Asus UX21

Intel is pushing ultrabooks as a new category of thin, light, and affordable laptops with fast processors and fanless case designs. Imagine a computer that weighs about as much as a netbook but which packs as much power as a full-sized laptop and has a larger display and keyboard to boot. That’s an ultrabook.

While several companies are working on ultrabooks, Asus is expected to be one of the biggest players in the field. The company has been showing off the 11.6 inch UX21 ultrabook for months, although it has yet to go on sale. Asus is also working on a 13 inch model called the UX31.

Now the Financial Times and DigiTimes are both reporting that those two laptops won’t be alone. Asus is apparently planning on launching between 5 and 7 different ultrabook models in October, with prices starting at $799, but going all the way up to $1999.

Intel had initially promised that ultrabooks would sell for under $1000, but computer makers have reportedly been pushing back against that price, claiming the components are too expensive to meet that target. Now it looks like we may see entry-level ultrabooks for under $1000, but higher-end systems with more features selling for considerably more.

Honestly though, at that point does it make sense to call them ultrabooks? Aren’t they just ultraportable laptops? That’s a category that’s been around for years, and which was defined by size and weight, not by price.

Overall I’m happy to see that Intel and its partners are taking a netbook-like approach to higher performance machines and trying to push lower cost options that might not have all the bells and whistles. But even a $799 laptop isn’t exactly cheap.

You can pick up a decent netbook for under $300, and if you’re not as concerned with portability, there are plenty of excellent 15 inch laptops for around $500. It should be interesting to see whether ultrabooks really capture any market share in the next few years.

via The Verge

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9 replies on “Asus to launch 5 or more ultrabooks for $799 and up in October”

  1. I just want an ARM-based laptop (a “smartbook”) with a 12″ SWXGA screen, full size keyboard, and amazing battery life running Linux. We know they can be made for under $200.

    There were demos at Computex, e.g. and, but bigger manufacturers like ASUS have been pressured by Microsoft not to offer them: “That’s a nice Windows laptop business you’ve got there, would be a shame if anything, e.g. predatory Win license pricing, made it non-profitable”…

  2. Well this news isn’t a huge surprise.  When the Processor costs the OEMs $300, and the rest of the ultrabook specification calls for parts that leave the vendors .5% profit or less, so yeah, it’s not a surprise that they are introducing ‘intro’ level models to qualify for Intel’s kick back (err. marketing incentive, and didn’t they agree to stop that crap in the AMD Settlement, or was that only kickbacks to retailers?), and then going up from there.

  3. I had always wished the long running Sony Vaio X series would come down in price.  I would have a i7 CPU with a 13.5″ screen that weighs just 1.4 lbs right now if they didn’t cost an arm & leg.  I hope this puts a little pressure on this segment to come down in price.

  4. Yes, these are ultraportables, and specifically Macbook Air clones.
    But Intel is right to push these and attach a catchy category name.  Evolved chip technology will allow lower power (potentially fanless, extra thin, smaller battery), smaller/thinner motherboards, and decent graphics performance (for Intel) without added graphics chip.  I am also looking forward – esp to 2012 maturation and price wars!

    1. Yes, but Ivybridge does all that for ALL the market segments.  What makes these special, and why pay $300 to push manufacturers into making Macbook Air clones in the first place?

      That’s what gets me.  There really is no reason or justification I can see for all that.

      1. Intel needs a category to separate their lower end from higher end offerings.  They can no longer stay compliant with limiting the ATOM line and still stay competitive with the growing competition. 

        Especially if they eventually also want to push into the mobile market, which is another reason to establish the category as it pushes the range of their portable solutions and lets them test technologies that will eventually go into their mobile solutions. 

        Also this can lessen the reason why some consumers may start desiring ARM solutions with potentially much longer run times despite the performance difference.  So long as they can keep run times long enough to not be a factor then performance returns to the forefront of considerations and gives them the advantage.

        The technology is also finally reaching the point that they can meet many of their defined goals once Ivy Bridge comes out to be the tipping point and they continue to improve the technology over the next few years to better position themselves against their growing competition.

  5. It has been very dry in the ultraportable market in the last year or two, so I guess all the people who used 3000dollar ultraportables, will jump at this “cheap” opportunity! (myself included 🙂
    Looking forward to this!

    1. Before Intel coined the term, it was Ultraportable.  There have to date been no ‘ultrabooks’.  Therefore saying it’s been dry there the last year or two is kind of meaningless.  You could say that the Ultraportable market was way undercut by the Air, as well as the Thin and Light, and netbook categories, and was pretty much killed by them, which would not only make sense, but would be true.

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