Future of Ultrabooks Still Very Much in Question

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RUSENSITIVESWEETNESS

Ultrabooks, like netbooks and tablets, are the result of manufacturers attempting to replace existing low-margin markets with new high-margin markets.

I bought a $700 laptop with discrete video some time ago. Manufacturers would rather I buy a low-quality ultrabook for the same price.

Consumers need to wake up and realize what is happening. Manufacturers are attempting to steer us toward cheap garbage they are billing as "the future" with the help of a complicit media. These smaller, underpowered devices are being sold at the same price points as the much more powerful computers we were accustomed to buying.

Have you noticed that it is getting harder to find laptops with discrete graphics, while prices aren't going down?

I will continue to hope that most consumers won't fall for this deception, and will recognize ultrabook pricing as ridiculous. If there is any equity in the universe, the ultrabook market will fail as quickly as did the netbook.

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dgrmouse

At the time the Ultrabook initiative was announced, manufacturers were vocally complaining, via every available channel, that reaching Intel's proposed retail price points was going to kill their margins. At the time, the bill of materials to create a compliant Ultrabook were in the $750+ range. Although I absolutely agree that corporate pursuits of year-over-year revenue growth coupled with the falling American dollar make it continually harder to find value, I don't think that the Ultrabook ideal is to blame.

To address your second point: I'm currently in the market for a new laptop, and I can say that there seems to be no shortage of machines with discrete graphics. Having owned several "gaming" laptops in the past, I am looking specifically for machines without discrete cards, and I'm finding it harder to get some of the options that are traditionally considered to be higher-end in pre-built configurations that don't have crappy discrete graphics burning up my battery while roasting my gonads. Even if mobile graphics were up to snuff (a pair of 580m chips in SLI is slower than a single 570), I don't enjoy gaming on a laptop and integrated graphics are more than adequate for everything else I do on my laptops.

If you really want to guard against deception, you'll have to check the specification of every piece of kit that goes into the laptop: hard drive capacity and speed (plenty of vendors slip low-cache 5400 RPM losers into their laptops), processor, battery composition and cell count, and so many other factors. I, for one, am happy that the Ultrabook standard exists (and is enforced) such that I know any machine branded as an Ultrabook will have a huge number of components and design facets that meet (and generally far exceed) any reasonable requirement for a high-performance laptop.

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RUSENSITIVESWEETNESS

MPC readers wouldn't normally do this, but go to a Best Buy and find a laptop with discrete graphics. My local store doesn't have a single one--they are all integrated, and all selling for the same price laptops featuring graphics chips sold at just a year or two ago.

Ultrabooks are not "high-performance." They are cheap, underpowered devices demanding a premium because they are thinner and lighter--not to mention the price gouging.

If something is cheaper to build, it should be cheaper to buy.

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dgrmouse

If it's got the Ultrabook label on it, it's got Sandy Bridge or better with a SSD, a nice form factor, at /least/ five hours of usable battery life, and an ability to go from full s4 hibernate to usable in under seven seconds. To my mind, that's a pretty high standard of performance for any laptop - ultraportable or otherwise. And because it's a platform, you're assured a minimum level of performance from any machine carrying the Ultrabook moniker.

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jabelsk

What's happening here is Intel has decided to redefine the market.

Intel has responded to external pressure from increasing APU sales by trending it's own products for mobility (power savings, small size, etc.) I'd call Haswell their first release. It's a risky move because the customers are not defining the market, the company is. More risk more payoff, even Microsoft is placing bets with Metro.

Having said that, this article is asking; Can Intel get people to stop buying laptops and buy ultrabooks instead? "Instead" being the key word here, which the author doesn't point out to the reader.

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dgrmouse

Hogwash. An Ultrabook is just a proprietary standard allowing consumers to purchase computers that are assured to meet certain performance and design criteria. This isn't the first such standard, and it won't be the last (see the MPC L1/L2 spec, as an example).

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nschmidt00

It sounds like the majority of people need to do more research. Just because a product is labeled as an "ultrabook" does not mean it really is one. I work for a large electronics retailer....if you think a Macbook Air is the only good option then you aren't looking hard enough.

Asus - Zen Ultrabooks come in a myriad of options. Hell the base model we carry in our store blows a Macbook Air out of the water IMHO. Full 1920x1080 IPS Matte display. Comes with nice sleeve in the box, VGA & Ethernet adapter in the box, which are most likely not needed but nice freebies.

Having a SSD coupled with i5 4GB RAM is plenty power....speed performance. End of story.

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dgrmouse

"Just because a product is labeled as an "ultrabook" does not mean it really is one."

Yeah, though... it really does. Ultrabook is a registered trademark and, although I'm unaware of any legal actions thus far, Intel is on record with their intent to enforce the standard.

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BlazePC

Acer M5's are an awesome implementation of the Ultrabook scheme.
Sure they don't have super resolute screens but for portability, power reserves and speed - the Acer for sub-$1000 is home run in my book.
Who needs a 1080 screen on a utilitarian platform? Not me.
Now if I was a gamer on-the-go, I would think differently to be sure.
But I'm not...

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DeltaFIVEengineer

I think the inherent issue with "Ultrabooks" is that they should've come out at least 5 years ago. Oh wait, they did. The Macbook Air was the first to the party and became the de facto solution and now other manufacturers are playing the catch up game and wonder why they're not selling well. It's not a revolutionary product any more than a toaster with a touch screen would be. Apple already won this battle years ago, so now it's time to move on to bigger and better things.

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Mediziner

isheep

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Happy

If you're going to insult him at least do it with style. It should have been "iSheep".

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Mediziner

... There are so many people who think that crapple is the best and nothing is better. Why don't you go to macworld: http://www.macworld.com/ or something.

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DeltaFIVEengineer

Where did I say that Apple is the best in that post? I'd love for you to point it out to me.

And no, I won't stop reading MaxPC because I USE PCs. If you can't get past your own irrational hatred of a computer company, you should probably seek professional help.

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Happy

You have failed to prove any flaws in his arguments (I'm not a huge fan of Apple btw). You're just making an ad hominem attack, a proof of a lack of a solid argument. Next time either make an argument for why he was wrong, or don't comment at all because the internet has enough illogical hate without technology people adding fuel to the fire.

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wolfing

Problem is that we have too many 'layers' now. Before, it used to be Desktop for cheap performance. Laptop for more expensive mobility. Phone for casual browsing/check Facebook on the road.
Now, Desktop for cheap performance. Laptop for not so expensive but heavier mobility. Ultrabook for expensive but lighter mobility. 10" Tablet for relatively expensive casual browsing. 7" tablet for inexpensive casual browsing. Phone for ... making phone calls and texting?
Eventually all those layers will consolidate once again into fewer, well defines ones. But right now it feels like the Ultrabook is sandwiched between better defined options.

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vrmlbasic

The phone keeps you connected everywhere (email and such) and does expensive casual browsing and streaming anywhere there's cellular coverage.

The 7" tablets do nothing because there is no market for 7" tablets, so said Steve Jobs.

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razorpetti37

This is definitely not the sole cause of high prices. I see a ton of people walking around with Macbook Pro's that only use them for web browsing, email, and word processing. Those puppies start around $1200 for the basic version. And yes, you can make the Apple sheep argument, but what if you truly want similar form and performance to a Macbook Pro or Macbook Air?

I have been in the market for buying a new laptop for 6 months now, and I haven't seen a single PC vendor who can provide the same quality of Apple's hardware. I could just buy an Apple product, but I hate iOS, and I hate Apple's smug corporate attitude.

All I want is a 13-15 inch screen, a very portable body, and enough performance to go head to head with an Apple laptop in Photoshop, Premiere, and other media processing software.

Every time I think I find the perfect PC "ultrabook", there is always a catch. It either has a crappy resolution screen, crappy typing keyboard, unresponsive trackpad, or short battery life.

So the overall point is that if the PC vendors were able to address all of those issues, I'd gladly pay $1,500 for one.

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dgrmouse

Have you checked out the new (second iteration) Razer laptops, Razor? I'm interested, but nobody near me owns one and I'm not sure I wanna' jump on something like that sight unseen. I'd be interested in hearing your opinion on them, though.

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razorpetti37

I have seen the new Razor Blade (not in person). It has some pretty kickass specs, but a 17 inch, 6 pound, laptop seems to be far from the Ultrabook definition of "portable". Don't get me wrong, for a 17 inch laptop with that much horsepower underneath, I'd say its much more portable than the other laptops in its class, but I'm not really looking for a gaming laptop. I'm looking for a general purpose laptop that can still do some serious media processing when needed (i.e. Adobe Suite products and photography software).

Plus, aside from it's size, I doubt the Blade has much of a battery life, compared to other "portable" laptops out there. And I saw somewhere that it has a price around $2,800? I thought that $1,500 was stretching my laptop budget, but almost $3k is absurd.

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tony2tonez

Im in the same boat with you. I would gladly pay $1500 for a ultrabook.
To put out anything less than 1920 x 1080 display or IPS is the
Manufacturers way of saying they dont care for their consumer. Well now the consumer has responded and their inventory is rotting away collecting dust. Good. Sales numbers always get companies attention, when their projects miss horribly.

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AETAaAS

Speaking as someone whose purchases are largely dictated by the numbers after the dollar sign, I'm more compelled by AMD APU laptops; they tend to be a reasonable size and weight and will beat out the GPU-less Ultrabooks in graphics performance. Oh, and they are relatively inexpensive. :)

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Andrew.Hodge

Yeah. AMD wins majorly in the "display resolution" category, which is what holds most "ultra" books lack. Too bad they don't have the marketing grunt to get the major oems on board. :(

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tekknyne

Am I the only one not surprised that the bullet-proof idiot following Apple has amassed couldn't be duplicated easily?

If you know a cult, and you know religious ideologues, and you know ignorance, than you know the Apple crowd very well. There's no convincing the sheep.

"We want stuff that just works, and we're willing to pay for it" Heard that broken rhetoric a few times. Sounds great on paper and if you say it fast enough.

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ddimick

There's a danger in assuming all Apple consumers are idiots who just don't know any better.

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Engelsstaub

Thank you, ddimick.

It's called narcissism. Most people who talk that shit don't know anyone personally who owns such products and are likely antisocial in every other way imaginable.

There's enough polarization/us vs. them BS going on in the world. It seems some fat friendless dorks, bereft of real problems to worry about, like to propagate even more over the most trivial issues. (I suppose there's a certain danger in my assumption as well.)

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captainjack

If I really had a need for a super light, super thin computer I would be prepared to pay more than $600 for it. You're just sacrificing too much. Otherwise spend the money on a regular laptop. Sure, it's not going to be as easy to carry around but at least it will be a little more future proof.

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Valor958

I really don't see why there's so much negativity towards 'ultrabooks'... they're just laptops with a cliché name.

The price may be a bit higher, but you get what you pay for, supposedly, in performance and portability. According to this article though, the resolution leaves room for improvement... which seems odd since they choose 'ulta' in the genre name. What's 'ultra' about a substandard resolution screen?
The developers have dug their own pit on this one by cutting corners where they shouldn't have and overestimating their role. Make an ultrabook fit a specific range and stick to it. Don't compromise on area where people actually plan to pay attention to performance. You may not need the speediest RAM... cut that a bit to something 'average', but plentiful enough to not cause a bottleneck. Use the savings there to pay for better screens...
The way I see the layout of computers is pretty much as such:
PC/Workstation > Laptop/Ultrabook > Tablets > Smartphones
Don't expect something from a device that it is not... a smartphone is not going to give you what you want from a laptop... a laptop will not give you what you want from a PC or workstation...

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