This was brought to America in 2003 and got many awards and was highly rated. Still we do not see mass adoption of this brand of computing for a while until Asus essentially created the netbook category with their first Eee machine. I will not accept those as true ultrabooks because they were not powerful and were based on the Intel Atom structure which still today has not proven itself.
Modern Era – The Fight against Apple
Truthfully the story stops at the Sony VAIO until 2011 at a fate filled CES Consumer Electronics Show when Intel announced the “ultra book” class. Intel set aside $300 million dollars for OEM’s who wanted to release ultrabook to market. You probably have seen the ads by Intel for various skinny laptops and with Windows 8 pending the market is a bit dead right now. But what was the real initiative for the sudden push by Intel? Couldn’t OEM’s do this by their own?
No, truthfully the ultra book race was made as an attempt to fight against the Apple juggernaut that would truthfully take a joint effort to stop. In an attempt to make an attempt at quality control Intel released a list of specifications for OEM’s to follow to get the deemed “ultrabook” status. Acer was the first to make’s it own ultrabook the S3 which really was a first generation device in many ways. Asus came next with the Zenbook UX31E which was actually a pretty good device for a first time try. HP came out with the Envy line which has been in my opinion the best of them all, but some lack in certain aspects. Lenovo has jumped in with the Ideapad U300s which so far have had the best keyboard to rule them all. Toshiba had the cheapest first gen ultrabook at $799, but of course it was not the best and lacked in many areas. Dell released one the XPS 13 which had a weird rounded look. Samsung was the last OEM with the Series 5 products which were good in their respect with nice specs. The entire initiave is powered by Intel core i3, i5, and i7 ULV (ultra low voltage) CPU’s with most of them featuring Intel HD3000 or HD4000 integrated graphics.
Windows 8 Changes the Game
So CES finished not too long ago with some cool concepts by Intel and a lot of product releases by OEM’s. What was most interesting was what Intel had to say. First they made some new regulations like you have to have “all day battery life” and every ultrabook has to have a touch screen for Windows 8. All of this screams good to the consumer and boo ho for the big companies. Also they showed off this thing they called Project North (pictured above) which has 1) A detachable tablet powered by an ULV Haswell processor and 2) A bezel that comes out of nowhere when you are in tablet mode for better touch screen capabilities. A concept like this they said will cost… $799 – $899. Considering that ultrabooks that were smaller, had no touch screens, and no Haswell (Haswell has superior gaming performance without discrete graphics and superior battery life due to lower TDP) this means Apple will get a BIG run for their money. This is what Intel has been wanting as we have seen them moving more into the Wintel partnership and abandoning Apple. It will be noted that this particular product will never make it mainstream but something similar might from a different company. So what does this really mean for the consumer? Windows 8 will be “forced upon you” in the point that laptops will have Windows 8 on them and you will be forced to learn the OS. Personally I love the OS but then a lot of people like Windows 7. Heck, I know people still loving XP! So this means you will have shiny new fast thin ultrabooks that will leave the first and second generation ultrabooks in the dust. For Apple who really look like they are having their worst year ever. I mean their stock price dropped over $200 and iPhone5 sales have been low. It looks like the people may have spoken and possibly for the Penguin fans it could be the year of the Linux desktop!