CES 2013 Notebook & Ultrabook Hands On Round Up

As usual Notebook manufacturers announced new computers at CES. We went hands on with a number of the more interesting Windows 8 convertible tablet/notebooks.

Some of these convert from notebook to tablet while others go from tablet to notebook. A few of the machines emphasize notebook features over tablet use. Others prioritize tablet features. An example of the former includes the Samsung Series 5 while we see the latter in the Sony VAIO Duo.

Samsung Series 5 Ultra Touch

Samsung updated their Series 5 line with the new Windows 8 Samsung Series 5 Ultra Touch model. It comes with a touch screen to take advantage of the Windows 8 touch-screen-centric interface.

While it still offers a multi-gesture touchpad, the touch screen makes it more convenient to control the user interface by reaching up and tapping or gesturing on the screen itself. This will likely become the norm for mid to high-end notebooks running Windows 8 in the future.

Lenovo ThinkPad Helix Ultrabook Convertible

Lenovo makes great business notebooks, and they put the Lenovo ThinkPad Helix in that line with a convertible ultrabook that doesn’t just swivel the 1080p display around like most of the other machines. This one detaches from the keyboard using what they call a “rip and flip display” similar to what we saw with the ASUS Transformer Android tablets. The Helix runs Windows 8, however.

A full Intel Core i7 processor powers the machine even when using it as the detached tablet. It also offers a 256GB SSD for fast spacious storage. A 1080p display in an 11.6″ screen gives it incredible resolution for such a small machine.

After users finish using the Helix in tablet mode they can re-attach the screen to the keyboard in traditional notebook mode, or with the screen facing backwards for stand mode. It also folds back over the keyboard in what they call “tablet plus mode.” The plus includes more connections than most tablets and 5 hours of extra battery life for a total of 10 promised hours.

It will ship during Q1 2013 for $1,499 base price.

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S Ultrabook Convertible

The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S Ultrabook Convertible takes the convertible part of the equation to a new level with a notebook mode and a tablet mode. However, the user can also put this Windows 8 computer into a stand mode by folding the screen back past 180 degrees with the keyboard facing down. This allows the user to show off a slide show on a table or watch a movie with only the touch screen accessible but standing up at a nice viewing angle.

In the above video we see a Lenovo rep showing off the Lenovo Transition feature that detects tablet mode, stand mode and notebook mode. The feature switches between the various modes. The example shown above uses Windows Media Player running in a window while in notebook mode. It switches to full screen when the convertible transitions to stand mode or tablet mode.

Toshiba U925t Ultrabook Convertible

The Toshiba U925t Ultrabook Convertible Windows 8 machine goes from notebook to tablet mode by easily pushing the screen away from the user until it lays flat and then slides over the keyboard. The U925t offers a good weight with a nice balance making it nice to use while holding in tablet mode.

It offers a front and rear facing camera. Just slide up the screen section to show the camera on the back.

The Satellite U925t retails for $1,149 with an Intel Core i5  processor, Intel HD graphics, 4GB RAM and a 128GB SSD. The slim Ultrabook includes a HDMI port, two USB 3.0 ports and a 12.5-inch 1366 x 768 resolution display.

Sony VAIO Duo Ultrabook Convertible

The Sony VAIO Duo Ultrabook Convertible offers a tablet that can convert to a notebook by sliding the screen up and lifting the top to set it at a comfortable angle for typing and viewing.

The full Core i7 processor brings some power to this otherwise small 11.6″ machine running Windows 8. The keyboard is smaller than most and the machine doesn’t offer a touchpad; it assumes users will interact via the touchscreen.

Many convertibles feel too heavy or out of balance. Not so with the Sony VAIO Duo Ultrabook Convertible.


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