If you haven’t heard too much about ultrabooks, expect to be inundated with information about them at the Consumer Electronics Show later this month. Just about every major PC vendor, including Hewlett-Packard and Acer, is expected to show off ultrabooks at the event, and according to the latest research on the form factor, shipments are likely to explode this year. Furthermore, over the next several years, ultrabook sales will only continue to rise, analysts say.
It won’t be long before the vast majority of consumers looking to buy computers this year jump at the chance to buy ultrabooks. From their impressive form factors to their strong performance features, ultrabooks appear well on their way to setting a new standard for PCs. It’s likely they will put some sales pressure on Apple’s MacBook Air (and maybe even the iPad) as they vie for the top spot in the mobile computing landscape.
As appealing as the MacBook Air might be, there’s a decent chance you’ll be buying an ultrabook this year.
Read on to find out why:
1. It’s all about mobility
If nothing else, the appeal of ultrabooks is their portability. The devices are designed to have somewhat small screens (don’t expect a 17-inch option) and weigh as little as 3.1 pounds. They seem like ideal companions for road warriors and perfect for companies that need employees to travel often. Mobility is becoming increasingly important today, and ultrabooks are capitalizing on that.
2. Increased productivity
Since ultrabooks are lightweight PCs, they will inevitably be compared with tablets. After all, both products are designed to make employees productive while on the go. Unfortunately for tablets, however, ultrabooks will be able to achieve that goal of productivity far more effectively. The devices come with larger screens and boast built-in physical keyboards. As anyone who has tried to work on an iPad knows, that lack of a virtual keyboard out of the box is a major issue.
3. Prices are coming down
The major issue with ultrabooks right now is that they’re quite expensive. In fact, it’s tough to find one on store shelves for anything less than $800. But over the next year, ultrabook vendors are expected to offer products at lower prices, which should help them attract more customers. Even better for those vendors, the cheaper their ultrabooks are, the greater the distance between their products and Apple’s MacBook Air, which starts $999.
4. Style, style, style
If Apple has taught us anything, it’s that a product’s design really matters. With ultrabooks, Intel is hoping that vendors will try to deliver on the promise of fine specifications and an even finer design. So far, companies like Acer and Asus have done a relatively good job at delivering that, but this year, more companies will need to follow suit.
Ultrabooks Challenge MacBook Air on Price, Features
5. You’ll have few other choices
It’s quickly becoming clear as CES approaches that the vast majority of PC vendors are ready to focus much of their mobile efforts on ultrabooks. Over time, consumers hoping to find alternatives to the lightweight notebooks might find that the larger options become harder to find. In other words, you might have no choice but to buy ultrabooks this year. They might just be the only desirable laptop-style PCs on the market.
6. Outstanding battery life
As with any portable computer, ultrabooks can only be successful if they come with solid battery life. One of the key features a device must have to be called an ultrabook is a battery life that lasts for at least 5 hours on a single charge. That’s nothing to scoff at. And over time, Intel hopes to improve technology to increase battery lives even further.
7. You won’t want to pay for a MacBook Air
As noted, the MacBook Air is an expensive proposition for consumers hoping to get their hands on a portable PC. The device starts at $999, and that option only comes with 64GB of storage and an 11-inch screen. A more desirable 13-inch model will set customers back $1,299. Given the economy, consumers might not want to spend that much on a less-powerful computer, and they might quickly find that the ultrabook is their best bet.
8. They’re not netbooks
Oddly, comparisons have been drawn between ultrabooks and netbooks, with critics saying that the former could very well end up a loser like the latter. But that’s an unfair comparison. Netbooks were cannibalized by tablets because they didn’t offer power or any specs that would make them desirable to consumers searching for something unique. Ultrabooks are much different. They deliver on the promise of replacing both tablets and lightweight notebooks.
9. They’ll be running Windows 8 (eventually)
Microsoft is expected to launch Windows 8 this year. And when it does so, the operating system will be launching on ultrabooks. That’s an important development. Windows 8 will be the operating system toward the end of the year that consumers are going to want to buy. Windows 7 is well on its way to obsolescence. So, when consumers hit the stores, they’ll first look for Windows 8. Once they find that, they’re going to want the best option for the best price. And as long as Intel can follow its strategy, there’s a good chance ultrabooks can reign supreme on store shelves when that happens.
10. You’ll get a taste at work
As CIOs start planning their product purchases for this year, there’s a good chance ultrabooks will be on their lists. The lightweight computers will be cheap enough for companies, and they’ll come with the mobility companies are after. The nice thing for consumers is that they’ll have a chance to try out those products before they buy one themselves. And once they do try them out, they might just buy one for the home. Make no mistake: The workplace will be a key reason ultrabooks gain popularity this year.