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ASUS ZenBook UX31E: another early Ultrabook
This PC was another early entrant in the Ultrabook category. When I picked it up in February 2012, it was running Windows 7. I had no trouble installing a succession of Windows 8 preview releases on it, and it upgraded without incident to the RTM build of Windows 8.
There were other, cheaper Ultrabooks I could have chosen at the time. I picked this one because it offered a screen resolution of 1600x900, which was practically unheard of in its roughly $1000 price range at the time. Its keyboard was occasionally balky, and every time I covered an event in a dimly lit hall I wished the keyboard was backlit. It has since been replaced with a new, touchscreen-equipped Acer notebook.
Dell's 2009 Latitude Z600 flops on Windows 8
This was my favorite Windows 7 PC ever. It was amazingly thin and light for its era (late 2009/early 2010), with a big (16-inch) screen running at 1600x900, and it was one of the first SSD-equipped devices I owned.
So I was really looking forward to running Windows 8 on this device. Alas, it wasn't meant to happen. Although this device included 5 GB of RAM, it shipped with a 32-bit version of Windows 7, and its driver support for Windows 8 was nonexistent. I tried three times to make Windows 8 work on it, each time failing. I finally surrendered, restored the original Windows 7 image, and sold it at a garage sale a few months ago to someone who was looking for a great Windows 7 PC.
Acer Aspire S7-191 punches above its weight
Over the years, I've owned a few Acer devices. They've been a mixed bag, in terms of design and build quality. So I was a bit skeptical when I saw glowing reviews for this 11-inch device, which was code-named Helium.
But I decided to take the plunge, buying it to replace my wife's first-generation Ultrabook. After six months, we have few complaints.
This is a great example of what an Ultrabook is supposed to be. At 2.7 pounds, it's amazingly light and portable. It has a 3rd Generation Core i5, Full HD (1920x1080) multi-touch display, a 128GB SSD, a backlit keyboard, and a USB 3.0 port that can charge a device when it's off.
Its battery life is less than stellar, under 4 hours in practice. For Judy, that doesn't matter, because she rarely is far from a power outlet. For travel purposes, it comes with a second battery that clamps to the back and doubles battery life at a small cost in weight. And both the keyboard and trackpad are a bit finicky, although neither one is a dealbreaker.
This device will be around our household for a long time.