3 executive-class laptops: Beauty that's more than skin deep

The newest ultraslim Windows notebooks back up their good looks with power and affordability.

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The skinny on thin notebooks

The Asus U36JC's assortment of ports (especially the USB 3.0 port), its two-year warranty and its adjustable performance settings make it a keeper. Compared to the others, however, it's big and heavy, making it too much of a good thing.

In contrast, the Dell Vostro V130 has a sleek, angular, functional design that comes with a cool leather bag at a very reasonable price. However, it lacks the battery life that I need when I travel.

And while I love the look of the Lenovo IdeaPad U260, its padded wrist rest and its marvelously small and light case, it comes up short on ports.

In the final analysis, none of these three thin machines fully met my needs and aspirations: They were either too big and heavy or too compromised. Unlike Goldilocks, I couldn't find a model that was just right, but the Lenovo IdeaPad U260 came closest to fulfilling my wants and needs on the road.

Test results: Performance, battery life and Wi-Fi range

performance chart
battery life chart
Wi-Fi range chart

Ultrathin laptops: Features and specifications

  Asus U36JC Dell Vostro V130

Lenovo

IdeaPad U260
Processor Intel Core i5 460M Intel Core i3 380UM Intel Core i5 470UM

CPU speed /

with TurboBoost
2.53 GHz / 2.8 GHz 1.33 GHz / N.A. 1.33 GHz / 1.8 6GHz
Dimensions (HxWxD) 0.9 x 12.8 x 9.4 in. 0.8 x 12.9 x 9.0 in. 0.9 x 12.4 x 8.0 in.

Weight /

travel weight
3.8 lbs. / 4.5 lbs. 3.6 lbs. / 4.3 lbs. 2.9 lbs. / 3.4 lbs.
Screen size / resolution

13.3 in. /

1366 x 768

13.3 in. /

1366 x 768

12.5 in. /

1366 x 768
Graphics Nvidia GeForce 310M Intel GMA HD Intel GMA HD
RAM 4GB 4GB 4GB
Hard drive 500GB 320GB 320GB
Ports

2 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0, VGA, HDMI, headphone, microphone,

SD card slot

2 USB 2.0, VGA, HDMI, eSATA, headphone, microphone,

SD card slot
2 USB 2.0, VGA, HDMI, combined headphone & microphone
Communications 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Bluetooth 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Bluetooth 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Bluetooth
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium Windows 7 Professional Windows 7 Home Premium

Warranty /

cost for 3 years
2 years / $120 (from SquareTrade) 1 year / $80 1 year / $80
Price $999 $808 $999
Note: Specifications and prices are for units as tested; other configurations available.

Brian Nadel is a frequent contributor to Computerworld and the former editor in chief of Mobile Computing & Communications magazine.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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