Laptops

Ultrabooks cheat sheet cuts through the hype

Are ultrabooks a unique category of computer or just the next step in the laptop's evolution? This cheat sheet helps you decide.

What exactly are ultrabooks? Intel believes they are a unique category of computer--devices that are more portable and less power hungry than traditional laptops, but more powerful than netbooks. And, the company is putting $300 million (US) behind an effort to improve Ultrabook technology.

But is there something special about ultrabooks, or are they just the next step in the laptop's evolution? To help you answer that question, Natasha Lomas, senior reporter for TechRepublic's sister site Silicon.com, has put together a cheat sheet for ultrabooks.

In her cheat sheet, Natasha explores the differences between ultrabooks and traditional laptops, the difference an operating system makes, the $1,000 price target, and more.

And if you want to see what's inside an ultrabook, check out my Cracking Open gallery of the Acer Aspire S3.

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

17 comments
stykat
stykat

Sounds like a tablet PC with a keyboard and some extra features. There are already ultra slim laptops and notebooks and you can usually opt for lower power cost hardware when buying one of the two.

Sagax-
Sagax-

If I cannot use the keyboard comfortably, I just do not like it. Back in the old days, IBM built a laptop/portable/whatever with a "butterfly" keyboard. Sigh - there were not enough of us who bought them and it was discontinued. It now comes down to just how portable you need it to be. The smaller and more easy to carry units must sacrifice power and screen size. The more effort you use to carry one around, the more capability you carry with you.

fhrivers
fhrivers

For those of us who aren't in Intel's marketing department. "Ultra" is the new "HD".

boomchuck1
boomchuck1

The whole ultrabook moniker is a joke. It's a notebook folks. Yes, it is skinny, and missing some important (for some of us) components, but in the end you have to judge it by what it does. It compares to many current notebooks the same way the current notebook compares to the big heavy ones we were buying 10 or so years ago. So it is more evolution than a new category. It's still a notebook. They're just trying to build some "it's the new big thing" hype into it.

spadurar
spadurar

The third-party article referred in the blog is a joke and it should not appear in any (serious) technical context. It's just some dogs set up by their master to bark at the intruder in fear of losing some market share. Pitiful ... "Claims that ..." ?!? Put your hands on the device and [b]test it[/b], don't use tendentious wording to induce suspicions in possible buyers!

rpollard
rpollard

They are behind on coming out with this technology. I believe they are realizing they aren't going to be able to compete in the smartphone/tablet market and are trying to rally the only thing they have left to try and compete. If people started buying Ultrabooks rather than tablets that would help their revenue stream. If people don't know that Ultrabooks are essentially a good replacement for tablets then they aren't going to increase their revenue. Makes sense that they would be the ones to throw a lot of resources into bringing Ultrabooks to light.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I found some value in the third-party article, the bit about an ultrabook being a Macbook for the Windows set.

dogknees
dogknees

They already make the processors in some smartphones and tablets, so who exactly is it that they are behind?

adornoe
adornoe

So, who is ahead? Apple? Whatever Apple has "inside" is basically, Intel technology. So, if Apple is ahead, so is Intel. The only difference with Intel now is that, they're offering a form-factor that will be available to all computer makers, and the advantage that Apple might have had, will disappear. Whatever other technology went inside any Apple iGadget, is also available to the other manufacturers, and Apple will have to "imagineer" some other gimmick to regain the "exclusivity" which they might have enjoyed for a short period.

danbi
danbi

The real trouble for Intel is that they invested heavily in new technologies (such as Thunderbolt), tried to convince their OEMs to sell it.. nobody bite --- then came Apple and all of the sudden the technology is out there, wanted. But Apple is large, single customer. Apple apparently buys such a huge volume from Intel that they get significant price reduction. Which means less profit margin for Intel. What companies like Intel profit from is from sales to a large number of small customers, whom they can sell with minimal discounts at "list price" if possible. This is why Intel has offered all those companies incentives to copy the Apple Macbook Air concept. Just to make more profit.. Unfortunately, they make the same mistake as Google with Android -- they are making profit at the expense of their customers. Which is never good long term strategy.

adornoe
adornoe

and, there will be thinkers and non-thinkers, and there will be those that, won't ever think about practicality and will just be fanatical about what they do, how they do it, and why they do it. That's the Apple formula. Fanatical people purchasing products, being loyal, with no real practical and meaningful reasons. If a challenge were to be done, using the "blind test" (like the Pepsi/Coke challenges), I'm pretty sure that, most people, if not all, would settle for the PC over the Mac. The blind test would have to be done using just the guts of the systems involved and the software available and the prices would have to be mentioned. If technically, they both end up as capable, but the PCs resulted in being able to run more available applications, and the PCs ended up being hundreds of dollars less, then, logic would dictate that, the PCs would win, hands-down. Now, that has nothing to do with being a Microsoft shill; it's completely about being practical and logical.

danbi
danbi

Of course, all of what you say must be true, because you think so. Good. Only missing point is you can't explain why people who had Apple products will be loyal and will go and buy from Apple again.. Everyone who buys Apple is stupid and blinded according to you and it is only by pure incident that Apple has been successful and has existed for several decades already. Good to know, that at least you see trough the reality distortion field that Steve Jobs left in this world.

adornoe
adornoe

because, no matter how much you try, or how much you want to spin, you're still too much in love with Apple to realize how much of a fanboy you are. Apple became a lot more successful when they went with Intel technology, and IBM pulled out of the PC business before Apple became an Intel customer. If it were not for all the hype and mystique surrounding anything Apple does, it would not even be close to being successful. Their packaging and marketing has made them a success, and it's not because they're materially any better than the competition. Microsoft is not competing against Apple, since, they're not really in the same arena for competition. Microsoft is a software company, whereas Apple is mostly a hardware/gadget maker. Apple is successful because they have a loyal fan-base, and that fan-base will purchase anything Apple puts out, even if they don't need it and even if they just bought the latest and greatest from Apple a few months ago. The iPad3 is due out within a couple of months, and a large percentage of those that will line up for miles waiting to get their hands on it will be the people who just a few months ago purchased the iPad2s. Without that iFanboy crowd, Apple would likely collapse, or they would be just another also-ran. The bottom line is that, when it comes to Apple, they're not really ahead of the crowd when it comes to technology, and they're not really innovating when what they do put out is basically, different packaging of the same stuff that other manufacturers put out. The Apple crowd believes that, packaging and the hype and the higher prices equal a better computing/entertainment experience. Apple does understand quite well that age-old saying about, "a fool and his money are soon parted". Dopes!

danbi
danbi

Sorry but your arguments do not make sense. Apple are successful not because of Intel, they are successful because they avoid the "me too" mentality everyone else follows. Apple are successful because they set their own rules in the game they play. Too bad you can't get the "Apple does not need Intel". They did not need Intel for the most of their life as a company. In fact, IBM has made "something" of Intel and Microsoft in their attempt to defeat Apple in the Personal Computer area. Eventually, IBM backed off this business -- but Intel/Microsoft remained. These two companies know how to do business together, right. But Apple has never been and is not bound to them. But yes, you are right -- Apple can take whatever Intel creates and make great product out of it. This does not mean that by itself the Intel thing is great or that someone else can turn the same Intel thing into great product. Anyway, let's hope Intel can keep up with technology to produce great enough things for Apple to use.

adornoe
adornoe

Look, you're still arguing from an Apple fanboy point of view, and you're too blinded by that love for Apple to even realize how nutty you sound. Every sentence you wrote is about, "Apple can do this, and Apple can do that, and Apple doesn't really need to do it this way, and Apple can do whatever they wish, and Apple will be successful no matter what they do". Typical fanboy attitude and rhetoric. Also, the "exclusive" part that I mentioned is not about Intel creating Thunderbolt for Apple. The exclusive was about Apple having the lead in creating Macs with thunderbolt, and doing it while the rest of the PC pack weren't interested yet or were still investigating whether to even offer it. So, Apple ended up being the exclusive provider for thunderbolt until the rest of the pack got their offerings up to speed. And, hey, Apple may be huge, but Intel doesn't need them to succeed, and they proved that by being quite successful without Apple for most of their existence. It's Apple that realized that, they needed Intel more than Intel needed them. Intel is not going to do anything that will be exclusive Apple technology, because, Intel can be a lot more successful by making whatever they create available to the whole industry. Apple can take whatever Intel creates, and package it into a pretty little shiny box, and they'll have a lot of success with it, but, tech-wise, that shiny pretty box is not materially better than the competition, because, after all is said and done, the tech-inside works just as well in a pretty box or in a lackluster box. Going forward, as long as there are PCs (Macs are PCs), Apple will be using "Intel Inside", and you can forget about any other hypothetical processors from other providers. If not Intel, then AMD, which are essentially, the same architecture. Whatever the flavor of the OS is immaterial as long as the OS knows how to play nice with the hardware.

danbi
danbi

Whether I enjoy what Apple does (I really do, btw) or not is irrelevant in this discussion. I am nobody's fanboy. This doesn't prevent me to observe the fact, that Apple has apparently found a way to work in this 'computer industry' as to fulfill it's primary corporate goal: make more money. I have also been enough decades around to have observed all this, plus I do have my own business that deals with computers, designs and assembles hardware, software etc -- so I am quite aware of what it takes to do what Intel or Apple do. But your analysis is fundamentally wrong. Apple are in the business to sell computers. For Apple a "computer" is both the software and the hardware. Apple is not an computer parts assembly shop -- there are enough of these and Apple uses their services, because this is cheaper and more efficient for Apple. So we are back to Apple selling computers. Unfortunately for Intel, Apple are not selling computers based on Intel designs. In fact, Apple has requested many times that Intel designs a specific processor/chipset architecture for them. It is said, that Intel has always refused to do so -- perhaps what you say about Thunderbolt being Apple exclusive means it is not so in fact. Because Apple is a huge customer. Apple also markets very limited number of computer models. Currently they have two laptop models, one desktop model, one multimedia/server model (Mac mini) and one workstation/server model (Mac Pro). That is it. What Apple needs is for these computers to work and do what Apple promises they will do. They do not have to be "compatible" with anything around, such as "Windows". They don't even have to use Intel processors, or the x86/amd64 architecture. Apple has long ago migrated to a highly portable UNIX based operating system -- that can run on anything available. If someone comes along Apple and shows them another CPU architecture, that has benefits over what Intel are offering, they will take advantage of it. If they will have to emulate the Intel instructions on the new hardware, why not.. they have already done so for the past few decades, quite successfully. Because Apple are so big single customer, Intel has either to behave, or try to find as many other customers as possible for their technology -- something they are doing now with the Ultrabook attempt.

adornoe
adornoe

Look, any corporation is in business to try to maximize its profits, and they can easily do so by creating more products and technology which people will want. Even Apple is buying into the Intel growth tactics. What Intel puts out, Apple and all other manufacturers will want, but, only if it's priced at a level which most people can afford. With Thunderbold, and the exclusivity which Apple bought into for a few months, Apple could demand or command a higher price, because, "nobody else had it". That's a business gimmick unto itself, and you're too much of an Apple fanboy to notice how Apple is playing the same game that you accuse Intel of playing. If I were leading Intel or Microsoft, or even Apple, my goal would be to get as many products and technology out there as possible, in order to increase revenue and profits. If you find a problem with a company being "greedy" and wanting more and more, then you are anti-capitalism and anti-free market. The end result of much of what Intel does, and what Microsoft does, and even what Apple does, is that, the consumers end up being the big winners, with lower prices, and new technology, and new tools, and all of those at very affordable prices (except on the Apple side).