Gear We Like
CES 2012 – Ultrabooks
CES, the yearly Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, always delivers cool tech stuff to look forward to in the coming year. In this second of a series of posts on CES 2012, we’ll be looking at what slick new notebooks are coming out thanks to Intel’s thin & light “Ultrabook” initiative.
“Thin & Light” notebooks have been a business staple for years, but with a price tag to keep most consumers well clear, not a lot of forward movement has happened until the last year or so. Performance, size, or cost. You could always get two, but never three. That is all about to change.
With the popularity of the recent generation of MacBook Air models, “Thin & Light” has finally gone mainstream. Intel is looking to bolster the slumping PC market against the rise of tablet computing with its Ultrabook program and with the help of the top PC manufactures worldwide.
To qualify as an Ultrabook, here are the basic specs Intel has set forth:
- Less than 21mm (0.83”) at its thickest point
- Minimum 5hrs of battery life
- Less than 1.4kg (3.1lbs)
- Fast start-up & hibernation
Here are a few to look out for:
The Acer Aspire S5 measures 0.59” thin at its thickest, and comes in at under 3lbs making it one of the thinnest and lightest around. A magnesium alloy casing, and a “MagicFlip” I/O port panel mean you get all the connectivity you need in a 13” screen without sacrificing size or style. Look for it in Q2 2012, hopefully for less than $1000.
The black aluminum casing of the Samsung Series 9 boasts a clean design with plenty of power under the hood. With a new screen technology boasting bright viewing even in direct sunlight, this notebook could be a good match for checking your e-mails on the beach – for 6hrs at least. It’s only 1/2” thick, less than 3lbs and looks great. It doesn’t come cheap though at an expected $1400, and with a likely release date of Q2 2012.
HP Envy 14 Spectre
The HP Envy 14 Spectre turned heads for its stylish looks as well as all the bells and whistles you could ask for. Backlit keyboard, Beats audio and a design boasting a glass front, palm rest, and touchpad made of the same Gorilla Glass popularised by the iPhone 4.
Though heavier and thicker than most of its Ultrabook brothers, the fact that it squeezes a 14” screen into a 13.3” form factor garners bonus points from us. It’ll cost you a cool $1399 – at the high end of the price range for Ultrabooks- and will ship in early March.
Most Ultrabooks in the early part of 2012 are set to be 11” & 13” models, but there is a big push to larger 14” and 15” units for the latter part of the year. Those looking for more screen real estate may want to wait it out as these start to trickle out in larger numbers.
Also, with Windows 8 around the corner, expect some touch screen functionality in late 2012 when it ships. This could be how the Windows 8 focus on touch screen crosses over from the usual tablet experience.
Finally, AMD, the other main chip manufacturer, is looking to release chips for a competing line of notebooks. In typical, confusing fashion for the PC world, they are calling theirs “Ultrathin” as Intel owns the “Ultrabook” trademark. Expect better graphics performance with the AMD “Ultrathin” line, and a thinner price tag to boot.
2012 is looking to be a good year for that new notebook purchase…