By 7 December 2012 | Categories: feature articles



This year has been characterised by an influx of several great notebooks and ultrabooks, so much so that picking and choosing amongst them presented a considerable challenge. However, these are the five notebooks and ultrabooks that made an impact in the TechSmart office.

Mecer JW6 ultrabookMecer JW6 ultrabook

RRP: R7 000

Much like the Asus VivoBook, local brand Mecer's JW6 ultrabook (review) recognises that in a tough economy, price is king, providing a very good - and affordable - offering for those watching their wallet. This 14" ultrabook impressed nonetheless, as it sported a very capable 3rd generation Core i5 3317U processor (1.7 GHz), 4 GB of memory and Intel Graphics HD 4000. While booting times are fast thanks to a 32 GB SSD cache, there is also plenty of space here for media files on the 1 TB hard disk drive.

To its credit, in our performance tests it held its own with ultrabooks that are double the price, even if the 3½ hour battery life and plasticky design didn't quite measure up.

Asus Vivo-Book X202EItem 4Asus VivoBook X202E

RRP: Starts at R4 500

The first Windows 8 touchscreen notebook to touch down on our shores, the Asus VivoBook X202E (review) is a beauty that blends great features and a quality build with an affordable pricetag.

The notebook proved that mainstream doesn't mean substandard, as the VivoBook boasted a lovely, responsive 11.6" touchscreen; a comfortable keyboard with keys that boasted some depth and springiness; very decent sound, along with a capacious 500 GB hard drive. Perhaps most impressive of all was the negligible startup times, as the VivoBook required only a moment's notice to be ready for action. Its relatively slow processor prevented it from ranking higher. 

HP Folio 13 ultrabookItem 3HP Folio 13 ultrabook

RRP: R13 000

HP's business orientated ultrabook, the Folio 13 (review), was one of the most solidly built ultrabooks we have seen this year. While not the lightest at 1.5 kg, we hardly minded, particularly since its outstanding 8 1/2 hour battery life meant we could leave the power brick at home and still get a full day's worth of work out of it.

Further complementing the Intel Core i5 2467M processor, clocked at 1.6 GHz, 4 GB of memory and 128 SSD hard drive, was an excellent backlit chiclet keyboard. Additionally, the Folio 13's display banished glare and reflectivity for good via opting for a matte finish.

Dell XPS 13 ultrabookDell XPS 13 ultrabook

RP: R14000

Proving that they still know how to make striking and very attractive machines, Dell had us drooling over both the looks, and the ergonomics, of its XPS 13 ultrabook (review). Beneath its rounded corners, and slender 18 mm profile, beats an Intel Core i5 (2467M) heart and 4 GB of memory, while a stunning 13.3" screen was inexplicably packed into a 12" body that weighed in at a light 1.3 kg.

Additionally a 128 GB solid state drive delivered some of the fastest boot times we've seen: a mere five seconds from powered off and 2 seconds from sleep that would please even the most impatient.

Apple MacBook Pro 15" Retina DisplayItem 1Apple MacBook Pro 15" Retina Display

RRP: Up to R30 000

The one notebook that set the world alight this year was the 15" MacBook Pro with Retina Display. It is the latter feature which truly is a sight to behold, thanks to its screen resolution of a superb 2 880 x 1 880 (220 ppi).

The Retina Display MacBook Pro apparently borrowed a few of the MacBook Air's diet secrets, as it boasts an 18 mm profile that is considerably slimmer than its predecessors. If you have the cash (or credit rating) to afford this beauty at its highest specifications, it can also be a beast in the performance department, as it is available with a quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, a GeForce GT 650 M graphics card, and up to a significant 16 GB of memory. 


Also read:

Our Top 5 tablets of 2012
Our Top 5 smartphones of 2012.
Our Top 5 notebooks of 2011

Article first appeared in TechSmart 111, December 2012. Read or download here



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