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Ultrabooks: The first wave

The first of Intel's Ultrabooks are almost here. We go hands-on with the first-movers.

Lenovo's entry in the new Ultrabook category, the IdeaPad U300s. Lenovo

Amid all the laptop news this week, much of it coming out of the IFA show, there were a few announcements that especially stood out: two major PC makers unveiled their entries in the new (and untested) Ultrabook category. Even better, we got a change to get our hands on working demo units of both models, the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s and the Toshiba Portege Z830. Those two new models join previously announced Ultrabookssuch as the Asus UX21.

Now playing: Watch this: Toshiba Portege Z830 Ultrabook

The Toshiba Portege Z830 has a strong lineage as a successor of sorts to the very popular Portege R835, which is one of our favorite current 13-inch laptops.

This magnesium alloy 13-incher is 0.6 inch thick and weighs around 2.5 pounds, which meets Intel's specs for an Ultrabook system, and if you're looking for the consumer version (Portege is generally a business line), that's going to be called the Z835. You'll be able to find it in stores in November for well under $1,000.

Now playing: Watch this: Lenovo U300s Ultrabook

The second new Ultrabook of the week comes from Lenovo. It's not part of the big-name ThinkPad brand, but instead is part of the consumer-targeted IdeaPad line, which usually has some very interesting designs.

The IdeaPad U300s looked and felt great when we played around with one earlier this week. It's similarly thin, at 0.6 inch, and we liked the muted gray design and booklike silhouette created by the protruding lips of the top and bottom edges (see the video above).

The only thing about the U300s that gives us pause is the price. Lenovo says it'll start around $1,200, which is a big change from the Ultrabook story Intel and its partners have been selling so far: that these will be thin, powerful systems priced under $1,000, to provide a real value proposition compared with the MacBook Air.

Besides these two new Ultrabooks, we saw plenty of other new laptops this week. Here are the highlights:

Related links
• Sony adds the 15.5-inch Vaio SE to its Vaio lineup
• Samsung's Series 7 laptops fit in between the Series 9 and Series 3
• Samsung has a decent-looking Windows tablet, called the Series 7 Slate