Toshiba Portege Z830

Ultrabooks are a new class of thin and light laptop which measure less than 0.8 inches thick, typically have solid state disks, and offer long battery life and the kind of overall performance you’d expect from a full sized laptop. Intel coined the word “ultrabook” this summer and started pushing a reference platform for laptop makers to use — as well as a target price: ultrabooks are supposed to start at prices below $1000.

It remains to be seen whether “ultrabook” will be anything more than a marketing term a year or two from now… remember the UMPC? How about the ULPC?

Anyway, for better or worse companies are starting to introduce ultrabooks. Most have 13.3 inch displays, although there’s at least one 11.6 inch model in the mix. Most seem to have starting prices of around $1000 or less, although at least a few could potentially go much higher once you start adding configuration options. And they all have Intel’s latest Core i3, Core i5, or Core i7 processors.

Here’s a roundup of the first 5 ultrabooks announced:

Acer Aspire S3 

Acer Aspire S3

This is Acer’s first foray into the ultrabook space, and the laptop will offer speedy sleep and resume times. Here’s what we know:

  • 13.3 inch, 1366 x 768 pixel display
  • Intel Core i3 through i7 processor options
  • Choice of 240GB SSD or 320GB or 500GB hard drive with integrated SSD for performance boost
  • 7 hour battery (50 days on standby in “deep sleep” mode)
  • 0.5 inches thick
  • 3 pounds
  • 1.5 seconds to resume from sleep
  • 802.11b/g/n WiFi
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 1.3MP camera
  • Available this month in Europe for 799 Euros

Asus UX21

Asus was the first company to introduce an ultrabook, way back in the dark ages (also known as June, 2011). While other companies waited until the IFA show in Berlin to introduce their new notebooks, Asus was ahead of the curve… it just hasn’t actually brought its ultrabook to market yet.

Here’s what we know about the Asus UX21 so far:

  • 11.6 inch, 1366 x 768 pixel display
  • Intel Core i5 or i7 processor
  • SSD
  • 0.67 inches thick (just 0.12 inches at its thinnest point)
  • 2.4 pounds

Asus UX31

Imagine the Asus UX21… but a little bigger. That’s the Asus UX31. Here’s what we know about the laptop so far:

  • 13.3 inch, 1600 x 900 pixel display
  • Intel Core i7 CPU
  • 128 GB SSD
  • 2.9 pounds

Lenovo U300s

Lenovo is taking the 13.3 inch approach toward the ultrabook space — and its first model looks a lot like the Lenovo IdeaPad U260, an existing thin and light laptop for under $1000. It clearly wasn’t a huge jump for Lenovo to meet Intel’s requirements for the ultrabook platform.

Here’s what we know:

  • 13.3 inch, 1366 x 768 pixel display
  • Inteo Core i5-2457M or Core i7-2677M processor options
  • Up to 4GB of DDR3 memory
  • UP to 256GB of SSD space
  • 12.8″ x 8.5″ x 0.6″
  • 2.9 pounds
  • 8 hour battery (30 days standby time)
  • RapidCharge system that charges the battery to 50% in a half hour
  • 802.11b/g/n WiFi
  • 1.3MP webcam
  • 1 USB 2.0 port, 1 USB 3.0 port
  • Expected to ship in October for $1200 and up (so much for the $1000 target price)

Toshiba Portege Z830

Toshiba Portege Z830

Toshiba hasn’t offered any pricing details about the Portege Z830 yet, but the laptop certainly looks like an ultrabook. Here’s what we know about the Z830 so far:

  • 13.3 inch display
  • Intel Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 processor options
  • 128GB SSD
  • Magnesium and aluminum alloy case
  • HDMI, VGA, and Ethernet ports, 2 USB 2.0 ports, and 1 USB 3.0 port as well as an SD card slot
  • 47Wr battery that should last for up to 8 hours
  • 0.6 inches thick
  • 2.45 pounds

All five of these laptops are thin, light, and offer technology designed to reduce energy consumption, heat, and noise. They’re a lot more expensive than a typical netbook, and a little harder to slip into a handbag (2.5 pounds or not, a 13 inch laptop takes up more space than a 10 inch one). But they still look pretty great compared with old school ultraportables.

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18 replies on “Here are the first 5 “ultrabooks””

  1. I have nothing but my laptop for personal use and am looking to remotely connect into my workstation in the office for work use.

    An ultrabook with rapid startup, decent RAM, 64-bit Windows 8, a screen of 1200 or more pixels and capable of displaying 100% of sRGB – I’d part with a hefty figure for that!

    If Intel and the computer manufacturers get this right then I’m sure there must be many other customers like me who haven’t yet succumb to the tablet or notebook markets.

  2. All of you skeptics are morons. One way or another, this style will eventually phase out netbooks and become the standard. Their prices will drop. And to you morons who say backlit keyboards are useless, I find them very useful for when I’m chillin at night and want to use my laptop in bed (for whatever reason…)

  3. Apple has already done this better – the new Macbook Air in either 11″ or 13″ offers this form factor.  

  4. There is nothing to talk about. $1000 for non Apple laptop = fail. Tablet at $500 for non Apple = fail.  Last year, Intel’s “ultra thin” amounted to a blip. Now they are trying this. It’s pathetic. Sorry you created netbooks do just deal with it. $250 will fetch you a portable laptop. Buy 3 for the price of 1. If you’re spending $1000 on a laptop, you’re buying Apple 98% of the time.

    1. Uh, no, take away the iPad from the sales figures and people are most definitely not buying Apple 98% of the time.

      Apple still only has a minority of PC sales, and just are the largest for any one company.  While the other companies combined still far outnumber Apple sales.  So it’s more like ~28% of the time!

  5. How about a 512GB SSD drive?  I think most of these companies are missing a big opportunity since there are ultrabook buyers that will want the latest and greatest (i7, 6-8MB RAM and a large SSD drive) without a huge concern for the price.

  6. Thank you for pointing out that “ultrabook” is just yet another marketing term for devices with a clamshell form factor: laptop, notebook, netbook, subnotebook, palmtop, blah, blah, blah.  Of course, given the fact that we call slates “tablets” because some tablets do actually have the slate form factor, we might us well call these “typewriters” because some typewriters did share a similar form factor.  

    Most of the other comments on this post are really weird.

    * I’m sorry, but if you think that EVERYBODY makes their technology purchases on the base of price, then you’re confused.  Also, if you think that these devices are specifically targeted at those consumers who do make purchases on the basis of price, then you are also confused.  These could all be made cheaper by throwing a cheaper hardware platform, but that’s not the point.  The point is to have a highly capable Personal Computer, not some low power PC or a vendor-curated computing experience on an embedded hardware platform.  Also, I’m an idiot.  If I don’t need to do something, then I don’t do it.  If I do need to do something, then I do it well.  Accordingly, the idea of allowing stores to determine my needs according to the prices they set isn’t going to work for me.  Instead, I have to avoid things that I don’t need and buy things that I do need.  This means either spending no money or spending as much as it takes.  To be honest, I used to work a lot harder and saving money then I do now, I gave that up once I realized that I’d be even better at thrift when I’m dead.

    * Screen resolution is not nearly as important as its PPI.  Sadly, high PPI displays are hard to come by these days.  Still, there are viewing angles, color gamut, contrast, brightness, evenness of lighting, power draw, and GPU demand that all have to be weighed as well.  Unfortunately, consumers are idiots, even the people who pay $1000 for a device like this.  Until people stop buying garbage, it will be more convenient for vendors to keep serving it.  

    * Backlit keyboards are idiotic and have no sane use case.  If it is too dark to see your keyboard, then it is too dark to do any computer work.  Ergonomic guidelines are pretty clear on this.  It’s fine to prefer a backlit keyboard, but it’s weird to mandate them given all of this.  You’re basically insisting that ultrabooks no resist you should you decide to destroy your vision.  You might as well whine about cars not coming with removable steering wheels.

    * People are desperately confused on where Apple products come from.  It’s not Apple.  Apple is an OEM.  The ODMs are various, and the people who supply the actual technology are companies like Intel.  Ever since Apple switched from PowerPC to Intel for its PC products (yes, Macs are PCs, despite the advertising campaign that implied otherwise), Intel has been granting Apple a series of “firsts” in the marketplace, with the underlying technology making its way into the general products soon after.  It has happened with such dependable regularity that you would think people would wonder if there was actually some kind of “deal” that was struck back there in the transition.  Instead, weirdos keep wondering why everybody is “copying” Apple or insisting that Apple is innovating things that it doesn’t even have any control over.  I’m sorry, but Apple was not the first company to desire a very thin laptop, and it neither designed, engineered, nor manufactured the internals nor externals that made it happen.  It just sells them to fools who buy on the basis of brand beliefs.

  7. This ultrabook term won’t change people’s minds. People are now used to $300 tablets and $200 netbooks. People won’t bother with these $1000 ultrabooks. Like before, about 7 years ago, when Sony and Fujitsu were selling their super light $5000 notebooks that were about 1KG, nobody really bought them. Only corporate people, which had unlimited spending budgets did splash on these for their top executive officers.

    Eventually, these super light notebooks became a failure. It was a confirmed failure when netbooks came out.

    Now, there are starting the same crap. It is definitely doomed for failure cause people are so used to the $200 to $300 region of pricing.

    Come on Intel, think carefully. You are now fighting with tablets which are about 600grams. Now with the Samsung Tab 7.7, that has gone down to 310grams in weight.

    For heaven’s sake, nobody really use their devices other than checking email and sufing the net, which a N570 Atom can handle super well. Everyone has their primary machine at home with a Core i5 or Core i7 to handle the CPU intensive tasks.

    I have never seen anybody at a cafe or an airport doing CAD or Video editting  or other CPU intensive tasks on their notebooks.

    1. I would disagree.  While netbooks are great for lots of tasks, I’m a coder.  I want more power and a larger screen in my laptop.  But I still want it as portable as possible with as long battery life is possible.  And my laptop IS my main machine.  I don’t have a desktop with a Core i5 of i7 at home.  I’d love one of these “ultrabooks” if they can keep the price down.  That’s the problem with the traditional “ultraportable” category (which I’ve dipped my toes in to in the past).  If manufacturers can give me “ultraportable” performance and features without the “ultraportable” price, I’m game for that.

    2. While CAD and similar may still be rare, both video editing on the go and portable gaming is already becoming increasingly common.  Also remember, as the availability of computing power has increased, the
      desire and capability of users to take advantage of that performance
      has also increased.

      So power usage is a serious consideration for a growing number of people.

      The significance of what Intel is trying to do with Ultrabooks has yet to be fully revealed but remember, starting with Ivy Bridge, we’ll be seeing some significant changes to what will be offered at this price range.

      Like a dynamic power usage scaling that will allow for maximum run time when performance isn’t needed and still allow maximum performance for desktop like performance as needed.

      Previous ultra portable solutions sacrificed performance for longer run times and didn’t give a dynamic usage capability.  While there is a big difference to consumers between a $5000 system and a sub $1000 system, especially in a slow economy.

      So 22nm is where Intel will be finally able to start introducing some of their new technology like 3D transistors, which will help boost performance without as much increase to power consumption, among other advancements and lowering of costs that should make Ultrabooks make much more sense than they do now.

  8. I think for the premium price the premium “ultrabooks” need to have a backlit keyboard and a screen resolution better than 1366 x 768.  Only the Toshiba in the five you mentioned have both as far as I can tell  and none have a gpu.  The PC manufacturers have a way to go to give us a taste of the apple.

    1. Backlit keyboards aren’t really needed unless you’re gaming and without a decent GPU that’s not happening.

      Though keep in mind the Sandy Bridge update to the MBA also did away with the discrete GPU!

      Meanwhile, both Apple and PC makers usually add a hefty profit margin on top of the build cost, which netbooks don’t follow and ARM devices are just a lot cheaper to make.

      So pricing isn’t so much a premium as what you normally get for the price when they aren’t cutting into their profit to try to sell it to you.

  9. This is all wrong and you are forgetting about the Macbook Air. Apple had announced that years before any of these “new” laptops

    1. NEC, Sony and Fujitsu had ultraslim laptops that weighed around 2 -3 pounds close to a decade ago, long before the MacBook Air.

      1. Just to add, I wish Fujitsu were more aggressive like they were back them. Their build quality is peerless.

        Nowadays they seem to save their best for the Japanese domestic market, (16megapixel HD video caple Android phone, anyone?… or would you fancy a 10.1 waterproof Android tablet instead?). I know their core business outside Japan is mostly to do with servers, but it would be nice if the rest of us outside Japan got a chance at buying their bleeding-edge domestic products.

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