When it comes to technology, it's not unusual for us to trade quality for convenience. MP3s, for example, don't sound anywhere as good as uncompressed audio tracks, yet we love carrying thousands of songs in our pocket.
A smartphone, on the other hand, doesn't take photos as well as a standalone camera, yet it's often our go-to device for capturing memories. Why? Because we never leave home without it.
With ultrabooks, however -- a new breed of laptop computers -- you can have the best of both worlds.
The following are five reasons why ultrabooks are here to say.
Thin is in
As the name suggests, ultrabooks are ultrathin and lightweight. Influenced by the tablet craze, perhaps, and the popularity of the MacBook Air, these new clamshell computers are just a few millimetres thin and are only a couple of pounds at most. Compare that to your chunky 'ol laptop you might've (not so) affectionately called the "Backbreaker 2000." Ultrabooks are ideal for students to tote around between classes, they're comfortable to travel with and they look sleek anywhere in the home.
A term coined by Intel, ultrabooks are powered by a second-generation Core processor that gives you great performance, smooth multitasking and reliable wireless connectivity. In other words, there's no trade-off between size and performance as there was just a couple of years ago with those inexpensive but underpowered "netbooks." Ultrabooks can often be used for online gaming, video editing and other memory-intensive tasks. Keep in mind, however, prices typically start at $899 for a good ultrabook, a few hundred dollars more than an average laptop.
Play all day
Ultrabooks also impress in the battery department. If the ultrabooks available today are any indication, you can often squeeze 8 to 9 hours on a single charge. This is probably double (or even triple) the battery life of your current laptop, and comparable to many touchscreen tablets on the market today. Many ultrabook makers today can claim an all-day battery, including those offered by the likes of Samsung, Apple, Toshiba, Acer, LG, Dell, HP, Lenovo and Asus.
Along with its high-powered but low-voltage processor, ultrabooks also benefit from Intel Rapid Start, a proprietary technology that uses flash memory embedded in the Intel chipset to improve boot-up times considerably. Some models can turn on and be ready for use in just 7 seconds — or even less if in sleep mode. The days of waiting for a couple of minutes for Windows to boot up and load applications are a thing of the past (it's about time).
It's durable, too
Finally, ultrabooks are often made of premium materials, such as aluminum and Gorilla Glass, which make it more rugged. And because ultrabooks usually have SSD (solid state drive) flash memory instead of a HDD (hard disk drive), there are no moving parts, which also helps make it less prone to damage; solid state also helps with speed, weight and battery life, but be aware it means less storage for all your programs and files. Also be aware most ultrabooks don't have an optical (CD/DVD) drive -- but most users won't miss it.