TLBHD - Thinner Lighter Better

Ultrabook vs tablet PC comparison- what to choose and why

By Mark , updated on May 19, 2012

When Intel introduced the ultrabook, they claimed that the ultrabook will have tablet like features.

Tablets are basically “always on”- all you have to do is touch the screen or press the home button and you’re back in the saddle.

Laptops and netbooks, on the other hand, need time to boot up or resume from sleep, “thanks” to the rather slow mechanical hard drives that wake up slower than a bear after winter hibernation.

Ultrabooks are said to resume work just as fast as a tablet can, so in a matter of seconds you’ll be able to be back in action, thanks to the speed of the SSD inside and tweaked software.

But let’s take a look at what makes an ultrabook different from a tablet and see if you’re better off with one of them instead of pairing them up.


Ultrabooks pack Intel’s second generation Sandy Bridge processors, with Core i3 to Core i7 chips being offered on ultrabooks from HP, Acer, Lenovo and others.

These processors are good for most tasks and won’t choke with more difficult apps, like HD playback or multitasking with browsers, editors and other stuff. Basically, this is a fully featured computer processor squeezed in a sub 0.8 inch laptop.

Tablets, on the other hand, run mostly on ARM based chips, which are tailored to run smoothly with Android and iOS. There are a couple of tablets running Windows 7, packing Atom or Fusion processors, but their performance is hindered by the buggy OS, so they don’t really count.

Tablet processors can cope with apps, some even are good enough for HD playback, but they’re nowhere near the actual power of a Sandy Bridge processor.

Tablets like the iPad 2 are cheaper than ultrabooks, but offer only part of an ultimate experience

Tablets like the iPad 2 are cheaper than ultrabooks, but offer only part of an ultimate experience

But anyway, tablets are rarely aimed at professionals, and usually they’re entertainment devices that can offer some basic features– browsing the web, watching clips, playing arcade games- brushed in some very shiny and sparkly UI.

Ultrabooks are said to be able to run on a single charge for about 10 hours even, so the supremacy of the tablets is kind of shaky. Autonomy was one of the major advantages tablets had over laptops, but ultrabooks will be a game changer in this aspect as well.


Ultrabooks run on Windows 7 and, soon enough, Windows 8. These ultra slim laptops are still conventional when it comes to software, so what you get is the world’s most accomplished OS, which you know in and out (and some of you maybe actually like 😛 ).

You won’t have problems with compatibility and stuff, but what’s lacking is that user centric experience and open source philosophy- at least on Windows 7.

Most tablets, except the iPad series, run on Android, which is one of the most versatile and customizable OS-s out there. There’s a very active community that’s constantly offering new apps and there are literally thousands of apps to choose from.

Compatibility is an issue at times, but the number of applications and features you can’t run on a tablet gets smaller by the day. Still, Android and other mobile OS are aimed more at casual users and you won’t get very much work done on a tablet.

Design and build

Tablets were covered in praise and unconditional love because they were slim and ultra portable, some of them (especially 7 inch slates) being just a little bigger than a smart phone.

Tablets are usually very slim, with the iPad 2 being around 0.3 inches thick, the Eee Pad Transformer 0.51 and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 ticking in at 0.33 inches.

Ultrabooks are thicker- a maximum of 0.8 inches, but you get a proper 13.3 inch screen and a full size keyboard, as well as more ports than on a tablet. Anyway, 0.8 inches is not much more than 0.4, but the difference in user experience wins this one for Team Ultrabook.

The UX 21 is as thick as two slates put together, something like the Eee Pad Transformer

The UX 21 is as thick as two slates put together, something like the Eee Pad Transformer

As for design, it’s hard to have a winner here. Tablets are fashion statements as much as they are pieces of technology and all the “brilliant screens” and “classy finishes” are a definite match for any high flying, competing gadget.

Ultrabooks don’t let the guard down and most of them (except the Toshiba Portege in my opinion) have polished designs, are made out of metal alloys- channeling the MacBook Air to say the least- and have pretty stunning keyboards.

Final thoughts

As personal computing revolves more and more around “being social”, devices like tablets, with their easy to use interface and high portability, are more and more popular amongst younger (or at least more socially conscious) demographics. An Ultrabook tries to mix that with more traditional computing, like working with text editors and other more pretentious apps.

Ultrabooks are sleek, fast and can do whatever a tablet can, but under Windows, and not some touch centric software, like Android. But, before long, I think we’ll have touch ultrabooks as well and tablets will have a tough time dealing with the competition.

For now, tablets have the upper hand also because they’re cheaper- they literally cost half as much as an ultrabook, but that will change after more ultraboks will hit the market and the prices will drop.

Disclaimer: Our content is reader-supported. If you buy through the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
Mark is an Editor here at . He's studying Screenwriting and Production in "sunny" London and in his spare time, he works as an IT editor for a couple of mobile publications, like this one.
1 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Rudy Diaz

It’s hard to compare ultra-laptops to Tablets because the price difference at this time is so far apart. An ideal Ultra-laptop to extinguish the Tablet would be a convertible touch screen at under $600.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x