Here at Her Campus, we've told you a lot about Intel-inspired Ultrabooks, the category of high performance, high portability (and high style!) laptops introduced by Intel and made possible by their advancements in chip technology. We gave away many an Ultrabook in 2012 to collegiettes who, newly empowered, experienced an exciting upgrade in their lives at the intersection of work and play, where Ultrabook shines.
Earlier this year, the wonderful people at Intel sent me to CES 2013 in Las Vegas, and if there's one thing I learned, this is the year of the Ultrabook convertible with touch.
How are Ultrabook convertibles different from Ultrabooks? The difference is in the way Ultrabook convertibles are embracing a fundamental mindset shift in their design: our very notion of what a laptop looks like and how we interact with it. The new wave of Ultrabook models launching this year (along with some that have already come out in the tail end of 2012) have been designed like, well, convertibles! Take the Lenovo Yoga IdeaPad, for example, which Intel graciously provided me for my CES trip. The screen of the Yoga folds back in a full 365 degree range, meaning I can use it in one of four main (truthfully, infinite) positions:
- In laptop mode-- this is how we're used to using laptops: typing on a keyboard under our fingers, the screen inches away. Standard.
- In tent mode -- the screen folds backwards and forms an inverted V with the keyboard. Great for viewing movies or any other media in presentation mode.
- In stand mode -- the keyboard is folded underneath the screen and supports it as a base. Also great for presentations on more uneven surfaces.
- In tablet mode -- the screen is folded completely backwards and flat against the keyboard. Hug the tablet in your hand and interact with the screen via touch!
See the Yoga converting into its different modes below:
Just as the Ultrabook was conceived to be a machine of power, flexibility, and long-lasting battery life to boot, the Ultrabook convertible does all this and takes it a step further by introducing the flexibility of interacting with the machine in whatever format makes most sense. And with touch available in any mode, another layer of interactivity is added.
Of course you want to know, Do these new features actually make a substantial difference? Do they work well? At the end of the day, is it worth investing in an Ultrabook convertible? I put my Yoga to the test over the course of my CES trip to see just how much (or little) my experience was affected by the new options I had for using my Ultrabook.
I found myself surprised by how easy it was to put the new positioning options to work for me. Truthfully, I had wondered if they were more of a wow-factor kind of feature and not necessarily a productivity essential. Instead, I found the functionality of my new laptop markedly enhanced by the new possibilities at my fingertips.
When I was blogging and checking email at CES, the laptop mode was the one I used the most -- no surprise there. But with touch available all the time, I found myself fluidly choosing to click on buttons with a finger on my screen, scrolling webpages and documents with a finger, and making so many other motions intuitively, all of them already comfortable to me as a smartphone user, interspersed with using my traditional keyboard and touchpad.
At my hotel, I videochatted with my boyfriend over Skype with my Yoga in its stand mode. This made it easy for me to get the camera closer to my face without the unnecessary keyboard in my way.
When I blasted music from my Ultrabook, I put it in tent mode to keep the speakers from getting muffled among the bedsheets, and to keep the fan circulating rather than getting trapped and overheating. A simple trick that will preserve the longevity of my hardware!
Finally, a rather panicked scenario where Ultrabook's tablet mode came in handy: during my explorations of the 1.9 million square feet of exhibit space that is CES, I suddenly realized that I lost my phone. I immediately chatted my brother to text it so that the finder would have information for how to return it to me. As I retraced my steps around CES and simultaneously kept tabs on any possible leads from my brother via chat, I wandered around with my Ultrabook in hand as a tablet. Portability and performance at its best! (P.S. I later got my iPhone back thanks to a kind man who returned it to me!)
Of course, each Ultrabook is designed differently to achieve convertibility (some have screens that swivel and fold, some have dual screens, some have detachable screens, etc). I only speak for my Yoga when I say I love the flexibility of the Ultrabook convertible, and starting at $999 it’s a great price for a 2-in-1 device. Plus, the all-day battery life really made a difference for me as I ran around non-stop from event to event at CES; I can imagine collegiettes everywhere putting it to great use on campus as well!
At the same time, I know I've only had mine for a few days, so how well the hardware holds up to the wear and tear of flipping a screen 365 degrees every day is another question altogether. In the meantime, as Intel commits to rolling out more Ultrabook convertible models in 2013 (all of which have touch as a mandatory requirement), I'm giving these guys an HC-approved thumbs up!