Ultrabook Decathlon: Which Model Should You Buy?

The UX31 has a vast amount of ASUS-branded software, which includes utilities such as PowerWiz and WebStorage as well as the Vibe Center gaming portal (pictured below). In addition, only the UX31 has a two-year warranty.

A new Intel feature introduced in the Dell XPS 13 is Smart Connect, which enables the notebook to remain connected to the Internet while in sleep mode. This means that you can continue to receive emails or updates from TweetDeck while the notebook is closed. Samsung’s Easy-branded utilities are intuitive, with bright, colorful menus in an attractive interface.

Category Winners

1st Place 2nd Place 3rd Place
     
ASUS 
ZenBook UX31
  Dell 
XPS 13
 Samsung 
Series 5

Runners-Up

The Folio 13 has HP’s Movie Store and RaRa Music, as well as Zya, where you can create and post your own tunes. We like Lenovo’s One Key Recovery on the U300s for backing up the system with the push of a button. Now a few years old, the Toshiba Portégé Z835’s Bulletin Board and ReelTime apps are a bit long in the tooth.


Starting at $899, the HP Folio 13 represents the best bargain, with a Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. Next is the Toshiba Portégé Z835, which starts at $849 and has 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, but a less powerful Core i3-2367M processor and an hour less of battery life. In third place is the XPS 13 is $999, which has the same specs as the Folio 13 in a smaller and sleeker package.

Category Winner

1st Place 2nd Place 3rd Place
     
 HP
Folio 13
 Toshiba
Portege Z835 
Dell
XPS 13 

Runners-Up

For $999, the ASUS UX31 delivers good specs for the money, including a fast SSD and high-res 1600 x 900-pixel screen.

The $879 price of the Samsung Series Ultra 14-inch includes a DVD drive, but you can get a 14-inch notebook with discrete graphics for around the same cost. Starting at $1,199, the Lenovo U300s is pricey for the components.

Ultrabook Decathalon

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  1. Dan Tole Says:

    Great write up. I’m surprised the samsung and toshiba didn’t do a little bit better but looks like the others are just a little better at what they do. I know some of the samsung screens are really awful, no reflections but terrible picture quality and horrible viewing angles. That’s whats kept me away from them as of late.

  2. J.D. Says:

    I’m almost positive what you show as a photo of the ASUS Zenbook UX31 touchpad, is in fact the Toshiba Z830/Z835 touchpad. The Toshiba has the distinct buttons. All the ASUS UBs I’ve seen have the buttons as part of the touchpad

  3. J.D. Says:

    There are i3, i5 and i7 models of the Acer, ASUS, Toshiba, etc etc, and yet, you don’t say WHICH model variant you are testing. Might not matter for screen and keyboard and port comparison, but it sure DOES matter for performance comparisons. That’s a substantial lack of disclosure, lack of attention to detail, and not very good on your part. You’re not winning any medals yourself.

    How on earth does the Samsung Series 9 Ultrabook not get included in this review? Because, as a more premium model, it wins every category, has no peer, and would make the article a useless excersise perhaps? If not, it’s strange to have omitted it from the competition. No Ultrabooks on steroids allowed? lol

  4. Mike Prospero Says:

    J.D. – The specs for each notebook are in the individual reviews. Because the specs are not the same across all the systems, we addressed that in the Software, Warranty and Value section.

    HP Folio 13: Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB SSD
    Dell XPS 13: Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB SSD
    Toshiba Portégé Z835: Core i3-2367M processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB SSD
    ASUS UX31: Core i5-2557M processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB SSD
    Lenovo U300s: Core i7-2677M processor, 4GB of RAM, 256GB SSD
    Samsung Series 5: Core i5-2467M processor, 4GB of RAM, 16GB cache+500GB HDD

  5. John Says:

    Why isnt the top dog Samsung 9 series not included??Will that top every category

  6. grasshopper80 Says:

    @J.D. Your ridiculously condescending tone aside, your opinion about the Samsung Series 9 is incorrect. It would not “win every category.” It should have been included in the review. However, at nearly $500 more than the “winner” of this article, it would probably not win for Value. Barely brighter, with the same resolution screen, means it would probably tie with the Zenbook in Display. It also has an hour less battery life than the Folio 13 so there goes Battery. Despite having a faster processor, it basically tied with the Zenbook in the PCMark07 score. The Samsung 9 review from this site also reports that the audio is weak, the keys are shallow, and it scored the same FPS or below on World of Warcraft as many of the other ultrabooks. It certainly has areas where it shines, but despite being $500-600 more than most of the ultrabooks in this review, the “premium” Samsung Series 9 would not be the clear winner. However, I am sure that you already knew that considering you are an expert regarding ultrabooks and have your own successful and higher quality laptop review website.

  7. Rob Says:

    John — I suspect the Series 9 wasn’t included because it doesn’t fully conform to Intel’s specs and therefore isn’t technically an Ultrabook. Although I personally would have included it, because a typical consumer DOES consider it an Ultrabook and would probably like to know how it compares to the others.

    That said, this comparison seems a bit late to the party. All of these Ultrabooks will be leaving the scene in about a month when next-gen Ivy Bridge processors bring with them an entirely new batch of machines — such as the Asus UX31a, which will look the same but offer such goodies as a 1080 screen.

  8. narayana reddy Says:

    Very good article.
    but little disappointed that hp envy 14 spectre and samsung series 9 being omitted from the article.

    it would have been more interesting if envy 14 spectre was included since it has same 1600×900 display as asus(lower on brightness though), good selection of ports like toshiba, cool unique design, beats audio and good backlit keyboard.so, it could have been a good contender in this article even though pricier model.
    I think spectre barely makes it to ultrabook thinness.But given its features it should been included in the list.

    Samsung series 9 even though it has its USP’s, as grasshopper80 mentioned, it might have not made it to top 3.

  9. J.D. Says:

    I can see the photo of the ASUS touchpad has been fixed now

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