U2442 2 Gigabyte announces its first Ultrabook at CeBIT, we go hands on

There's no denying that Ultrabooks haven't taken off like Intel hoped they would, but it looks like we looks forward to some much more interesting machines once Intel launches its Ivy Bridge ULV processors and Gigabyte has come up with an interesting take on the Ultrabook theme. The company's first foray into the Ultrabook market space is with the U2442 series which is a 14-inch notebook with a lot of interesting features under the bonnet.

There's no denying that Ultrabooks haven't taken off like Intel hoped they would, but it looks like we looks forward to some much more interesting machines once Intel launches its Ivy Bridge ULV processors and Gigabyte has come up with an interesting take on the Ultrabook theme. The company's first foray into the Ultrabook market space is with the U2442 series which is a 14-inch notebook with a lot of interesting features under the bonnet.

Starting with the 14-inch display which makes the U2442 larger than most other Ultrabooks in the market today, Gigabyte has gone for a 1600×900 resolution panel which is a big win in our book. The downside is that the screen is glossy and we hope that Gigabyte will consider offering a matte display as an option. The U2442 isn't going to be competing with the slimmest of Ultrabooks, as it measures 18.5 to 20.5mm thick, but at 1.49kg it's quite light for a 14-inch Ultrabook. Part of the reason for this is that the U2442 has a plastic rather than a metal chassis, but at least Gigabyte fitted a metal lid to help protect the LCD.

U2442 1 Gigabyte announces its first Ultrabook at CeBIT, we go hands on

As with every other upcoming Ultrabook, Gigabyte will be offering the U2442 with a selection of ULV Core i5 and i7 processors, but the company has a real trick up its sleeve here and no, we're not talking about overclocking. Gigabyte will be offering two SKUs, the U2442V with the ULV processors and the U2442N which will come with a regular, full fat, 35W mobile Core i5 or i7 CPU. This should make the U2442 one of the most powerful sub 1.5kg notebooks in the market.

U2442 2 Gigabyte announces its first Ultrabook at CeBIT, we go hands on

But wait, there's more, much more, as they say on the shopping channels, as Gigabyte has also fitted the U2442 series with a yet to be announced Nvidia GeForce GT 640M GPU with 2GB of dedicated graphics memory. This makes the U2442 the first Ultrabook with discrete graphics as far as we're aware. Sadly the standard SKUs will come fitted with a mechanical drive without SSD caching, although Gigabyte will be offering models with an SSD as standard.

U2442 3 Gigabyte announces its first Ultrabook at CeBIT, we go hands on

Connectivity has been one of the weak points of a lot of Ultrabooks, but not so with the U2442 as it's crammed full with ports. For starters Gigabyte has kitted it out with a Thunderbolt interface – although this is apparently optional and won't be available on all SKUs – two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI port, a D-sub connector, an Ethernet port, a pair of audio jacks and an SD card reader. You also get a webcam, 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 + HS, in other words, the U2442 has pretty much everything you'll need.

U2442 4 Gigabyte announces its first Ultrabook at CeBIT, we go hands on

As for the battery, Gigabyte has gone for a Lithium-Polymer pack rated at 44Wh, although these aren't directly comparable to Li-Ion, as they're not made up out of multiple "cells". We weren't given any indication of battery life by the company and considering the model we looked at was an early pre-production unit, it's unlikely the company has run extensive battery tests.

U2442 5 Gigabyte announces its first Ultrabook at CeBIT, we go hands on

Some other features worth mentioning is the backlit keyboard, a feature more and more people are looking for when they're buying a new notebook, a large trackpad with buttons and last, but not least, access to both of the SO-DIMM slots which allows the owner to upgrade the memory. Our hands on time with the U2442 was far to short to give any kind or real impression, but Gigabyte seems to have come up with a good overall design with features like all the hot air being vented out the rear of the chassis instead of towards the sides. As long as the build quality of the production units is solid, alongside a decent price, Gigabyte could very well steal some market share from more established notebook makers with the U2442.