. The 1024 x 768 resolution screen resulted in an almost square-shaped chassis with a keyboard which was 92% of the size of a full-sized keyboard. In order to allow for a small chassis, these laptops were powered to be expensive low voltage or super low voltage processors.

The one 12.1" standard ultraportable has pretty much disappeared from the market, to be replaced by a new breed of ultraportables with 11.6" to 13.3" screen sizes. A frequently asked question is whether a person should buy an 11.6" ultraportable or a 13.3" model.

Sony Vaio Y series - mid-priced 13.3" ultraportable. The newer i3's
 are not here yet, but when they do arrive, they should be priced at around 55K.

The typical 13.3" ultraportable weighs in at just under 4 pounds. Some of the lightest ones, like the 2010 MacBook Air or Sony Vaio Z, weigh in at 3 pounds or just a bit less. These laptops are powered by lower speed low and ultra low voltage i3, i5 and i7 processors, Intel Core processors (1.06~1.4Ghz), and full powered i3, i5 and i7 processors running at twice the speed of the low voltage counterparts. With a 13.3" screen, it is big enough and powerful enough to be your only laptop. Some even come with built-in-optical drives.

11.6" MacBook Air - Starts at Php51,900

The typical 11.6" ultraportable weighs in at about 3 pounds. Some of the lightest ones, like the 2010 MacBook Air, are 2.3 pounds. These laptops are powered by lower speed low and ultra low voltage i3, i5 and i7 processors and Intel Core processors (1.06~1.4Ghz). The smaller laptop case usually limits the processor choices because of the ability of the smaller case to dissipate heat. The 11.6" screen is in our opinion a bit small for daily use, but the small 11.6" screens are widescreen laptops with a length of 11.2" or more. This allows for a full-sized keyboard, but the wider but shallower design usually results in smaller touchpads.

Previously, the lower voltage processors allowed for longer battery life, but with the new i3, i5 and i7 design, the full-powered laptop processors and their low voltage sibling provide about the same battery life.

Which is best for you? If you intend to use it on an airplane or even in the small tables you find in Starbucks, the 11.6" model is a better choice. Carried under your arm, the 11.6" notebook is handier to carry. If you carry it more than you use it, the 0.5-1 pound weight advantage is another factor to consider. The main drawback is that this will most likely be a back-up system.

If you are looking for a one-size fits all solution, the 13.3" is a better choice.

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