One of the key things that makes an ultrabook an ultrabook is the thin and light case design. Ultrabooks weigh less than 4 pounds and measure less than 0.7 (18mm) inches thick — whether they have 11.6 inch or 15.6 inch displays.

But it’s tough to make a laptop that thin using the same components PC makers have been using to build notebooks in the past. So in order to promote its ultrabook platform, Intel is encouraging computer manufacturers to use thinner screens, hard drives, batteries, and even keyboards.

Ultrabook thin

For instance, a typical notebook display panel could be about 5 millimeters. Intel says they can be 3mm. Most laptop hard drives are 9.5mm thick. There are 7mm hard drives and solid state disks available today, but Intel wants to go even smaller and is hoping to see 5mm models soon.

The company is even pushing for slimmer optical disc drives. While most smaller ultrabooks don’t even have DVD or Blu-ray drives, some of the models with 14 inch and larger screens do have disc drives, and Intel is encouraging PC makers to use models that are 7mm or 8.5mm high instead of 9mm or larger.

Most of today’s ultrabooks are made of metal, since it’s sturdier than plastic and allows you to build a strong notebook with a very thin case. But Intel says future ultrabooks could be made of plastic that has been structurally optimized to be as strong as metal, enabling PC makers to offer plastic ultrabooks that are just as thin as metal ones, but at lower prices.

It could be a year or two before we start to see 7mm optical disc drives or 5mm hard drives. But what that means is that next year’s ultrabooks could be thin enough to make this year’s models look chunky.

Although honestly, once you get down to 0.5 or 0.7 inches, do you really need a laptop to be much thinner?

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7 replies on “This is how Intel’s trying to make ultrabooks thinner”

  1. I want to see some 10″ ultrabooks. After a point, thinness stops being useful and, to me, we’re there already.

  2. Optical drive? Swap it out for a bigger battery and it will sell better.

  3. Quite a bit more expensive vs netbook pricing.  I think they will have a hard time at that price where normal laptops (at about the same screen size) cost far less money.   The manufacturers are looking for a category to get them away from the computer as a “commodity” .   Mary Lou Jeppsen’s “It’s about the screen” is still not fully understood by these hardware players.   See the last part of the video, and ask if this point she makes, reflects attempts today by Intel, where they are trying to avoid “commodity” via their moves toward ultrabook:
    https://bigthink.com/maryloujepsen#!video_idea_id=13336

    Someone could buy an Android ICS device at 1/3rd the price, so why buy an ultrabook?  In fact, most everyone I know is using computers less and less, and seem to be using their phones or tablets for more and more.   Last year, the iPad sales exceeded the world wide PC sales (including laptops etc?).  So, what do consumers want, certainly the trends are pointing in a direction via the sales numbers.  Android with Ice Cream Sandwich, and the next Android version, makes traditional computing models mean less and less.   It’s all about the screen, long battery use, and mobility.

    1. The place for Android devices is being over estimated.  People may be using mobile devices more and more but that’s mainly for convenience and the fact these devices serve multiple purposes like handy cameras, camcorders, casual gaming, emailing, twittering, along with traditional phone usages.

      However, while you may be able to get them for a third of the price, you’re getting much less than a third of the performance. 

      For anything involving productivity and doing real work mobile devices are usually absolutely terrible.

      It’s just the balance between the growing mobile and the traditional PC markets have yet to be reached but don’t believe for a second that the mobile will take over everything when it clearly can’t.

  4. I understand the “ultrabook” coverage to an extent, but really at 14, 15 inches or larger, are these “liliputing”? Like I said I get it, but I’m just saying. In a way I wish I knew less about the internet and how it works. I’m assuming that ultrabook will be pasted around as netbook was.

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