This year is going to be the year of the Ultrabook, and we'll see proof of that this week at the CES. I believe we'll see at least 50 Ultrabooks announced, perhaps even more. Acer jumped ahead of the line of the CES announcements and showed off its Aspire S5 Ultrabook. Acer was quick to point out that the S5 is the "world's thinnest" Ultrabook, but that claim doesn't carry much weight with me.
Ultrabooks are Intel's answer to the MacBook Air, and the whole point is to make them thin. They are thin by design, and that means all of them. The thickness, or lack thereof, is a required feature of the genre, so a millimeter here or there is not really the point.
What is important are the features that determine if an Ultrabook is worth the money or not. Those features are battery life, screen resolution (not size), SSDs, and weight. Processor power is not that critical as Ultrabooks by definition have good Intel power inside.
Battery life needs to last all day, and that means at least 7 hours on a charge. On top of that rapid charging technology should be leveraged to allow quickly topping off the battery. Lenovo uses such technology in some of its laptops to permit an 80 percent charge in just 30 minutes. Ultrabooks that can't go all day are failing in this key area, no matter how thin they are.
Most early Ultrabooks have 13.3-inch displays, and while 1366x768 is the typical resolution that's not good enough for that size screen. The 13-inch MacBook Air uses a higher resolution 1440x900 display, and that is perfect. While 1366x768 is cheaper to use, it should be better for bigger screens.
Fast solid-state disks (SSDs) are key to getting good performance out of Ultrabooks, and they need to have a large capacity to make them appropriate for most users. Conventional hard drives are cheaper and hold more information, but they hit the battery harder and affect performance.
So don't wow us with how thin your whiz-bang Ultrabook is, get us worked up with the insanely great battery life, screen resolution, SSD size/speed, and how light it is. Then price it so low we can't pass it up. That's how to set your product apart from the growing Ultrabook crowd.
- Lenovo IdeaPad U300s: Puts the ultra in Lenovo’s first Ultrabook (review)
- Acer Aspire S3 Ultrabook gets Intel Core i7, SDD: $1,200
- HP Folio is the Ultrabook for enterprise, $900
- The HP Folio Ultrabook (photos)
- Ultrabook sales off to a disappointing start, thanks to high prices