We're more than a quarter of the way through 2012 (believe it or not), so it's time to ask: where are those hot laptops we saw back at CES?
The good news is, looking back at the products we saw back then, is that a surprising number of them weren't vaporware. Even better, a great number of them have already made their debut and have been reviewed on CNET.
That feels like a better track record than some CESes past (hello, U1 Hybrid), but it's also not incredibly surprising. In fact, I could smell this coming a mile away on the show floor. That's because both Windows 8 and Intel's newer Ivy Bridge processors still haven't seen the light of day, and the laptops generally on display at the show were models that were ready to go with current-gen technology. As Intel's own press event suggested, the future of laptops might get more interesting later this year and in 2013.
So, let's run down the list.
Acer's next-generation ultrabook follow-up to last year's Aspire S3 is even sleeker, and claims to be the "world's thinnest" ultrabook. A Thunderbolt port suggests this will be an Ivy Bridge launch ultrabook; a motorized back door covering the ports offers a sports-car-like feel. .
Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M3-581TG (available in April)
First announced at CES 2012, Acer's bigger-screened ultrabooks bear little in common with their 13-inch cousins. The Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M3 looks more like a large, thin laptop, and has the specs to match: DVD drive and next-gen Nvidia graphics to boot. Read the detailed First Take.
Dell packs a 13-inch display into a very small footprint in the XPS 13 ultrabook, making it one of the few slim laptops that actually top the MacBook Air in some areas. .
The first big high-design laptop of 2012, the Gorilla Glass-covered HP Envy 14 Spectre is a bold experiment that largely succeeds, if you're willing to pay a premium for it. .
The most futuristic laptop design of this year's CES, the Yoga is a superflexible laptop with the capability to convert into a touch-screen tablet or any number of other forms via a single hinge. The Yoga is designed with Windows 8 in mind, so don't expect this ultrabook to emerge until the holiday shopping season. .
The long-awaited Blade is Razer's first gaming laptop; it incorporates a thin design with an innovative touch-screen/touch-pad combo and customizable color LED hot keys in a control scheme called the Switchblade UI. It's a forward-looking design, but the Switchblade concept is innovative hardware without the software to back up the promises. .
If you ignore the ultrabook branding and instead think of this as a somewhat slim midsize, mainstream laptop, the 14-inch Samsung Series 5 is a fine example of the form. .
The latest Samsung Series 9 goes extra-big, and the gamble pays off with the most portable and comfortable 15-incher you're likely to find. However, its high price and lack of higher-end features don't make it the best value. .