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In Pictures: 8 hot ultrabooks to watch

As the new Intel Ivy Bridge processors were unveiled so were a flurry of ultrabooks, here are eight that are worth a closer look.

  • The unveiling of the new Intel Ivy Bridge processors for ultrabooks was quickly followed by a flurry of announcements from PC makers as they took wraps off their ultrabook offerings. To help you make sense of them, we've put together a list of eight ultraportable laptops that are worth a closer look.

  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Lenovo touts the 3-pound X1 Carbon as the lightest 14-inch professional Ultrabook in the world, weighing in at less than 3 pounds. Lenovo improved upon last year's X1 by making the X1 Carbon even thinner and lighter with the use of carbon fiber to add structural strength. Not many details are available at this stage, though the specifications brief from Lenovo mentions 3G connectivity, a backlit keyboard, a high-resolution 1600x900 resolution screen, and a rapid charge option that can reach 80 percent battery charge in just 30 minutes. The Lenovo X1 Carbon is expected to be available in the summer of 2012.

  • Sony VAIO T13 The recently announced Sony VAIO T13 Ultrabook is a surprisingly attractive 13-inch contender that blends a beautiful brushed-aluminum design with a delightful range of interface ports -- Gigabit Ethernet port, HDMI output, USB 2.0, USB 3.0 and VGA ports -- accessible without the need for cumbersome dongles. Under the hood, a third-generation Intel Core processor keeps thing snappy, as does the option to go for a hybrid solid-state drive (SSD) and hard disk drive (HDD) combo or SSD-only for storage. The T13 has a battery life of 7 hours and 30 minutes under default settings. An 11-inch version of the T Series Ultrabook is offered in selected regions.

  • HP Envy Spectre XT Riding on the coattails of the HP Spectre, the HP Envy Spectre XT ultrabook is a slimmed-down version that comes with a smaller 13-inch LED backlit display and is powered by a third-generation Intel processor. This combination has helped reduce its weight to just 3.07 pounds. On the storage front, the Spectre XT comes with a 128GB or 256GB SSD and Intel Rapid Start Technology, and is loaded with a performance-tuned software image that HP claims gives it a very fast boot and wake times. The HP Envy Spectre XT is currently available for preorder.

  • Toshiba Portege Z930 Ultrabook The Toshiba Portege Z930 Ultrabook is a 13.3-inch Ultrabook that incorporates a number of business-centric features, including a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) for a higher-level of protection when using data encryption. On the display front, the presence of both VGA and HDMI ports provides a greater level of versatility when used with projectors or other external displays. Other than the presence of a Gigabit Ethernet port, the Z930 Ultrabook is also unusual in that it offers three USB ports: two USB 2.0 ports and one USB 3.0 port. According to Toshiba, the ultrabook has a battery life of 8.6 hours.

  • Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook The Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook is a 13.3-inch laptop that ranked among one of the first to arrive on the scene. As such, it has a second-generation Intel Core processor, though the liberal use of premium features such as machined aluminum lid, carbon fiber composite base, edge-to-edge Gorilla Glass, magnesium palm rest and a glass touchpad helps it remain firmly in the running. Indeed, the Dell XPS 13 ultrabook tips the scales at just 2.99lbs and has a maximum thickness of 18mm, with a minimum of just 16mm.

  • Asus Zenbook Prime The Asus Zenbook Prime builds on the success of the original Zenbook with an upgrade to the new third-generation Intel Core processor. This means an incredibly slim profile of 3mm at the front and 9mm at the rear, weighing less than 2.5 pounds. Besides a stunning full HD (1920x1080) 11.6-inch IPS screen, this ultrabook also supports a range of peripherals such as a mini-VGA port, two USB 3.0 ports and a micro HDMI 1.4 port. Drive capacities in the form of a 128GB or 256GB SSD is available. A 13.3-inch version of the Zenbook Prime is also available.

  • Lenovo IdeaPad U310 Ultrabook The new IdeaPad U310 Ultrabook from Lenovo is an attractive entry-level 13.3-inch Ultrabook with reasonable specifications and an affordable price tag. Weighing in at 3.75 pounds with a thickness of 18mm, the new Ideapad U310 uses a second generation Intel Core processor and sports a useful array of USB 2.0, USB 3.0 and HDMI ports, as well as a two-in-one card reader. Lenovo says the U310 offers up to seven hours of battery life and can last up to 90 days in standby mode.

  • Samsung Series 9 (2012) The new Samsung Series 9 with a third-generation Intel Core processor was first unveiled last month, and has since gone on sale in countries such as Singapore. The 2012 version of the Series 9 uses an aluminum chassis and looks substantially more stylish, with a slimness of an incredibly 12.9mm and a weight under 2.6 pounds. Its price tag means that you won't find Samsung calling it an Ultrabook, but its form factor and low-voltage Intel processor leaves little room for doubt. The 2012 Samsung Series 9 is also available in 15-inch versions, which is offered with the option of a cheaper magnesium chassis or a more pricey aluminum one.

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