A day after rival Acer introduced its first ultrabook, Asus announced that it will start selling its first two systems, called Zenbooks, this week.
Asus, a day after Acer introduced the
first of its ultrabooks, is readying two of its own ultra-thin and -light
laptops to hit the market on Oct. 12.
Asus executives on Oct. 11 announced
what they are calling Zenbooks, the 11.6-inch UX21 and the 13.3-inch UX31, two
systems that are joining Acer's Aspire S3-951
as among the first
entrants in the ultrabook category being championed by chip giant Intel.
Asus Chairman Jonney Shih announced the
new Zenbooks at a launch event in New York.
Intel officials first introduced the idea of ultrabooks
at the Computex 2011 show in
May, proposing thin and light laptops that offer the benefits of traditional
systems with many of the features found in tablets, including long battery
life, instant-on capabilities and constant Internet connection. They've called
on ultrabooks to be less than 0.8 inches thick and come in priced at less than
They're aimed at competing with the
increasingly popular tablets as well as with Apple's ultra-thin and -light
MacBook Air, the lowest-end model of which costs $999. Intel officials also see
ultrabooks as a way of boosting sales in the slumping PC market.
Ultrabooks also will help Intel
in its push to become a larger
player in the mobile computing market.
Acer's Aspire S3 is being priced at
$899; Asus' UX21 starts at $999. The Zenbook UX31 will be priced starting at
$1,099, and going up as high as $1,499. The UX21, with its brushed metal
exterior, is about 0.13 inches thick at its thinnest part. Like tablets and
Acer's system, the Zenbook can boot up quickly, in about 2 seconds out of
The systems from both Acer and Asus are
powered by Intel's Core "Sandy Bridge" processors and run Microsoft's
A key difference between Acer's Aspire
S3 and Asus' Zenbooks is in the storage technology being used. Asus' systems
use 128GB hybrid solid-state disk (SSD), while Acer uses a combination of a
20GB SSD and a 320GB hard drive. The SSD stores the Aspire's operating system
and maintains the ultrabook's current state so that it can restore the laptop
to its previous state when coming out of Sleep or Deep Sleep mode, according to
In addition, whereas the Aspire S3
comes with USB 2.0, Asus' systems feature USB 3.0, which Shih said is 10 times
faster than USB 2.0. The hybrid approach with the SSD and hard disk drive, and
using USB 2.0 over USB 3.0, helped Acer bring the Aspire S3 in at $899.
Intel executives have been adamant
about keeping the pricing below $1,000, enabling it to better compete with
tablets and the MacBook Air. Reports earlier this year had OEMs pushing Intel
for help in driving the costs down, including getting a price break on Intel
chips. Intel created a $300 million fund to invest in vendors making hardware
and software solutions for ultrabooks.
Toshiba and Lenovo also are looking at
selling ultrabooks, though their prices currently are coming in higher than
Intel sees a three-step progression in
the development of ultrabooks, starting with the first ones built with
processors using the current Sandy Bridge architecture. Next year, systems
powered by Intel's upcoming "Ivy Bridge" chips will hit the market,
followed in 2013 by "Haswell" processors.