Here come the ultrabooks: Evolution or revolution?

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

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.