Intel's Ultrabook: Your next sleek, light and cheaper computer


A new type of laptop is headed our way. It's ultra-thin, ultra-light, ultra-desirable and not that expensive either. ET has the details on Intel's new wonder child. 

Worldwide PC shipments are expected to grow by just 2.8% in 2011, a downgrade from the previous forecast of 4.2%, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC). This is worrying for PC makers and especially Intel, the world's largest manufacturer of PC chips. This is why Intel devised a whole new platform of notebooks, designed from the ground up to be sleeker, lighter and more desirable. 


The word Ultrabook is an Intel trademark. Ultrabooks are ultra-light and sleek notebooks with Intel's Core i5 and i7 processors, they weigh less than 1.4kg and are less than 20 mm thick (see Intel's Ultrabook checklist on the right). The form factor was devised by Intel as a strong competitor to Apple's Macbook Air, but at a cheaper price point. 

Paul Otellini, Intel's president and CEO sums it up nicely; "The Ultrabook is our most satisfying and complete computer experience. It's lighter, sleeker and lasts long with a single charge so that you can carry it almost anywhere." 


Not only does the Ultrabook form factor have to compete with the MacBook Air, but also with the tablet, which a lot of consumers are seeing as a viable, everyday alternative to a bulky notebook computer. Other desirable features include a lower power consumption (Ultrabooks use ULV or ultra low voltage Intel processors) and a design that has to be at least 20mm or less. 

"We're fairly optimistic about Ultrabooks and have noticed an increased demand for this sort of form factor," said Rajesh Thadani, director - consumer, Lenovo India. "It's an evolution of the traditional laptop and a potential game-changer," he added. 

"With an evolving IT market in India, we are confident that Ultrabooks will be a worthwhile investment for any consumer," said S Rajendran, chief marketing officer, Acer India, in a conversation with ET. 


"Intel's focus is to make Ultrabooks capture about 40% of the worldwide laptop market by next year", said Mooly Eden, vice president and general manager of the PC Client Group at Intel. This was at Intel's Developer Forum 2011. "The market share of Ultrabooks will increase more in 2013, when Intel plans to launch its 'Haswell' processor. 

Haswell will offer more than 20 times reduction in connected standby power," Eden said. In 2012, Ultrabooks will come with Windows 8, Microsoft's newest operating system which uses a grid of live tiles as the start menu. Since the OS is optimised for touch, Ultrabooks with touchscreens or those with detachable screens (an Ultrabook-tablet hybrid) are being developed. 

Going forward, Ultrabooks will offer a built in anti-theft technology from McAfee. A stolen or lost Ultrabook will be unusable by anyone other than the actual owner. Prices are also expected to drop further to $800 from the current $1,000.