Ultrabooks are thinner and lighter than traditional laptops and far more powerful than netbooks. But they’re also more expensive than either. Most models cost $800 or more.

That’s because ultrabooks typically have the latest Intel processors and premium components such as solid state disks. Most of the models on store shelves right now also have sturdy metal cases which look great, but which don’t come cheap.

As the second wave of ultrabooks is set to hit the market this summer, some of last year’s models have gone on sale from time to time with prices as low as $600. But right now that’s the exception, not the rule.

Intel says that could change soon.

Plastic ultrabooks

According to Focus Taiwan, Intel expects ultrabooks with price tags as low as $599 to launch in the second half of 2012.

One of the ways Intel thinks PC makers can lower costs is to use plastic instead of metal for the case design. Intel is pushing a special type of plastic which has been structurally optimized to be almost as sturdy as metal… if not quite as attractive.

The cheaper ultrabooks will also likely use hybrid storage with a large hard drive and small solid state disk for cache — much like the system already used by the Acer Aspire S3 and several other ultrabook models.

Ultrabooks with solid state disks, metal cases, and other premium features will likely continue to carry higher price tags. But if Intel is right, the price gap between ultrabooks and other laptops could get a little slimmer before the end of the year.

via Ultrabook News

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2 replies on “Intel: Ultrabooks with plastic cases could hit $599 this year”

  1. So… Yeah. Basically they want to strip out the premium features which were the only real selling point of this ‘class’ of product, and that leaves being thin as the only characteristic. Being thin can be good from a portability stand point, but honestly the difference between a 1.1 inch thick thin’n’light and an ultrabook isn’t significant, and that 1.1 inch system typically has dramatically better cooling and thus more thermal headroom for the processor… and maybe even switchable dedicated graphics!

    I don’t know, I already didn’t see much point to this class of product, and if you throw out the premium metal chassis, and higher screen resolutions on many models, I can’t see the point of forking over additional funds to help Intel’s kind of freakishly paranoid reaction to the tablet market.

    1. The metal casing is only one premium feature, but it isn’t that
      important with efficient heat venting, which they already have as
      otherwise a all metal casing would be too hot to hold, and by the time
      Haswell comes out next year the thermals they’ll have to deal with will
      be much lower than now.

      Even switchable graphics will be offered for Ultrabooks. So it’s mainly
      a matter of the technology catching up to the concept and that looks to
      be happening with Haswell.

      So it’s more a question of whether Ivy Bridge is good enough to keep the market going until Haswell can come out…

      For the higher resolution screens, definitely not going down because of the minimum requirements for Windows 8 and if anything they’ll be going up.

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