To date only a couple of companies have produced Ultrabooks with a screen sizes larger than 13.3-inches, but that’s about to change. Gigabyte is one of the first companies out of the gate with a larger 14-inch Ultrabook, announced today at CeBIT in Hanover, Germany, and Pocket-lint has already had a play.
Following hot on the heals of Gigabyte's Intel Medfield phone, The Orange Santa Clara - the company best known for motherboards - has produced its first Ultrabook and that 14-inch screen size is only one of many interesting features of the U2442 series.
Gigabyte might not be the first or even the tenth brand you think of when you’re going to buy a notebook, but the U2442 series could possibly be a game changer for the company’s notebook division. The overall design is in line with other Ultrabooks to date, but to keep the price and weight down Gigabyte has used a plastic chassis with a metal lid.
The U2442 measures 18.5-20.5mm thick and weighs in at 1.49kg - which means it’s slimmer and lighter than the competition.
So what makes the U2442 series so special? For one it’s available on two separate models: the U2442N and the U2442V - the V model sporting a third-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 ULV processor and the N models a standard Voltage third-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processor. The significance of this is that you can have an Ultrabook that performs like a regular notebook.
Both models feature a next-generation Nvidia GeForce GT 640M discrete GPU with 2GB of dedicated graphics memory, and the U2442 series is starting to look more and more like a fully featured notebook than an Ultrabook.
The 14-inch screen is sadly of the glossy variety, but the good news is that we’re looking at a panel with 1600x900 resolution.
Still not enough features for you - then how about a Thunderbolt interface? As far as we’re aware, the U2442 series is the first Ultrabook to feature the interface. Gigabyte has also added a pair of USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port, two USB 2.0 ports, a D-sub connector, an Ethernet port, a pair of audio jacks and a memory card reader. As such there’s little to be left wanting in terms of connectivity options and it does, of course, also feature 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 + HS and a webcam.
Besides the glossy screen, the only other thing we’re slightly disappointed with is that Gigabyte will be offering the U2442 series with a hard drive as standard, with SSD being optional. And as far as we can establish, SSD caching isn’t an option either, most likely because there isn’t enough space inside the laptop.
On the plus side you get a backlit keyboard, a fairly large track pad and access to the memory modules - which allows the memory to be user upgradeable in the future.
The laptop we saw was a very early pre-production unit and although it was working, it wasn’t close enough to a final production model to give us a good feel for the overall build quality. Considering that Intel’s third generation of Core i processors for Ultrabooks aren’t expected to launch until June, Gigabyte has plenty of time to improve the build quality.
At least Gigabyte appears to have given the cooling system some thought, as all the hot air is vented out off the back, rather than to the sides of the notebook - which should help keep the noise level down a bit.
Overall it looks like Gigabyte has pretty much a one-off product here - at least until we hear what the competition has planned for later this year when Intel will officially unveil its new Ultrabook platform.