Ultrabooks are sleek, powerful laptops designed to compete with the popular MacBook Air notebook, though people are often confused on the details of exactly what makes an ultrabook an ultrabook. That's ok, because we know the differences between all the major styles of laptops and we will go into greater detail within this post to more fully define "ultrabook" and to describe the differences between ultrabooks and laptops/notebooks/Macbook Airs/Chromebooks. After that, be sure to check out our Top 5 Backlit Ultrabooks (2016) to see the 5 hottest ultrabooks currently on the market!
The term "ultrabook" is regularly tossed around in the tech community. Often, it is falsely assumed that "ultrabook" is simply another way of referring to any laptop, when, in reality, an ultrabook is much more specific than the simple umbrella term "laptop." The word “ultrabook” was originally coined by Intel in 2012 to describe their latest lines of ultra-thin, ultra-light, ultra-long-battery-life, high performance laptops, meant to compete with the Macbook Air (which were just starting to explode in popularity at the time). The word ultrabook is a combination of the words “ultraportable” and “notebook”. The definition of what makes a laptop an ultrabook is spec-dependent and is constantly evolving to always include Intel’s latest and greatest technologies. Ultrabooks are the perfect option for anyone who favors a thin, lightweight, highly portable laptop that still offers a large amount of processing power. Perfect for travel, an ultrabook is the right option for the professional individual on-the-go. The only instance where we might not recommend an ultrabook is if you are big time into gaming and require extreme graphics processing and you don't mind having a heavier, less portable machine. In that instance, we would suggest you look elsewhere.
An easy way to remember the basic difference between ultrabooks and laptops is the following quote: "All ultrabooks are laptops; not all laptops are ultrabooks." In general, a laptop is an umbrella term for any personal computer, regardless of manufacturer or specs, that is small enough to rest on the LAP of the user, and does NOT feature separate monitors, keyboards, and CPU towers. However, not all laptops are ultrabooks, because not all laptops meet the strict standards that define a true ultrabook. As mentioned above, the definition of ultrabook is constantly updating to only include Intel's latest technologies, and obviously not all laptops will meet these rigorous standards. In simple terms, just remember that ultrabooks are the cream of the laptop crop.
The terms ultrabook and notebook are actually even more closely related than ultrabook & laptop, because, technically, a notebook is already a slightly thinner and lighter version of a laptop. Over the years, the terms laptop and notebook have become virtually interchangable, though you would be MORE likely to refer to a thin, light computer as a notebook and a thicker, heavier computer as simply a laptop. With that out of the way, understanding the difference between an ultrabook and a notebook is as simple as knowing that the word notebook is just sort of a generalized term for a light, thin laptop and doesn't necessarily mean that it meets the specification standards that Intel deems necessary to be referred to as an ultrabook.
Without the Macbook Air, there probably would be no ultrabooks. Intel first started producing lines of sleek, ultrapowerful laptops in 2012 to directly combat the popularity of the Macbook Air in the personal computing marketplace, which was (and still is) exploding in popularity when compared to desktop computers. In terms of specs, ultrabooks and Macbook Airs are quite similar, and the main difference is that ultrabooks are produced by PC brands such as Dell, Lenovo, Acer, Asus, etc., and the Air is exclusively produced by Apple. So, if you are a fan of the Macbook Air, but you prefer (or need) to be on a PC machine, then an ultrabook would be what you want/need!Dell XPS 13 vs. 13" MacBook Air: Laptop Comparison (Opens in a new tab)
If we're being honest, this really isn't even a fair fight. Ultrabooks are the best ultra-light, ultra-thin notebooks on the market, and, in contrast, Chromebooks are generally located at the other end of the laptop spectrum, focused on only offering what is necessary to browse the web, and not caring much at all about the overall processing power and durability of the laptop. Chromebooks exist almost exclusively for individuals who don't want to spend much money on a computer, but need a device to browse the web and send e-mail, whereas an ultrabook has MANY utilities beyond web browsing. Never refer to an ultrabook as a Chromebook, that would hurt its feelings ;-)