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October 29, 2010

5 Great PCs that are Light as Air

Ever since Apple announced the new MacBook Air last week, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about ultraportable PCs. Mostly folks are intrigued by the trend toward small, sleek laptops – but don’t want to pay Apple prices or jump ship from Windows 7 to Mac OS X. Evidently the TechCrunch gang has been hearing the same thing, which is probably why they published today’s blog post titled “The Top 5 PC Alternatives to the MacBook Air”. Matt Burns hits on 5 excellent PCs – the groundbreaking Dell Adamo XPS, the stupefyingly light Sony VAIO X, the battery-lasts-forever ASUS UL30 (the same one I named as one of my top 7 PCs from the last year), the crazy thin MSI x360 X-Slim, and the value-conscious Acer 3810 Timeline (another PC I reviewed).

Those are all great choices, but I wanted to offer up my recommendations as well. All of the PCs I list here run Windows 7 extremely well and will give you more power, more choice, and more personality than a MacBook Air. Take a look:

Asus eeePC 1215n: It’s a netbook that’s barely a netbook. The eeePC 1215n has great power thanks to a new dual-core Atom N550, USB 3.0 and NVIDIA ION (with Optimus fast-switch tech!) graphics, and the slightly larger 12” size makes it very comfortable to use for a long period of time. It’s the machine that I tote around the office when I just want to keep an eye on email. Price: $483.21


Lenovo U160: This is a full-power PC in a pint-size package. Even though it measures only 11.6”, you can get the U160 with up to a Core i7 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 640GB hard drive. And it’s red, which in case you forgot, is something you can’t get on any Mac. Just sayin’. Price: from 799.99


Toshiba Portege r705: I’ve talked about this one before, but I can’t talk about ultraportables without mentioning it again. The r705 is the lightest full feature laptop (i.e., with a DVD drive) ever built, and you can pack it with top-end specs like a 500GB hard drive or 128GB SSD, Core i7, and 8GB of RAM. Battery life is great, too – with a little bit of power scheme tinkering, you can stretch it to about 8 hours. Price: from $849


Sony VAIO P: Ah, the Sony P. This picture sums up why I love it:


Yep, that’s right…you can fit it in your back pocket. So much for not being able to do that, Phil. On top of its amazing size, the VAIO P’s killer 1600 x 768 resolution display, wicked fast SSD and a choice of black, pink, neon green, white or orange make it as much of a fashion statement as it does a perfect PC for on-the-go email and light internet work. Price: from $899.99

Acer TimelineX 1830: Acer’s new TimelineX series of premium portables are really starting to impress me. This 11.6” model is particularly awesome – like the Lenovo U160, it is netbook sized but not a traditional netbook. You can get with a Core i3 processor, a 320GB drive and 8 hours of real-world use time out of the battery, and the new aluminum chassis ain’t bad to look at, either. Price: $591.06.


Do you have a favorite ultraportable PC? Which one did you choose and why?

Have a question about these PCs, or any other PC question?  Post a comment, hit me on Twitter, or Ask Ben Anything via email.  Your question might appear in my monthly Ask Ben Anything Q&A column!