The computing world is on the precipice of change, the timely exit of the long serving and widely enjoyed Windows 7 signals a sea change not only in software, but for the first time in a long time, hardware. Windows 8 does away with the iconic start menu in place for a fancy new touch friendly launch screen in the style of Windows Phone 7/8, leading PC manufacturers to seek out new input methods for use with the new OS, namely touch screens.
Recently at IFA, we saw a plethora of new designs, from flipping screens through sliders and a whole host of detachable screens-come-tablets but many of us, including me, have bemoaned the death of the good, old fashioned laptop screen. No fancy hinges, no removable screens but just a well built, touch screened Ultrabook. If that sounds like something approaching perfection, then read on as we survey the options.
Acer Aspire S7
The Acer Aspire S7 caught a fair few headlines when it made it’s debut appearance at IFA during the back end of August, and for good reason; it’s outrageously thin (11.9mm), beautifully built, very powerful and light (1.3kg for the 13″ 1kg for the 11″) and packs a dense 1920 x 1080 screen. It’ll come with either a core i5 or i7 ULV processor, up to 256GB SSD, 4GB of RAM and between 9 to 12 hours promised battery life. Even more than that, reports from those on the scene praise it’s excellent back-lit keyboard and responsive trackpad, not to mention that pretty and responsive screen. Naturally, you’re going to wonder where the downsides lie, but you might have guessed it already – there’s no information regarding pricing nor release date. We’re promised October to coincide with the release of Windows 8, but price remains as elusive as that £5 note you swear you had in your pocket last night.
Samsung Series 5 Ultra Touch
Heading (presumably) further down the pricing ladder, we hit upon the Samsung Series 5 Ultra Touch. Due for release on the 26th of October (surprise?), it’s mostly the same Series 5 Ultrabook you’ve come to know and possibly love, but with the inclusion of a touch panel where once there was none. What does that mean for specifications? Well, expect 4GB of RAM, a 13-inch 1,366 x 768 display and a 500GB hard drive with 24GB of SSD space with either a i3 or i5 chipset powering it all. As previously mentioned, the only real changes come along with that touch screen, namely 0.59 pounds more weight, bringing it to 3.84 pounds total. Unusually in the modern tech world, we even have a little pricing to go along with it, albeit in US Dollars, $799 for i3 or $899 for the i5 chip.
HP TouchSmart Ultrabook 4
In the battle for silliest name, things heat up around HP’s headquarters, with hundreds of marketing desperately scribbling nonsense buzzwords and screaming “synergy” at the top of their lungs. It’s quite the sight to behold, for sure, but at least they’ve got some good products rolling out behind the mess. Namely, the HP TouchSmart Ultrabook 4, an update to the popular Envy 4 line with touch screens in place of the touch phobic panels currently installed in the line. Construction isn’t the all aluminum dream and the screens resolution is capped at an acceptable 1366 x 786 but all these things make sense given its position in the company’s Ultrabook line. No news yet on pricing, but it’s due to be available before Christmas, so keep an eye out.
HP Spectre XT TouchSmart
Our final entrant into this here list of no gimmick touch screened Ultrabooks is yet another HP with a silly name, The HP Spectre XT TouchSmart. If you’ve been following along, the Spectre name stands for high quality and high pricing in the world of Hewlett-Packard and as such, they’ve thrown rather a lot at the wall for the XT. Inside that aluminum and magnesium 17.9mm frame it runs your choice of Ivy Bridge processors, either a straight SSD or hybrid HDD/SSD, packs a full sized Ethernet port, two USB 3.0 ports, one 2.0 port and a Thunderbolt port a 3.5mm headphone jack. Of course, the headline feature is that 15″, 1080p IPS touch screen, which combined with the aforementioned goodies should mean breaking into your piggie bank come December, it’s due to start from $1400 in America.