We’re getting lots of news about keyboard accessories for tablet computers; they’re about to invent the laptop. An alternative to this combination is the “Ultrabook–” a super-light laptop made by several companies.

An “Ultrabook” is a Windows version of the MacBook Air – a sleek $999 computer. Ultrabooks start up almost instantly, have a long battery life (up to eight hours) use an Intel chip and have Intel’s Anti-Theft technology. Prices range from $550 to $1500. Makers include Acer, Asus, Toshiba and Lenovo. Toshiba’s “Protégé Z830” is the lightest, at 2.4 pounds. The Asus U31 is the cheapest, and we saw it at Amazon for $550.

The bad news is that Ultrabooks come with WiFi only. But you can buy an adapter to connect it to an Ethernet link when the WiFi signal is weak.  Another drawback is that Ultrabooks don’t come with a CD or DVD drive. And as long as we’re here, they use mini-USB connections instead of the standard size, so you’ll need another adapter to plug in some accessories.

The bottom line here:  The light weight and long battery life are the attraction. Our current Acer laptops are about two pounds heavier than an Ultrabook, but we don’t carry them often enough to justify buying the lighter machine.

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