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For These Laptops, Thin Is In

Ultrabooks, a new class of Windows-powered laptops, are downsizing portable computing.
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PC users rejoice: After four years of watching Apple's svelte MacBook Air laptops grace conference rooms, tray tables and cafes, the Windows crowd can finally join the party. Last year, Intel launched the computer category known as Ultrabooks, which employ second-generation Intel Core chips, power up in seven seconds or less and are no more than 0.8 inches thick. What's missing from these laptops ? Big screens, gigantic file-storage capacity and all the extra weight that goes with those features. 

Samsung Series 9 second generation Photo courtesy of Samsung

Hard-cover Wonder
Samsung Series 9 second generation ($1,399)
Encased in an aluminum single-shell body, the Series 9 packs an arsenal of travel-ready features: a 1.4-second wake-up, a 128 GB solid-state drive and a four-in-one card slot for additional storage.

2.5 pounds; 0.5 inches thick; 13.3-inch screen

  HP Envy 14 Spectre Photo courtesy of HP

Multimedia Maestro
HP Envy 14 Spectre ($1,399)

Featuring Beats Audio sound and a near-shatterproof Gorilla Glass display, this showpiece laptop sounds as good as it looks, and its under-the-hood specs are drool-worthy. The HP can stream video to displays and TVs equipped with Intel's wireless display technology. Add a second 128 GB solid-state drive for 256 GB of memory, and the Envy 14 Spectre could be the only computer you need.

3.79 pounds; 0.79 inches thick; 14-inch screen

Dell XPS 13 Photo courtesy of Dell

Pint-size Value
Dell XPS 13 ($999)

Dell expects buyers to travel with the budget-minded XPS 13, which is outfitted with tough carbon fiber on its bottom and an aluminum shell. While its 11-inch-wide body seems small--ideal for use on an airplane tray table--the device houses a full-size backlit keyboard. Bonus: Dell includes a year of LoJack's theft-prevention tracking service for U.S. buyers.

2.99 pounds; 0.7 inches thick; 13.3-inch screen

  Acer Aspire S5 Photo courtesy of Acer

Lean machine
Acer Aspire S5 (Price TBA)

The Aspire S5 sets the benchmark for thin, with a seemingly impossible 0.59-inch frame. It's also fast--Acer's Always Connect system turns on social media and e-mail within 1.5 seconds of opening the brushed magnesium-alloy lid. The slickest feature, however, is the rear motorized panel that hides the HDMI video and Thunderbolt peripheral slots, plus two USB 3.0 ports--ideal for accessory-laden users.

2.97 pounds; 0.59 inches thick; 13.3-inch screen