Intel plays up user experience over hardware on Ultrabooks

Intel continues to tout its upcoming slew of Ultrabook releases this year -- to the point where it neglects some of its key hardware brands like Ivy Bridge and Thunderbolt.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

LAS VEGAS -- Coming into CES 2012, everyone knew that Ultrabooks would be a major focus of the show -- and Intel didn't disappoint for any fans dying to know more about the slimmed down laptop category.

See also: CES 2012: ZDNet’s news and product coverageCES 2012: CNET’s news and product coverage

Led by Mooly Eden, the head of Intel's PC unit, the company's press conference on Monday morning avoided covering too many hardware specs in favor of talking up the user experience.

This includes "sneak peeks" at numbering off the many potential places where owners can bring and use their Ultrabooks because they're just so darn light and thin -- two of the specs that have been repeated so much that they're not even worth mentioning anymore. Eden also displayed brief positive reviews from current Ultrabook users around the globe boasting the feel and touch of the keyboards.

Of course, there were a few mentions about internal specs, such as NFC and other security measures in places for transactions involving personal data, Windows 7, and Ivy Bridge processors.

The only interesting new piece of information about Ultrabooks that was revealed during the conference was Intel's new partnership with Nuance to bring integrated speech activation and recognition software to these computers.

But considering that this is the Consumer Electronics Show (the keyword there being "consumer"), then Intel is taking the most appropriate approach. Even many analysts and insiders have questioned the importance of advertising hardware as selling points. At the end of the day, most consumers only care how well a product (whether it be a tablet or a laptop or whatever) works well -- not so much about what is enabling the device to work smoothly (or not).

Arguably, the only other major point that consumers care about is the price tag. That's also a debatable topic around Ultrabooks given that they are supposed to all be under $999, but some people would argue that's not low enough to compete successfully with Apple's MacBook Air.

However, at the same time there are plenty of vendors and exhibitors at CES that might actually care about some hardware products that they could potentially integrate into their own products.

Basically, Intel's presentation on Monday morning focused primarily on the Ultrabook to the point where it neglected many details about two other products that Intel would benefit from by promoting more heavily: Ivy Bridge on other types of computers and products as well as the Thunderbolt I/O.

I'm more concerned about Thunderbolt because this one has already turned out to be one of the surprise (but more hidden) themes and popular elements integrated in quite a few new solutions being presented at CES. Certainly, most of those new products revolve around Apple products, and Apple does not exactly have as strong presence at CES.

Nevertheless, there is definitely plenty of interest in Thunderbolt on the part of both consumers and manufacturers, but Intel is letting this connectivity solution slide in the public eye as it pins all hopes on the success of Ultrabooks this year.


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