Now that Intel’s Haswell processors are about to hit the streets, we’re going to start seeing laptops, tablets, and other devices featuring those chips. Many of those devices will be the thin and portable notebooks and hybrid tablets that Intel likes to call ultrabooks.

This year’s models should offer longer battery life, quicker wake from sleep, and new forms of input. That’s because Intel says so — and since Intel create the term “ultrabook,” the company gets to decide what qualifies.

Here are some of the new features that a computer will need to have to qualify as an ultrabook in 2013.

2013 ultrabook_01

Touchscreens and Voice Control

Next-generation ultrabooks will need to have touchscreens and voice controls built-in. That’s true whether you’re talking about a traditional notebook-style computer or a model with a detachable display which you can use as a tablet.


Since Intel is pushing the detachable form factor though, the company is allowing this year’s ultrabooks to be a hair thicker than earlier models. Up until recently anything over 21mm (0.82 inches) didn’t quality as an ultrabook. Now Intel is letting PC makers build models that are up to 23mm (0.9 inches) thick — assuming they’re convertible devices that can be used as a tablet by rotating or removing the display.

Interestingly Intel still doesn’t place any limits on weight. So while ultrabooks are thinner than most traditional laptops, I’ve seen models that weigh anywhere from 2.4 to nearly 6 pounds.

Battery Life

Next-generation ultrabooks will be based on Intel’s Haswell processor, which uses less power than earlier Core chips. So it should be pretty simple for device makers to offer models with better battery life.

But Intel wants to make sure ultrabooks offer long battery life, so the company’s providing stricter guidelines:

  • 9 hours or more of battery life while idle in Windows 8
  • 6 hours of battery life or better when playing HD video
  • 7 days or more of standby

Up until now, Intel simply told PC makers to build systems that offered 5 hours of battery life or more in the MobileMark 2007 benchmark.


Haswell chips offer better overall performance and significantly better graphics performance than Ivy Bridge chips — so Intel isn’t so much dictating a requirement as outlining a fact when the company says new ultrabooks with 4th-gen Core chips will offer up to 40 percent better graphics performance and up to 11 percent more overall performance while using 25 percent less power.

But the company does insist that ultrabooks should now be able to resume from sleep in less than 3 seconds instead of the 7 seconds allowed for earlier models.

Other features

Intel is also recommending additional features such as facial recognition which lets you login to a PC by gazing into a camera, convertible tablet/notebook designs, and more.

2013 ultrabook_02

Ultimately, an ultrabook is Intel’s vision of what a premium laptop experience should look like in 2013. That’s a thin computer with long battery life, speedy performance, solid state storage, and the ability to interact with a PC using more than just touchpad and keyboard input.

We’ll likely continue to see plenty of computers that are almost ultrabooks, but which lack a few of the defining features, such as a touchscreen, voice control, an SSD, or even an Intel processor. It turns out you can make portable notebooks with AMD chips (or even ARM-based processors) too.

But with its new ultrabook guidelines and Haswell chips, Intel has sort of set a roadmap for where it thinks the PC market is going — and many PC makers will likely be following that map for the coming year.

via Engadget

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15 replies on “2013 ultrabooks to include voice control, touchscreens, longer battery life”

  1. I see lots of enhancements to the next generation ultrabook, except the one that I care about: Let’s require some minimum screen resolution that’s higher than the oh-so-common pathetic 1366×768.

    Honestly, how Ultra can an ultrabook be with a low-res screen?

  2. I hope to see the lower power Y-series Haswell chips in some 10.1″ (maybe smaller) screened notebooks. I don’t mind not having a touchscreen to keep costs down and that’ll probably give less reason to have large bezels too.

    1. Ya, I really hope there’s more focus on the dimensions other than thickness. I’d take a non-touchscreen traditional notebook that’s thicker than “ultrabooks” but have a smaller footprint than any of these larger hybrids.

  3. Not really looking to upgrade my Ivy Bridge notebook for now but I am interested in how Haswell will help in putting higher performing chips in small form factor fanless PCs.

    I have an old overclocked Core 2 Quad micro-ATX system that serves as an HTPC, NFS server and video transcoder. I’d like to replace it with a smaller, fanless and more powerful system. I’m using Linux so no Quick Sync. Besides, I don’t like the quality loss and/or increased file sizes of Quick Sync encodes (Ivy Bridge based tests).

    I’ve looked at the Ivy Bridge based Intense PC but it doesn’t seem like it’ll perform any better at video encoding but it certainly is small. Maybe it’ll get a quad core Haswell refresh.

    1. I’m hoping for some quad core fanless mini PCs as well. Too bad desktop Haswell chips don’t support S0ix states and using a mobile chip will likely increase prices a good amount.

    2. It seems the desktop and M Haswell chips don’t improve performance and power consumption much if at all. So Haswell might not help get quad cores into fanless mini PCs. Not to mention they’re expensive for what you get. You’re better off hoping for an Ivy Bridge or AMD quad core system.

      Only the U and Y chips have the improved power efficiency and there’s no talk quad cores.

  4. I mostly care about the longer battery life. Touch and especially voice control aren’t important.

    I wonder how much better battery life will be under desktop Linux distros. Windows 8 has greatly improved power management which, under Windows 7, was already better than most desktop Linux distros.

    1. Well, at the Phoronix blog, the guy has early access to a Haswell desktop chip. Even with the latest kernel, Intel drivers and other relevant packages, he’s finding some performance (both CPU and GPU) and power consumption issues.

      So, if you’re not the type who likes to compile kernels and other software, getting a Haswell device for Linux use isn’t a good idea. I guess even with Intel’s big push into Linux support, the resource allocation is still mostly for Windows.

      An Intel dev admitted to Phoronix that there is a larger performance and power management gap between Windows and Linux drivers with Haswell than there was/is for Ivy Bridge.

      It’s probably going to be longer than it was for Sandy/Ivy Bridge before major distros have stable and better than Ivy Bridge performing Haswell support.

      1. The larger gap is because Haswell implements power states and power management features similar to those that they’ve already used to make the ATOM able to compete with ARM SoCs for power efficiency.

        Problem is most desktop OS aren’t designed to take advantage of those type of features or even allow a system to properly idle.

        Thus why both AMD and Intel SoCs have so far only provided support for Android and Windows 8…

        But give it time, Ubuntu Touch and other developing distros are making a push to mobile usage as well and that’ll mean they’ll start making use of those advance power management features soon enough…

      2. Ya, you’re right. It’s going to be quite some time before Linux distros support Haswell adequately to make it worthwhile to get a device with the intent on using Linux.

  5. I program for a living and a laptop is not dead for me. It’s the tool I use for working. Anyway, they are going the way of the tools for car maintenance: great stuff but for a few people confined in specialized shops.

    Hopefully the next wave of laptops will have antiglare 16:10 screens and three buttons touchpads. Don’t worry, I’m just kidding. It would be great but it won’t happen, not even for professional laptops (the only one will be sold in five years from now). PC manufacturers are too myopic and won’t just copy Mac Books.

  6. I think this just shows that design, function, and more importantly “what it does”cannot stagnate on laptops. You could buy the same old laptop computer design since 1999, and all that really changed year to year was the processor. We had about a decade of laptops being a clamshell design. Sure, Apple made those horrid little candy colored toilet-shaped mostroities for a while, but for the most parts a laptop has been a laptop in design & function.

    The new paradigm is to redesign/re-imagine what a laptop “does” constantly. I think in 10 more years when we talk about portable computing we won’t even talk about shape or size or outward appearance. This whole concept of tablets are winning, laptops are losing, or smartphones are king will be meaningless. What you are using won’t be based on shape but on functionality….is it pseudo-AI driven? Does it have a full sound, vision, touch, and chemical sensor suite? Is it physical interface only or will it use those new Subcutaneous delivery device inputs from your scalp.

    1. From Intel’s point of view, they eventually want the iPad and other mobile OS based devices to run on Intel chips. Maybe some years from now, these will be using Atoms for budget devices and Core i’s on premium ones. I guess that’ll depend on how well ARM can scale up and Intel can scale down.

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