Asus UX21

Asus plans to launch several ultrabook models next month, including the Asus UX21 thin and light notebook with a 11.6 inch display and Asus UX31 with a 13.3 inch screen. But the company is already looking ahead toward 2012 when it plans to launch several new models that will be cheaper and feature Intel’s next-generation chips.

Intel coined the term “ultrabook” this summer to describe thin and light laptops with solid state disks and Intel’s latest processors. Intel also wants these notebooks to have starting prices lower than $1000. Asus, Acer, Lenovo, and Toshiba have all announced ultrabooks already, but Asus was ahead of the curve when it introduced its first ultrabook models in May.

According to DigiTimes, Asus plans to launch new models in April, and they’ll be cheaper than the notebooks coming this fall. While the first Asus ultrabooks are expected to sell for $900 and up, the new laptops coming next spring will have starting prices between $600 and $900.

The first generation of these new thin and light notebooks will be powered by Intel’s latest Sandy Bridge processors, but Intel plans to offer new Ivy Bridge chips net year that will offer low power consumption and heat generation combined with decent overall performance. Ultrabooks have larger, higher resolution displays than Intel Atom-powered netbooks, but they tend to have better build quality, much faster processors, and they don’t weigh much more than a netbook. Virtually every ultrabook announced to date will weigh less than 3 pounds.

While many computer makers have committed to releasing first-generation ultrabooks with starting prices below $1000, it sounds like most companies will also offer higher-end models with prices as high as $1500 to $2000. If DigiTimes is correct and Asus plans to offer ultrabooks for $600 and up next year it could be an indication that the cost of components is expected to fall, which could lead to affordable ultrabooks from other device makers as well.

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