Ultrabooks: another fad?


This year’s Consumer Electronics Show has put Ultrabooks in the limelight, but does this new technology have a place in your digital lifestyle? The term Ultrabook was coined by Intel with the introduction of some of their new processors. An Ultrabook is a thin, light-weight PC with a long battery life, made possible only with Intel’s new processors. The performance of Intel’s new chips allows for a unibody design, much like Apple’s notebook offerings. Intel has invested heavily into the Ultrabook concept and expects great returns – but will it deliver?

Tablet computers dominated computer sales in 2011, but Ultrabooks may bring life back to the PC industry. Ultrabooks offer a host of features that Intel hopes will become an industry standard. Firstly, all Ultrabooks will run SSDs (solid state hard drives) instead of mechanical drives, which means that start times are expected to be under the 10 second mark. A noticeable exclusion is that of optical drives, which has come about because most users now store their data on external devices. Therefore playback of regular media will not be possible.

Form and function is a key ingredient to the Ultrabook, with most manufactures using fine aluminum designs with the inclusion of Gorilla Glass. Interestingly, an improved design of Gorilla Glass was displayed at CES this year. Reports indicate that the new glass will be much thinner and quite durable in comparison to the current glass that is used on devices. Ultrabooks have been designed to compactly fit all hardware allowing for thin designs and creative layouts.

A couple of the big manufactures have made announcements regarding their own Ultrabook offerings. Dell recently announced the launch of the XPS 13, which sports a 13inch display, 4GB of RAM, a core i3 processor and a 128GB SSD. In fact, Dell has already begun phasing out all of their Netbooks to promote their Ultrabook line. HP announced the release of the Envy 14 inch Spectre, which boasts some impressive specifications and a unique design of Gorilla Glass throughout the PC, which comes at a premium. The 14 inch screen slotted into a 13 inch form factor is another unique feature of HP’s Ultrabook. Although the Spectre may be heavier and slightly thicker than other Ultrabook designs, it looks sleek and is very functional. It will be available in either a core i3 or i5 iteration.

LG and Samsung have followed suit in the Ultrabook race with aluminum finishes, nicely fitted displays and slim designs. LG believes that their offerings go beyond Intel’s standards and has labeled their products as the “Super Ultrabooks”. With all of these Ultrabooks about to flood the market, the question remains whether consumers will actually flock to get their hands on these new PCs. Tablets are now a common occurrence in the market, but the PC still has reach and we will definitely be seeing some shifts in consumer behaviour throughout the year. It all depends on pricing and practicality. Essentially, it is up to consumers to decide the fate of the Ultrabook.

Is there a place for a Ultrabooks? What do you think?