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What are Ultraportables?

Jessica Ellis
Updated Feb 24, 2024
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Ultraportables are extremely light and compact laptop computers. Generally weighing less than 5 lbs (2.2 kg,) they are ideal for those who carry their computer with them at all times. Since the invention of technology able to pack computer elements into extremely small spaces, ultraportables have become an extremely popular area of the laptop market.

People who need ultraportables are usually those who are constantly on the go for their work or personal pursuits. Some ultraportables are so small, they can fit into a standard size manila envelope. Their low weight and small size add to the mobility of users, especially those who must cram a variety of papers and objects into small storage spaces like briefcases or backpacks.

There are several downsides to ultraportables, as their main draw is their compact size. Part of the way to reduce the weight of the machine is by removing some of the normal laptop features, such as USB ports and connectors. They also tend to have slower processors, although a few models do boast a dual-core central processing unit (CPU.) Their hard drives are usually smaller than those of regular laptops, generally featuring between 60-160 gigabytes (GB) of storage, compared to up to 240 GB hard drives in larger models.

While their lightness and portability is a benefit, it can also be a liability. Ultraportables are pretty easy to break, particularly if dropped or stepped on accidentally. It is highly recommended that you take service warranty options that come with accidental breakage coverage when purchasing an ultraportable laptop.

Perhaps the biggest drawback to ultraportable models is the price-tag. Most basic models cost over $1000 US Dollars (USD,) while premium versions can cost more than $2000 USD. Compared to a general price range of 5-6 lb (2.2-2.7 kg) versions of $800-$15,000 USD, or 6-8 lb (2.7-3.6 kg) models at between $500-$900 USD, the smallest models may seem extravagant to anyone on a budget.

Still, technology fans will be drawn to buy these sleek and trendy machines that often incorporate advanced security features and nifty abilities like mobile screens. Many websites and computer magazines offer lists of the best models, but these are constantly updated as new versions arrive on the market. Though the lists frequently disagree, many name the Dell XPS M1330, the Lenovo ThinkPad X61, and the HP 2133 Mini-Note as top entries in the category. For buyers on a budget, many experts recommend the Toshiba Satellite U300-ST3094, which begins at about $800 USD.

The technology used in ultraportables is in its infancy, which may explain some of the high prices. These skinny computers are also considered extremely fashionable as of 2008, and their popularity may also contribute to the price tag. As the process for making ultraportables becomes easier, better, and more common, expect available features to increase and prices to go down. Some experts think that within five years, ultra-light laptops will totally replace heavier models, and be priced lower than their current range. In the meantime, if money isn’t an object and you are careful with your possessions, you can enjoy being the coolest geek on the block with your spiffy ultraportable computer.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis , Writer
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for WiseGeek. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.

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Jessica Ellis

Jessica Ellis


With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
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