In an effort to boost brand power and focus strategy, computer makers Acer and Asus are reportedly planning to streamline their respective families of notebooks and netbooks in 2012. The Digitimes report said contracts with OEMs showed the companies are planning on consolidating the number of computer models they offer (Asus has around 50 notebook designs), such as the Asus Eee PC line, which will be cut down to five models from 10 models.
The strategy is a similar one to that of Apple, which offers only a few versions of their notebooks and has developed a brand that is known the world over. Asus plans to offer high-performance notebooks for gamers in 2012, along with ultrabooks--thin and lightweight ultraportable laptops, defined by a specification from Intel.
Acer debuted its first ultrabook in September, the Aspire A3, which features the latest second generation Intel Core i3/i5/i7 processors for full computing and digital creation capability, and a choice of 240GB SSD or 320/500 GB HDD with embedded SSD, measures 1.3 cm thin and weighs less than 3 pounds.
Asus launched an ultrabook of its own in October, called the Zenbook, sporting SATA Revision 3.0 solid SSD (state storage), Bluetooth V4.0 and USB 3.0, along with custom cooling technology using a V-shaped channel with a copper fin design for improved airflow and cooling. The notebook also utilizes Asus' patented Super Hybrid Engine II technology, which conserves battery life and allows the Zenbook to have up to 25 more battery life than other ultrabook designs.
System makers are taking a conservative approach to ultrabooks for several reasons, including their experience several years ago with Intel's Consumer Ultra Low Voltage (CULV) thin notebooks, which never took hold in the market, and continued difficulties bringing the price of ultrabooks under $1,000, a key point noted by Intel executives when they introduced the idea. In addition, some OEMs may be waiting until the 2012 release of Intel's "Ivy Bridge" chips-which essentially will be smaller versions of the current "Sandy Bridge" processors-to really embrace the form factor.
Intel executives envision ultrabooks as combining the performance and reliability of traditional notebooks with features found in tablets, including instant-on and, eventually, touch capabilities. They said the ultra-thin, ultra-light laptops should be no more than 0.8 inches thick, run on x86-based chips and cost less than $1,000. Intel officials said they expect ultrabooks to account for 40 percent of all notebooks sold by the end of 2012.