Beyond having a long battery life, the Air is a solid machine that is easy to hold and carry. Although its aluminum exterior is easy to scratch and dent, I feel comfortable banging it around in my backpack because it has few moving parts that might be susceptible to damage. I even ran four miles home with it once.
Only the 13-inch model has a slot for SD memory cards.
Apart from its limited storage compared with laptops with regular hard drives, the
— XPS 12 from
The XPS 12 is part of a category called ultrabooks — slim and light laptops, much like MacBook Airs, except they run Windows. The XPS 12 is also a convertible. The screen spins like a pig roasting on a spit. In one position, you get a laptop. Spin it 180 degrees, close the lid, and you have yourself a tablet. Magic.
Unfortunately, the XPS 12 is on the heavy side. The base model is 3.35 pounds. On paper, it's less than a half-pound heavier than the Air. But in practice, it feels heavy — especially as a tablet, at more than double the 1.44 pounds for the full-size iPad. The XPS 12 is alone in lacking an SD card slot, and its 12.5-inch screen is the smallest. But it is also the only one to have physical volume buttons on the side, and it's more affordable than the other two Windows laptops I reviewed.
Promised battery life is about 8.75 hours. I got nearly 8.5 hours for word processing, spreadsheets and other tasks that didn't need Wi-Fi. With wireless turned on, I got 7.5 to eight hours of use. Like the other two Windows machines, I got five to six hours of iTunes video. That's about half of what I got on the Air, but
I did have some trouble with the battery losing its charge quickly when not in use, but a software update seems to have fixed that. That said, the XPS 12 took up to four hours to get a full charge, compared with two hours or less for the others.
What I like most about the XPS 12 is the fact that it automatically disables the on-screen keyboard when in laptop mode. On the Acer and the Sony laptops, the touch keyboard gets in the way when you already have a fully functioning keyboard attached. Tablet computers need that keyboard, so it comes back automatically when you flip the screen into a tablet. It's a smart strategy that I wish all other Windows 8 computers would adopt.
The Pro is an ultrabook that's light. Very, very light.
The 13.3-inch laptop weighs just 2.34 pounds, only 60 percent more than an iPad. Sony uses carbon fiber to keep it light. It feels to me like cheap plastic that's about to break because it bends. But Sony assures me that it's more durable than aluminum. And Sony says the fact that it bends isn't a sign of weakness but a characteristic that lets it absorb shock. The base model starts at
Most Popular Stories
- NSA Defends Global Cellphone Tracking Legality
- Ad Counts Rise in 2013 for Hispanic Magazines
- Top Websites for U.S. Hispanics
- Networks Vie for U.S. Hispanic TV Viewers
- Saab Gets Back into the Game; U.S. Auto Sales Soar
- Apple Activates Customer-Tracking iBeacon
- Dell Offers Undisclosed Number of Employee Buyouts
- Authorities Close to Deal with JPMorgan Chase over Madoff Response
- 2013 Tech Gift Guide: iPad Mini Still Hot; Chromecast a Great Low-Cost Option
- A Biography of Jonathan Ive, Apple's Creative Chief