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Ultrabooks Set To Ship by Year's End

Intel has also unveiled two subsequent generations of Ultrabooks running Windows 8 and powered by third- and fourth-generation Core processors, "Ivy Bridge" and "Haswell."

Major hardware manufacturers have started previewing the first generation of light, ultra-thin note-books based on Intel's Ultrabook specification. Acer, Toshiba, and Lenovo are all debuting their designs of the sleek, long-lasting Ultrabook that Intel predicts will command 40 percent of the worldwide laptop market by the end of 2012.

First announced back in May, the Ultrabook is Intel's response to Apple's super-slim MacBook Air. Less than 0.8-inches thick and weighing in at a mere 3.1 pounds, this new class of mobile computers marries the form and performance of the traditional laptop with the popular features that users have come to expect in tablets. All versions of the Ultrabook feature:

  • Low-voltage Intel processors;
  • Extended battery life (five to eight hours or more);
  • No optical drive;
  • Integrated graphics;
  • Flash-based SSDs;
  • Instant-on capability.

Intel is backing this initiative with a $300 million investment to fund companies developing the hardware and software for the Ultrabook.

Acer will be the first to market with the Aspire S3, which begins shipping this month. The ultra-thin note-book boasts a 13.3-inch HD LED display, is 1.3 cm thick, and weighs less than 3 pounds. The S3 features Acer's Green Instant On and Acer Instant Connect technologies for fast boot, speedy Internet connectivity, and a battery life of up to seven hours.

Lenovo will launch the IdeaPad U300 and U400 Ultrabooks in October. The U300 comes with a 13.3-inch HD display while the U400 features a 14-inch HD display. Both note-books will be available with up to 8 GB DDR3 memory, 1 TB HDD storage, and a max 256 GB of SSD storage. Intel's cooling technology enables air to flow in and through the sides and rear of the breathable keyboard. Battery life is up to six hours on the U300 and seven hours on the U400. Both models will be available in Graphite Grey. The U300 will also be offered, for a limited time, in Clementine Orange.

Toshiba will enter the market in November with the Portege Z830 Series, an uber-slim note-book with a 0.63-inch profile, DDR3 memory, and 128 GB of SSD storage. Weighing less than 2.5 pounds, the Z830 is the lightest of the Ultrabooks hitting the market this fall. The Z830 comes equipped with Toshiba's Hi-Speed Start technology for instant-on functionality and Toshiba Sleep & Charge technology, which enables users to charge their smart phones even when the note-book is powered down. Battery life will be up to eight hours, according to Toshiba.

Starting price for the Acer Aspire S3 is roughly $1,124. Lenovo's U300 starts at $799 and the U400 at $849. Toshiba's Portege base model is slated to be priced at under $1,000 MSRP.

Intel is also collaborating with Microsoft on this initiative. Early previews of the new devices show several applications running on Windows 8 operating system.

All three versions of the Ultrabook run on second-generation Intel Core i3, Core i5, or Core i7 processors. The Ultrabooks scheduled for launch in the first half of 2012 will be powered by the third generation of Core chips, code-named Ivy Bridge.  The next-generation 22 nm processors are expected to introduce improved graphics performance and greater energy efficiency. Six of the 2012 pre-production Ultrabook designs were previewed at the Intel Developer Forum, taking place this week in San Francisco.

Intel even went so far as to discuss plans for Ultrabooks coming in 2013.

According to information released today by Intel: "The Ultrabook vision is a multi-year, industry-wide effort that will roll out in three phases.... Phase one is in process and will be realized this holiday season with the introduction of the first Ultrabook devices, while phase two will begin with the launch of Intel's third-generation Core processors in the first half of 2012. In 2013, Intel will introduce its next-generation, 22 nm 'Haswell' processor, signaling phase three of the transition to Ultrabook devices."

Intel's Mooly Eden, vice president and general manager of the PC Client Group, demonstrated the 2013 chip at the Intel Developer Forum.

"Devices powered by the future chip will ultimately transform the personal computing experience as a result of the new levels of power savings in the processor that will help provide more than 10 days of connected standby battery life, as well as give people the most complete and satisfying computing experience," according to Intel.

Additional details about the Ultrabook can be found on Intel's site.

About the Author

Kanoe Namahoe is online editor for 1105 Media's Education Group. She can be reached at [email protected].