Ultraportable laptops review

Ultraportable laptops can do most of your computing tasks while on the go.
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01.Diet computing

Man in field

  • Ultraportable laptops are thin, light and powerful.
  • Ultrabooks are a specific type of ultraportable.
  • Some now have all-day battery capacity.
The convenience of an untethered, wireless lifestyle popularised by smartphones and tablets is driving changes to thin and light laptops. Even ultraportable models now pack the computing power needed for almost any task, but the challenge is to get longer life between battery charges.

Fortunately, the latest generation of thin and light laptops heralds a new era in ultraportables, with some providing all-day, go-anywhere convenience without sacrificing computing grunt. This is a huge bonus for on-the-go users who want to travel light with the minimum of extra gear – and for those who are just plain forgetful.

Models tested

  • Acer Australia Aspire S7
  • Apple MacBook Air 13"
  • Apple MacBook Air 11"
  • Dell XPS 12
  • Dell XPS 13
  • DreamBook T14
  • HP Envy TS14
  • LG Z360 – G.AH51WA
  • MSI S20
  • MSI S30
  • Sony SVP11217PGB
  • Sony SVP13218PGB

Video: Different notebook PC types

Georgina takes a look at the different types of laptop on the market.

How we test

The overall score is a combination of the following:

  • Ease of use (40%)
  • Battery life (25%)
  • Performance (20%)
  • Display evaluation (15%)

Ease of use

Includes an expert assessment of connectors, design flaws/advantages, overall style, mobility and evaluation of security, manuals and recovery options. All ease of use evaluation is conducted under the laptop's native operating system.

Battery life

Assessed by conditioning each battery before testing to achieve optimum life, then testing it under both light- and heavy-usage scenarios. For the heavy usage test the power management features are set to maximum performance, screen brightness 100%, with Wi-Fi turned on and connected to a network. For light usage testing the power management features are set to the most economical setting, with screen brightness at 50% and Wi-Fi turned off. 


Testing includes benchmarking each laptop using a variety of software tools. These measure various aspects of CPU performance, memory performance and memory bandwidth, video performance, 3D graphics and storage speed. The benchmarking software is designed to measure performance under a variety of simulated workloads. 

Display evaluation

Takes into account colour, glare and surface reflections, plus angles of view. 


Testing involves determining the hottest point on the underside of each laptop with a thermal camera after a period of heavy usage on battery only. We deem 44°C to be the maximum acceptable limit for laptop comfort. All models on test passed our temperature test, with temperatures ranging from 32°C for the two Sony models to 40°C for the HP Envy TS14.

CHOICE applies the following interpretation to the scores achieved in our tests. When we describe a result as "excellent", "poor" etc, it usually relates directly to a numerical score in that range.

  • 0 - 24 Very poor
  • 25 - 45 Poor
  • 46 - 54 Borderline
  • 55 - 69 OK
  • 70 - 79 Good
  • 80 - 89 Very good
  • 90 - 100 Excellent



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