Apple Digital Life

Ultrabook vs. the Apple Macbook Air

Posted on: June 9, 2011

That said, it is possible that some people may exist who do not have any real use for a notebook, but would probably buy one (if there were no pads). It’s that person who will now buy a pad and kill one notebook sale forever.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again; I do not see the pad computer replacing the notebook computer. Instead I see it just becoming another device that is only sometimes used as a notebook replacement. Situations were this might occur are when you just want to read a newspaper or browse the Web or read a book or maybe watch a movie.

For intense emailing, writing, taking notes, or even improved movie watching, the notebook is the better choice.

That one person is what all the fuss is about. There are also people who are very happy with desktop machines but might find a pad fun as a toy. They may now never consider a notebook either.

Well, whatever the case, Intel and, to a lesser extent, AMD are totally freaked out by this pad trend, since the notebook segment of the PC business is huge and everyone is afraid it will dry up. So, now, they’ve decided to invent a new category, the Ultrabook, to get people excited.

We’ve already seen the netbook craze come and go, with its death hammered home by the pad computer. The Ultrabook seems to be a souped-up and nicer netbook or a netbook on steroids and Slim Fast.

First, make no mistake; this thinking all stems directly from the free MacBook Air computer. On its second try, Apple nailed the strike zone with a sleek, sexy, super thin computer that people want. All the makers looked at it and jumped on board.

I want to interrupt this column for a minute and say that I have always been an advocate of the thinnest and lightest laptop you can buy, hankering for a road machine that weighs less than 3 pounds. This love affair began with the first NEC UltraLite and flowed through the TI TravelMate, that crazy monochrome Dell machine from years back, through the Toshiba R-series and to the present. All along the way, there was some gotcha. “Nobody wants lightweight.” “Where’s the floppy?” “People want a machine that can be a desktop replacement.” “It needs a CD-ROM.”

All those negative arguments are debatable. I can say that as far as I’m concerned, the idea that a laptop should become a desktop replacement borders on the idiotic. Why exactly can’t you have both? And why would you want to work on a dinky portable machine when you can have a rocking desktop machine? It has never made any sense to me.

Of course, when Apple brought out a sleek winner, nobody said anything bad.

So here comes the Ultrabook, cloning the idea of the MacBook Air. Well, I want one. This is exactly what the market needs. This is an extremely thin and light machine with good power, long battery life, and great screen. And you get to choose an 11, 12, or 13-inch screen.

The Ultrabook problem is the same old problem, however. These machines will cost too much. For example, look at the HP dm1z machine, which sells for around $450. The machine is powerful and optimized for video and can handle the HD movie. It’s a great little machine, but it weighs 3.45 pounds. I realize that this is lightweight to most users, but I’m looking for 2.2 pounds. Why can’t it shed 1.25 pounds?

It’s a function of packaging, heat dissipation, and circuitry. It’s running the integrated AMD processor, and the computer innards are not chewing up that much real estate. So I’m not seeing the reason why it cannot be lighter and thinner. Someone will have to explain it to me. And if it can be lighter and thinner as it is, then why are the MacBook Air and other light machines so costly?

I’m convinced there is something wrong with this picture. Perhaps, the modern plastics and molding and whatever are needed for a lighter machine simply costs more and that’s that. In other words, better materials add $500 to the price! Is that what you are saying?

It’s baffling now, but not for long. I expect to see that powerful 2.2 pounder hit the market with this new Ultrabook concept making hay. Hopefully, the distraction of the pad will not derail the idea.


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