Here come the ultrabooks: Evolution or revolution?

Here come the ultrabooks: Evolution or revolution?

Summary: Lenovo and Toshiba launch their ultrabooks. They're thin, light and probably too pricey right now.

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The ultrabooks have started to hit the market as Toshiba and Lenovo launch new thin laptops. What's unclear is whether these devices will be seen as merely an evolution of the laptop or a new category that can reinvigorate consumer PC sales.

First there's the Toshiba Portege Z830 Series. This ultrabook comes with second generation Intel Core processors, weighs in at 2.5 pounds and is 15.9 mm thick. The price tag starts just under $1,000, according to a statement.

Lenovo said it is getting "glam" with the IdeaPad U300s ultrabook. Lenovo gushes about these laptops and the company talks about how it "sashays into the fashion world." It's a bit much. The U300s is 14.9mm thick.

The larger question is whether these ultrabooks will sell. Is the price right? The Lenovo U300s starts at $1,199.99. CNET's Dan Ackerman duly noted the price issue:

While the U300s is a very appealing laptop with an excellent look and feel, we were more than a little surprised that Lenovo plans to charge a minimum of $1,195 for it--a far cry from the sub-$1,000 prices Intel has been promising for Ultrabooks. A Lenovo rep told us that Intel's cost parameters for the Ultrabook spec were about the bill of materials (the cost of the components) for the system, not its retail price. That may be true, but many PC makers have already found it difficult enough to compete with Apple's MacBook Air without offering a substantial price incentive to consumers.

It's a similar story with the Toshiba ultrabook.

Add it up and ultrabooks appear to be evolutionary at these price points. A revolution is possible---or at least better competition with tablets---if prices can get to the $500 to $600 range.

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Topics: Laptops, Hardware, Lenovo, Mobility, Toshiba

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6 comments
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  • New technology will tug pricing upwards

    Yesterday's technology will tug downward.

    I still like and use an Acer Aspire One Netbook all the time at home.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
  • Weve already seen oems announce $799 ultrabooks for the fall

    Its perfectly reasonable to expect $699 6 months from now and $599 12 months from now. At that point $99 webos/android tablets wont look like much of a deal.
    Johnny Vegas
  • RE: Here come the ultrabooks: Evolution or revolution?

    GLOSSY BLOODY SCREENS!!!

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGHHHH!

    When are PC manufacturers going to wake up and realize that glossy screens are HORRIBLE on the eye and limit the screen's use to dimly lit rooms - otherwise, they just act as mirrors.

    Even Apple added a matte screen option to their MacBook Pro's (to a standing ovation, no less).

    Sony has perhaps the best screen - a semi-matte screen - not completely reflectionless, but certainly not shiny.
    bitcrazed
  • I'm not buying *any* new PC...

    ...Until Windows 8 comes out. At that point, I expect my laptop (and probably my desktop, too...yes, I still want one of those) to have a touchscreen.

    That said, it will almost certainly be a Lenovo. They make the only Laptops that are as good or better than Apples, in my opinion. You do get what you pay for.
    x I'm tc
  • Such vitriol already

    My take is that quality will be the defining point for many people, but price alone is the defining point for most. Toshiba and Lenovo are not known for offering bargain basement junk at mid-level prices but rather for offering mid-to-upper level devices with prices to match. Even Toshiba's netbooks were of better quality that most of their competitors.

    Personally, I think right now that reliance on Windows 8 is a pipe-dream; without touch-centric software behind it, the touch interface will go to waste and as long as Microsoft insists on backwards compatibility to now 10-year-old software or older, the developers are going to keep producing point-and-click applications. Microsoft made a huge leap forward with Windows 7 and to expect a similar leap so soon afterwards from a company renowned for evolutionary changes--not revolutionary--is just looking for disappointment. This isn't to say I can't be wrong, but I really don't expect the kind of Eureka! revelation so many people think is coming.
    Vulpinemac
  • Quick and dirty answer to the article's question:

    Evolution. There's nothing new there.
    Vulpinemac