Bye-Bye Netbooks: Ultraportables Are Here!

Netbooks — the small, lightweight, highly portable laptop computers that were once hot-hot-hot — have evidently had their 15 minutes of fame after having been soundly dethroned by tablets.
So what’s the laptop industry to do? Hop on some major improvements! 2012 is poised to be the year of the super-slim, super-powerful, super-stylish Ultrabooks the capital “U” — Ultrabook is an Intel trademark) that follow in the tradition of the MacBook Air. Ultrabooks all have Intel processors and prices can start as low as $799.

Here’s what else makes Ultrabooks different:

  • Measure less than 0.8 inches thick
  • Weigh under 3.1 pounds
  • Boast really long battery life (5-8+ hours)
  • Have no optical drive (CD or DVD)
  • Use Intel Core processors

And they have a more elegant appearance than the laptops of yesteryear. But are they worth the price during the “bleeding edge” v. “leading edge” phase? After all, you can still get a regular laptop for under $500.

Leapfrog Labs recommends three things:

1. Wait and see what new products are unveiled at the 2012 International CES (International Consumer Electronics Show) this month. Some of the 30-50 new Ultrabooks predicted to launch may have way-cool features you absolutely must have … like a removable screen that becomes a tablet.
2. Do your homework by checking out reviews on websites like PC World, Engadget and Ultrabook News.
3. Honestly assess if it’s time to replace your current laptop. Three years is the standard lifespan but it really depends on how much you use your computer. Here are some tips from a business perspective that you can also apply to your personal use.

Whatever you decide, you certainly won’t have to wait long for yet another generation of computers to leap onto the scene. It’s reported that Intel will soon announce an even smaller chip for even thinner laptops.