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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Big-screen ultrabooks: The first wave

Larger, thinner...better? Check out the first 14- and 15-inch ultrabook-type laptops we've seen at CNET and decide for yourself.
What's an ultrabook, exactly? Is it a slim, portable 13-incher, or any laptop that's thinnish and cool-looking? The latest confounding trend in Intel's "ultrabook" brand creep has been the rise of 14- and 15-inch laptops boasting thinner designs and those same low-voltage CPUs that smaller ultrabooks have. Call them the return of the thin-and-light laptop, if you will, but ultrabooks have finally gotten supersized.

We've seen several of these already here at CNET Reviews: the HP Envy 14 Spectre, the15-inch Samsung Series 9, the Samsung Series 5 Ultra, and the Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M3. The confusing thing about these larger ultrabooks is that some are heavier than others. Some have optical drives (the Acer Timeline Ultra, Samsung Series 5), others don't (the Spectre and the Series 9). One even has dedicated Nvidia graphics.
Some aren't even formally called ultrabooks at all, like Samsung's laptops -- which is confusing, because they certainly look the part in terms of size and processor. For all intents and purposes, I'm calling all of them ultrabooks here. Does bigger equal better for a class of laptop that prides itself, paradoxically, on being thin and compact? So far, two winners seem to have emerged: the HP Envy 14 Spectre and the Samsung Series

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