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Best ultrabooks and thin laptops for the holidays

This holiday's best thin portable computers, both Windows and Mac.

Scott_Stein.jpg
Scott_Stein.jpg

Scott Stein

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1 of 6 Sarah Tew/CNET

HP Envy Spectre XT

If you're looking for a thin, highly portable computer, you've got some gorgeous options this holiday season. Here are our favorites right now.
Slim, light, and sleekly designed, HP's $999 13-inch laptop takes a more practical approach than the all-glass Envy Spectre 14 from earlier this year. It doesn't have any surprising features, but it may be the best and most compact ultrabook we've seen recently.
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2 of 6 Sarah Tew/CNET

Acer Aspire S7

Perhaps one of the best examples of a Windows 8 ultrabook in action, the S7 is a shockingly thin laptop with a glass touch-screen. The crisp 1,920x1,080-resolution display works extremely well with Windows 8's touch interface, although a $1,649 price tag for the Core i7 version definitely puts it in the "premium" territory.
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3 of 6 Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple MacBook Air (13-inch, 2012)

Apple's ever-popular MacBook Air is the laptop that spiritually spawned the ultrabook category; the most recent 13-inch model is an excellent blend of construction quality, battery life, and performance. It's also Apple's go-to laptop of choice.
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4 of 6 Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display (15-inch, 2012)

The first redesigned Apple laptop in years, the very thin (but not MacBook Air-thin) Retina Display Pro isn't technically an ultrabook, but it manages to fit a quad-core processor and high-end graphics, along with the highest-resolution laptop display available, into an extremely slim body. If you can afford it, this is the best MacBook out there right now.
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5 of 6 Sarah Tew/CNET

Dell Inspiron 14z

Affordably priced, the Inspiron 14z is an example of an ultrabook turned into an everyday, "normal" laptop. A DVD drive, larger-capacity hybrid hard drive, and still-thin-enough design make this an easy recommendation for everyday use.
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6 of 6 Sarah Tew/CNET

Acer Timeline U M5

Big-screened and equipped with both a DVD drive and higher-end Nvidia graphics, the M5's more like a very thin full-fledged laptop that's able to play games. Even better, the price is extremely reasonable.

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